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Day 138 - Gulf Coast of North Florida

We drove along the coast today, stopping at a lovely beach and the Crooked River Lighthouse before staying at Cape San Blas for the night.

sunny 63 °F

Lovely scenery today, but not many 'tourist attractions'. This is fine with us, but may make for a fairly short blog entry.

Last night it was raining and windy when we checked into the campground, but when we got up it was pretty nice. In fact, I had left the curtain open so we could see the sunrise over the water this morning. I don't think we saw the sun, but the water view out the window was really nice. Mom walked down to the beach to get some sand and we both enjoyed the view.

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But move on we must, so I started heading west again, up Hwy 98 along the coast. This stretch is still not terribly populated and we enjoyed driving through fairly long stretches of forest and beach, with occasional older homes or fishing villages. We drove past a lovely beach at Carrabelle, then saw another lighthouse.

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This one is small and not open for climbing. It's called the Crooked River Lighthouse and is 103' tall. It was completed in 1895 to replace an earlier lighthouse that had been on Dog Island, a little offshore, which was destroyed in a hurricane in 1875. The forth order Fresnel Lens rotated on a Mercury float. It was removed in 1976 due to a mercury leak and is now on display in New Orleans. While the Coast Guard decommissioned the Lighthouse, the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association was formed to restore and retain the lighthouse. They are still working on the project, but have added a nifty playground at the site (yes, it's shaped like a Spanish Galleon in the background).

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After checking this out, I decided we really shouldn't pass up such a nice looking beach - especially since I wasn't sure how much longer the weather would hold out (it didn't hold out for long). So we turned around and went back to Carrabella Beach.

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Mom and I both seem to enjoy beaches differently, but still have a great time each in our own way.

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This was so nice, but we could see the cloud cover getting thicker. We decided to go ahead and eat lunch here just to squeeze in a little more beach fun before the rest of the storm hit. The terns here seem to know that beach lunches are a source of food and weren't exactly trying to avoid us. However, they weren't rude about begging, for the most part they just stood by quietly waiting for us to offer them something. Then Mom found out they were also quite good at catching food in mid flight. I'm not sure, but I think these are gull-billed terns.

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Alas, we actually managed to finish lunch (and didn't use up all of our food feeding the terns) and headed out again. We drove through a lovely little town called Apalachicola and saw a brown sign for a Gorrie Museum. We hadn't done any sightseeing today (except for the short stop at the lighthouse and feeding terns), so decided to check it out. The man running the museum had gone to lunch and never did come back, at least while we were there (somewhat after 2 PM). However, we learned from the sign that Dr. John Gorrie received the first U.S. Patent for inventing a mechanical refrigeration device in 1851. He was trying to find a way to help reduce Yellow Fever. His machine produced ice in quantity, but leaked and was not reliable enough for him to make money from his invention. Yet again we benefit from a pioneer who develops something for which he is honored and remembered. But he dies pennyless and thinking he is a failure. Something I think Longfellow would think heavily on.

In spite of not being able to get into the museum (and see his device), we met Beverly Douds outside who was also hoping to see the museum. She was darting about in her golf cart (which is quite common in Apalachicola - legal as long as you don't drive on the highway). The reason she was trying to see the museum is because she is the local historian. She also has written two books on the area (which she's holding up for us) and does genealogy research for folks who need information from this area. You just never know who you'll meet on a trip like this, but you always know they'll be interesting!

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We hadn't driven terribly far, but I decided to stop for the night anyway. There is a state park out on a sand spit, and it just it looked interesting. The drive out was a little discouraging - lots of new condo's and beach houses going up. However, once we got to the St. Joseph State Park, it was worth the trip. The 'sand spit' is really Cape San Blas and it juts out into the Gulf Coast several miles. We walked over the dunes (on the allowed path of course), but the red flag was up meaning dangerous surf - don't get in the water. So I just took a few pictures, collected lots of shells, and we called it a night.

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Logistics:

Miles Driven - 85
Camped at Gulf Breeze Campground in St. Joseph State Park on Cape San Blas.

There wasn't any cell phone service at all out here - so I didn't even try to update the blog or check the internet from the Cape - too far out in the gulf I suppose.

Posted by jl98584 16:22 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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