Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Rains Came Down . . .

We had felt lucky to have two dry days, but we were due for the rain that had been promised. In fact, we spent most of the evening watching weather radar as severe thunder storms racked the Florida coast. There were tornado watches in Alabama and Mississippi, and we didn't get much sleep as we continued to watch the weather. The rain got higher and higher in our campground, and Mark headed out between storms in the middle of the night to unplug our 50 amp electric cord that was hanging in the water.

While he was outside in the middle of the night, he also went hunting in the dark for Denisa's sandals and our door mat. Both had floated away in the lake that was once our campground.

Leaving the motor home and getting into the car meant wading through water that was about eight inches deep. So we wore our crocks to wade through the water, carrying the shoes we were planning to wear for the day. Suddenly we weren't as fond of Rustic Sands Campground.

Everything was looking for higher ground--even the local slugs were climbing the trees in the campground to get out of the water.

For all the inconvenience of the extra water, our young neighbors thought it was a great change to the campground.

Once the rain stopped, it was time to go on a road trip. We wanted to experience some of the area beaches to our east. Our first stop was Port St. Joe. The town recently moved the Cape San Blas Lighthouse and two lighthouse keeper houses to a park in town.

While we were hanging out at the Port St. Joe Beach, we met two children that had dubbed themselves "The Great Hermit Hunters." 

They were happy to empty out their bucket to show us how many hermit crabs they had found today.These introvert crabs had taken up residence in many different shaped shells.

We got a close up of a welk shell, that a hermit crab had claimed for his new home. The crab was barely visible, curled as tight as possible into the recesses of the shell. Right after we admired all the shells, our new friends threw them back into the salt water so they could hunt them another day.

We also met another family, hunting for dinner. The Father was great at spotting blue crabs hiding along the rocky shore.

They let us take a picture of the contents of their bucket. The crabs were showing a little of their turquoise legs that give them their blue crab name.

Back in the car, our next stop was the seaside town of Apalachicola. Denisa has been practicing saying, "Apalachicola" for the last several days, and she can finally pronounce it successfully at least half the time. Mark has opted to refer to it like the locals, "Apach." There were two shrimp boats in port, restocking for another ten-day stint at sea. We visited with one of the ship captains, who lived in Oklahoma as a child. He was waiting on his crew to return, as they were leaving tomorrow when the tides were right.

We understood that Apalachiola is usually a sleepy town, with rusty old boats behind picket fences in the downtown area. But today it was hard to find a parking place. We found out that it was hosting a cultural festival the day we were visiting, complete with art shopping and wine tasting. No one was sleeping in this sleepy town today.

So we headed across the bridge over the intracoastal waterway (ICW) to our next stop. We think it is so neat to see the ICW again. Three months ago we didn't know that this inland boating channel that stretches from the tip of Texas to New Jersey even existed. When we saw the sign today, we understood its significance. This traveling has certainly made us smarter!

Our next stop of the day was St. George Island. We started our exploration of the island at its lighthouse. It's a great day when Denisa gets to see two lighthouses in one day! This one is really interesting. Originally built in 1833, it was moved and rebuilt three times. After damage from hurricanes and wind erosion, the lighthouse tilted on its old base, and finally toppled over in 2005. So the community of St. George picked up all those toppled bricks, cleaned them one-by-one, and used them to have it rebuilt here in 2008. The story was even more interesting as told by one of women that helped clean many of those 22,000 salvaged bricks.

The lightkeeper's house was also rebuilt, and is now the visitor's center and town museum.

Just like Mexico Beach, St. George had also gotten a big rain last night. The 6-mile bike path that runs most of the length of the island was under water in many places. Denisa learned (the hard way) that going through these water puddles fast is a mistake. Mark knew that going slowly would keep all that water from drenching the rider.

We rode our bikes to one of the public access beaches, and got to walk on yet another beautiful white sand beach. An expert known as "Dr. Beach" has ranked St. George as one of America's top ten beaches.

There were few people out this beautiful day on this beautiful beach.

We left the island as we looped back by the lighthouse. It gave us the quintessential seagull and lighthouse picture as the sun was moving low in the sky.

That gave us just enough time to head home towards Mexico Beach for a picnic on the beach to watch the sunset. We are loving these longer days that allow more time outside!

A day that started under water, ended up with a beautiful sunset over the water. Life is still good even when the rains come down.

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