2008 Keys 2 Canada travel blog

the road south from Ozark, Alabama

fireworks are big here

back in the Sunshine State

crossing the Florida Panhandle headed south

not the most exciting country we've seen

there's a lot of this

the only change is an occasional curve in the road

but we're starting to smell that good gulf air

now it's starting to look like Florida

St. Patrick Seafood Store

our first sight of salt water in almost two months

Gulf of Mexico - how good it is to see it again!

beach homes on St. Joseph Peninsula

the park is at the end of the peninsula

past all this

our campsite in the trees

this amphitheater doesn't get much use this time of year

it's good to be back on the coast again

. . a little the worse for the wear - Tuesday, November 25

From the Civil Rights Memorial we got back on the road, turning south and heading for Florida. We drove the first 80 miles that same afternoon, then stopped for the night at a campground near Ozark, Alabama.

Our trip is winding down. We’re limping toward the finish line on four balding tires, and our little home on wheels is held together with duct tape and a prayer. 212 miles of unpaved Labrador road left us with squeaks and rattles that sometimes drown out Hank Williams on the speakers, and our refrigerator is broken in three different places. But it still keeps the lobster and the ice cream cold!

A book on RVs told us that putting on more than 4,000 miles a year would hurt our resale value. Using that measurement we’ve crammed 10 years of use into the first 3 years - but who’s selling? We’re just getting started and there is still a lot of country we haven’t seen. So our plan is to get the coach to the Lazy Days shop in Tampa, and to let them fix her up while we fly home to California for a few months.

To paraphrase the beautiful words of Maya Lin, “This is not a chronicle of suffering, it’s a testimonial to hope!"

Between Ozark, Alabama and Tampa, Florida there are five hundred miles of road, and some of it borders the Gulf of Mexico. Between November 25th and December 1st there are six more days to enjoy, and one of them is Thanksgiving.

We plugged these two factors into our planning machine and it came up with a wonderful way to spend the time. We will return to one of our favorite campgrounds, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Florida, and we will spend the Thanksgiving weekend wandering the beaches of the Florida Panhandle!

It’s 150 miles from Ozark, Alabama to Port St. Joe, Florida and we could feel the weather getting warmer by the mile. There were two problems facing us. 1) It’s a holiday weekend and the campground might be full already. 2) There’s a wonderful fish market near Port St. Joe and we remember the name, but not where to find it.

Madolyn tried calling the Florida State Park system to make a reservation, but they were not helpful or hopeful. All we could do was go to the park and see if there were any spaces available. We had to be there by 5:30 and time was running short if we wanted to stop and do any grocery shopping. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is out at the end of a very long peninsula, and you don't want to have to come all the way back into town for groceries if you can help it.

But fortune continued to smile upon us. As we entered Port St. Joe the first thing we saw was a sign pointing out the St. Patrick Fish Market. It was so good to see this funky old place again! We went in and bought two big grouper filets and six little lobster tails. The man gave us a refrigerator magnet with his name and number in case we forget where to find him again, and he also gave us a sweet little Christmas tree ornament of an oyster shell painted to look like Santa Claus.

From St. Patrick we headed down town and found the Piggly Wiggly store where we shopped last year. We picked up everything we needed for Thanksgiving dinner, and got back on the road for the park. It was still 25 miles away and it was nearly 5:00.

In short, we reached the campground on time and they had a space for us for the next four nights. We are camped where we can see the dunes and hear the surf, and we have water and electricity and everything we need to end our adventure with a glorious weekend. We have been so blessed that sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to make sure we haven’t died and gone to heaven.

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