beach in destin

Day 86 – Gulf Coast Drive Along the Florida Panhandle Part 3

Day 86 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Getting to Destin

I made it to Destin around 6:30 last night.  As I passed all the bear crossing signs around dusk, I thought I might spot one until I realized this freezing weather probably sent them into hibernation!  Actually, it made me wonder if all bears hibernate.  It seems like Florida bears could just travel south for the winter. In addition to looking for bears, I kept an eye out for mileage signs to Destin.  I only saw signs for Panama City which I thought I heard Dottie say over our lousy cell connection was about an hour east of Destin.

I was moderately perplexed as my GPS estimated my time of arrival to Destin to be the same time (in my mind) that I reached Panama City.  I kept contemplating what I could have misunderstood when I realized I had crossed into the Central Time Zone!!  I haven’t been on CST for months…I’m getting closer to home!  Sadly, however, I have to admit that I always thought Florida was in the Eastern Time Zone.  It magnified the fact that while I’ve visited all over Florida in my lifetime, I’ve never been to the western part of the panhandle!  I sure have missed out.  I should have used my high school graduation present, a week stay at Dottie’s condo, years ago.

hammock sink in leon sinks geological area in the florida panhandle

Day 85 – Gulf Coast Drive Along the Florida Panhandle-Part-2

Day 85 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Well, I survived the 22 degree night in the Walmart parking lot.  In preparation of the cold night, I turned my heat on the highest temperature at full blast while driving to Woodville.  Even with exiting VANilla to do a little grocery shopping and to let the dogs out, the temperature remained above 50 by the time I went to bed…not bad.

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

The first Florida Panhandle attraction of the day was the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.  What a pleasant surprise!  As I paid the four dollar entry fee, I asked the ranger what he recommended.  He said the boat ride on the river because several manatees have been spotted.  I was all about that as I’ve only seen manatees on one other occasion and only briefly.

st. marks national wildlife refuge

Day 84 – Gulf Coast Drive Along the Florida Panhandle

Day 84 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Today was close to an 8 hour travel day from Southeast Florida to the Florida Panhandle in the Northwest.  I think in the last five days I’ve donated at least fifty dollars to Florida tolls.  I imagine I could have purchased the Sunpass and paid for it through reduced tolls already!  That way, I could have avoided the “change provided” toll plazas as well!  So far, Florida and New York break the bank in the toll category.  On the positive side, at least I saw a bald eagle wading in a small marsh alongside the turnpike.  I sure would have liked to snap a photo!


Day 82 – Ocean Reef Outing Part 2

Day 82 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Well, I don’t have much to add for today.  Carol and I didn’t make it very far on the Reader’s Digest Florida Keys drive as North Key Largo was our only stop.  We spent the morning laying out by the pool at Buccaneer Island and tooling around The Fishing Village.  Shakey and Jennalie joined us for lunch at The Raw Bar.

Carol fishing in Key Largo

Day 81 – Ocean Reef Outing

Day 81 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Miami Traffic

I’m curious to know the population of the Miami Metropolitan Area.  I have never seen so much traffic. I feel like I can say I successfully drove in New York City while being in South Florida.  The eighteen toll booths decreased to four lanes and later two. I would have happily participated in an alternating merge, but I quickly learned the word “merge” is not in the Hispanic dictionary. I wondered if the next part on VANilla I might have to replace would be a bumper or my steering wheel squeezed into pieces by my white knuckled grip. 


Day 79 – Riding in Wellington, Florida

Day 79 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Wellington, Florida

I spent the day with Page in Wellington, Florida.  We ran a few errands and then stopped by the barn just a few miles away to ride horses.  The six stall barn is situated between four turnouts, an outdoor arena, and a house where Page’s daughter and trainer live.  Upon our arrival, the horses stood in the crossties tacked up and ready to go.  I rode Bug, her grey hunter, and she rode Splash, her paint cross hunter.  Val joined us as well, and she rode one of Page’s jumpers.

We wandered the paths near the horse show grounds until Splash began acting colicky. As a result, we shortened the trail ride, returned to the barn, and awaited the vet.  Luckily, it wasn’t anything too severe, and his belly ache was under control within the hour.