Anyone who knows us (or reads this blog) is aware of our love of Mexican and Mexican-ish food. Barry had read about a restaurant we could reach from our campground at Grayton Beach State Park via the 30a bike path. It was about 7 miles west in Santa Rosa Beach, and per their motto, with a name like Stinky's Fish Camp, it better be good! They advertise Taco Tuesdays, so we were excited to pedal over on our first full day in the area and chow down on a fish taco lunch.
What we didn't expect was a couple of challenges that turned this simple plan into an adventure.
We first took a wrong turn, confused by construction on 30a, and ended up riding into the small village of Grayton Beach. We figured out our error pretty quickly and backtracked to get back on track.
The construction that had caused our confusion was our next challenge. We knew the path was supposed to continue west, but where was it? Barry checked at a bike shop on the corner to ask what was going on. Turns out, the bike path was torn out and being reconstructed along a two-mile stretch of the 30a highway. This essentially cut the bike path into two parts, as most casual cyclists wouldn't brave riding on 30a. But we aren't those cyclists, so we decided to go for it. Riding our cruiser bike (Barry) and mountain bike (me) made us slower than on our lightweight Trek road bikes, so we'd pull over on side roads or driveways if traffic started backing up behind us, since this section of 30a had no shoulder.
Fortunately, we made it through the construction area safely and were happy to get back on the path. There were actually a few small inclines in this area, much to our surprise. East of the state park is dead flat, but west is a bit more rolling. We also had to fight a bit of a headwind in this direction.
After all that excitement, we arrived at Stinky's ready for some tacos. And they had a bike rack -- perfect! Unfortunately, in our busy preparations to get out the door, Barry had left our bike lock behind, and Stinky's had no outside seating, so we wouldn't be able to watch our bikes. So here was our next challenge!
Disappointed, my idea was to turn around and eat outside somewhere else along the way back where we could keep an eye on our bikes. But Barry had a better idea. Since this is a touristy area, there are many bike shops along the path that rent bikes. He brilliantly realized that we could stop in a shop and buy a lock. We needed a lightweight one anyway, as the one he had planned to take is super heavy duty and overkill for most areas. He really didn't want to miss out on our one chance for Taco Tuesday, and I agreed.
It worked out perfectly. There was a shop just a couple miles back down the bike path, and he scored a lightweight lock we ended up using the rest of the week, so it was a handy purchase. And the detour meant we'd built up even more of an appetite for fish tacos!
We were soon back at Stinky's and enjoying a brew, bikes locked safely outside.
The grilled gulf fish tacos were huge and even better than we expected, along with some yummy black beans and rice on the side. Worth every extra pedal stroke!
Pedaling back east with full bellies, we stopped at a public access to check out how stunning the beach looked in full sun. Both sand and water were absolutely brilliant.
This sign caught our eyes as we headed back along the path. We can rarely resist such a sign.
The bakery was tiny and right next to a big bike shop with a huge fleet of rental bikes out front. I bet this place is crazy on the weekends.
There's some colorful bike art out front.
The selections were rather limited, and pricey, so we split a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. I don't think I've ever had a $4 cookie before (after tax). It was good, but overpriced. Oh well, when in Rome....
I liked the stools with bike wheels and "pedals" to put your feet on. Creative!
On the way back, the stretch of highway in the construction zone was much less busy than in the other direction, and we had a tailwind, so we zipped right through the two-mile stretch.
Before we knew it, we were back at the park. The bike path runs right by the entrance; very convenient!
Pearl's site was at the end of one of the loops, so you can see her nestled in the foliage here, as I approached the campground turnoff.
All in all, a successful Taco Tuesday adventure!
We've been hanging out in central Florida since last August, when I got my braces, and were long overdue for a vacation. We did have one brief trip to Mississippi to evacuate from Hurricane Irma, but other than that, we have been stuck in one place for a long time due to my orthodontist appointments and in order to avoid the cold winter weather in so much of the US.
You might think that being retired and full-time RVers, we're always on vacation, but for our nomadic spirits, anywhere we stay for months at a time can start feeling a little stale. Especially an RV park that feels a lot like a trailer park. Although we have very nice neighbors, there's not much privacy, and we're near a busy road so hear traffic and sirens off and on all day. We were craving a dose of tranquility in a more natural setting.
