Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

A look at Grayton Beach State Park

Monday April 29, 2013
Site 9 Grayton Beach State Park
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida



How totally fine. It rains all night long and stops just after I get up.


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Weather.com says the rain will start back up again at noon but they are wrong.  Hooray! 

I get out after breakfast and do the outside set up. When I finish we have the awning up, the chairs out, the table cloth on, the picnic table under the awning and the flag positioned.  It’s our home.



Now it’s time for taking  a walk around the park to get acquainted.



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Grayton Beach State Park has two campgrounds.  One is the original campground, now referred to as the Old Campground, which of course makes the newer one the New Campground. There are 59 sites split between the two. Sites 1-36 are in the old campground and 37-59 in the new





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I chose site 9 in the Old Campground since I like that cozy feeling of being in the bushes and under the trees.  The sites are gravel, as is the road, and vary in width and length.   All have water, electric, a fire ring and a picnic table.  Currently they cost $24 plus tax per night.  The first half dozen or so sites on the right as you come into the campground back up to Western Lake and are thus very popular.  You can kayak right off of your site in at least 4 of them.  Western Lake is a coastal dune lake, apparently a very unusual feature found in few other places in the world.  We’ll be out kayaking that later in the week weather permitting so I’ll talk about it then.


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And speaking of kayaking….

Right across from our site is a lake access so all we have to do is walk the boats down the path and put them in the water.  Sweet!


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I take a walk over there to see about launching the kayaks and look who I find down by the water at the end of the path.  Sure would like to have one of those waterfront sites next time.

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Oppps, back to the campgrounds…….

There is one bath house in the center of each campground.  The old loop’s bath house has been under “renovation” since September of 2012.  They expect to have it finished by July of this year.  Must be some renovation.  SO that means all the folks in the Old Campground and all the folks in the New Campground are using the same bath house.  A fair walk for those in the OC.  1 washer and 2 dryers at the bath house.  $2.00 each.


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The New Campground has a paved road and some cement pad sites but most of the sites are gravel. 





The sites are large and have Full Hook ups for which you pay an extra $6 a night.  The campground has very young trees and bushes so it is pretty wide open to the sun, the sky and the neighbors.

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After looking over both campgrounds, we head out down the road to see the beach. We pass by the lake and a bridge over its wetlands.  I’m surprised we see no wading or shore birds.  It looks like a great place for them.  It’s still very cloudy but I don’t see why that would matter to them.


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 It’s a good walk over to the beach from either campground. 

We estimate a mile.  Not a problem unless you are carrying a lot  of stuff which I always bring with me……my chair, my towel, my camera, my binoculars, water, books, some times my journal, sunscreen etc.   So we decide when we get back we’ll put our bike cart together to aid in getting over there.


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While we are walking, we notice all the wildflowers blooming along the road. Some are blooming, some not just yet.  But maybe they will before we leave. I’ll keep my eye out.   I recognize some of them from other parks but some are new to me.  There are wild rosemary bushes as well.




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Someone has done some really fine drawings of the wildflowers.

Luckily there is a really fine painting of them in the bath house building walk through.  If I were a local here, I’d love to have this hanging in my home.  There is no artists’ signature on the painting just what looks like PO3 2005.

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My picture of the live tread softly didn’t come out well so I’ll show you the painting up close.

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As we take the boardwalk over the dunes I notice this Gulf Coast Lupine shining out in its perfect setting.

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The beach is flying two caution flags. 

We talk with some folks from Alabama who are leaving today and coincidentally going up to the Blue ridge Mountains of Virginia just north of our farm.  They say those two flags have flown the entire week they have been here.

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We speculate on the “dangerous marine life”. 
Does make you think twice about going in the beautiful water.

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It’s never the same path twice.  I just love that!

On the way back we spot this very interesting looking creature that David says is a wasp and those in the know say is a dragonfly.  It was perched on top of what looked like a dead stick and would fly off and back and off and back giving me plenty of time to catch this picture.



