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

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Last Days at St Andrews and a review

Friday April 26, 2013
Site 8, St. Andrews State Park
Panama City Beach, Florida



At dawn the channel is largely a mud flat - low tide.Day 4 at St. Andrews 077The pelicans have not yet arrived.



Here comes the sun

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Window view of condos, channel sans boats
at the moment and canal
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We had planned to kayak to shell island and spend the day today but after researching it we find that what once had been a pristine barrier island renown for its shells is now an over run island with no shells and boats of tourists being dropped off and picked up every hour from 8 to 4 every day of the week.





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This is a big disappointment as was talking to our neighbors who have been out kayaking and tell us that they found there were power boats everywhere and there just wasn’t any place in or near the park to go that wasn’t accessible to power boats.  No quiet little water areas or wetlands.  We’ve noticed that this is a power boat, jet ski area.  We’ve seen some lovely sail boats too but almost no single person crafts other than one paddle boarder trying to get out to the dolphins yesterday.  I feared for his safety watching the bigger boats drive straight toward and through the dolphins.  Our neighbors got here on Thursday afternoon and left Saturday morning.  Wish I’d asked them where they were going.


So instead of kayaking, it’s over to the beach we go.  The weather is perfect for a beach day, warm sunshine, cool breezes, no bugs.


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The Gulf is very placid.  Gentle lapping waves.  You can walk about half way to Texas and the water isn’t over your head.

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We have more trouble today finding a spot on the beach.  The tide is in so it is more narrow and today as everyday we’ve been here there seem to be more people coming out.

But the water is wonderful and we have a very relaxing 4 hours.

On our way out we see this little trio parked side by side.  Aren’t they cute even though the picture had to be taken into the sun to get them?  Anyone old enough to have gone camping in one of these??


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We return to Winnona for a dinner of red beans and rice.  The sun sets at 7:15 in Central Daylight time so it’s a quick dinner and then we bike over to the pier to watch.  The pier is right next to the high rise hotel section but I have not included them in my pictures.  They aren’t what I want to remember. 

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While we are watching the sun set, there is a budding young gymnast entertaining her parents with back bends, cart wheels, one and two handed, and back flips.  She is too fast for my camera.  She’s very good and having a great time.  Ah to be that young, that agile and that fearless again.


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As the sun slips into the gulf the sky has detailed brush strokes of color.  It looks unreal.  Like a gigantic painting.Day 4 at St. Andrews 161




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It has been wonderful seeing the sunrise from our picnic table, having our meals with our pelican pals just across the small canal and being able to bike to the sunsets. 

St. Andrews’ Gator Lake is an excellent birding spot in the early morning or early evening this time of year.

The Gulf beach sand is beautiful sugar white and the water crystal clear. 

Despite the closeness of the sites, the campground has been very quiet.  There is every service you could want within 5 miles of the park and the internet and phone coverage is 4G 5 bar.  




I’ve had some very fine experiences here as my past two posts will attest.  That said, it is unlikely I will return to St. Andrews in the near future.  Life is easy here with the internet/phone/services but 5 days is enough to do everything that I find interesting.   Unlike other parks where we weren’t able to experience everything we wanted, I see no reason to return here.  Perhaps it is just too urban for me. 


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I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the beach other than in the late afternoon when the crowds had left.  I don’t know how there will be room for an increase in people on summer week-ends if the beach is this full in April during the week.  I didn’t take pictures of the high rises across the lagoon or the condos or the ton of boats.  I was careful to only take the parts I want to remember so in that sense perhaps my posts are not totally accurate. 



So it’s time to give the complete picture of St. Andrews.
The photos from here on, excepting The End, were taken within a 10 minute or less stretch of time this afternoon. 


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The Condos behind the pelicans in my pictures are much closer than my camera shows, as are the high rise hotels on the beach.  Military helicopters fly over head many times daily sometimes circling over the beach as though they are looking for something or at us. Well not me but the babes in the bikinis possibly.  Prop planes with banners rumble back and forth over the beach repeatedly every afternoon.  The boats and jet skis chasing the dolphins and racing around the lagoon, the lack of any sweet kayaking spots or biking possibilities all make it not the sort of wonderful natural experience that I know I can have at other state parks in Florida. 




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I guess I am a tourist but I’m a tourist of a very different sort apparently.  I love the beach but I also love to kayak, to bike and to hike in natural surroundings with as many wild things and as little manmade noise as possible.






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Other than out of the park entertainments, the beach is pretty much all there is here after you have walked the Gator Lake trail and ridden around the 2 mile campground road unless you have a power boat or like to fish.  There is definitely a message in the park’s full name,  St. Andrews Recreation Area State Park.  Recreational power boaters and fishermen, these are the people I believe will most enjoy this park.  While it is a beautiful beach which has made several “top beach” lists, the gulf portion of it is very short and then you are in the high rise hotel district.  Great people watching I imagine but no long deserted gulf beach walking.



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Others with different wishes for a park will have a totally different feeling about St. Andrews which is admittedly a  fabulous urban park.  It’s just not set off enough from the maddening crowd for me.





