Thursday, March 16, 2017

3/14 Grayton Beach State Park & Spring Break

Grayton Beach State Park is a very pleasant place, with campsites about 1/4 mile from the beach.  Spots in the area where I chose to stay are very large and have full hookups, which means that beyond the usual electric and water, I have a sewer hookup. Sites are very nicely spread apart, and the place is very quiet because we are far enough from the highway.  I have to confess that other than a quick drive-around, I have not even gone to the beach because of the rain and cold weather.  (I also had lots of work to do and wanted to relax a bit.)

I have been putting around Florida for several months, enjoying the sunshine, scenery, and animals and birds.  Until two days ago.

First, even though I have been enjoying the coolers temps here in the Florida Panhandle, it has still been very pleasant in the 70s.  But then two things happened: first, the temps dropped into the really chilly lower 50s, with rain and clouds, and second, I encountered Spring Break. 

Mostly, it has been what I would call busy over the last few months, but not really crowded.  There is a beautiful paved bike trail that follows the coastal road just outside the campground and goes about 8 miles in either direction, so I bundled up and decided to go for a bike ride and do some exploring.  What I did NOT expect was this, just a couple of miles down the road:

There were literally thousands of college students and a good number of families who had come to Florida for Spring Break.  And apparently, colleges and K-12 schools in other states vary their Spring Breaks so that it is like this along the Gulf and the Atlantic from mid-March through the end of April. 

Forget the bike path that went through town--I had to get off and walk my bike for a quarter of a mile.  And even then, it was hard to get through the crowds. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper for at least two miles west of town. 

Here is where I am and where the crowds were.  The cause of the mess was two resort areas:  Watercolor and Seagrove.  Watercolor is roughly in the red area and Seagrove is in the yellow area.  These are not just single hotels--they are clusters of hotels, condos for rent, and shops. 

Anyway, people are attracted by the incredibly white sand beaches and normally sunny days.  Here is one of the entrances to one beach area.  Note that smart people have jackets on, while a few girls had on bikinis.  (I was dressed in long pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket with a hood, and I was still cold.  And the temperature really got cold this evening--34 before morning.  Brrrr.)

Insanity to the left

A close-up of insanity.  The hotels in the far distance are Panama City Beach, by the way.

Insanity to the rightThe hotels far to the right are in Miramar and Destin, FL.
Most of these were rental bikes.

And more bikes!  The signs, by the way, are for parking spots and say, "Guest Check-in Only," but of course, they were referring to cars, not bikes.  No matter--there was no room for any cars to get there anyway.

 This really would be a nice place to visit any other time of the year.  This is a planned community and streets are lined with houses and duplexes that are available for rent.  Some, I think, are actually hotel rooms. 

The style is what I would call "Idealized Beach House."  And there were dozens on streets and several hundreds of these.  By this point, however, I was thoroughly chilled and ready to head home to my cozy motorhome, so I only took a few photos.  I did stop at a Subway and get a sandwich for dinner, however. 

  Addendum:  I had to make a trip to Camping World on the other side of Destin the next day (3/15) so I had to tackle the main road through the city.  This is a highway that is three lanes on either side and with a large grassy divider most of the way, but that day it took me 2 hours to drive 50 miles through this traffic.  Had to stop at almost every light.    
So, will I go back to the Panhandle and Destin, FL, area?  Absolutely, but just not in March or April. I'll be back here in less than two years, but in November and December instead.  It really is a beautiful place when there are not so many people. 

I am SO glad that my vacation is year-round, so I don't have to put up with all of this!!!

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