Apr 9, 2009

The Gulf Beaches of Florida

Thursday, April 9, 2009
Mexico Beach, FL

Today, after 20 days... after Dar's bout with walking pneumonia... after who-knows how much rain (certainly more than 12 inches), we vacated site number 13 at Escapee's Rainbow Plantation and resumed our trek eastward. Despite the challenges encountered, we really enjoyed the Escapee's park and will certainly stop back there the next time we're in the area. In my limited experience, it's one of the nicer Escapee's parks we've been to.

But it was time to go. And the weather was a bit of a factor in our decision. Today was going to be nice but starting tomorrow Northern Florida is looking to be more unsettled, rainier, windier, cloudier, etc. So we decided to strike out today and get some miles behind us to make tomorrows drive easier. We have a reservation near Carrabelle for the weekend and after today's drive we're only about 70 miles away. That'll make tomorrow a much easier day -- even if it does rain.

Today we followed US98 which is the closest main road to the beach all along this part of the Gulf Coast. We went through Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Panama City and many, many more small towns along the way. The beaches here are known for their white sand -- and when I say white, I mean stark, startling, bleached-out, no-mistaking-it... white! If you didn't know better a Northern boy like me would swear it's snow. Just gorgeous wonderful wide white beaches.

Of course, it's those gorgeous wonderful wide white beaches that bring all the people here. During our route today there were certainly more miles that are developed than miles that are natural. Once in a while we had a few miles to enjoy natural views of sand and surf, but there were many more miles and much more time of sitting at stop & go lights, waiting, and keeping a defensive eye on 6 busy lanes of heavy traffic -- which while bad enough wouldn't have been so bad if we could have enjoyed views of the coastline and the Gulf, you know... right over there. But that wouldn't be possible for all the condos, hotels, parking garages, and gift & trinket shops that have clogged up the beach.

For most of the last almost 2 years, since we've been fulltiming, we've spent most of our time exploring the area west of the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. There was one foray into the east but much of that time we stayed with friends and family. If this trip into Florida is any indication of what RV Park prices are like in the east I think we'll be heading back to the Midwest and West as soon as possible. Our most expensive night last year, all year, was about $32 and the average paid night was less than $20. In Florida it's common for "nothin' special" RV Parks to ask $50 or more per night. Considering there's so much to see in the rest of the country why would we want to subject ourselves to these prices and all the hassles that come from the crowds and congestion in the future?

Even though I take issue with things from time to time, we really are having the time of our lives. Both the good and the not-so-good are all part of the experience, the product of our explorations. For the foreseeable future I wouldn't want our lifestyle nor our mode of living to change one bit.

T

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