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County By County

Leaving Homosassa, we continued on 98 up the coast, entering one county after another. By the time it was all said and done, at least on the way up, we traveled through 16 counties! Some are big, some not so much. If you thought we kept driving straight through, you would be mistaken. Actually, after the park, we really just wanted to find a place a little further down the road to have a picnic. Seeing a sign, pointing to our left, I took this road, into Yankeetown.
It was, by now, indeed a dream of mine to eat, however, that dream was postponed by just a bit because, hot dog, the road kept going, and going, and going....nine miles in all until we came to the picnic area!
Little did we know that we would be driving all the way to the Gulf. If you're in no hurry to get somewhere, I recommend the peaceful location. Prior to arriving in Yankeetown, we passed through Crystal River, a town I visited while in x-ray school 42 years ago! Why, you ask? From what I'm reading the plant must have been under construction back then; our instructor, (a male) must have thought we needed to see how nuclear power was made? Can't remember, but it sure sounds like something a man might want to do. Anyway, according to this article, the plant will soon be closing. From our picnic spot, if we turned around, we saw this:
It is so large, with no other buildings to speak of in the area, I could see it in my side mirror for five miles! While I am out and about, oftentimes I see something that makes me think of a loved one, in this case, seeing a comedy club in a town of 510 people immediately brought my soon to be, daughter-in-law, Alissa, to mind. Wonder what she'd think of this place?
Who, do you imagine, performs there?

Gilchrist, Dixie, Taylor, Jefferson, and what's this? Leon? How, pray tell did I end up in Leon County, home to our state capital, Tallahassee? Mentioning to Bruce that it seemed odd there were mile markers to Tallahassee, he figured it was because it is the largest city in the area. He figured wrong. Eventually, I realized that I missed the turn in Perry, where the road splits, ending up on 27 instead. Duh! Now what? We thought about turning around, but after determining we'd gone more than 20 miles, we decided to find an alternate route. Meanwhile, Bruce looked in our guide book for a room in Carrabelle, because by now it was nearly 7! I told you we take forever to get somewhere.

The town of Carrabelle, located on the Carrabelle River, has several claims to fame, none more so than the training of soldiers on their beach for the Normandy invasion! We booked a room at The Moorings. Arriving, we had a little bit of an off feeling, however, our choices at this point were limited. Eventually a man came to the office, checked us in, and gave us our key. His dinner recommendation was just across the street.
Mostly full, people seemed to be enjoying their meals--we thought it was nothing special. While there we did learn that bears are a common occurrence around there. Although we'd seen bear crossing signs along the highway, we did not take it very seriously, however, after listening to one of the servers tale of her Mother's car being lifted, perhaps we should have. Fortunately, they kept to themselves during our overnight stay. So, what's to like about The Moorings? Nothing really, unless you like bare walls, one bar of soap, a puny pillow, AND the blaring lights of the marina all night long!
Tossing and turning throughout the night, I woke up, thinking the clock said 6:30, meaning, if I wanted any sunrise pictures, I better get out of bed.
There's a reason this photo, taken shortly after my wake up call, is so dark--it's 5:30 in the morning! Bruce came outside; looking at each other, we decided the best thing to do was put the place behind us, and get back on the road.

Further down the highway we pulled over to take this:
Bruce was behind the wheel on this stretch while I did the navigating and reading the book. Let's go out to St. George's Island State Park, shall we?
The lighthouse has had quite a history through the years--rebuilt many times.
Miles of unspoilt beaches, camping, fishing, and BIG dunes.
Wonder how that dock got so far away from the Gulf?

So, we thought we saw big dunes at St. George's Island, but the ones at Cape San Blas put those to shame. More specifically, on a tip from a lady we met in Appalachicola at a thrift shop (!) where I bought a yellow plate for 50 cents, we went to the very end of St. Joseph's State Park (not the full name), and were in awe. Seriously, it was so interesting, and to tell you the truth, weird, walking up a big sand mountain, which my builder husband, who is a good estimator of heights and distances, estimated was 80 feet tall.
Here's a shot of the only other folks we saw while there, making their way back to the parking lot:
It felt as if it were a desert, with an ocean on the other side of the mountain. Okay, high hill. There was a sign indicating it was moderately strenuous, mostly because the sand is so fine and powdery, it's a bit hard to get a grip. Bruce took his sandals off to make the return trip.
I'm getting ahead of myself with the above shot! Oh well. Here's what you get for your efforts.
Gorgeous sand, no people, and beautiful water which I suspect would be even more beautiful had it not been a bit of a hazy day.
No one at all, not even shorebirds.

After picnicking nearby, we took off once again, finally reaching Walton County, and Sandestin, which apparently is a combination of Destin and Santa Rosa Beach. Using Hilton hotel points, Bruce booked us into the hotel for two nights. Taken from the 10th floor on the Gulfside of the resort:
They call this area the Emerald Coast and you can see why. Unbeknownst to us, the Hilton is part of this which turned out to be very nice indeed. You'll see more tomorrow.
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