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

Henry David Thoreau

Another big move - to St. Joseph

Thursday April 18, 2013
Site 41 St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
Port Saint Joe, Florida



This morning’s sunrise was a portent of the rain to come. 

But every sunrise is beautiful and I am grateful to be able to see them and to see them over the Gulf of Mexico.  How lucky I am!


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My heron friend doesn’t come to wish me farewell but on my walk back to Winnona I do see what I believe are the nesting heron pair fishing at the pond. 


Although why would they both be off the nest?   Wish I could tell them apart. Perhaps one of these two is my buddy and the other is one of the nesting pair.  

They aren’t the same heron since I saw them both at the same time on the opposite ends of the pond.

So which one of these is my sunrise companion?   Is it A?  Or is it B?  Or none of the below?  

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The pond is the happenin’ place this morning with the regular 4 ducks, 2 Great Blues and this Green backed heron.   This is the best I can do for a picture he was so well hidden.

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Since we have such big move to make today – all of 50 miles – we take our time leaving.  We decide to drive separately so I can make a few stops along the way. 

I don’t take any pictures of these stops since I left the camera in Winnona.  Oh well…………

I stop at the vegetable stand just before the bridge to Apalachicola and get 2 pints of those delicious Plant City strawberries.  The season is nearing its end I would think and we love them on cereals and pancakes.   

As I pass through Apalachicola on route 98, I can see the Chocolate Company just one block down from the flashing red light.  The owner advised me yesterday to stop back in the afternoon today for the fresh coconut gelato that would be made.  So Ruby turns herself right instead of left and I take his advice.  It is really fresh.  Not firmly frozen yet but still delicious.  

Then it’s back to the red flashing light, the town’s only light, and right turn rather than going straight ahead toward Port St. Joe.  This time I’m on the trail of the St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge information center.   At THE end of the road down by more local fishery docks and fish houses, the center and its small museum sit on the second floor of the Harbor Master building by the marsh.

St Vincent Island is a 12,300 acre undeveloped barrier island that is the major part of the refuge which also includes 86 acres of bay front property and the 45 acre Pig Island located in St. Joe Bay.  St. Vincent Island is 9 miles long and 4 miles wide at the east end. There are no facilities on the island and it is only accessible by boat.  You can kayak the 1/4 mile distance from Indian Pass but I am told the waters can be very very rough so you need to be careful and know the tides and the weather well.

The island has a long history of use by Native Americans and by the South in the Civil war.  In 1908 Dr. Pierce bought it for $60,000 and imported old world game in order to use the island as a private hunting preserve.  The Sambar deer, an elk from India, acclimated to the island and remains there today sharing the habitat with white tailed deer.  The Sambar can be 6’ tall and weigh from 600-700 lbs while the deer weigh 100-130.  I’d sure like to see the Sambar. 

The refuge office had a pair of deer and Sambar antler on display and the Sambar are about 4 times the size of the white tail.  

In 1948 the Loomis brothers bought the island for $140,000 to use for a commercial hunting preserve  and  added imported zebras, elands, black bucks, ring-necked pheasants, Asian jungle fowl, bobwhite quail and semi-wild turkey.

In 1968 the Nature Conservancy saved the island from development by purchasing it for $2.2M.  Those Loomis boys sure turned a profit in those 20 years of island owning.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then purchased St. Vincent Island with Duck Stamp funds.  All exotic animals except the Sambar and feral hogs were removed at that time.   Why in the world didn’t they get rid of those hogs I wonder?

This is definitely a place we want to go in the kayaks but it will require some serious weather research. 


All errands accomplished, I’m on my way to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.


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I make my way down San Blas road to the Park entrance station.  Boy there are a lot of what look like brand new waterfront homes on this road.  I’m amazed that after the hurricane people are STILL building on the water front.  Do they get federal disaster assistance from my taxes if a hurricane comes?

I drive up  and find that David has arrived about 20 minutes prior.  I’ve booked one of the few pull through sites #41 in Gulf Breeze the smaller of the park’s two campgrounds.



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The site is located across from the bath house which would be greatly convenient if I had been able to book 2 weeks here but isn’t really necessary for the 5 days we’ll be staying.   It is also just a few yards from the boardwalk over the sand dunes to the beach.  Now that IS convenient.


I can hardly wait to get a look at this beach.

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We have time to get set up, look over the information given us at the ranger station and take a first walk down the pristine beach. 

The flag at the end of the boardwalk entry tells the truth about the wind and waves.  It is WINDY.  Few people are here and no one is in the water.  

