Sunday, April 22, 2012


We left Florida Thursday, April 12 and stopped just for the night near Jasper, Alabama

to stay at Sleepy Holler RV "Resort".  We spent a quiet evening indoors. You can see by the picture we were anxious to leave. 

Our next stop was Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where we spent the weekend.

The threat of bad weather hampered our exploration, but we did manage to spend a great afternoon at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, which contains over 21,000 acres of wetlands and habitat for migrating and wintering water fowl.

It was spring in the Ozark Mountains. Although we missed the blossoms on the dogwoods, we still enjoyed other spring flowers. I am still trying to identify this beauty. They were plentiful.

Mingo has a series of canals to control the water levels within the refuge.

There was an awesome boardwalk through a cypress swamp.

We saw quite a few of these guys from the boardwalk. He was over two feet long.

There is an 18 mile drive through the refuge. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

It was difficult to comprehend the vastness of the acreage.

If we're ever in the area, we'll return for another visit.

From Poplar Bluff, located on the very southern edge of the Missouri Ozark range, we moved north to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.

The park receives its odd name because the east fork of the Black River, which runs through the park, is confined in areas to narrow channels or "shut-ins"

forming a natural water park visited by thousands of people in the summer months.

In December, 2005, there was a breach in the dam above the park, causing a catastrophic flood which wiped out the park's campground and many if its facilities. You can see the rebuilt dam here as well as some of the scoured area below.

Huge boulders and tons of debris were carried down the valley in seconds. Amazingly, no one was lost in the disaster. 

It took several years, but with a good settlement from the electrical company, a state of the art park and campground now replaces the one that was ruined. This is the nicest state park campground we have ever seen. See the big cement patio? Even the "primitive" campsites have them!

There are beautiful details throughout the park's facilities.

We spent some time on the Ozark Trail, which runs through the area.

It's hard to beat a spring day spent hiking in the woods seeing hundreds of butterflies,

Ozark Swallowtail

spring wildflowers


Wild Geranium 

and beautiful overviews.

We went to nearby Taum Sauk Mountain

and set our feet on the highest elevation in the state of Missouri.

Each evening we returned to Bauxite Betsy

enjoyed our evening meal

and sat outside by our own private "babbling" brook.

Just a little window into my world!

We'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Our last stop in Florida this year was at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, located in Santa Rosa Beach, ten miles east of Destin on the Panhandle.

This guy, the man who loves water and a shoreline,

had done his research well. Topsail is a beautiful park with a fantastic campground

with a short bike ride or convenient tram ride to a beautiful stretch of beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

We stayed there four nights. Paul wanted to try some shore fishing.

That's him out there throwing a cast. I took the picture with my phone. I, of course, was very supportive, as usual, and cheered him on in his efforts.

Actually, I'm knitting while in that chair. I did glance up occasionally to be certain he hadn't been taken under by a shark. It was the least I could do.

We found a great seafood market and so continued with our promise to each other to eat seafood daily while we were still on the coast.

Shrimp on the grill

is our obvious favorite.

Amberjack was available during our stay there. Excellent.

It was so good, we grilled some again the next night!

I could continue on this seafood diet. Even Paul, who loves his steak, didn't miss red meat.

The weather was perfect during our time there with moderate temperatures and light breezes. Our plants were happy with their new location.

We enjoyed our "Florida campfires" each evening.

Thanks for finding this place, Paul!

I'll come back and stay here anytime! Good bye, Florida! It's been a great winter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

St. George Island State Park

We moved from O'Leno State Park to St. George Island State Park on April 3rd. Paul has wanted to stay at this park since we discovered it four years ago on our first return trip home.

St. George is a barrier island off the Florida Panhandle near Apalachicola and is connected to the mainland by a four mile long bridge.

The state park occupies nine miles on the east end of the island, providing miles of undeveloped beaches.

We had a great camping spot for our five night stay.

Our goals for our stay here included spending time on the beach

while doing a little shore fishing

and enjoying the solitude

while watching the birds, both small

and large.

The Apalachicola area is known for its shrimp boats and oyster boats. We promised ourselves we would eat seafood every day. And, we did!

Nothing fancy involved, just a little olive oil and a little seasoning and onto the grill it went.

This is grouper.

Sometimes we sautéed our shrimp,

and sometimes we grilled them.

I even convinced Paul to try sautéed oysters and he really liked them!

We did have to try red snapper and one more piece of grouper before we left.

It was all so good. We found two fish markets we really liked, one in Eastpoint and one in Apalachicola. We'll be back again, trust me!

This past week was exactly what we would talk about doing together as we planned our retirement: travel in our camper, see the country and shop locally to enjoy the foods of the region.

I'll talk to you soon.