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Grayson Day 1 Monday 049 The road runs behind the dunes.  I love seeing them  here in the Panhandle,  They are unique to this place and I am always sorry to see the areas along the beach where they have been leveled to build homes and businesses.  To their peril I fear in the next hurricane.  Mother Nature will have the last laugh.  And we’ll all be paying for the disaster relief.



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Our walk back is down the same road but we notice things we didn’t see before.  I actually do like to walk down and back the same road or the same path.  Loops are fine but then I want to do the loop both backwards and forwards.

This short path is a perfect example.  We didn’t see it coming but we now we do and look what we find.






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We get a small snack for sustenance on our journey.

And low bush blackberries.  YUM!  Some of them are ready for picking.  Where we come from the blackberries grow on canes which get so tall you can get mighty cut up trying to pick enough for a pie.  We just eat these right here and now.


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We have a few more things to check on with regard to the residency question so we make some more phone calls.  I think we’ve got all the papers and all the locations and all the ducks in a row.  Next day it rains we are headed for Crestview.  :-))

David gets out the beach cart puts it together.  I spend some time with my Florida shell book seeing if I can identify the conchs from the whelks and the various clams and arks.  The details are amazing and the variety seemingly infinite.  Nature is just so fabulous in all her designs and creations.  What a universe everywhere we take the time to look. 


I am having trouble remembering what time it is here.


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After a dinner of fresh green beans, tomatoes and corn on the cob, we bike over to the Gulf to see the sun set.   And of course it does but we don’t get there quite in time.  The folks who do though assure us that it was a GREAT one.  Well darn!  But there was nice color anyway.  I’m having trouble remembering I am in CDT and the sun sets at 7:20 not at 8:20. 


We turn on our bike lights and pedal home along the lake listening to a great frog chorus.

When I get back and as soon as we put the bikes away under cover,
I set my phone to let me know when it is 7:00 each night. 
No more late for the sunset for me.

I don’t think tomorrow is the Crestview day,
the weather sounds perfect.
So will I spend it at the beach?
In the kayak on the lake?
Walking the dunes nature trail?

Decisions, decisions, decisions…….

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Coming to you from Grayton Beach State Park

Sunday April 28, 2013
Site 9, Grayton Beach State Park
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida




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We saw our last sunset from the pier at St. Andrews last night.

This is my favorite perch when someone doesn’t get it before me. 








   My favorite view.

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The broader picture I usually don’t take.








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This morning’s sky is gorgeous when I step out to await the sunrise.  Having the sun rising over water in my front yard is just a joy every single day.








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The sun is having a hard time with those clouds.  They seem to be gathering in on it.







I notice that Winnona has the sun shining into her front yard and the moon overhead all at the same time.   What a fine morning!


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Because it is a short move between St. Andrews and Grayton, 50 miles, I go running, take a shower, have breakfast and then we begin packing up.


We have a record pelican attendance at the rock breakwater today. 
All lined up directly across from our picnic table.
What I wouldn’t give for a really WIDE angle lens to get them all in a row.



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I must say that if all I did here was sit on my own patio with the breeze blowing on me and watch the birds fly in and out in front of my site it would be a lovely time.  Perhaps I should just lower my expectations for activities and give St. Andrews up to reading and close up pelican watching with a close up great blue heron and a close up snowy egret thrown in for good measure all to the music of the laughing gulls.



The downed tree is right beyond our picnic table.  It is amazing how close the birds are.


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While we are packing up, the funniest thing happens when David takes off the white wheel covers and is putting them away.   For some reason these big white things are very attractive to the pelicans.  Or else they’ve all got a crush on David all of a sudden.





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They get up from the rocks and fly out into the canal to get closer.  First 2 then 3 then 4, 5 and finally 6.

When he finishes one cover and leaves to go get another they start to swim away but as soon as he comes back with the big white cover and begins to fold it up, they come back.  What fun they are.  They make us both laugh.




Count em for yourself!

