Entering Florida can bring a sense that home is around the corner. Crossing the line on I-95 means there are still five hours to go. Driving in on I-10 there are still two days left. We drop off I-10 to see Sea Side where the Truman Show was set and filmed.
Sea Side is the perfect place and everyone we saw appeared happy, trim, tanned and engaged in some sort of outdoor activity. Hauling Heath through the middle on a narrow two lane road must look like a cruise liner sailing the Intracoastal. Past Sea Side we cruise along the beach, make the stop and go drive around Panama City and get back to the coast headed for Port St. Joseph.
Most state parks in Florida are difficult to get a reservation in; when we are in one many spaces are not occupied yet they are not rentable to anyone because someone made a reservation eleven months ago and probably forgot all about it. With the fees and frustration we generally will stay in private parks simply because they are easier and more reliable.
This is a result of Florida giving over reservations for its parks to a private organization rather than each park being able to fill its facility with those who want to come and those who drop by. Reservations for Florida state parks open eleven months prior. Anyone can make a reservation then and pay a deposit. The site is then locked and no one else can make a reservation or use it. Whole state parks are booked solid in moments leaving nothing for the passerby. It is clearly a flawed system that leaves many spaces locked and unused.
Port St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is a favorite of ours and we managed a reservation for the time we were passing by. It is located just off the coast from Port St. Joe, where the Florida State constitution was written, in the Florida Panhandle west of Apalachicola. The park has two campgrounds, bay beaches, wildlife habitat and mile after mile of gorgeous wide white beach backed by high grass, sea oat and scrub covered dunes. We scored a handicap space as the ‘last available’ (there were at least twenty empty spaces that night), arrived late afternoon, got set up, had dinner and made it to sunset on the beach followed by a clear dark sky of brilliant stars.
After more than three weeks today was the first warm, dry and sunny day without a destination ahead. There is nothing quite like a beach day. Being at the beach on the edge of the continent revives a nature that leaves the world behind, lulled into relaxation by the warmth of sun, the sound of surf and the comfort of a towel on sand.
Buckley got a bath, I got my first real walk in weeks, and even the folding bike got a trial ride. The bike is cute and fun and I must look like a giant riding a kid’s bike, but I like the folding and storage that keeps it handy and clean. Heath rolled in yesterday squeaking and creaking and I can’t say if that was new or I just haven’t had the window down to hear it. I crawled under and gave it some suspension lubrication. Crawled under Jake and gave him the same treatment.
Florida clearly has the best weather of the entire trip, 75F, sunny and just enough breezes to keep the bugs off and ruffle the palms while singing through the pines. A perfect day for the beach and one more day to kick back before rejoining the real world after almost a month of rolling through it.