Saturday, July 23, 2011
We are on our way again this week to take TCC(TeenCrusherCrusher) to 4H camp up in Niceville, FL. She has chosen a Marine Science camp this year. So while she’s away doing campy things, CC (CurbCrusher) and I (Lady CC), are going to explore the panhandle area.
We arrived at around 4 pm to Grayton Beach State Park. We had toured here about 3 years ago when one of CC’s cousins was married. We stayed at Topsail Hill State Park that trip but wanted to see other parks in the area. What also helped us to chose this one was a blogger on the FortFiends.net site that said he came up here often and gave some great pointers about what to see and do.
After setting everything up in the site, we put on our swimsuits and rode our bikes down to the beach. The water was blue green, hence the name of the Emerald Coast. Unfortunately the water also had bunches of sticky green seaweed stuff floating in it. You could look like the character in the Green Lagoon if you didn’t rinse off. The water temperature was fine, no shells to cut your feet on and the sand was powdered sugar fine. After our playtime in the water we each took showers to rinse the green from ourselves and decided to go out for dinner. We wanted Mexican food, so we set out to find some. We ended up at Don Pedros on Hwy 98, since the restaurant we wanted to go to didn’t seem to exist anymore. The meal was great and if we’re in the area we will go back.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
We explored some of Seaside today as its only a mile from our park. Most of the shops seem pretty high end with items we wouldn’t buy. But I guess they do have a market for most of it. We also drove to Publix (4.5 miles) to get hamburger buns and steaks for later in the week. This will be TCC’s last night with us so she wanted the hamburgers for her meal. Then we took naps and read our books, took a bike ride to the beach, had our showers and then dinner.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Today we are on a mission to get LCC’s park signs and stamps for her FL park book. First we take TCC up to the ranger station where she turns in her Jr Ranger book for 2 pins that she has earned by finishing the book. After making sure TCC has packed everything she needs for 4H camp we leave and head for Topsail Hill State Preserve. We get a new map there and 2 stamps, one for TS and one for Rocky Bayou. We then leave and head to Henderson Beach State Park which is smack in the middle of Destin. Lots of traffic here. We get our stamps and a new map and then head over to the Walmart across the street because CC needs flip flops. We pick up a couple of other things and go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. After we finished lunch we headed out to Rocky Bayou to get my park sign photo. We didn’t actually enter the park since Topsail had given me the stamp and Henderson has the updated park map on their park map as well. We find Camp Timpoochee and drop off TCC there. Their 4H camp seems more compact but nicer than Camp Ocala. We’ve heard the food is better there as well. Her cabin, unlike Camp Ocala has bunkbeds (so 10 kids to a cabin), and 2 sinks, toilets and showers so no waiting on others to get into the bathroom. Supposedly this is an alternative to going to Congress if kids would rather be at camp.
After dropping TCC off and saying our goodbyes until Friday morning, we head out to find Eden Gardens State Gardens. When we arrived we were just in time to get in on the last tour. The house was given to the State of Florida in the 50’s and it has the USA’s 2nd largest collection of Louis 16th furniture inside. Originally it was a house for a sawmill family and their workers and when it was sold it became a home and gardens. Because both times no one in the family wanted it, it was sold or given away. After our tour we continued on back to Grayton finding a tiny Publix in Watercolor that is much closer than the one on Hwy 98.
We took short naps and then read for awhile then decided we would go out to eat at one of the places we could bike to. Unfortunately in this area most places seem to be closed right after the weekend so it was hard to find a restaurant open. Finally we found one near us called The Little Italy Ristorante. We practically had the place to ourselves. Both of us ordered small pizzas and they brought us homemade bread and dipping oil to try. The food was very good. A couple of ladies that sat near us stopped at our table when they were leaving to tell us to spread the word about the place because they didn’t want to see it close from lack of patronage.
After dinner we biked back to the park and said hi to the ranger Jody. She gave us a couple of other places to eat if we were interested. We then biked down to the beach and walked around the waves for awhile.
Tuesday, July 26,2011
Today started with a short hike in the park. We biked down to the beach area where the trail starts. I thought I had a trail summary but I actually had the one from Henderson Beach instead. As we started walking through the dunes on the path it started to rain and continued to rain the whole hike. As least it wasn’t lightning, just thunder. So not too many pictures from the hike as I was trying to keep the camera from getting too wet.
We came back to the RV to load up and check out Camp Helen, another state park nearby. It started as a retreat for a textile mill owner and then was purchased by someone else to be operated as a resort. They added more small cabins and a recreation hall to the property. Today, you can picnic and swim in the bay.
