On our return from Florida in the Spring, 2006....we have a two week reservation for Topsail Hill State Park located on the Gulf of Mexico in the panhandle of Florida.
|December 31, 2005 -
The last 2 weeks of March, 2006 we will be at Topsail Hill State Park on site #114. I'll be certain to take lots of pictures and post them here on the website. Topsail will be one of our stops on our return trip home from Rock Crusher Canyon Campground in Crystal River, Florida. We also hope to stop at Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia for a few days. This site will be updated during and after our travels.
|March 22, 2006 -
Today has been such a busy day it would be impossible to capture all the events in this journal, so I'll just touch on some of the highlights.
At exactly 7:00 am this morning we were pulling away from Rock Crusher Canyon Campground heading north on Route 19 toward Topsail Hill Campground, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, some 325 miles away. The drive on Route 19 was an unexpected surprise. First of all, Route 19 is a 4 lane divided highway which is very smooth, level, straight and the grass shoulders are very clean and nicely manicured. Traffic hardly existed.....for the first 50 miles north of Ingliss not a single vehicle passed me...not because I was going too fast...there just wasn't any traffic!
A few minutes past 3 pm we were pulling into Topsail Hill Campground and Diana looked at the time on her cell phone and she was surprised to see it was really 2 pm. We did not realize this area was going to be in a different time zone...so now we are on Central Time rather than Eastern Time. This means we will have to adjust our biological clocks to the new time.
Topsail Hill Campground is beautiful. All sites are level with a cement driveway, cement patio and meticulously manicured lawn and shrubs. Everything is well maintained. The sites are wide enough to give privacy between the RV's and deep enough to accommodate large rigs and tow vehicles. We have not had time to explore the campground since we have been busy getting situated. I'll publish some pictures here later this week.
After getting the motorhome setup we took a short drive along Route 30A. There is a 20 mile bike path running parallel to 30A into the village of Santa Rosa Beach. Before leaving here we will take a ride along this very attractive bike path.
Then we headed west toward Destin on Highway 98 for approximately 9 miles but decided to turn around and head back to the campground because of the rush hour congestion. Simply too much traffic to deal with.
|March 23, 2006 -
Last night we retired around 10:30 pm and both Diana and I were just beginning to dose off when I heard an unusual noise from outside the motorhome. I laid in bed for a minute trying to determine what the sound was. It was a hissing sound and initially I thought the air might be leaking from the motorhome tires. I got out of bed and went to the front of the motorhome and now the sound started to sound like water spraying from a broken pipe. Oh no, I thought it must be a broken water pipe in the motorhome. I opened a window and pushed the screen to the side so I could extend my head out the window. It was raining and I could see the rain drops in the beam of my flashlight. The hissing noise was coming from near my motorhome but also sounded like it was coming from the campsite next door too. I really had no desire to go outside in my pajamas and the rain, but the hissing sound had to be investigated or I would not be able to sleep peacefully. Upon descending the motorhome steps I immediately discovered the source of the mysterious hissing sound. This campground has a buried irrigation system with popup sprinklers that are apparently on a timer. That certainly explains why all the foliage and grass are so green.
Rebecca, our 15 year old miniature schnauzer, continues to have an ear infection. We have been giving her Amoxicillin for the past 5 days and it doesn't seem to be help so I think we need to find a local Veterinarian and make a visit.
Right now we are getting ready for breakfast at The Donut Hole which is located about a mile west of the campground on Highway 98. John and Sherry, friends from Rock Crusher Canyon, suggested that we try this restaurant for breakfast and said the donuts are fantastic. Then later today we will stop by the large Outlet Mall since today is dreary, chilly and rain showers are expected on and off.
Traveling along Highway 98 toward Destin reminds us of Myrtle Beach and the Golden Strand. Traffic here on Highway 98 is heavy, slow moving and bumper to bumper and this is not even the busy season.
|March 24, 2006 -
The overnight temperature dropped to 41 degrees last night and expected to dip to 38 degrees tonight. The entire country is experiencing a "cold snap" including us here in Florida. It looks like the daily temperature highs will creep into the low 70's next week.
I was talking with one of the work campers yesterday and he told me the campground is sold out this weekend due to school Spring Breaks. He said just two weeks ago the campground only had about 30 RV's but now with Spring Break the place is booked at full capacity.
We decided to drive over to Ft. Walton Beach this morning so we left the motorhome around 9:30 am and headed west on Highway 98. Traffic was lighter than normal but still quite busy until a few miles west of Destin and then we came to a standstill. Road construction had one lane closed in each direction and traffic had backed up for miles and creeping at a snail's pace. After staying in the stop and go for 15 minutes we realized it was going to take another 45 minutes to travel the next few miles and the same 1 hour delay would face us upon our return so we did a U-turn and went back to Destin.
