Filed under: Destination Camping & RV Resorts, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, RV Campgrounds
IMAGINE YOURSELF HERE – Relaxing along Florida’s “Forgotten Coast.”
You see, I love the water. It can be a lake, pond, or ocean – it really doesn’t make any difference as long as I can get out on or in it.
After aimlessly wandering around Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, we found ourselves skirting the Gulf Coast of Florida on Highway 98. Our destination was a small “hole-in-the-wall” RV Park just outside of Carrabelle. Appropriately, the park’s name is Ho-Hum. Now, if that doesn’t imply a laid back and restful don’t-give-a-care attitude I don’t know what does?
There are maybe 50 sites here. All of them are made up of broken shells, gravel, and sand. Grass is scarce, much to Oscar’s dismay, but beautiful views and magnificent barrier islands are aplenty. If you are looking for shopping, movies and amusement park rides this is definitely not where you want to go. But, if you want to lay back and forget about the hectic pace of more populated and busy locations, this is the place to be.
We had our little ten-foot long Apollo inflatable dingy with us. It and the 8-HP outboard were packed on the front part of the truck’s bed. After three days of fog, the skies finally cleared and the sunshine came out. At first, I wasn’t sure what that hot ball of fire in the sky was – it had been almost a week since we last saw it. Now, it was making up for lost time sending out bright, hot rays of UV light that quickly turned the exposed parts of my body a rusty brown.
We unpacked the boat from its bag, inserted the floorboards, and inflated the outer chambers. In went the life jackets, fuel tank, safety gear and the little outboard. Once in the water we headed for a strip of sand in the distance identified on the map as Bird Island.
These barrier islands are something everyone should experience sometime in their life. There are no vacation cottages, hotels, vehicles, and other people. Not even the sound of a radio breaks the natural silence of these islands. It is easy to let your mind wander and pretend that you are a castaway safely grounded in an unfamiliar tropical paradise.
Despite the BP oil spill last year, the water is crystal clear and warm. The beaches are snow white – in fact so white that one could easily mistake their surface for a dusting of new fallen snow.
On the side of the island where the tidal current was slapping against the shore we found hundreds of brightly colored and interestingly shaped Conch shells – all inhabited by little creatures identified as Hermit Crabs. It seems that these little crabs simply pick out a vacant shell that they fit into, and then when they outgrow their shell, they just find another one a little larger. The only problem I could see with this was that all the shell homes appeared to be taken. Starfish, coral and sponges were abundant as well. We spent the afternoon wading in the pools and shallows of the island careful not to cross the center where birds might be nesting. All sorts of winged critters were there – Pelicans, Pipers, Gulls, Herron and more that we had no name for. Little fish darted around our feet and an occasional crab or Flounder took flight after being disturbed by our movements.
Back on the mainland, we enjoyed watching the sunset from the long pier that juts out from the campground.
The next day Nancy, Oscar, and I returned to Bird Island. But, we had an exceptionally high tide due to the pull of the full moon. Most of the island was under water making shell searching difficult. We returned to the camper for lunch. Later a fellow camper and I decided to make the crossing to Dog Island, some 3-4 miles out from our campground. It was actually only about a 20-minute ride across the swells with our little dingy at half throttle. In route, we were greeted by Dolphins rolling in the sea before us. That was exciting.
We landed in a small lagoon. The water was clear, then blue, then blue-green as we looked out from the lagoon. Nearby was a pontoon boat with two SCUBA divers launching themselves from the boat’s deck. Maybe they were looking for sunken treasure. There are several stories about lost Confederate gold lying undiscovered in these waters. Other than the divers, we were alone on the end of the island.
In front of us was the real Gulf of Mexico. There were no other islands beyond our footprints – just miles and miles of open water. Standing there, I knew we had encountered one of the many magnificent opportunities the freedom of our great country and the RV lifestyle afford those that dare to venture out. This is truly what it is all about.
In a few days we will be leaving – I honestly hate to go. But, new discoveries await us as we wander up Georgia’s and the Carolina’s costal highway. Our next planned stop is Hilton Head Island, SC. We have never been to Hilton Head, but have heard many stories about its beauty. Maybe I can write about those as well.