After leaving Camp Helen we headed into Panama City Beach to go to the SeaBreeze Winery. Their vineyards are in north FL but they bottle everything in PCB. I was able to do a wine tasting and bought 2 bottles, 1 white and 1 red, which is surprising to me since I don’t like Muscadine grapes and I don’t normally like red wine. They have a slushie mix that you add to the wine and freeze and even CC wants to try that since he tasted it at the store.
After making my purchases we left to head to St Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach. I wanted my stamp and the park sign and we wanted to look around the park.
After arriving and finding out where to go for the stamp we toured the park. It is really big. They have 3 stores inside the park. Normally they have a boat shuttle to Shell Island but because of bad weather it was not running today. We walked the boardwalk near the fishing pier and the inlet area of the beach. Then we drove around the campgrounds. They have 2 and they must have about 174 sites total between them. It is the largest campground in Floria.
After checking everything out we left and headed back to Grayton State Park. On the way we stopped when we saw a boiled peanut seller but he only had Cajun peanuts. But a few miles down the road we saw another boiled peanut seller and were able to get regular peanuts from him. We need a few more things so we stopped at the Publix in Watercolor to get them and made our way back to the campsite.
Tonight we are marinating chicken to grill with fresh vegetables. Yum!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
This morning we decided would be our breakfast out morning. When we got up the rain was pouring down. This week has been pretty wet for a beach week. Mostly it rains early in the morning or right before sunset. The plan had been to ride our bikes to breakfast but because of the rain we ended up driving a ¼ mile away to a small cafe called, Another Broken Egg Cafe. Upon reading the menu when we got there it stated the cafe was started in Metarie on the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain near New Orleans. So in honor of that we started with beignets and then I ordered a Belgian waffle and CC had an omelet.
After finishing breakfast it was still raining so we decided to go ahead and travel to the last winery in the area, Three Oaks, in Vernon. This winery was really out in the middle of nowhere. After driving about an hour we arrived and were the only customers in the parking lot. The winery store looks like a grandma’s attic store. Very quaint and country looking. When we walked in I wasn’t sure we were in a winery then either. The store was filled with crystal and teacups. There was not much there dealing with wine or accessories for wine. The co-owner, Doug Biddle, was at the counter when we entered and he wasn’t very talkative. CC really tried to draw him out but I guess he wasn’t much of a people person today. When I asked to try the wines he didn’t talk up how they made them, what I should be tasting, etc. He just poured them into communion sized plastic cups and set them on the counter. After tasting I walked around the shop, and CC said Doug pulled out a magazine to read while he waited to see if I would buy something. I actually bought a white Muscadine because it did taste good. I usually don’t like the Muscadine wines as some have a bitter aftertaste.
Since we didn’t have anything else to occupy ourselves for the rest of the day, we stopped at a Publix to get coffee since I was running low, and then a small Walmart nearby to see what they had. I wish they could make the Walmart near our home like this one. It was about the same size as the store we had plus a small grocery with it. But it didn’t have the garden center or automotive area. Unfortunately there is a Publix in the same shopping center so it will never have the grocery inside the store.
Since we had such a big breakfast we skipped lunch and read and napped for most of the afternoon. About 2 pm we packed up and headed to the beach since the rain seemed to move out to the Gulf. We spent about 2 hours there and the green seaweed is still in the water. We saw a ranger on the way back and asked him about the vehicles on the beach and he told us that only Walton County residents that pay a special fee, and have 4 wheel drive vehicles can drive on the public beach.
We came back and took our showers and started preparing dinner. Tonight we are having steaks that we started marinating yesterday, baked potatoes, and a salad. I think this is the best we have eaten on any camping trip for awhile. After dinner we walked around the campground to mark down sites we liked if we came back. We met a family from Slidell, LA and talked for awhile with them. They seemed surprised I knew where Slidell was, but I told them I went to school at Millsaps and had a roommate from Slidell. The man said his son was going to school at Millsaps in a couple of weeks. Small world.We came back when it started getting dark and watched some episodes of Pysch, and then read for the rest of the evening.
Not sure what was wrong with CC tonight, he became very ill near bedtime. His was most unusual since he rarely is sick.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
We ate breakfast in the RV today and then rode our bikes up to the House of Klaus on the connector road. Grabbed a menu to look at later. Then we rode our bikes into Seaside for granola at Mordica’s Market. We had tried some granola there on Saturday but didn’t get it then, so we bought it today. Then we went a little further to a beach market when it started to drizzle on us. It actually felt good because the humidity is so high right now. After looking around we rode our bikes back to Grayton SP and ate lunch and then on to the beach.