After lunch we walked to the Gulf Beach at the campground. The walk from the motorhome to the beach took about 20 minutes and once at the beach there is a boardwalk about 150 yards long that traverses the natural sand dunes. The warmth of the sun competed with the chill of the winds blowing 20 mph. The benches on the beach made for a nice place to sit and enjoy the beauty of the beach and the emerald colored water. We returned to the campground taking advantage of the free tram ride.
Rebecca's ear infection is doing much better today. We found a Vet and he provided prescription ear drops that seemed to immediately have positive impact on the infection.
|March 25, 2006 -
It is 7:00 pm but it feels like 10:00 pm.....we simply cannot get acclimated to the Central Time Zone.
We spent that day visiting the unique shopping venues offered along Highway 98. The Market Shops of Sandestin offers an unusual assortment of clothing stores and a few eateries. While there we stopped to listen to a live blue grass band performing in a nice open grassy area.
Next on the list was The Village of Baytowne Wharf located directly across the highway from The Market Shops. This village included beautiful private homes, condos, a marina, a perfectly manicured golf course, a shopping area, upscale restaurants and much, much more. To gain entrance you must pass a guard station, but simply request a free pass and you can pretty much travel where ever you wish. From here we stopped of at The Destin Commons which included the Bass Pro Shop.
For some reason the traffic on Highway 98 was very light today.
|March 26, 2006 -
Since traffic seemed so light on Highway 98 yesterday we decided this might be a good day to try the 20 mile drive to Ft. Walton Beach again. Sure enough, traffic was light and the road construction crew took the weekend off so there wasn't the large traffic backup like we experienced earlier in the week.
Once we arrived in Ft. Walton we were surprised and disappointed. We were expecting to see lots of large hotels but the area was not as densely populated as we thought it might be. We turned around and started the drive back to Destin.
This time we took the Old Highway 98 and discovered an area that we had not seen yet. Lots of hotels and condos along the road with an occasional restaurant. The view of the Gulf was quite beautiful. We pulled off the road overlooking the beach and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the car. The sun was shining brightly today but the temp was still only 62 and the wind made it feel quite cool.
|March 27, 2006 -
A warming trend over the next few days is forecasted to bring the daily high temperature back to a more seasonable high 70's range. Following the windy, chilly weather during the past few days the warm weather will be welcomed.
Shortly we will be leaving for our daily adventure, this time heading east on Highway 98 on a 35 mile trip toward Panama City. On the return from Panama City the old scenic Route 30A will be out path. This should be a fun day with lots of new scenery.
Rebecca's, our Miniature Schnauzer, ear infection continues to improve each day. In fact now she is about back to feeling her normal self. She is 15 years old and lives to eat but I think she also is enjoying the warmer Florida weather.
After driving 40 miles east along scenic Highway 98 we turned around and headed home. Along the route we treated ourselves to something we have not done for at least 5 years......a sausage biscuit at McDonalds. Boy did that taste good !!!
The drive was amazingly beautiful and interesting with lots to look at in each of the beach communities hugging the Gulf coast. It's easy to understand why they call this the Emerald Coast....the water is a sparkling green emerald color ribbon running parallel to the sugar white sand beaches. For the entire drive we continually remarked about the extensive construction and remodeling taking place. Everywhere you look there is some sort of construction taking place with lots of huge sprawling condos literally popping out of the sand.
|March 28, 2006 -
Originally we had planned for this to be a day for a long bike ride along Route 30A but we changed our minds and only took a short 7 mile bike ride and then walked down to the beach. The walk from our motorhome to the beach is about 9 tenths of a mile on the pathway inside the campground. On the way back from the beach we road the tram.
|March 29, 2006 -
This was a cloudy day with afternoon temperature reaching around 77 degrees making it ideal for a bike ride. Diana and I pedaled our way along Route 30A heading east. The bike trail parallels Route 30A and has easy access directly across from the campground entrance. The trail meanders through the little beach communities with an occasional glimpse of the beautiful Gulf waters. This trail makes for a very unique bike ride. After 6 miles we decided to turn around and head back to the motorhome.
Upon returning from the bike ride Diana decided to do a few loads of wash at the campground laundromat while I stayed at the motorhome. The next thing I knew I was on the roof of the motorhome with brush in hand. Originally I was going to wash the motorhome tomorrow but now this gives us one last free day to play tomorrow because Friday we will be leaving for Charleston, South Carolina.