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

Henry David Thoreau

Shells and Earth Day at St. Joe

Sunday April 21 and Monday April 22, 2013
Site 41, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
Port St. Joe, Florida




This morning is cloudy and overcast when I go running.  I run down to the wilderness area gate and try to run the wilderness trail but it is deep fine sand and not runable at least for me.  It would be tough even hiking I think although clearly people do it since there is no other way to get back in there and they do allow some primitive camping with permit.  Maybe a mountain bike could do it but we can’t on our hybrids.

It’s nothing like the road into the wilderness area at St. George which is used by fishermen and is very hikeable, runable or bikeable. (Live Writer says none of these are words but they are in my personal vocabulary so I’m using them).   Perhaps the way most people access the wilderness area here is by boat.  If it weren’t so windy, I’d be game to try that.  But I’ll wait until the Gulf is calm.  This time or probably next.


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After a late breakfast, the sun comes out and we go down for a slow day at the beach.   It’s a stunning beach that’s for sure although I don’t see as many water birds here as I did at St. George.  I find that strange since they are only 50 miles apart and we were there 5 days ago.




I walk along the shell line today and just pick up the things that appeal to me and spread them out for a picture for the shell lovers.

Sunday at St. Joe 007 For Loree and all shell lovers.  This collection of small shells from the beach today is made up of clam shells, cockles and scallops. There are also 3 Atlantic kitten paw scallops, 2 slippersnail shells and the sand dollar.  All were found in today’s detritus line just like the one I showed in yesterday’s post.



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I only take home shells that I find particularly beautiful or interesting or new to me. Here are the ones I am taking with me from St. Joseph.  The large shell is called an angel wing.  Isn’t that perfect!  The white shell on the left below it is a white baby’s ear, the pair are the two halves of an open coquina clam and the horizontal striped I believe is a bittersweet clam.

I  have a great book on Florida’s Living Beaches which has a wonderful section on shells.  I want to get one of those craft boxes with separate compartments to put them each in labeled as to what the shell is called and where I found it.  I just love shells and as long as there are no live creatures in them see no problem in bringing their beauty home a few at a time.  Bags of shells which I see lots of people collecting I don’t really understand.  What do they do with them?


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The sun doesn’t stay out long which is probably good for not having to coat ourselves with sunscreen quite so often.

I read, David Naps.  






We walk the short distance back to Winnona for dinner and then return before sunset with all the other sunset watchers.  I’m still always a little surprised at all the folks here since I never see anyone at sunrise.

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The clouds seem to be closing the curtains on the day.


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EVERYDAY IS EARTH DAY in our house but I am glad there is one day a year when people hopefully give serious thought to how dependent we are on a healthy planet for our own health and life.  Hopefully they celebrate what an amazing Earth we have and how lucky we are to be part of this stunning creation.

There are so many things we can do to show our gratitude for our Earth.  Being mindful of how dependent we are is the first step I think as well as being in touch with the amazing beauty around us and the rights of all other creatures to enough undamaged habitat to live in and raise their families, clean water and clean air.  Although I hesitate when I think about no-see-ums.  I guess they are someone’s food but whoever that is, we need to really try to increase their numbers.  

We are all on this big ship together and that’s the way we will sink or swim, together - us and all the other plants and animals.  We are all connected. 

Everything we do to the natural world affects us.  Drained wetlands eliminate protection from hurricanes and filtration of the water that goes into our aquifer.  This they are learning the hard way on the Gulf Coast.   And haven’t quite learned fully here in the Panhandle. 

Cutting down trees decreases our own oxygen source.  Fracking and mining pollute our water among many other horrible consequences. 

If we consider the ramifications of our actions on Earth Day and every day we can be more mindful of how we live and hopefully lighten our footprints.   We are SO lucky to be living on such a magnificent planet.


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Today on Earth Day I was up to greet the sunrise.  The sun definitely rose but no one here saw it come up behind the thick clouds.  That’s OK, I love being up at dawn and starting my day with a bike ride over to the sound side of the park for a look.  Here’s what it looked like this morning.

Afterward, since I was biking right by the entrance to Shady Pines Campground I took a pedal around the 60 sites there.  I stopped to see where the access to the Gulf was in terms of various campsites.  At one point I walked just a few steps up a sandy path that leads to their boardwalk to the beach.  Not 5 feet from me were two deer browsing in the early morning light.  I stopped dead and didn’t move.  They looked at me, I looked at them.  Big brown eyes looking at big blue eyes.  They didn’t seem worried about me and eventually went on browsing.  I was able to get my camera out but it does not do early morning light the way I think it should. 


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After they wander off I head for home over the bridge which crosses the wetlands.  Several egrets and herons are feeding.  It is such a beautiful morning.  I love being out when it is so quiet and everyone else is still sleeping or at least not out for the day yet.


