After our wrestling match with the Blizzard of 2014, our hearts were aching for some sunshine and warmer temperatures, so we hooked our vintage airstream, Pearl, to the back of the truck and headed south.
We purchased Pearl in July and had only camped for a couple of days at a time, in campgrounds relatively close to home, so we were excited to venture further from home to see if glamping was really for us.
We headed to our favorite area in the Florida Panhandle, 30A, the road that travels along the ocean from Destin to Panama City. Having made many trips to the area, this has become our home away from home, and we couldn't wait to get back!
Brad has set a goal to try to do something new-to-him every single day this year, and our little adventure fulfilled that and then some. There definitely is a learning curve.
Finding places to eat when pulling a long trailer isn't always easy. We pledged after eating another gross McDonald's meal that we would not be doing that again.
So, Cracker Barrel is our new favorite camping trip place. Travelers can call ahead for a home cooked meal and it will be waiting when you arrive, and they have special dedicated RV parking spots. Pass the biscuits please!
We learned so much about camping during our week away! Some lessons involved antifreeze, broken truck mirrors, and putting too many paper towels down the toilet. I won't go into detail about how Brad took care of that problem. Poor guy.
I don't recommend any of those experiences to you, but I do want to share with you a few places I do recommend if you ever find yourself in this beautiful spot on the Gulf of Mexico!
1. Camp on the Gulf
We spent our first couple of nights at this campground which is directly on the beach. Parking right in the sand made the ocean our personal pool. It was unbelievably beautiful and empty with front-row seats to amazing sunsets.
We met lots of friendly snowbirds, who seemed to be enjoying their "homeless" adventure. Many of them had sold their homes and were living the RV life, traveling from one campground to another. This isn't something that appeals to me, but I enjoyed hearing others talk about it.
2. Grayton State Park
Following our nights on the beach, we moved a little farther down the coast to this beautiful state park. These were full hookup camp sights, which means they have electricity, water and sewer. The campground is right beside a beautiful coastal lake separated from the ocean by a "field" of huge dunes. I'm sure the naturalist wouldn't call it a dune field, but seems like a good name to me!
A small group of airstreamers were there for a rally so we took advantage of the opportunity to learn from the experts some tips for taking care of our vintage treasure. These people are SERIOUS about their camping and knew their stuff. They were also very friendly and invited us to their happy hours and potlucks.
Don't you just love the bunting I purchased from Modern June on Etsy?
We enjoyed hiking the trails and bike paths through the dunes to the beach and the breathtaking beauty all around us. One day as we entered a hiking trail, someone coming off the trail warned us that he had seen a bobcat.
Since we live in an area that frequently enjoys (not.) coyote choruses at night, we have a very healthy respect for animals in the wild. When we started to see lots of tracks that didn't belong to any kitty, we hightailed it out of there. One morning, I looked up and a small eagle was flying right over my head!
We loved it there.
3. Hibiscus-Hug In, Hug Out
One of the reasons we went to Florida this week was to be there for the 30A Songwriter's Festival. We stumbled upon the event last year, loved it, and vowed to return. We weren't disappointed.
One of the venues was Hibiscus, a quirky bed and breakfast place, that was recently featured in Southern Living. We like to try new restaurants so we enjoyed a great breakfast here on Saturday morning before our first concert. I had pork hash and scrambled eggs and a yummy fruit salad, and it was GOOD.
It was very chilly though, and I knew I was going to be uncomfortable listening to the music outside-I am such a cold weather wimp. One of the employees let us go up a set of creaking stairs with walls decorated with vintage Florida tablecloths to a little library. There were comfy chairs and tables and we enjoyed the concert from the open window.
What a treat to look down on the Backyard of Love from this special perch!
I could go on and on about our other go-to places in the area, but I'll save those for another day.
Even though we were heading back home to another arctic blast, we threw our winter coats in the backseat of the truck, and headed north.
After being in a 31 foot trailer for 8 days, our home looked humongous! As I sat in my chair the next morning with my tea, Bible and journal, I looked out the window just as the sun was rising.
The same sun I had seen rise over the ocean and over a coastal lake was rising over the black fields outside my window.
And I was filled with gratitude for my life and blessings.