The sand dunes are spectacular.





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I have to at least get my feet in that water.  I find it cool at first but instantly it becomes the perfect temperature.  Swimming would be a definite possibility if it hadn’t cooled off now that it is late afternoon.


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At first we walk up the beach toward the ranger station and find some kids have fun getting buried.  They definitely look like they were in the water earlier in the day.  The boy up to his neck certainly seems happy about it all.


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We decide to turn around and head instead toward the unpopulated end of the island. 

It becomes a wilderness area and at that point the end of the island is 7 miles away so we certainly don’t intend to walk that far.  But this beach is just magnificent and the sand dunes among the most beautiful I’ve seen.

We walk about a mile and a half before turning around to walk back.


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After dinner we find there is a sunset watchers group.


I guess this surprises me because there was never anyone out watching the sunrise at St. George.  But they are here, many with chairs and cocktails.

There is some big rain predicted for tomorrow and the clouds seem to be gathering at the horizon.   The sun doesn’t so much as set as it disappears into those clouds.   Absolutely beautiful!



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Looks like it’s going to be a great 5 days here.  Wish I could have booked more days but these panhandle parks are very popular and hard to book for longer stays.  At least I have trouble.  All suggestions welcome.   Like St. George, this will be a difficult place to leave.


  1. oooo another beautiful place!!! shells??

  2. Oh, so pretty, Sherry. Regarding your "friend" at St. George, aren't male birds generally more colorful than the females? Love the barrier islands over off the coast of GA and NC--have only been to St. George, Sannibel and Upper Captiva. Could only get to Captiva in a boat, no electricity, about 10 houses-1 owned by my friend and "The" Kohler had a place next door. There was 600 feet between the bay and the ocean--I doubt it's there any more. They had sold since we had been there and then passed away within a year of one another. I knew them in high school. He asked me to introduce him to her because he was going to marry her. I miss them.

    I can't imagine what insurance premiums are for anyone building on the coast. My sister says the beaches of NY are complete destroyed in many places, and towns and houses still not replaced. Some how it doesn't get out in the news about how miserable the conditions are up there--it was worse than Katrina, but gets much less press and the administration far less criticism.

    Well, said my piece. Back NCIS. Love the program.

  3. Yet another gorgeous beach. No wonder the parks get booked up.

    I wonder if those Loomis boys are related to my Mom's side of the family. I've heard they were swindlers.

  4. Coconut Gelato???? You're killing me! I am so stuck on my rootbeer gelato I've never tried anything else. Well guess what I'm doing on my way home after church tomorrow........:)

  5. Oh! Too, too nice beach. Lovely sunrise..

  6. Heaven above this is just truly one of the most beautiful beaches on the panhandle! Glad you got one more stop in at the Chocolate Shoppe!! Now go bury your head in the sand :)

  7. That stretch of beach is truly one of the most beautiful we've seen. When we were there we rarely saw people, just birds.
    Homeowner's insurance premiums and the threat of hurricanes were the main reasons we sold our house in Pensacola and don't plan to live in FL again. We could never understand why anyone would want to risk building a house on the water where you know it's just a matter of time before it's destroyed.

  8. You have to wonder how these folks building homes on the beach even get building permits. Stupid is as stupid does.

    Lovely beach pictures again, I just can't wait to get my toes in some of that FL sugar white sand. Until then, I'll have to enjoy the sand through your posts. ;c)

  9. Another beautiful beach! I predict more morning runs in the sand.

  10. I liked St Joseph Island better than St George, I guess it just seemed wilder and more open and whiter. Love love that place. Mo and I camped there in 2007, and Bel and I stayed at a cabin at Indian Pass in 2004 and actually rented a canoe and paddled over to St Vincent Island. I love love love that place too. And Apalachicola. So nice to see your photos. Mo is finally on board with our winter in Florida in 2014! Yippee!

  11. Lovely pictures in this blog - as in so many - that sunrise picture is gorgeous! Difficult to know which one was your heron - they are all so pretty :) St. Joseph's beach looks lovely indeed - so nice that kids can be out there in April just having a blast. And, the sunset - gorgeous again. Another great stop on your adventure :)

  12. WOW...another beautiful beach!! When you finish the trio of Saints State Parks, please let me know which one you liked the best and what site you would say is the best;o)) If we plan on making it across the entire Pan Handle and then back to the east coast next winter, we can't stay in them all;o(( I will rely on your expert opinion:o))


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