Monday, January 31, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

:  January 1-31, 2011

Like last year we decided to begin the new year on the Florida panhandle.  We enjoyed it so much we decided to make a return this January.

In the summer, sun worshippers swarm to the popular Gulf beaches around Perdido Key, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Destin, and Panama City.  In the winter, these beaches are the realm of the snowbirds.  The high-rise beachfront condo building where we've been staying the last several years isn't extremely popular with the snowbirds.  Thus the parking lot, jammed to overflowing in summer, is all but barren in January.  And that's the way we like it.  We can stroll on the beach without needing to avoid bodies on the sand because we're often the only ones on the shore.

Now our respite has expired.  After another month spent at beautiful Perdido Key, it's time to make our way back to chilly Georgia.  We'll miss our view of the Gulf and the vacation mindset of an open schedule every day.  Recorded here are some things we enjoy remembering from our month at the shore.

Spending Time with Family.  During our month on the coast we managed to spend time with 20 of our loving relatives.  What a treat!

 Hiking Trails.   We walked some old trails and discovered some new ones in our month on the Gulf Coast.  Some of our favorites were the backcountry trails in Orange Beach, the Gulf State Park Pier, and the Trout Point Nature Trail at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

Orange Beach Backcountry Trails
Gulf State Park Pier
Trout Pond Nature Trail at Naval Air Station
Lingering on the Beach.  From Pensacola to Mobile, we savored the beautiful sugar white sands of the Gulf beaches, even though some areas were still undergoing beach clean-up from the BP oil spill.

Dauphin Island
Gulf Shores getting more clean-up
Exploring the Local Sights.  A month gave us time to visit some new places and return to old favorites.

National Museum of Naval Aviation
T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum
(Yes, that's a child's riding toy made from a "practice bomb" used in military training.)
Barrancas National Cemetery at the Pensacola Naval Air Station
The generous and welcoming Orange Beach Library
Pensacola Ice Flyers games at the Civic Center
Hanging Out with New Acquaintance.  On the Gulf State Park Pier, we met Sam, a young pelican who spends most of his time on the pier.  We learned from a fisherman that Sam is less than a year old and was rescued from the oil spill and given a good cleaning, during which he apparently became desensitized to humans.  He will even allow visitors to pet him on the head.  Fishing folks on the pier feed Sam and if he doesn't feel he had enough to eat, he perches on a post outside the window of the concession stand and waits for the employees to supplement his diet with some tasty bait minnows.

Searching for Letterboxes.  No matter where we are one of our favorite activities is following the clues that others have created to lead us to artistic treasures hidden in the woods-- or along a trail, in a park, under a bridge, or in any of the other myriad places where we have found letterboxes. If you aren't familiar with this fascinating hobby, check out

Sometimes a letterbox container is a pouch rather than a box.
And now we return home to Georgia with a month to plan a 90-day adventure to Europe beginning in March.

Some of the 20 family members we visited with while at the beach