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Yes the twenty pelican send off, the fun antics of the birds as well as the lovely sunrises and the nice winds off the water during the morning while we are packing up have rose colored my vision at bit.   But it’s all moot.  I’ve booked next winter and so far, St. Andrews isn’t in the mix.



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Time to go to Grayton.   It’s a 35 mile drive so David takes Winnona on and I run some errands.  He wants me to stop at Thomas Donut and Snack Shop for what he claims are really highly ranked Key Lime and Orange juice donuts.   Hmmmm  does that sound good to you?

It’s sort of on my way.  I can take State Route 98, which he is taking, or County Route 30A which is the Beach Front Road.  Thomas’ is on the latter.  I set out.  Pretty soon the speed limit is 35 but the folks are all going 20 and 25……(are they all window shopping?)………….for the entire 15 miles to Thomas’.   I stop and get the donuts but they better be PDG after hardly being able to stay in 4th gear for so long.



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I quickly skedaddle back up to State Route 98 and find a Publix where I know I can get Almond milk and fairly decent whole grain bread.   The choice in the Panhandle for groceries seems to be Publix or Winn Dixie.  Publix does have some organic products under their own line called Green Wise.


Back on the road I soon pass Camp Helen State Park and closer to Grayton I see signs for Deer Lake State Park and Eden Gardens State Park.  That’s good to know.  If Grayton doesn’t pan out, we can do day trips and check out these others.


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I’ve booked all my campsites so far in advance, by necessity in Florida in the Winter, that I forget why I chose various ones and am often surprised as I was by a pull through at St. Joseph and water front at St. Andrews.   Our site in Grayton is not on the water, in this case Western Lake, but it’s one row back in the old campground.  Site 9.  Nicely private with dense foliage but a rather small site.  We learn that there is only one bathhouse for each campground circle, the old and the new.  And we also learn that the old bathhouse is undergoing renovation from September 2012 until July 2013.  Must be SOME renovation.   Doesn’t matter much to us since we’ll only be here 5 days but it would be a problem for two weeks without a sewer hook up if we couldn’t take showers in the bathhouse.


We get hooked up and leveled.  Time to make some food.  We use Joe’s Oat patties – the barbeque flavor to make wraps with lettuce and tomato.  Chopped kale lightly sautéed in with onion and garlic rounds out the meal.  Is it lunch?  Is it dinner?   It’s 4:00.  Who knows.



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We plan to save the awning and outdoor patio set up until after we’ve had a bicycle trip around the park to see what’s here.  But shortly after we finish eating the rains come.   And they aren’t kidding around.   Serious rains.  So it’s now 6:00 and I’m writing this.   And it’s raining.


More about Grayton will have to wait until tomorrow including the picture of the site.  Assuming it doesn’t rain.  If it does, we’ll drive the 50 miles up to Crestview and try to take care of getting Winnona and Ruby registered and getting me a driver’s license.  Someone asked if “we” were not becoming residents.  David’s medical insurance will not allow him to change states at this point but at least we can take half advantage of the benefits of getting the vehicles out of Virginia.


We may not have a picture of our site, but David has me take a picture of Grayton’s pale ale when he has one before dinner. He says he likes it very much.


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So now instead of bicycling around and catching the sunset, David is doing dishes and I’m reading aloud from Dreaming in Clay on the Coast of the Mississippi by Christopher Maurer.  It’s the story of four generations of the  Anderson Family and the creation and life of Shearwater Pottery in Ocean Springs Mississippi.   It’s still raining sometimes its so loud on the roof that he can’t hear me even though we’re only about 3 feet apart.


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We finished the reading aloud of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas’s great Everglades epic  River of Grass.  What a book.  Anyone who loves the Everglades or is interested in it or the history of the area will be remiss if they don’t read this one.

If we’re going to go to Crestview tomorrow, I’d better wrap this up and get filling out the paperwork for those two vehicles.

I’ll post pictures of the site tomorrow if it stops raining so I can take them and I’ll let you know the verdict on the donuts – key lime and orange creamsicle?  Really???



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