"Forgotten Coast of Florida" :
Thanksgiving Trip, 2005 November 24-28

This year for Thanksgiving Holidays I traveled again to North-Western Florida, to its "Panhandle", the area between Tallahassee and Pensacola
( see the US map below on the left, and click it to see the detailed map of the area where I traveled to ).

I like this area because of its sugar-white sand, palms and nice shallow bays with sandy bottom and transparent water. Besides that, this place is relatively hard accessible : unlike Miami, Orlando, Tampa and other famous resorts, there are no major roads going directly to Panhandle coast and the traveler has to use the local roads to get there. The more so, this place is still untouched by modern builders. All the hotels there are built sometime in the middle of XX century, so they are not big. As a result, the beaches are not badly crowded even in the peak seasons.

Because of that, some people call this area Forgotten Coast of Florida.

In contrast to that, the service in the hotels is good, and a plenty of stores located in thirty-forty miles ( west in Panama City and east in Apalachicola ) offers the same variety of goods as the stores in urban areas. All these features make this place be a rather cozy and pleasant corner.
I think, Thanksgiving traveling to this place becomes my tradition.

         It snowed when I was leaving Maryland on Wednesday Nov 23 evening, further it snowed in Virginia almost all the way till Richmond, it rained in Richmond, it was cool and windy in Carolinas and Georgia, but when I crossed the Florida state line on Thursday Nov 24 morning it was sunny and warm, up to 20C ( 72F ).
         From Thursday Nov 24 till Sunday Nov 28 the weather in Florida remained nice and warm although sometime a strong wind made enjoying the beach be a challenge. Only on the last day, Sunday Nov 28, it was cloudy and drizzling although still warm. The temperature of the surf was not too bad : about 17C ( 62-64F ) : like sometimes in Black Sea in June-July.
         The distance between Maryland and Florida Panhandle is about 1100 miles ( 1700-1800 km ), what is 17-18 hours of non-stop driving. This time I was traveling through Jacksonville and Tallahassee using I-95, I-10, then local roads, and finally the scenic Rt98 going just along the sea coast and offering wonderful sea views.
         The hotel prices in Florida was extraordinary low this season : in Mexico Beach I had a room with ocean view and kitchen in the motel located just on the beach for $40 per night : very cheap! I think everybody is now avoiding traveling to Florida because of the recent hurricanes and for that reason all the hotels were having vacancies, while personally I hadn't seen even a single sign of recent weather cataclysms. May be the only result of these events was the unusual number of nice large shells scattered everywhere on the beaches.
         I departed from Florida on Sunday Nov 27 evening and I was in Maryland on Monday Nov 28 morning. The curious thing was that recently snowing Maryland met me with Florida's weather ( may be I brought a tiny piece of Florida with me ), but already in a couple of days the freezing weather and snow returned, so I was very smart to clean my car ( which was full of sand ) on the first day while it was still warm...

         My fun in Florida began in the first day, even before I had settled in the motel in Mexico Beach. Driving towards the motel on Thursday Nov 24, I stopped by St.George Island where I spent a few hours, almost till sunset.
         The second day, Friday Nov 25, I spent walking miles along on St.Joe Beach, till dusk again.
         The third day, Saturday 26, I drove to St.Joseph Peninsula where I again enjoyed the beach and the sea as well as fantastic shapes of dunes and dune forest.
         The forth day, Sunday 27, already on my way back I stopped again on St.Joseph Peninsula and reached walking its distant cape separated from the nearest road with almost eight miles of dunes as well as deep and wet sand. Only after the cape was "conquered", I felt comfortable to depart home.

Here are the links to my other Florida trips :

FLORIDA WILDLIFE : Trip in May 2005 ( Labor Holidays )

FROZEN WORLD : Trip in January 2005


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The full size images (2288x1712px) are available upon request

This is the image taken on St.George Island on Thursday Nov 24

These are the images taken on St.Joe Beach on Friday Nov 25

These images are also taken on St.Joe Beach on Friday Nov 25.
The cloud reminding a nuclear explosion was rising above Tyndall Air Force Base about couple of evening hours.
I have no idea what was that. If somebody knows, please let me know. I guess they burned there something for purpose. When I drove on Rt98 crossing Tyndall AFB the day before, I had seen the bush burning along the road. It looked it was burned for some purpose. May be this time they purposely burned something again...

St.Joseph Bay is shallow, the sandy bottom is nice, the water is clean and transparent...

This is the cape located in the very end of St.Joseph Peninsula. This cape is separated from the nearest road with 12km ( almost 8 miles ) of dunes as well as deep and wet sand. I was very curious to get there, and did it on Sunday Nov 27. There were just sky, sea, sand and birds around, and no people in the radius of at least 10 km. Since not many people want ( and are even physically able ) to get to this point, if you are there, you are guaranteed that you are on the "private" beach where it is only you and wildlife for many km around. Around this cape the bottom descends very slowly, so you can walk hundreds of meters in the water, sometimes up, sometimes down, and it will be still up to your belt. An interesting sign was that in the moment when I reached the cape, the sun came out for a few minutes although all the day it was cloudy and drizzling...

These are the images taken on St.Joseph Peninsula on Saturday Nov 26 and on Sunday Nov 27 on my way to the cape and back.

In the conclusion the image of shells I picked up on the beach :
( keyboard for size comparison )

Have a nice day !