Today the beach flag was red because of Tropical Storm Don that was heading to Texas. The waves were really kicking up. CC broke our boogie board trying to ride a few. Every year when we are at the beach someone cracks a board in half. We walked up and down the beach to the public areas. They are very crowded, not like in the SP area. We have plenty of room and each family has a front row seat of the Gulf. After a couple of hours we left and went back to the RV to rest, shower and get ready to go to dinner.
We rode our bikes back up to House of Klaus for dinner. CC had a large shrimp basket, the shrimp were quite big. LCC had a famous Klaus burger that was really good. We shared a peanut butter pie for dessert that was really good. We then went back to the beach for sunset photos. Lots of people come out at sunset to take family photos. You can tell who they are because they all dress in white and beige. It must be some kind of requirement. Many have a professional photographer with them.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Got up at 6 am to see the sunrise down at the beach. This was the first morning that is wasn’t raining or drizzling since we arrived. The beach was empty except for 2 people. Very serene. The tide was coming in and the waves were starting to hit the high water mark. We walked down to the public area to see the lagoon area that everyone hangs around in during the day. We got some good shots of the sunrise and some of the shore birds.
We came back and LCC made some muffins for breakfast and we starting getting ready to go pick up TCC from 4H camp. We left around 9am to get back to Timpoochee. TCC was very tired as usual but said she did like her week there. She did end up changing cabins on that first day though.
After picking her up, we headed to Walmart to replace our boogie board, and then to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. TCC talked about what she did at camp and who she met.
Then LCC wanted to check out some prints from local artists so we stopped by the Donna Burgess gallery but didn’t get anything. There is also another artist, Nina Fritz, but she doesn’t have a gallery here, hers is in Pensacola. I will probably order something from Paul Brent. He’s a panhandle watercolor artist from Panama City. We already own a number of his prints from long ago, before TCC was born, when we came to visit CC’s family in PCB for a long weekend and discovered him then.
We stopped at Publix on the way back for some milk because we all know TCC can’t live without any and we had run out. Then back to the RV so she could nap the rest of the afternoon. We find that it is best to let her sleep as much as she wants after camp since they tend to stay up later and get up earlier than she is used to at home. It helps to keep the crankies away if she catches up on her sleep. While she was catching her ZZZZZ’s, CC and LCC went to the beach to try out the new boogie board.
It was a double red flag day with one flag having a swimmer with a circle and line through it. This means No Swimming at all. Someone near us told us that a ranger had come by on a 4wheeler and told everyone to get out of the water a few minutes before we got there. About 4 or 5 people were in the water we noticed after we set our stuff down. So we headed in as well to try out the board. The waves were above our heads and the undertow was very strong. I’ve never seen that in the Gulf. It is usually very calm. Riding the big waves was a lot of fun though. No one ever came by to tell us to leave though. Since they were so rough we quit for awhile and just sat at the edge of the surf and relaxed. We saw 3 military helicopters fly by while at the beach. I had just commented the day before that we hadn’t seen any military planes which was unusual since we were so close to Eglin AFB.
We stayed until 430pm then came back to clean up and get the RV ready to leave tomorrow. CC worked on the outside while I cleaned up the inside. TCC was still sleeping. I heard my phone beeping with a message and found one from her Spanish teacher. I had forgotten that we set up a monthly call for today. She wanted to know if we could move it to 630pm. I said yes and was surprised when she called at 530pm. I had forgotten about the time difference and was in the middle of cleaning the bathroom. TCC even spoke to her but doesn’t remember it because so was so tired.
We had an easy dinner with leftovers from the week and TCC finally got up around 6 pm. After dinner we went back down to the beach for sunset again. The waves were starting to look more normal. Lots of people doing their family photos again as well. We stayed until the sun set then came back to watch Gnomeo and Juliet and then go to bed. It was a long day for all of us since we got up to see the sunrise and TCC was so tired after camp. Tomorrow we head for home.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Today we got up and went to Starbucks for coffee (a bribe for TCC to get her moving) and then into Seaside to check out their farmer’s market. They had everyone set up near the bandshell. It was quite small only about 8 tents but we bought homemade bread, the granola lady was there as well. Some were selling fruits and vegetables and one person had seedlings to sell.
After that we came back to the RV and finished packing to head home. CC wants to take Hwy 20 to get there so we will see how it works. Should take us about 7 hours with stops for food and gas to make it home.
**We did take 20 and it was much more peaceful driving than being on I10 and 331. I think we will make a note to take this way if we come back here.