It was so blissful walking along the beach the next morning as the sand was packed as hard as concrete which made it easy to walk on unlike the beaches much further west on Florida's Panhandle, our home away from home for one twelfth of every year.
If we'd had more time at Neptune Beach, we could have walked for miles along the beach. But we had a couple of hundred miles to drive that day before we could reach our final destination.
Only on Florida's Atlantic beaches, we've discovered, it it possible to ride bikes along the beaches since the sand is so hard.
For about the last dozen years or so, Steven and I've been staying at Grayton Beach State Park on the Panhandle for about three plus weeks every summer. For those unfamiliar with Florida, the park is located about a 45 minute drive east from the nearest big city, Destin. Until three years ago, we stayed in the camping area of the park, which is separated from the cabin area by more than a mile.
You can see from this photo why this whole area is called Florida's Emerald Coast! Every morning, Steven drives my car the short distance from our cabin to this almost desolated section of the state park beach as it's so far from the camping beach. I prefer to walk the short distance to get that extra bit of exercise and also catch up with family and friends on the phone en route.
The gaily painted fence camouflaged utility equipment in the hamlet of Grayton Beach.
We never grow tired of strolling along the quiet lanes with the adorable homes, each one with a sign naming the home and its inhabitants.
Oh well, it meant another day with few other people on the beach!
The winds at least made for some pretty patterns in the sand even if the blowing sand stung us like crazy.
Suellen: As you aptly named Steven, here's the Sherpa!
For a change of pace one evening, we walked along County Road 30A, the road closest to the beach that stretches for miles and miles. You know this area of Florida is so popular when so many out-of-state cars sport the telltale light blue 30A decals. I was delighted to see one on a car in our local King Soopers grocery store parking lot a few weeks before we left for this trip!
Another gorgeous sunset on the beach on our walk back to Grayton.
The park's cabin area and state beach is just before the homes in this photo. The camping area is another mile and a half beyond that. In between are some private homes and then the town of Grayton Beach. Its residents are allowed to drive trucks right down on the beach.
This was the first version of the tent we bought. Sitting in it felt like I was in a cocoon as the vented 'windows' didn't come down far enough so I could look out at all.
We were camping at Grayton just weeks after the 2010 BP oil spill. Even now, all these years later, we still sadly see signs of that horrific disaster.
It was almost impossible to believe two great weeks at the park had already sped by. That meant we had to leave the park for a minimum of three nights before being able to return for up to 14 more nights. The park is always so popular, we have to make reservations exactly 11 months to the minute in advance to be guaranteed a spot the following year.
The park's two-bedroom cabins have no wifi, no TV and limited amenities but they have worked well for us once we learned to bring much needed kitchen items from home AND to make connections with park management when faced with a malfunctioning fridge, missing blankets, etc.