Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lena & Gabe's Excellent Adventure (Days 4 & 5)

It's been a busy 2 days and I have tons of stuff to write about! I didn't have internet or phone service most of yesterday or I would have given Day 4 its own post, which it deserves. But it will have to share.

Day 4 (Tuesday) we woke up in Perry, Florida and set out down the coast on Highway 98. We were going to meet up with Ryan that afternoon or evening. We didn't have a lot of distance to cover, so we dawdled through Suwannee Nature Reserve for a few hours, driving around on all the trails and looking at the cool plants. We stopped and looked at a salt marsh, where Gabe was fascinated by mussels growing in the water and the sound of palm leaves in the wind. Other than that, we only saw one young deer, a buck, that got spooked by the car and ran headlong into a fence. It was sort of funny, but awful, too.

We got tired of driving around and went down to Manatee Springs State Park where we planned to camp that night. Ryan said he would drive up when he got off work. My phone didn't get service out there, and the battery died soon after we arrived, so I couldn't contact him. Gabe and I walked on a trail and decided to pick up some dead wood to burn for our campfire. We were almost back to our campsite when a ranger accosted us and said that the state of Florida wouldn't let anyone pick up wood to burn. Huh? It wasn't like we were cutting down trees! Apparently the dead wood is part of the scenery and not supposed to be disturbed. So, he told us to go to the ranger station and buy some wood. We dropped our firewood and went up to the ranger station...which was closed. So, we couldn't have a fire. It wasn't terribly cold, but it was definitely chilly.

We went along the boardwalk and looked at the springs, but of course we did not see any manatees. We did see hundreds of vultures perched on the trees all along the water. We played on a playground for a while and went back to our fire-less campsite. We huddled in the tent for warmth and ate cold dinner by the light of our flashlight. The campsite had a plug, so I charged my phone and managed to get one text through to Ryan asking him to bring wood. Then, we huddled up to wait.

Gabe went to sleep and I napped a while. I got up at 930 and sat on the picnic table and watched the herds of deer wander through the clearings in the camping area, and listened to an owl hooting nearby, and looked at the millions of dazzlingly bright stars. Eventually, I went back to the tent to lie down. Ryan arrived at 11 bearing wood. We lit a fire right away and sat talking for a long time. The wood burned out way too quickly, so Ryan made another run into the next town. We stayed up until 330am talking and reminiscing and catching up on each other's lives.

The next morning (Day 5) we woke early to the sound of rain pelting our tent. It was cozy and warm inside, so I tried to sleep more. But that fantasy was rudely interrupted by rain dripping through the roof onto my face. Water had already pooled in the corners of the tent and wet our sleeping bags, pillow, and blankets. I broke down the tent in the rain, said goodbye to Ryan, and got out of there as fast as I could.
Since it was raining, we didn't have anything to do but drive. So we headed back up the coast. After a while, the rain tapered off and I saw a sign for a lighthouse. I love lighthouses, so we went to check it out. It was in St. Mark's State Park. We hiked along a short trail and looked at the Spanish moss hanging over everything and the marsh grasses. A few ponds had tons of birds, and we stopped and watched them for a while. Gabe was very interested in watching the sandpipers dip their heads underwater to get food, and with a little duck that ran across the water to join the flock.

After St. Mark's, we got back on Highway 98 and continued north. We stopped at Mexico Beach and stretched our legs and Gabe got to play in the soft, white sand. It was really pretty. I picked up shells and took pictures. We drove most of the day, stopping again at the beach in Destin to watch the sun set. It was perfect, but my phone died in the middle of the sunset and I didn't get pictures of the best part! Still, it was beautiful--the green-glass sea, the powdery white sand, the sun sinking into the water. The wind was cold, but it was worth getting chilled to watch the sunset.

We found a hotel that gave us a big double room for the price of a single, and here we are. The next two days will be camping, and rustic camping too. So, probably no blogs for a few days!

1 comment:

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