By mid-April we hoped it would finally be warm enough to head a bit north for a week between my appointments. I had been lucky enough to book a site at Grayton Beach State Park, which must have been a cancellation, as the rest of the park was fully booked, and Florida state parks near the beach book months and months in advance.
It was a longish drive at six hours, never pleasant in a motorhome, but once we arrived, all the stress of the road fell away, and we immediately settled into this pretty, green park. We only had a neighbor on one side, and there was enough foliage between sites to provide privacy. Best of all, we could hear birds singing instead of traffic!
Here's Pearl, parked in our site. The natural area to the left was perfect for walking Paisley. (Unfortunately, dogs aren't allowed on the beach.)
The best part about this park is that you're only about 2/3 of a mile, for us an easy walk or pedal, from truly the most beautiful beach I've ever seen in the US. This part of Florida is known as the "Emerald Coast", and the water is as shockingly turquoise as that in the Caribbean when the sun shines during the day. Maybe even more astonishing is the blindingly white sugar sand. We were transfixed by the beauty here.
Here's a view of Western Lake from along the park road to the beach. The signs warning us not to "swim with alligators" worried me a bit, so we limited ourselves to picture taking.
Before we even knew about the daytime turquoise water, here's what we saw of Grayton Beach on our first evening, near sunset. We enjoyed walking on the shoreline, watching the shorebirds, and finally the sunset.
We'll share some more about this area in subsequent posts. In addition to many long beach walks, we discovered some fun bicycling routes, explored neighboring beach towns, and enjoyed wonderful food, which made for the perfect vacation.
Oh, and that daytime view of the beach? See, what did I tell you?
It's that time of year. On our nightly walk with Paisley, we go past a nice pond in a neighborhood behind our RV park. One evening in April, we started noticing ducklings along with some of the adult ducks in the pond.
This Mallard pair had four little ones with them. There are a lot of Muscovy ducks in this pond as well; and based on some of the duckling images I've seen online, the yellow ducklings look like Muscovies. The Mallard duckling images I've seen all have the brown eyebar and brown on the top of the head. Perhaps there was some intermingling of ducklings from different clutches here? Or perhaps Mama Mallard got frisky with a Papa Muscovy? Only the ducks know for sure!
Here's a Muscovy mama duck leading a group of ducklings on the same pond. When doing a bit of duck research online I learned that the papa ducks do nothing to help with duckling rearing, and the mamas don't have to feed the ducklings, just lead them around. Quite a difference from the wild birds I'm used to who have to work so hard to feed their nestlings.
I thought this smaller white duck with the large Muscovy mama was interesting. Maybe a juvenile from an earlier litter? The ducklings are safely up against the shoreline as Mama had just guided them to safety for the night.
There is a also a pond at our RV park. It's small but pretty with trees dripping with Spanish moss growing right in the water. In the winter there was a large flock of Common Mergansers living on this pond. I kept meaning to photograph them but never did. Then one day there were only a few, then none. I assume they've flown to their spring breeding grounds.
There is one duck who has been here ever since we arrived at this park last October. It's an all-white duck, I assume a drake (male), who is all alone. I feel kind of sorry for this duck, since it has lost its mate, apparently, but people feed it, and since it stays around, it must be doing okay. It hangs out with whichever other ducks happen to be on the pond, but it is often alone.
You can see the lone white duck towards the bottom right of this photo of our pond. It seems to prefer this side bank of the pond as I almost always see it there, when it's not swimming.
I think he (or she) is a very sweet-looking duck.
Recently I noticed a Mallard pair on our little RV park pond. And then a few weeks later, I saw them on the pond with a large group of ducklings. As of yesterday I still hadn't had a chance to get a photo, when Barry came running in shouting for the camera. Seems Mama Mallard had brought the large clutch up to our street in the park, several blocks away the pond. Very exciting!
Here they are going around my cruiser bike and the picnic table on our site.
After wandering around several sites, they started heading back in the direction of the pond. Fortunately, a lot of folks who spend all winter in Florida have left the park to head back north, so there was no traffic on the park roads at this time. And I'm sure even if someone were driving through, they would stop at the sight of this.
Make way for ducklings!
There are eleven -- count 'em -- ducklings. I was worried about Mama having to feed all those mouths before I read that she doesn't. But it's a large group to lead around.
It certainly made my Saturday afternoon to see these little guys. Who says RV life isn't exciting?
Sometimes you just have to open your eyes and pay attention to the little things (literally)!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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