Move to Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, Florida

Sunday, March 7, 2021

It was a pretty easy drive of about an hour and a half from Panama City, so we did a few chores before leaving. I finished a newsletter for Virginia Airstream Club and sent it for approval. I recently agreed to be the editor, so it is taking me a while to learn to use Pages on my MacBook, as well as learn the ins and outs of the club. Fortunately I am getting good help.

We cleaned up, hooked up and showered before leaving St. Andrews State Park. We all liked this park, which is an oasis in a sea of development. With beautiful, white beaches, the Gulf of Mexico on one side, St. Andrews Bay on the other and a very cool marsh in the middle, it is a unique place. They have an excellent staff and great facilities. They have been hit hard by hurricanes, but have recovered nicely, and are in the process of upgrading the whole north end of the campground. I could easily come back and spend more time photographing the marshes.

There is a tipped-over sailboat on the mid-shore of the campground, so we decided to go over and check it out. “Theodore Tollofson evidently liked what he saw when he shipwrecked on what is now St. Andrews State Park during a 1929 hurricane. He homesteaded in his derelict boat for the next 25 years.” From: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/st-andrews-state-park

I was sure this was to commemorate Tollofson’s story. A lady had removed the mainsail and was cleaning, so we asked what she was doing. It had nothing to do with Tollofson, but rather, her father. She had grown up sailing with her father, and the boat was his passion. He named it Bendita, which means blessed in Spanish. Unfortunately, Hurricane Michael took it away in 2018, and they thought it was lost at sea. Only recently had they found it to be here. Her father recently passed away. Tomorrow, they have a crane scheduled to load the boat onto their trailer, and they will take it home, hopefully to restore it. Her daughter, a senior in high school, was going to start training in a school for Cirque du Soleil. However, due to Covid, they have had to declare bankruptcy. Now the daughter will have to change course, probably going to college, which will be another expense for the family. Certainly, it impairs the ability of this family to restore the Bendita. I would love to know how this story ends.

After I finished getting ready to leave, I noticed a man outside his unique trailer across the street, so I went over to ask him about it. Bob was his name, and a smile came to his face with my interest in his trailer. It is a 1967 Aero that he bought for $1500 and restored. Like Airstream, it is all aluminum on a steel frame, and was started by a man who was an airplane engineer. Bob restored the inside with tongue-in-groove cedar. It has a washer and dryer, a full-sized refrigerator and a brass door knocker on the outside. Unique in every way, it was fun hearing Bob tell the story. 

Arriving at another oasis, Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, Martha went in to check in. A park gentleman said hi as I sat in the truck waiting. “What site are you in”, he asked. I told him I had no idea and that the boss was inside. He said we had a 8-1 chance our site was ready. We were an hour early, and apparently all sites were ready but one. As Martha came out, he asked her the same question. When she told him site #8, he smiled and said, “Well your site is all ready. You guys have a great day!”

We backed into a large, clean, paved site. Sandra and Ruff are over in Topsail Hills State Park for one night as we couldn’t find two sites. We are here for a week, but they start back in a couple of days, and will move over here tomorrow.

We went to dinner with Ruff and Sandra at Stinky’s Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach. No social distancing here! It was packed with people waiting in line. We had a steamed platter of oysters for an appetizer for the table. After studying the menu for a while, I chose crawfish pot pie. I mean how often do you get to have that? It was then I realized we were inching closer to New Orleans. Sandra ordered oysters, which weren’t as good as those we had in previous locations. It looks like we are in shrimp and crawfish country.

As soon as I hit the bed, I was fast asleep.

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