We Are Absolutely Not Going Anywhere

Simon: Let’s go to Milton as our first week in Florida. There’s nothing nearby to tempt us away from the campground, and we can push through the work we need to get done so we can enjoy our final stops.
Susan: Perfect. If I can count on that, I’ll fill up the fridge and plan for all our meals at home.
Simon: You can count on it.
Also Simon (first full day at campground): Let’s do a loop around East Bay and down to the coast today and visit Pensacola tomorrow! YAY! GO, GO, GO!!!

The man just can’t. But our thoughts are starting to focus on our return home and the major decisions we’ll be facing once we’re back, so we agreed to two days exploring, and the rest of the time in the rig getting a jump on preparations for summer’s onslaught.

With a view like this, why leave?

If you have other things to do, here’s the short version: We pretty much did nothing, other than two short excursions. For the longer version, read on.

Resting scowl-face!

When we checked in at Avalon Landing RV Park, we were offered an upgrade to a water site for $30 ($4.28 a night), and while we weren’t quite sure we wanted the extra fee, we agreed, and it was a decision that really paid off. Birds swooping and diving, mullet jumping, people fishing from the bridge; absolute viewing perfection from inside the rig while we worked, and from outside with our pre-dinner drinks.

We spent the first day “at home” getting laundry, shopping, and a little bit of work done, then set out for a loop around the bay the next day. When we reached the Gulf, we both had a little catch in our breath, seeing the wonderfully familiar blue of the water. Florida, in our opinion, has the most beautiful ocean water in the country (well, around the country, really), with its deep blues and bright blues that are even more radiant against the Panhandle’s superb white-sand beaches.

The next day we drove south, then turned west along the single road through Gulf Islands National Seashore, which we had first encountered ‘way back in Mississippi. Little dune-ettes – tiny by Lake Michigan standards – stretched the full length, with the occasional peek at the sea on one side, and the East Bay on the other. A gentle day, yes, but we felt the full impact of being so close to the end of our adventure.

Next up was Pensacola, with its pretty downtown balconies reminiscent of New Orleans, and an up-close (-ish) view of Captain America, an off-shore support vessel that helps install and decommission things like drilling rigs and wind farms. The ship was just paying a visit, and its home port is Pascagoula, Mississippi.

A historical marker at Palafox Pier, where the ship is anchored, recalls a darker time. Pensacola’s history of importing enslaved Africans is long, dating back to the mid-1500s. First the Spanish, then the English, shipped human “cargo” to the area, presumably landing at or near what is now the pier. It also recalls the people who escaped enslavement and hid out in Pensacola’s relative remoteness. Their ancestors, the sign indicates, helped shape the character of the city.

Why is this marker important? Because it (and others like it, specifically in St. Augustine, Florida) counters the history we were taught in school, that slavery began in Virginia in the mid-1600s. St. Augustine saw its first slaves in the early 1500s. These markers are so easy to overlook, but we’ve been surprised at how much they’ve inspired us to learn more about things we didn’t know, or thought we knew.

The rest of our time was spent working, putting “decisions” in motion, and enjoying our gorgeous view. We’ll have one more beach destination, two more short moves, and then a very special finale to what has been a mind-expanding trip.