grayton beach state park

Day 87 – Gulf Coast Drive Along the Florida Panhandle Part 4

Day 87 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

I logged another travel day into the books as I drove from the Florida Panhandle to Gadsden, Alabama.  The uneventful drive took me past some fields, some farms, and mostly brown winter grass. Fortunately, I enjoyed a few places to the East of Destin before I left. These places included Watercolor and Grayton Beach State Park.

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!