Wednesday March 1 to Tuesday March 7, 2017 Most Recent Posts:
St. George Island State Park An Unexpected Extended Stay at Gracious Rainbow Springs
St. George Island Florida Finishing Off Disney
WEDNESDAY MARCH 1
Our prolonged stay at Rainbow Springs State Park included canceling our plan to stay 5 days near St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge and the first 3 days of our two week reservation at St. George State Park. We were simply too sick to move.
Luckily David was well enough to do the 229 mile long drive that not being able to keep those reservations mid way at St. Mark’s reservations required.
After what seemed like forever driving on two lane highways through little towns like Perry and Sopchoppy, we finally rounded the bend on Florida Route 98 and were traveling along the gulf wondering how these houses on this tiny strip of land between the water and the road survive high winds let alone the hurricanes that have hit these shores. At points it appears that there is no land between the road and the gulf.
The 28 mile long St. George Island is located off the north Florida Coast 10 miles from the sweet town of Apalachicola. The impressive 4 mile bridge was built in 2002 to replace two bridges deemed unsafe. It’s always exciting to reach this point in the drive and know we will soon be on the island.
There are several stop signs on the island’s main road but no traffic lights. The speed limit is 25 and 35 miles an hour so it takes a bit of time to drive 8 miles from the lighthouse to the state park entrance and the 4 additional miles to the campground.
When you are on St. George you are away from “goods and services”. There is no grocery store and one gas station. No high rises and miles of beautiful beach. The beach is, however, lined with cottages from one end of the island to the state park entrance. The park entrance is on the east end of the island. The west end of the island is known as the St George Plantation. Its over 1,200 acres with 24/7 security and accessible only to owners and their rental designees. It is quite a bit wider than the park’s eastern 2023 acre portion of the island although the widest point on the island is less than two miles.
The campground is one large oval loop with two bathhouses and a cut through. There are 60 sites which can take rigs from 26’ to 43’. There is no laundry but the water and electric at the sites are excellent and we were able to have good verizon service both data and phone. We checked the TV stations one night and could pull in several including PBS. I was actually quite surprised at all of this on a barrier island not near any big city. Tallahassee is 90 miles away. Lest this seem too much like paradise, I must also say that unlike our previous months in Florida we have found mosquitoes here. They are mostly out in the late afternoon but I was unable to do any hiking on this stay here so I can’t say that for sure.
THURSDAY MARCH 2- TUESDAY MARCH 7
David has mostly recovered. I’m still coughing, still too tired to do much. It has been windy and chilly during our first week here so my being incapacitated hasn’t been the only thing to keep us from days on the beach, kayaking, and biking. It’s just too windy.
I have managed on some days to walk down to the windy gulf shore and back. It’s a lovely walk of about a half mile round trip which with this crud still owning my body seems as much as I can do.
Luckily our site is one of the closest to the water and the walk takes me down the campground road and past two ponds which always seem to have a gathering of Great Blue Herons. One day there were 4. On another day a beautiful blue winged teal in breeding plumage flew in and skidded to a stop on the water as I was watching while taking a break to get my breath.
How many Great Blue Herons do you see?
It’s possible they are pairs. I saw a pair on the other pond flying in with nesting materials.
In all the days of our stay here I only saw the teal once.
The walk over the dunes to the beach has a wonderful sand mat all the way. I think it aids in keeping people off the vegetation Mother Nature intends to hold the dunes in place.
St. George Island State Park is 9 miles of undeveloped beaches and dunes, surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and St George Sound, part of the Apalachicola Bay.
The dunes here in the park are some of the most natural you will see anywhere. It is wonderful to see the beach in such a pristine condition without having been bent and flattened to the will of man.
The pristine beach is gorgeous even if it is too cold and windy to pull up a chair and get out a book.
How often do you see a beach as beautiful as this totally deserted?
Well, deserted except for this willet.
On the way back to Winnona, I again stop at the pond and see a kingfisher zoom across. I follow him into a pine tree and am able to get what are for me, a rare shots.
Same bird, different hairdo.
Back at the rig, I am tired and decide to sit out in my anti-gravity chair. When I open the door to go out, I’m greeted by a red bellied woodpecker in the gravel. I grab my camera. He’s still there.
But when I come out, he flies up on a nearby pie tree and gives me a look.
I see lots of interesting things between reading and napping including a neighbor taking her “children” for a walk. That’s a dog in the carriage and a cockatoo in the cage. You see all kinds of things in Florida State Parks.
