Drive to Stephen Foster State Park
Feb 26, 2012
It was hard to leave Indian Pass today. Thought seriously about staying there on the beach and looking for shells or running Bella.
Sometimes the technology we have seems to be a bit of overkill. GPS (named Greta) in the truck, two phones that are really small computers, digital cameras/video recorders (4), 2 TV’s, radios, DVD’s, CD's and MP3’s, and a chronograph on my wrist. We are not at a loss for data, music, or videos. In fact we usually check the Weather Channel on TV or phone in the morning before we plan our day or extended days. We use it. We find it helps planning. But still it seems to be intrusive in our lives.
Greta, for example, guides us through the country very well. We just tell her where we want to go and she plots the way. She warns me when I am over the speed limit with a stern “Speed Warning”, tells us of up-coming construction, towns, speed limit changes, and exactly where to turn. Kind of like having a nagging wife in the role of back-seat driver. (Not suggesting anything about my wife!!) (Besides she sits in the front seat).
Greta sometimes looks for the shortest route which leads us into places like downtown Mobile. But she also routes us onto the interstate. Saves time and fuel. But it’s boring and each state’s interstates look just like any other. It’s the quick and dirty view of America. Need to program Greta to avoid them so we can ride the blue line more.
We have met only a few people on the road who have no tech devices with them. With motorhomes, trailers, 5th wheels and campers, most people are usually inside about dark. Very rare to find a campfire. We’ve had only two. Last weekend, a young couple were tent camping at Indian Pass, right on the shore, exposed to all wind of the bay. They were cooking over the fire and had one going most of the time. They even gave up on Sat. Cool light rain and big winds drove them into their tent just after dusk.
That’s the way we used to do it, with little kids, too. Most of you reading this can probably relate to this. Spent many nights’ playing cards or sitting in the car listening to The Prairie Home Companion (if you could get it on the car radio). Also spent a bit of time threatening the boys with unimaginable punishments. We found that we raised our voices quite a bit, as well. But only when provoked!!
But we survived and have had many laughs about the times we had. Probably more memories about the bad days than the good ones. But in those days, we had to walk 2 miles uphill each way to fetch a jug of water!
Minnell’s going to bake some muffin for breakfast now and just said “I’m now going to have the adventure I call lighting the oven.” I’m so glad she still has the adventurous spirit. Makes living with me easier, I’m told.
I’m not complaining. It’s just that things are, you know, different. We even turned the TV on last night when it was raining. Technology, however, does not always work the way we want. We only get 4 channels here at Stephen Foster. 2 public and 2 CBS. Should have watched some of the Brit TV comedies I brought or one of the 50+ DVDs we have with us. But we watched 2 cooking shows on PBS and a rerun of the Mentalist.
But again, I can’t complain about the cooking shows as I learned to make a custardy French toast and how to grill oysters in the shell on the grill. So all was not lost.
Drove yesterday from Indian Pass to White Springs in sprinkles and light rain. The first 80 miles were extremely interesting, starting out along the shore and beaches of Apalachicola Bay. Very beautiful. The road mostly ran along the shore so we had a number of good views of both New and Old Florida.
New Florida is what we saw in Destin and Panama City. Lots of beaches but lined with high rise hotels and apartments. Just inland were the rows of tourist shops, shell shops, franchise restaurants, and cheaper and older no tell motels.
Old Florida is what we saw when we drove the back roads and blue lines. This Florida is in stark contrast to the other one. 50-60 year old cabins mostly in need of repair, a few beach houses up on wooden stilts, double wides in lots carved out of the pine forest that take up most of NW Florida and the panhandle. The highways are dotted with old motels and drive in restaurants, again mostly in need of repair or demolition.
It is sad to see what is the left of the tourist industry along the gulf. Lots of little towns, all having a motel and a seafood/steak house. Mostly empty or turned into a thrift shop. I think the saddest are the abandoned gas stations, some still have dimly painted whitewashed walls advertising Pepsi or Dr. Pepper. You remember the ones. They had a couple of pumps out front and a guy would run out and ask you “regular or Premium?” He’d open the gas cap and say “fill-er-up?” The windshield would get washed and the oil checked. Oh, the price of regular was about 35 cents. Those days remain in movies and books but not in today’s Florida or anywhere else, for that matter.
The recession appears to have hit this area hard. Many beach front houses for sale and many partially completed units also looking for buyers. Lumber and fishing are the main industries. Oh yeah, the military has some large bases in the panhandle.
The last 80 miles were on the interstate. Boring but efficient. Back in the 50s, when Eisenhower suggested a system of Interstate highways he was called a commie, a traitor, anti-American, and in violation of the constitutional rights of states. But they were built anyway. Just like Social security under Roosevelt, then Medicare under Johnson and Nixon, and now universal health under Obama. It seems like the so called state’s rights/Tea Party zealots have been fighting the Civil War again-- or still.
Enough. No, one last comment. Doesn’t it make you wonder about why the poverty levels are so high and the educational opportunities so limited in the South. It shouldn’t after you drive the blue line and get off the interstate. It doesn’t appear to be totally a racial thing—I think America is becoming, more and more, a land of Haves and Have Not’s. Scars me. A lot.
Old Florida is hidden behind the drone of the interstate while New Florida lines it. And you can substitute any state for Florida. My Mom used to tell me that the ugly parts of America were along the railroad lines where everybody could see them when traveling by train. Some things never change much.