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In the afternoon, again the sun makes a brief appearance and we head down to the beach.  I decide that perhaps the salt water will help my constant itching of these no-see-um bites.  Or at least that’s my story.  I try out running in the water to see if that would be more fun than on land.  It’s actually harder.


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Later in the afternoon the clouds take over and I have to bundle up while sitting in my chair reading a book about the Art of Walter Anderson whose museum and family pottery I have been wanting to visit ever since we started full timing.  We are even now slowly making our way toward the pottery and museum in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  I first saw his amazing work at an exhibition in 2003 at the Smithsonian Institution.  The book I am reading is the catalog of that show.


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The clouds maintained their hold on the sky so the sunset took place behind the clouds.  The only color was this little merganser who was dipping and diving just off shore in the breakers which were tossing him about as he attempted to feed I think on the little sand crabs.  The light made focusing difficult but I like this impressionistic look of him.

A lovely finish to our final day at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.  We will be leaving to tomorrow for the 3rd and last in our trio of saints - St. Andrew Recreation Area.  I wonder if the Indigo Buntings and the no-see-ums will follow me there too?   The buntings I think are actually migrating so I don’t expect to see them again but unfortunately I don’t think the same can be said for the N-S-U.


  1. Amen to your Earth Day remarks. Although Mother Nature does a great job looking out for herself, we make it hard on her and ultimately ourselves when we only think of ourselves.

  2. I see many more sunsets than rises. Just not an out and about early person usually.

    Seems that many forget they are part of Earth's system.

  3. ditto to your Earth Day remarks ... and ditto to David's comment ...

    and well, what a dirty job you have but I know someone has to do it... you do a good job of your job.

    and oh, the sunsets... I'm also a sunrise person ... love watching it peeping on up

  4. We all need a little reminder that every day should be Earth day. Thanks!

  5. I love the early mornings...feel like I have the world to myself;o)

    I never tire of it!!!

  6. Beautiful sunset picture. If you eat out in Ocean Springs- BB's Poboys and Seafood- really good.

  7. Thanks for the shell shots. I think the selection you are saving are very nice.

  8. After these last two parks, you will probably be disappointed in St. Andrews. Too many people there for our liking. But the beaches are still pretty. Are you planning to stay at Grayton Beach SP? That was always one of our favorite weekend spots as it was less than 2 hours from Pensacola.

  9. Hi, Sherry, I found this company: http://www.coolibar.com/home.jsp I ordered long sleeve swim shirt and long tights (New Balance). It's like walking around naked, they are so light, and they dry in minutes. My hatred for sun burn is only trumped by bugs--especially no seeums and mosquitoes. Earth friendly, great sun and bug protection-win, win, win. I don't see them on the site at the moment, but there are other brands. I LOVE them. I have two sets. When I found out I was going to have aquatic therapy, I needed to buy a bathing suit, but came up with these instead. I figured when SS won't pay for my therapy any longer, I can go over to the swim club and do it on my own there. Since that pool is outside, I won't need sun protection except on my face and neck. I know you'll drool over some of the hats, too!

  10. Oh, thank you for the shells!! I remember those! they are SO wonderful, Thank you SO much!!!

  11. I participated in the very first Earth Day (seems like a million years ago) and picked up trash along the side of the road. Sadly, there still is trash along the sides of roads. Won't people ever learn how important it is to take care of Spaceship Earth? :c(

    I like you picks on the shells, just don't fill up Winnona like Lucy did with rocks (a little at a time) in the Long, Long Trailer movie! ;c)

  12. Your shells reminded me of the long, long trailer movie too :) We try not to collect much of anything these days...just memories.

  13. Lovely Earth Day blog - you say it so well, Mama - I was hoping you'd have a flag picture :) And, so glad you got to go for such a fun swim. What beautiful sand and shells on those beaches - lovely sunsets too!

  14. I can never forget Earth Day as it is always on our son's birthday. We live our life much like you, and try to do as much as possible to not have a huge impact on our resources. We have solar panels on the top of our motorhome so we create our on electricity, we use water sparingly and try to create as little garbage as possible and whenever possible we recycle as much as we can. I really wish more people would put forth that same effort, it takes everyone out there to make a difference.

    I hate no-see-ums too!


  15. I enjoyed reading your earth day comments ... if everyone did just even a tiny bit, the cumulative results would make a huge difference to Mother Earth. You're going to love the WAMA in Ocean Springs ... hopefully you'll have better luck and the museum will be open and the community center empty of tables and chairs.

  16. What a beautiful tribute to the Earth and what a great place to be to enjoy its many treasures. I was surprised to see so many different types of shells from the Panhandle beaches. You have encouraged me to be more aware of the shelling possibilities next time we travel that way. Haven't seen an Earth flag since we left Oregon. The public high school where I taught used to fly one along with the U.S. and state flag.

  17. Unfortunately there are many people who could care less about Earth Day or our earth for that matter. Which is so sad because once many of our resources are gone they are gone. Thanks for the reminder to us. Loved all your pretty shells and their names.


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