9 - 17 April 2016 Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana - Orlando to New Orleans

Saturday 9th April

We picked up Simon and Ninette in the RV at nine this morning at their hotel to start our journey to the gulf coast. Simon is now feeling much better thanks to the marvels of penicillin.

Making out way north-east through Ocala, a horse breeding area, we got onto highway 98, travelling through lots of small towns towards Tallahassee. Eventually we skirted around Apalachee Bay, past see front houses built high on stilts. Our destination was the Ho Hum RV Park in Lanark Village, four miles east of Carrabelle.

We have a front row parking spot overlooking the Gulf. As soon as we arrived we met Peter Flynn and his partner Roberta. He comes originally from Rhodesia and went to University in England. They have been here for a few months, Peter has a small sailing boat that he takes out on the Gulf.

The weather is sunny but windy and the sea is grey and running fast. We are so close to the seashore that from the window of the RV it looks like we are in a boat.

The grey/brown colour of the sea is attributed to the runoff from rivers flowing into the Gulf.

For dinner we went to the Fisherman’s Wife Restaurant in Carrabelle. We all had shrimp in one form or another accompanied by fries and hush puppies. The family on the next table were very friendly and we sat chatting for a while. We were the last out and stayed for a while talking to the owner about the upcoming election.

Sunday 10th April

This morning Tony and I went into Carrabelle to get supplies.

Later we all went to have a look around Carrabelle. This is ‘old Florida’ a quaint southern fishing port of small shops and buildings, surrounded by state and national forests.

The town has the world’s smallest police station, in a telephone box.

We called at the Tourist Office and it was closed but no problem the lady who had the little shop next door let us in there and we gathered a few leaflets.

Next we stopped at the Shop by the Sea where there were nice gifts and clothes. We talked to the owner who lives and works in Tallahassee during the week and comes to Carrebelle at weekends to open the shop. I bought a tee-shirt and Ninette found a nice small Roman looking pot for five dollars and a turtle shaped hook for the wall for eleven dollars.

We could hear some music coming from down the street. It was a local bar called Fathoms which was set in an old boat house, selling food and drink and with a country rock singer on a small stage in the corner. There was a lively crowd in there and we had a really nice afternoon overlooking the water.

Back to the RV for barbeque dinner.

Monday 11th April

We travelled north east from Lanark Village to Wakulla State Park to one of the largest and deepest springs in the world. On arrival we parked at the lodge that was built in 1937 by financier Ed Ball. He purchased the land here to develop it into a wildlife and habitat preservation area. We booked on a boat tour of the park – unfortunately no dogs allowed so Tony stayed behind with Sandy. Our guide, ranger Charlie

took us on board the boat and explained that we were sitting on top of the Floridian Aquifer and a deep cave system that produces the spring water. Twenty years ago the waters were crystal clear which gave a clear view of the underwater caves but there has been a growth in algae due to pollution in the rivers which has stained the water.

We moved off down river and immediately saw the floating eyes of an alligator.

There were many Bald Cyprus Trees covered in Spanish Moss. Some of these trees can live a thousand years.

Next we saw a thirteen foot alligator resting on the river bank.

Swanee Turtle.

Heron.

Osprey in nest.

Alligator in bulrushes

We moved into a narrow concourse of the river where the shallow water was crystal clear.

We came into the shaded but shimmering waters where back in the thirties Tarzan movies were made and horror flicks like The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

We spotted three more turtles and then a Florida Brown Water Snake came into view hanging around a tree stump.

The water is filled with lush vegetation here and as we rounded a bend, coiled on a tree was another Florida Brown Water Snake.

Just when we thought we had seen it all, an alligator came cruising by. When he eventually noticed we were there he disappeared into the depths. Then finally to top it all we saw two turtles lying on the back of an alligator.

What a fascinating look into old Florida. Only the ranger led tour boats are allowed on this part of the river, keeping it very much the same as the first settlers would have seen it.

After our very enjoyable time at the park and look around the lodge, we went to Carrabelle Beach

and then back to the RV Park for a walk along the beach near the Park - once the tide had gone out and revealed the beach. We saw several horseshoe crabs on the beach mating, strange pre historic looking creatures.