The last part of our Florida journey begins as we head east out of Destin and Henderson Beach State Park to make a brief return to Falling Water State Park in Chipley. We had planned this stopover as part of our initial itinerary so the trip to the Atlantic coast would be in two smaller runs. Little did we know we would have been evacuated to the park as part of the Hurricane Sally “drive around.” So although this was our second visit, at least it was dry and sunny.
Once making camp we hiked a rather long trail to the waterfall again, turns out that yes, there was still water there. But it did look brighter in the sun and the rest of the 3 mile hike was filled with lots of wildflowers blooming. Fall seems to be a lot of purple and yellow colors: asters, goldenrod, wild indigo, sunflowers and such.
The trip east to St. Augustine took 5 hours, surprisingly, but it was flat, straight roads with little traffic but rain for the last miles. As we made our way around the historic district and across the Bridge of Lions we remembered the last time here when Jeff and Vic joined us for a few days and we met up with Phil and Jennifer, friends from home. But it was in the 90’s then and right now it was 70’s and drizzly.
Not to worry, we got ourselves settled into the Anastasia State Park campsite with no problems, although all we put out was the awning for now. Didn’t take long for the mosquitos to find us. Funny, we have been watching DVD’s the past week or so, since over-the-air TV hasn’t been available, and one of our selections was the first three Jurassic Park movies. This campsite could definitely make you think you were there on the island, with overhanging trees, palmetto leaves, Spanish moss and vines hanging from the branches. Need to watch those puddles for vibrations …
It cleared off and we drove to the beach access. As we did we got a nice teaser (also a reminder from last visit) as two spoonbills flew over the car. Naturally I didn’t have the camera handy. My previous visit here was an unsuccessful attempt to get a photo of the spoonbills. Looks promising? But the next day, as we were scanning the marsh from the beach boardwalk we only saw egrets and ibis. Jackie asked an obvious birder (big camera, pair of binoculars) where we might see spoonbills and his reply was “well, they’re kind of all around.” But he did add that peregrine falcons were migrating through and “there’s one now.” Actually, we did see another falcon but no more spoonbills yet.
Since we had a cloudy day, chance of rain and the surf was pretty wild, we drove back to the St. Augustine historic district and walked around the oldest city in the US. Very quaint and filled with history of the Spanish settlement – and plenty of shops for the tourists. Lunch at the Prohibition Kitchen was a huge burger and beer cheese soup that hit the spot on a drizzly day.
So what else did we do?
One nice, breezy but sunny day at the beach with some wild surf
Another brewery discovery and two flights at Bog Brewing
Dinner on the rooftop of the Salt Life Food Shack (yes, THAT Salt Life) and lucked out with half-price sushi rolls and happy hour beer!
Dark night walks with Kodi around the camp, only to get bit by those darn skeeters
Add another brewery to the list: Old Coast Ales
Beach time watching the shore birds. This time we discovered that the ruddy turnstones (sandpipers, not a musical group) took quite an interest in us – standing around at our feet – looking for a handout? Also marveled at how much the sand was covered in shells and bits.
Searched for the spoonbills every day, with no success
Did see gopher tortoises again
And then we packed up for the road and drove to Hilton Head Island. This was an extra few days we added once we heard from Dad’s community that he needed a bit of help with some essentials. It took us 5 hours, somehow a bit longer than expected, but where we were staying was a very nice private spot: Hilton Head Harbor RV Resort & Marina. We’ve been here before and it really is nice – it’s the closest spot to park the motorhome and also see Dad. So we have the weekend to take care of a few things, meet Dad under limited COVID conditions and visit with my brother Jeff , Vicki, nephew Adam and his fiancé Ashley.
We did manage to get all of our assistive items set for Dad, had lunch of fish, shrimp and calamari on the bay at Hudson’s (saw dolphin but had to run indoors from the patio mid-meal due to a downpour) and met up with Adam and Ashley to see their new home. Oh, and Jeff got his hot tub powered up and bubbling, so we got some time to unwind.
We finally head out for home as this weekend wraps up. Watching yet another hurricane (Delta) hit the Gulf coast we are thankful we aren’t still in the area. This month in Florida has been a bit more rain, a bit more driving for Jackie than we had planned and a whole lot more of Florida than we expected but that’s why we call these things adventures. Great fun in the sun, surfside eats and new breweries to explore – but it’s always nice to get back home, too.
Are we there yet?
Thanks for coming along on the journey. What’s next? Maybe a fall trip to the mountains, a “deep cleaning” of the car and motorhome for sure. Who knows?