On my walk to the beach the next day there is what I suppose is a juvenile Double Crested Cormorant on the bank and in the water. Like the teal, I only saw him this one time. I guess he was a drop in.
Down by the shore, it’s still too windy and chilly for staying but I decide I’ll put a foot in to see how cold the water is. The water is warmer than the air. Wish it would warm up just a bit, I could go swimming in this water. David is with me of course, he takes these pictures.
On another day I walk the other direction toward the end of the campground where between site 28 and the playground is the path to the little Interpretive Center. It’s much less windy in the wooded campground and thus warmer.
I’m not sure what they actually use this building for. Perhaps they have more activities in the summer when I’m sure this entire island is really hoppin’. But they do have a small lending library on a two self bookcase on the wall. I’ve been doing a lot of reading while I’m unable to do much else so I check out what’s on the shelves. Mostly thrillers and chic lit. I pick up a couple of “read em’ in one day” titles to try out.
Behind the center the path goes on to a beach on the sound side of the island. At some points on the park road you can see both the gulf and the sound they are so close to each other.
The park occupies 2,023 acres at the end of a long, narrow barrier island, and is a combination of sandy coves, salt marshes, shady pines, and oak forests. The park has trails through each of these habitats. They can all be reached from the campground just behind the playground. David walks several of them over the week but I just don’t have the energy.
This is an absolutely beautiful spot and has a nice bench and a picnic table but is also prone to mosquitoes when the weather is warm. No problem today, too much wind.
From the pine trees, I’m serenaded by this lovely Pine Warbler.
Over the days, the winds continue and so do the waves at the beach. It looks more like the Atlantic than the Gulf of Mexico. They are great to watch but it’s too windy and chilly to stay long.
The skies are blue and the dunes are beautiful.
One evening we walk down behind the Interpretive Center to the Sound for the sunset. Unlike during the day, we can’t stay long as the mosquitoes are having us for dinner.
TUESDAY MARCH 7
I’ve had a low grade fever with this cough and fatigue. Only in the 99’s but yesterday and today my temperature has been normal. Hope that means there will be a change in the other symptoms as well. Today I walk down to the water. Still impressive wind and waves.
Some mighty big footprints in the sand.
Yesterday when I walked down, I lay down in the hard sand near the dunes to rest. I put my hands under my head to keep the sand out of my hair and actually took a little nap. Today I come prepared with my beach towel. Nice view.
David is slower about his morning but he eventually finds me here watching the Great Blue Heron and offers to go back for the chairs if I think I’d like to stay. You can tell from my short sleeves that it’s warmer today.
We spend a few hours in the sun which keeps us warm enough in spite of the wind which is still whipping up the waves.
Not sure if this is the same pair from the ponds but they’ve been here every time I’ve come down to the water.
When the sun goes behind the clouds it becomes too cool and we head back. On our way, I spot a cattle egret at pond #2.. Like the teal and the cormorant, it is the only time I see him here.
Can you see his blonde forehead patch?
We’ve been told by two people that they’ve seen an alligator in Pond #1. We look every time we walk by but so far he’s eluded us.
When we get back to Winnona, the red bellied woodpeck is in the pine tree next to the rig again. Nearby is a mockingbird just singing his heart out. We have a resident Eastern Towhee as well but I haven’t been able to get pictures of him as he is always flitting around in the leaf litter under the trees. I really do love having these woodland birds in my backyard.
Even though the sunrise is at a very easy 7am these days, I have not been out once to see it. My illness is causing me to sleep 12 hours at a time followed by mostly lying around all day. But we walk down to the sound to catch the sunset once again and find that the mosquitoes are apparently a permanent fixture in this place at this time. We take a couple of pictures but can not stay for the final set and what may well be beautiful after color. Really too bad, the sky was lovely. As we were walking away up the path and looked back, we could see that the sun had run into a bank of black clouds and disappeared so there probably wasn’t really a visible “set”.
That’s it for our first week at St. George Island. There is so much more to do here than I am able to do but it’s a wonderful place just to relax. I’ve had this cough now for 15 days. I still have the fatigue but the fever seems to have gone.
Pretty sure this is a virus. Others who have had similar things have told me it has taken up to a month to be free of it so I haven’t made the monumental effort of seeking out a doctor on the road. Full timers know how difficult that can be.
If you’ve had this crud, tell me your story and how long it lasted and anything that helped it move on its way. The coughing and the lethargy are really getting me down.
Luckily David is feeling well after being home from the hospital for 11 days now so he plans to drive to Tallahassee tomorrow for his infusion at the Florida Cancer Specialists.