American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.
Louis Grizzard, a great American
It's choice ~ not chance ~ that determines your destiny.
Jean Nidetch

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday, August 4, 2008

~ A look back….. ~

Walkway to beach.

Our first volunteer position was October, 2007, through January of 2008, at St Joseph Peninsula State Park, Cape San Blas, Florida. The park is directly on the Gulf of Mexico with St. Joseph Bay on the back side. It’s a beautiful park with 119 sites, all with water and electric. We love St. Joe and have plans to return next year.

The most beautiful beaches!

As volunteers, we worked 20 hours a week, or 5 mornings for 4 hours each. Duties included clearing underbrush near sites to get ready for the burn, walking through the campground to pick up trash, occasionally cleaning restrooms, and a few scattered days filling in at the museum in Port St. Joe. This park had the most structured work schedule of the 3 parks we’ve volunteered for, so far. The months we were there were very slow. Some weeks there were less than 10 sites occupied. Of course, the park was full around Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year's.

Us working.

Fires burning.

After the burn.

The rangers were friendly and very laid back. Park Manager, Brian Addison, was friendly and accessible. One month he and his wife hosted a Pasta Dinner at their home in the park. At Thanksgiving they supplied the turkey, and the volunteers (there were 6 couples and 1 single) brought the side dishes for a fun gathering. Ranger LeeAnn Hinson was volunteer coordinator and worked with all of us for special needs. We were able to go home for Christmas and be with family over the holidays. Our oldest grandson, Kyle, returned with us and his whole family followed for a short beach vacation.

Kyle, Logan, & Tyler

Tyler's first beach!

Kyle & Dad Nate caught fish!

Had to do Some'mors!

The only down side to this park is it's isolation.....which could be it's saving grace. If it were more accessible and better known, I'm afraid it would be overrun by locals and tourists alike, similar to St. Andrews where we are now. We love St. Andrews also, but the two are as different as day and night. St Joe State Park is 20 miles from Port St. Joe, the nearest town with groceries (Piggly Wiggly), and a whopping 55 miles to Winn Dixie & Wal-Mart. Being from Atlanta, I am used to having 5 Wal-Marts in a 12-mile radius and Kroger, Publix, & CVS on every corner! But there is a great Mexican restaurant in Port St Joe - Pepper's - the best one we've found in Florida. (Happy Hour on Wednesday's, 6 to 9 pm!). Makes the 20 mile drive worth it!

Nate, Kyle & Logan @ Pepper's

There is a nice lighthouse just outside the park. The houses are currently being renovated.

Cape San Blas Lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper's house.
Here's a few of my beach buddies...

And some glorious sunsets just outside our motorhome...

And we met one courageous German Shepard!

We also took a trip over to Appalachacola to see what the fuss was about regarding the lack of fresh water for the scallops and mussels over there. They are wanting more water to be released in Georgia to allow more fresh water in the mouth of the Appalachacola Bay. All I can say is looks like there is plenty of water coming into the bay from the river down there and our lake back home, Lake Lanier, is still 16 feet below full pool. 'Nuff said. We did find a great little diner with great food - The Hut. And it is only 30 miles from St. Joe. We visited The Hut three times.

Beach houses along Hwy. 30E. Fishing boats on the river in Appalachacola.

The Gorrie House in Appalachacola. He invented the Ice Machine (maybe where the fresh water went?).

This turned out to be a long blog, but there was a lot of catching up to do. I want to remember how beautiful this park is. We look forward to returning next year and to enjoying a little solitude for just a month or two.

(Click on any pic for bigger view)


Karen said...

We have to 75 miles to get to a grocery store, and 125 to a Wal-Mart, but you know what? I love it! The Grand Canyon is so worth living in an isolated area.

Susan and Sam: said...

Wow! That is a drive!