St. Joe Peninsula State Park
Camping in St. Joe Peninsula State Park
Home for the next 2 nights is St. Joe Peninsula State Park. It’s in the gulf, and is miles from any town. There are no concessions, but restrooms and showers are clean and modern. Two nights camping was $53 for our tent. For $5 we had firewood, and for $2 a bag of ice. Our site in Sandy Pines Campground is very pretty, and secluded. However, it’s on the edge of a swamp, and so rather damp. We heard an owl hooting while we ate our meal of homemade chili! Another campground is Gulf Breeze. http://www.floridastateparks.org/stjoseph/
The BP Station is the center of commerce. Rentals at the Scallop Cove B. P. include canoes, kayaks, bikes, beach chairs and fishing equipment. Bait, groceries, ice cream, lunch, clothes, and souvenirs are available. They also have charter fishing trips. They do have the corner on the market! http://www.portstjoe.info/business.cfm/id/685040168
A quick camp breakfast of coffee, fruit, and toast started us on our day. The owl was hooting during breakfast! Biking along the beach roads, renting of course from the B. P., provided an opportunity for us to get close up views of some of the pretty beach houses, see butterflies and birds, observe the plants, and get exercise. Cute names like Jamaica, Summer, and Bay Breeze were some of the street names. Houses were named Coquina, Almost There and Haven. We saw two dead snakes and remembered how the ranger had told us rattlesnakes are protected now because so many people deliberately kill them! Rattlesnakes have their uses – killing rats is one! Cost was $7 for an hour per bike.
The exercise had us ready for lunch, so we headed to Cone Heads, one of the only places to eat. We found a ship shaped building, painted bright blue, with tiki umbrellas covering the patio tables and an outdoor pool table. They sell produce, too! We each had a grilled fish sandwich with a side of fries and a glass of wine. Delicious! Our tab was $30 before tip. Other food items include burgers, salads, chowder, and desserts. There are some vegetarian items! Prices range from $3.99 to $13.99.
The beaches here are beautiful white powdered sugar sand! The dunes are protected, so don’t walk on them! Trees are magnificent, with Spanish Moss draped over the branches as decoration. There were very few people here when we were here, in early November. Most of the few business that are in the area are closed for the season. Boating, fishing, birding, swimming, and hiking are some of the outdoor activities to enjoy. History is rich in the area. Natives were here long before Europeans, as evidenced in tool and pottery remnants. Spanish explorers were here in the 1500s. Settlers began moving here in the 1800s. The American government bought much of the land in 1940 for military training.
Jellyfish, sea turtles, rays, and sharks are among the marine life. On land, rats, snakes, and mice might be seen. While we were registering, a woman called the ranger and said a snake was in her camper! There are many birds: terns, sandpipers, woodpeckers, wrens, woodpeckers, hawks, and ducks. Please heed the alligator warnings on the bay side and central areas. Always be careful in a wilderness area or preserve!
One of the local critters decided to check out our cooking bin during the night. It was closed and contained no food, but a crash woke us up to discover the contents spilled on the ground.
Greg decided to catch our dinner, and enjoy surf fishing. The Whiting were biting, and within an hour, he had 6 of them and a flounder to prepare. He had so much fun! MaryJo guarded the bait and fish from marauding sea gulls and plovers! A swim in the cool water was nice, too. Nothing like fresh fish, grilled over a campfire! The owl hooting in the swamp was a nice accent to the meal.
Taking down the tent and breaking camp is an easy undertaking when the weather is fine! We are partial to this area, although it is remote. Port St Joe is a picturesque little town which we passed through on the way out of the Panhandle.