A bittersweet goodbye to Florida

4/11/22
I left with mixed feelings about Florida. I hated the weather because of the cold and rain, and driving around with gas prices so high was expensive. But, I loved working at Flat Creek Family Campground, and Adam and Alicia changed my mind about how I felt about Florida. They were gracious and kind and the best employers I could ever wish for! I am missing them already and get choked up every time I think about them. And though my sister was 7 hours away in southern Florida, I managed to visit a couple of times and will miss them as well. Moving on… 😦

Last visit in Cape Coral with Sis
As usual, I was one day late because of van work being done and the torrential rain.
Driving the 7+ hours was difficult, and after such a late start, I parked at a rest stop in Wesley Chapel. Some guy was yelling for a while then stopped, but otherwise it was a quiet night.
Got my food fix at Cindy’s. Yum!
Cindy, Bob and I went to Sanibel Island shelling and found lots of small ones, nothing outstanding. I took one from Cindy’s collection and kept a few from our excursion. It was cold and winding that morning and didn’t stay on the beach too long. After, we drove to Matlacha (my favorite spot) for lunch at Bert’s.
The next day we went to Naples Botanical Gardens. Cindy is quite the expert and showed us all kinds of cool plants. The lilies and lily pads were stunning! There was a sculpture made out of pussy willow stalks and it was huge! It was called StickWorks and was an abstract art installation made from pussy willow stalks, thousands of them!
Honestly, I was sad to leave and left early on Tuesday. I’m going to miss you guys! I drove straight through and got home around 4:30pm with the rain again. btw, there was no rain in Cape Coral, though it was pretty windy on Saturday. Up north things were blowing around like crazy.

3/19/22 Worst weather ever!
In the ~2 years that I’ve been on the road, I have never run into such bad weather as I have in Florida. I am amazed that people actually love it here. We had the most severe thunderstorms that lasted almost 12 hours! A tornado watch was in effect until 7pm last night, too. I can’t believe this. I actually felt the vibrations from the thunder! At one point my cell phone went off with a flood warning alert.
It’s 7:40 am and it is finally starting to calm down. Thankfully, I was able to fall asleep and wasn’t bothered during the night. Turned out that lightning struck the campground and knocked out the phones and computers. Ridiculous!!

Taking it easy in Panacea and Shell Point Beach
My final trip was driving down HWY65 toward the Gulf Coast. This is a great driving back road that passes through the Apalachicola National Forest. Nothing but trees and an occasional deer. I got an early start and drove through some pretty dense fog most of the way, until it cleared up around HWY98. Driving toward Carrabelle, a big wall of fog loomed ahead, and I stopped to get something to eat at a gas station. Moving through the fog wall wasn’t too bad because the speed limit was only 45mph, so you couldn’t drive too fast anyway. Finally, I got to Panacea and drove to the spot that the photographer mentioned. It was a very quiet boat launch on a very narrow beach. It was gray and it was hard to tell where the sky met the water but it was really pretty. I took some snaps of a fisherman on the lake and then moved on.
At that point the sky cleared and I started back toward HWY98 toward “home”. Then I saw Shell Point beach and decided to look at the water one more time. It was very warm by then and I changed into a skort and sleeveless top for the first time this year. I scoped the beach out and then went back to the van and picked up some water and my chair, heading to a nice sandy spot on the beach. No pictures, no walking, just sitting in my chair chilling out. I probably fell asleep because my legs were getting a little red. I can’t remember the last time my legs were exposed and it felt great! I watched a coulple of families playimg on the beach and in the water, and it was the most relaxing afternoon ever! I actually walked to the water, but only to my ankles because the shells were sharp and it was difficult to walk in bare feet. I don’t know how people manage to do that. At last, I departed for the campground and said goodbye to the Gulf Coast.

4/1/22 The last trail…
Alicia and I spent my last day at work, and the next day I took portraits of her and Adam, and her niece and friend. We had a great time during the shoot and I was happy with the shots. Since I still had my camera, Alicia took me to the trail to see the waterfall once more. I drove the golf cart as far as possible and we walked the rest of the way. It’s so pretty back there in the woods, as we walked across the new bridge that Dan built and then to see the water. It rained a lot before and there was an active stream flowing through the ravine. Not being the steadiest person, and just wearing my flats, Alicia gently took my hand and helped me to the stream to see the falls. We walked around a bit and she showed me her favorite spots. I’ll be back!

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