I drove highway 98 out of Gulf Shores and into Florida. I was so amazed at the first bridge I crossed , I made a U turn and tried to find a place to capture a photo.
Out of Alabama Into Florida
Little did I know at the time that I would cross many, many more as I made my way south along the Gulf.
One of Dozens
I stopped in Pensacola, Florida
to visit Pensacola Historical Museum
. Most of you will find little of interest here, but be sure to go two blocks down the street to visit the historical section of town.
Museums, Commercial, Homes Abound
Pensacola Historic District
Take a Tour
Just at sunset I found the Inn on Destin Harbor
and enjoyed the view then and also at sunrise.
Sunset on Chocktawhatchee Bay
Sunrise on Chocktawhatchee Bay
There are at least one million places to vacation or winter along this route.
Anywhere, NW Florida Gulf
Waiting and Watching
Cats, Birds, and Men Go Fishing
And then you cross the bridge somewhere past Panama City and the world changes.
This Is One Desolate Road
Beach Beats Prairie
All the state parks were full , but I assumed I would run into another charming little motel.
The area is now so desolate, I might as well have been in North Dakota after dark. Except here in Florida, 20 feet either side of the road and you will fall into the sea, a swamp, a river, or a critter-infested forest!
I stopped at a crossroads gas mart for a sandwich and a beverage (it was an odd day) as nourishment and figured I would just pull off the road and sleep in the van. Unfortunately, this is coastal Florida and the church parking lots are not as plentiful as in the heartland of the deep South. Neither are there any scenic overlooks because this strip of 98 cuts through interior forestland.
Finally about 9 PM, I entered the town of Perry, Florida
and found a Hampton Inn - at least I earned a handful of Hilton points! Even Trip Advisor can identify only three attractions in this area.
Hampton Not As Charming as Harbor Inn
At breakfast the next day, I learned that many snowbirds like to travel through this area and it is great deer and hog hunting country.
I traveled some county roads to get a view of life in this part of the state.
A lot of timber...a lot of agriculture... a lot of shabby double wides....some gently used vacation homes....a few stately homes.
Florida Beaten Path
Cattle and Crops
I finally stopped at a home that looked like the residents could tell me about the area. A man a bit older than I seemed glad to have someone ask for information. He was born in the area and lived here his entire life. His father before him had farmed the area his entire life.
Friendly Farmer's Home
Up until the 1960s the area had been crop farming as far as the eye could see - flat and sandy, the wind would blow the sand in drifts. Most farms were 120 acres. Then the government initiated programs for the farmers to turn their land into timber and reduce the soil erosion. Most did. Many sold their land to company's like Foley paper. Today, the farmers have beef cattle and dairy farms. The crops are winter rye on which the cattle can graze. Also, some peanuts and corn.
When you go on the shore, there are no ritzy, high-rise condos. Instead, along the canals and salt marsh are single family cottages where folks retire or come to fish and relax. No museums or fine dining; just a "qwik mart" and steamer house with beer and burgers.
I never knew this part of Florida existed. It has it's charm and I can understand why some folks are drawn to it - just like others are drawn to the remote areas of the Rocky Mountains or the desert.
Anywhere NE Florida Gulf