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Tomorrow a local policeman will kindly come by to certify Winnona’s odometer and VIN number so we don’t actually have to take her to the DMV. After he leaves (and we have no idea when he’ll be coming-it’s a favor he’s doing us), we’ll  do some grocery shopping, take  Ruby to a car wash, stay away from the week-end park crowds and get a few things straightened up for our move on Sunday to Grayton Beach State Park.  The forecast at this moment says 40%+ chance of rain for all 5 days we are there.  Here’s hoping they are wrong. 



from St. Andrews Recreation Area State Park.

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  1. Another great "The End" photo. I think it's becoming a malady all us bloggers are afflicted with! :c)

    I can completely understand how all that civilization overwhelms a person. I enjoy the peace and quiet of nature as you do. After all, I want to hear that gator sneaking up on me! ;c)

  2. I've heard nice things about Grayton. Hope you enjoy it.
    Back in the mid 80's, we had a VW Westfalia. I drove it to work daily and we went to the beach a couple of times with it. It was an older model but not as old as the ones in your pics. Nice looking restorations.

  3. Loved the photo of the sun slipping down out of sight and of course THE END was awesome tonight. Good that there are parks that appeal to different sorts.... so hopefully the ones who want the urban chaos will stay where they are happy and leave the peace and quiet for those of us who want and need it!

  4. Have to have a few disappointing parks to make the others look really good. Did provide a beautiful sunset. I want one of the end.

  5. I owned a 76 VW Van a long time ago. We didn't camp in it, but we sure enjoyed it. What a shock when you showed us what the surrounding area was really like.

  6. Lovely, lovely sunset pictures....
    If u ever get a chance could u e-mail a menu of what you guys might eat in a day. how u get protein.... I know the beans... & beans & rice sound good, but what kinds of beans? any? I guess I just don't get it, or can't get it fixed into my head how to do away with meat as I have spent a whole life eating meat :(.. but seem to increasingly have probs with it and just don't feel comfortable. thanx Sherry...

  7. This seems like the Florida that many people think of who don't know about all the beautiful wild parts. So glad you wrote about this. I will know to avoid it.

  8. I'm with you, the longer we are in this lifestyle, the less we like the noise and hubub of neighbors and load things. Can't wait to be in another area where there is none of that.

  9. The VW bus pictures were so cute ! They reminded me of my in-laws who owned one in the late 60's. They pulled a utility trailer full of camping gear (including a tent) and had 7 people in the bus and went all over New England one summer. My husband still can't believe that it made it to Maine from Baltimore while loaded down like that.

  10. We only visited St. Andrews for a few hours and I guess I selectively forgot the condos. I only remembered the pretty waterfront and shaded sites. I don't think I'd like it there either, after reading your blog. The clear water sure is pretty though.

    I'm anxious to see how you like Grayton. The day we visited there it was so darn hot we couldn't stand it.

  11. Florida and even Georgia beaches each seem to have their own personalities predicted by the type of people who visit them. Your blog depicts the best of St. Andrews, and the part you enjoy. That's what's so typical of you--you see beauty no matter where you are. I don't hear you say you read to David any more. I assume he still does the dishes. ;-)

  12. We felt the same way about St. Andrews. I think you will like Grayton Beach much more. Be sure to walk down the beach or take a bike ride to Seaside and see how the other half lives. Nice but expensive little market there.

  13. Fabulous "the end" picture!
    Hope you enjoy Grayton more.

  14. Impressive gymnist! No way I could do that. Sounds like St. Andrews isn't exactly your type of place, but the sunset/sunrise pictures are lovely. Cute old RVs - front and back :)

  15. Thanks for the detailed review...very helpful. You took some wonderful photos!!! Love the Van Photos...ahhhhh the memories;o))

  16. Just want to say I've been loving your blogs about the Panhandle, especially the Forgotten Coast. That was our absolute FAV area in Florida. In fact St.Joseph SP became my #1 campground in Florida, despite the total lack of internet access.
    If you're heading East I'd recommend Blackwater River State Park. It's a little different from the beach campgrounds in the area, but so very relaxed. We really liked it.

    1. Oooopps...that should say if you're heading WEST, not East :)

  17. We sure do agree with you. Nature, unpolluted with people, motorized watercraft and noise is for us. Hope your next stop is more to your liking.

  18. Spectacular sunset photos! Never had a VW van but sure remember seeing them buzzing around town. Those look like they're still in good shape.

  19. You sound very much like us. I think I would go nuts with all those power boats zipping by and then not having anywhere good to go kayaking or biking, forget it! The beautiful blue sky and white sand look lovey though, especially while we are sitting here in Saskatchewan with snow still on the ground and about 3ft of ice on the lake.

    Hope you enjoy your next stop better.


  20. Perhaps the atmosphere of the park might be better earlier in the year, when it is cooler ... then again, maybe not. We're not as bothered by urban proximity to the parks we stay in, as long as it is quiet. This time of year, that seems to hold true for Gulf State Park, here in Alabama. Probably the biggest state park, and campground, we've been in so far, but it's quiet ... both at the campground and on the beach ... nary a powerboat around.

  21. Catherine grew up camping in a 1970 VW bus. That is where she got her love of camping and why we RV today


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