Gulf Islands National Seashore: 12/28 – 12/31

It rained for most of our time in Southern Florida which was considered unusual since it was dry season.  We had maybe four nice days out of the 17 days we were there.  On the day that we left Markham State Park, we had to wait for the rain to subside.

As we travelled west and then north on 75, the rain continued.  We drove several hours and stopped at Ocala Sun RV Resort for the night. It appeared that perhaps the rain was finally going to stop.

Ocala Resort is a rather large, newly renovated RV resort located just west of Hwy 75 not far from the pan handle and Hwy 40 which heads west.  It seemed like a good place to stop driving and call it a day. Unfortunately, for a reason unbeknownst to me, I was having difficulty falling asleep.  I got out of bed and sat up reading on the couch.  My cough would still prevail.  I finally got up to get some honey and lemon.  As I reached for the handle of the refrigerator, I was eye level and only about ten inches from a rather large frog that was hanging out of the side of our fridge.  Well, I SCREAMED bloody murder.  Scott jumped out of bed not knowing why I was losing it.  I couldn’t speak but merely pointed toward the now hopping creature.  He didn’t tell me at the time that he didn’t want to touch it because a lot of tree frogs have poisonous skin. He also didn’t tell me that it was most likely the same frog that had taken up rent on our picnic table back at Markham Park in Weston.

I recall the day that Scott told me we had a new pet living outside of the trailer, but I wasn’t interested in frogman.  Now, in the middle of the night, I just wanted him to get it OUT OF MY HOUSE and fast.  Scott turned toward me with a pointed figure and yelled at me to STOP screaming.  I was so stunned that not only did I stop screaming, but I also stopped coughing.  LOL. You cannot make this stuff up.  He finally caught the frog in Tupperware, and tossed him out the door.  Then, I became obsessed with cleaning the areas that our ex-pet had travelled upon.  I was completely grossed out, but I was no longer coughing.  Finally, I went to bed and slept. 

Back in May of 2018 when we began full-timing, I recall telling Scott that if we found any creature in our trailer, I would be leaving for good.  We both had to be conscious of not leaving the screen door open so that the scary creatures would stay outside in their habitat and not enter ours. I think that during our first 20 months on the road, we had only a couple of flies, a few moths, and two beetles find their way into our home.  It wasn’t a big deal, as I was more concerned with reptiles making an unwelcome visit.  So, here we were with a frog freaking me out in the middle of the night.  I was half asleep, not feeling well, and certainly not expecting to see what I saw without any warning.  I chose to hang around and not leave.  

Sorry for the sidebar about the frog, but it was a pretty significant event in my opinion.  It could have been a game changer…but lucky for Scott, it wasn’t.

The next morning, we headed west on Route 40 towards Gulf Shores National Seashore.  This National Park is a two-state, 160-mile park that offers many recreational opportunities and beautiful white, sandy beaches.  We chose Fort Pickens which is south of Pensacola Bay in Florida.  Years ago, Pensacola Bay had been chosen as the site for a navy yard, a depot, mainland and island forts, a naval timber reserve and more.  It’s Third System masonry forts represents over 200 years of innovation in military design, materials weapons, and strategy aimed to fortify major US harbors after the War of 1812.  Interestingly enough, it was also the reason why it was abandoned decades later.  Of the nearly 200 forts recommended nationwide, only 42 were built.  Today, the park preserves five sites.  

It had finally stopped raining as we drove over the Pensacola Bay Bridge, Route 98, to Gulf Breeze Island. 

Then, we crossed over Santa Rosa Sound and onto Fort Pickens Road.  As we drove west, the GPS map reminded us that we were on a very narrow piece of land with water on both sides.  

When we arrived at the Fort Pickens Campground Registration, there was a long line.  Scott wanted to watch the sunset, but he needed to wait on line.  So, I snuck outside to catch a last peak for the day.  Just look at that white sand!

Scott soon joined me and took a short video with my camera.

After we got settled, we walked down to the beach.  It was only a five minute walk from our campsite.  It was now 5:43 p.m.

The next morning, Scott got up early to catch the sunrise.  

The sun was shining but the temperature had fallen from yesterday.  It was 45 degrees overnight and by early morning, it was still chilly. 

Scott got busy working on the trailer while I happily read my book inside the trailer.

My talented husband!

By late morning, the temperature had risen to 61 degrees and the sun was shining!  Since it wasn’t exactly swimming weather, we got our bikes and went for a ride.  Fort Pickens is the park’s largest fort.  It has been partially restored and reveals how its construction has developed over time. 

After walking around the fort, we got back on our bikes and came to a small, wooden bridge where we could observe the quiet marshes and birds.  

We made our way back out to the main road and onto the shore. The sun felt warm on our skin, but not warm enough for me to go for a swim.

I found a happy spot.

You know who had no issues with the cold air coupled with cold water.

Time to dry off.

The following morning, New Year’s Eve Day, we took a morning walk to the beach. It was another beautiful morning.

What appeared to be a straight path to the water, ended up being a drop off of about 30 feet.

Here we would find a beautiful crane looking for breakfast.

We both would love the opportunity to go back to these beaches in warmer weather.  I now have another repeat location on my list of places to see. Now it was time to exit Florida.

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