Friday, April 8, 2016

FL Zip Trip, Backpacking Version

Matt had a couple days off and we wanted to go do some camping, but a cold front was pushing through and it was below our sleeping comfort levels for anything beyond car camping.  I wanted to backpack, but not kill myself. I have not been 100% this spring. pretty sure allergies got some minor demon quite the promotion.

Matt had a gig Saturday night, so we decided to head out Sunday to...we didn't know.  We got up and started packing anyway and along the way decided to check out Perdido Key in north FL, the first place overnight temps looked good.  I had read about camping on the key, but we could not find much info about it at all and it being Sunday, no one was in the office to answer questions.  So, we decided to finish packing, then watch our Netflix discs, have a rest and head out around 2 a.m. in order to get there when the ranger station was open. We like night travel anyway, so it worked out well.  Chandler loved the idea, Ben did not, so he stayed home with Jake who was working half days both days.

Off we went, at 2:30 in the morning.  We got below B'ham and filled up, then...traffic stopped and stayed stopped for 2+ hours.  When we got moving again, there was the shell of a tractor trailer truck that had burned, so something big went down.

It was nearing sunrise at this point, we drove a while longer and stopped for breakfast and hit Dollar General for a few more liters of water.  I love the Smart water bottles, they fit in our packs so well.

By the time we got to Perdido it was after 10.  We talked with the ranger and got the info for camping, got parked and strapped on our packs!

We only hiked about a mile (watching dolphins!) and a half before declaring our camp and setting up.  

We have discovered wicking yoga shorts work great as undies and cover well enough to use as a swim suit without carrying anything extra in the pack

We were trying to swim out to a big sand bar, we were way out at one point and big fish started swimming through Matt's legs.  We opted to head back!

We wasted no time getting in the water ourselves and swam for about an hour.  Getting out, we stretched out in the sun to dry off and warm up and then decided we were getting baked, so we went to lay in the tent. 

I was woken from my nap and thought gnats were landing on me, but it was sand!  The wind had really kicked up and sand had blown up the side of the tent and was being forced through the mesh. My new tent!  Ack!

We decided to take it down until the wind died back down, so we spent the next couple of hours being beach bums, laying on our air mattresses and using an umbrella to keep the worst of the sand off of us. 

Matt and Chan headed off to the bathhouse, a 3 mile walk and 4 mile drive, RT.  They were gone a LONG time.  I got everything shaken off and the tent back up, clean and cozy.  They arrived just as the sun set and we got our headlamps and flashlight and went for a long walk up the beach scattering crabs and looking for stingrays in the shallows.  The tide was in and it was hard walking back on the soft sand, my calves were burning!  

Back at the tent and clean and dry, we snuggled down with the rain fly off to enjoy the stars and the crashing waves.  Chandler and I talked a long time and both kept waking up to see the stars, it was cool!  

Tuesday morning, we got up to watch the sun rise.  Well, I did and they sort of did.  hahaha.  We decided with our sunburns from the day before, we should get loaded up ad head out before it got hot.  We decided to go to Ft. Pickens since our $15 pass would cover that as well.  Turned out to be money well spent!  A night of camping, safe parking for the car, tour of the fort and a Blue Angels air show!  And that $15 is good for 7 days!

We walked over and said goodbye to our nearest neighbor, a man who had camped there many times and who was useful and kind.  Both camps had wandered back and forth to visit the day before.  I had really enjoyed getting to do that, I love meeting good folk.

One more day and I would have dreadlocks

this worked really well.  It was around 80 the day before and we buried our water.
I dug it up to move camp and did not bury it as deep, but it was plenty cool as we chugged some down ahead of our departure.

We were on the island about 24 hours (I think 23.5) and downed 2 liters each. We had carried 3 plus a few 'sweet drinks' as Inde calls them.

It was cool in the dawn!  I dragged my pad (after I removed Chan's hiney!) and bag to the high tide line and watched the waves a while.  Matt rambled down to join me.

Looking frozen, actually hiding from the sun!

that's trash in my hand and a bag strapped to my thigh, in case you were wondering why I look so bulged
I mean more bulged.  hahahaha!

The road walk to the car, about half a mile, was HOT.  I was glad to get my pack off an into the AC.  I bet in the fall it would feel amazing to only be 70, but our winter worn bodies got overheated with all that sun and zero shade.

This was nice!  An Airstream al Fresco dining area.  There were at least 5, I did not get my camera up in time to get the whole scene.

On Santa Rosa Island to visit Ft. Pickens

I stopped and bought Chan a hat and sunglasses!  They were crazy tacky, but she was game.  We did not want to keep stopping and shopping until the perfect hat/glasses combo came along.

Just an FYI

this loop is so huge, those tiny black specks are the jets.  HUGE LOOP

The Blue Angels were cool, but LOUD


This is a tiny tunnel you'd have to squat to get through, which Chan did, and disappeared into the dark because Matt's red flashlight wasn't scary enough all on its own

If Matt goes first, this is the position he will assume so when I go into the light, I will know it's him waiting for me.  Or some creepy 70's guy.  I'll have to remember to look for bellbottoms...Matt only wears cargo pants!

After the fort, it was time to head north.  We had decided on the way down to route ourselves through to see Splinter Hill Bog, so we filled up on Arby's and stopped by the bog-it was amazing to see ALL those pitcher plants, acres of them!  There's another, much closer, called Weeks Bay, but I did not know about it in time.

There is a lizard on this log

We started for home, agreeing to wait until the 100 miles from home mark to stop for dinner.  We managed to find the one Taco Bell that was closing at 9 and it was 8:30 and the employees were panicked and basically asked us to hurry up and leave!  We did and got home at 10:15, got unloaded and got showers.  My hair was so salty and humid-riddled, it was well on the way to becoming dreadlocks.

Matt's alarm went off at 4, as usual, and it was back to normal on Wednesday.
I am glad we went and glad we had a great experience, despite the sand!  Chan leaned her head over on my shoulder and said, "I'm so glad we did this".  Yeah, me too, Baby Girl.  It was awesome.