Day 18: Econfina River State Park from St. George Island
Pulled out of St. George at around 12:30 PM on Friday. We said goodbye to Rob West; our nice camphost from Pennsylvania. ‘Found an island grocery market and a ATM, then stopped-off at a little roadside seafood stand and bought the day’s catch directly from the fisherman who’d caught it that morning. What we bought:
1 lb shrimp, 2 lbs red snapper filets, 2 crab cakes. Yum! I’d be cooking the cakes later on down the road, along with the shrimp, and the fish I planned to save and cook the next day since it was frozen.
While at the seafood stand, we met a nice man, a retired college professor. He loved the van! : )) We love St. George Island! …hate to leave. We both agree we could live quite happily on Saint George Island. Never know…maybe some day!
*Beautiful drive along coastal 98 headed East, as we were leaving the long bridge to/from St. George.*
We stopped at an IGA in Carrabelle, FL for groceries and stuff. The ladies at the store were really nice and helpful. You don’t see that everyday! *Cute little town, that Carrabelle! I took pics of a kewl wooden boat-bar. Love it!! We wanted to stop, but we had to forge ahead.
Refueled in Pancea while down the road, and had every intention of going on to our desired destination, but considering the time-of-day and how tired we were, we decided to camp for the night at Econfina River State Park. Come to find out, there were no campsites at the park, so we found a rural spot at a private compground up the road and secured a spot for $17. Not too bad! And the primitive site was very secluded and lush with Palmettos and Palms…and that scary Spagnum Moss hanging from the trees. It reminds me of the Scooby-Doo mysteries every time I see it. Lol This trip, we’ve seen it a lot too.
*Nice old bald man (The ‘old bald man’ part…his words, not mine. lol) named Ron, who we met back at Econfina while asking for directions, loaned me some sunblock/bug repellent called ‘Cactus Juice’. It comes from Texas! hahaha Good stuff! We used a little then returned it to the store nearby, per his request, the next day before we pulled out. He said he knew the folks there at the store and they’d hold it til he came in the next fishin trip…that next weekend more than likely. : )
We cooked the shrimp from St. George on the open fire-pit that night. It was delicious! Once we turned in, we had a bit of a scare when we heard some goings-on outside our camp. Blanca had been fixated by something out in the woods all day since we’d arrived. Nico went out (I begged him not to, but…you know men) to see what it was, but seemed rather spooked when he came back in. He said what ever it was, it was circling our campsite, was very heavy…and very fast. Needless to say, he stayed in after that. ; )
Obviously we made it through the night, or I guess you wouldn’t be reading this. Haha It had been a good day…all in all. Many…many Blessings!
Up by 8 AM, I fed Nixi and put on a Dora DVD. Nico took down the drive-away tent while I made an Italian Omelet and some coffee. We enjoyed our breakfast, packed it all up and were on the road by noon. We’re getting better at this! I realized.
Quite a few hours and miles later, we decided to stop-short of our intended destination and camp for the night at Grayton Beach State Park. And while we weren’t quite sure we liked our spot when we pulled in, we settled in for the night in the very last spot they had (last-minute cancellation), right by the bathrooms/showers. We’d explore the next day, and see what discoveries lay in store.
The park was quiet, even with neighbors close-by. So far…at that point, it was looking like a good place. We started a campfire and cooked some ‘dogs’…sat back and relaxed. It had been a long…hot day, but a good one still.
Had brekkie on Dauphin Island, picked up camp and was gone by noon. We had to catch the Ferry across the bay. Sitting in line to load the boat, we figured it would take forever, but were pleasantly surprised after waiting only 5 to 10 minutes. Lucky for us, we were the last one’s allowed onboard.
So, there we were…cutting through the waves on The Mobile Bay Ferry. I had decided to stand upfront to take pics while Nico sat in the van with baby. Little could I have known that I’d end up soaked all down the front from the splashes of the boat ripping through the tide. I loved it! Nice and refreshing; much-needed on such a hot day.
As we pulled off the ferry, my heart anticipated our next stop–we were closing in on Florida. I could hardly wait! A little while later and a few miles down the road, we crossed into Florabama (Party Town!! Jimmy Buffett style!) and over the state line. It was around 2 pm and we were ready to sink our toes in the Florida sand. After passing through Florabama, we stopped at Perdido Key State Park day use area, for some fun-in-the-sun, a pit-stop and a picnic (not necessarily in that order).
After munching down some lunch, we headed down to the lofty white-sand beach and played in the crystal clear…aqua green-blue water. Love it! We splashed around like children and never wanted to leave, though we knew we must. There was a campsite calling our names a little ways down the road at Big Lagoon State Rec Area. It was getting late…we were tired…Peniki was tired, so we parted with the lovely beach and headed out.
A short bit later, we were settling in at Big Lagoon and quickly making friends with the campground hosts Butch and Ronnie; brothers with great hospitality and a bucket of laughs. What wonderful people to know! We enjoyed every minute of conversation with our new friends. Super nice people!
At that point, we’d already decided to stay another night…having already been made to feel so welcome there. So…we settled in and relaxed to the music of Bob Marley on the player while I fried some yummy fish and enjoyed a bit of refreshment. I tell ya–It just doesn’t get much better than that! No siree!!!
‘Woke up early and got down to the matter at hand. Breakfast! While we were leisurely eating our grub, ‘decided to go for a nice ride around the island. I had seen miles of bike trails on the way in that night before, and I could hardly wait to venture out.
We headed in the direction we had yet to travel and soon discovered Historic Fort Gaines, right on the waters’ edge. Then…we rolled down to the beach nearby and saw Dolphins leaping and dancing in the water. What a sight! I only wish I had been able to snap the pic in time.
Baby had fallen fast-asleep; soothed by the motion of the bicycle and the cool ocean breeze on her face. So…after enjoying the breeze and introducing our toes to Alabama sand, we headed back towards the campground…but didn’t stop there. Our destination? The Fish Market! I was gonna cook some shrimp on the Bar B later. Yum!!
A little while later, we were pullin’ out of the market with a couple ‘pounds of freshly caught shrimp, a few pounds of catfish, and some crab-stuffed jalapeno pepper-poppers. Needless to say, by the time we left the only grocery store on the island to pick up some other groceries and libations, I couldn’t pedal fast enough…just thinkin’ of getting back to cook those peppers.
Fast-forward a few hours later: In our efforts to work off the crab-peppers, we set out to explore Dauphin Island Campground and get to know our immediate surrounding a bit better. To our pleasant surprise, we discovered a shade riddled trail into the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Treasure!!! A long walk later, and a gazillion pics too, we made it back to camp to ready the skewers and get an early start on dinner.
Later that night, we sparked the campfire and grilled mango/chipotle marinated shrimp & pineapple skewers. Man…! I really out-did myself this time! *patting myself on the back* This….was what posh-camping was meant to be. Simple pleasures by the sea, and good company.