Florida Panhandle & Tallahassee

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, May 24, 2016.

  1. giradman

    giradman
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    Susan and I have been to Florida dozens of times but never to the geographic area called the Panhandle, basically an area extending east from Tallahassee, the capital of Florida to the western border of the state at Pensacola, near Mobile, Alabama (which we've visited a number of times - Susan's brother used to live there).

    The first maps below show northern Florida - three of the arrows (to the left) on the initial map point to the places we stayed and visited; St. Augustine on the east coast, established in 1565, is the oldest European city in the Unitied States - when the Spanish controlled Florida, Pensacola & St. Augustine were the population centers - these towns were the 'capitals' of British West & East Florida during the approximate 20 year period of their era (1763-83) - the Spanish regained control of Florida after the American Revolution but ceded Florida to the United States in 1821; Florida became a state in 1845 - at first, the government alternated meeting in Pensacola & St. Augustine which was basically a 'drag', so in 1824, a point 'half way in-between' was chosen and Tallahassee became the territorial capital and remained so into statehood (see quote below w/ link at the end).

    We just returned from a 6-night trip to the Panhandle - we flew into Tallahassee and rented a car, I then drove west (and into the Central Time Zone) to a resort w/i walking distance of Seaside, a popular retirement community. We stayed at the WaterColor Inn (see the map) - the Inn is part of a much larger resort property (best seen on the aerial view below) w/ many condos & houses that are privately owned and/or rented. Our room was excellent (one similar is also shown) w/ a deck view of the Gulf of Mexico - pics below show various parts of the Inn and the dining room. Dave :)

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    #1 giradman, May 24, 2016
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
  2. scifan57

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    The inn looks like a very nice place to stay. I assume that oysters are on the menu in the dining room? BTW, have you ever eaten oysters you've collected right off the rocks?
     
  3. giradman

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    Hi Scifan.. - the WaterColor Inn was a wonderful (5 nights, then 6th night in Tallahassee) experience - the room was marvelous and the staff attentive and superb. The first night, we had dinner at their dining room called Fish Out Of Water which was just excellent, however, no 'oysters on the half shell' - we both had their outstanding gazpacho (salad substitute); Susan had the Diver Scallops which must have been 2 inches or more across; I had their Cobia fish special - wish I had pics to show because the dishes were works of art w/ a plethora of flavors, tastes and textures; we finished off the dinner sharing a Strawberry Soufflé - the cost was exorbitant, so we did not return - there were SO many other less expensive eating options for us.

    As to raw oysters, we did enjoy almost daily - all came from the famous Apalachicola bay area (see quote below & pic) which not only supplies most of Florida's oysters, but are shipped elsewhere - one of the restaurants that we frequent in our home town, Winston-Salem, serves just oysters from that Florida locale; the other local restaurant that we eat fresh oysters, sources their multiple offerings from the East Coast - unfortunately, we did not have the time to visit Apalachicola, not a far drive from the Panama City area. Dave :)

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    #3 giradman, May 24, 2016
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
  4. giradman

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    White Sands and Emerald Waters!

    One of the main reasons that I wanted (after years of trying to convince Susan - ;)) to visit the Gulf Coast beaches of Florida's Panhandle was to appreciate their described beauty and the appearance of the sand. Below a quote (link provided) describing the origin of these sands which are some of the finest and whitest that I've ever seen - words are difficult, e.g. white, powdery, flour, snow, etc.

    The first two pics below describe the MANY Florida beaches around the state (on the first image circled in blue is our location; the second pic shows are exact location @ WaterColor) - the next four images our my own around the beach of our Inn - amazingly white and pristine. The last four images from the web again showing the white sands of the area and also the varying colors of the water.

    The northern Florida Gulf Coast beaches are some of the most beautiful in the United States - second quote below is a list of the top ten ranked HERE w/ a dominance of Floridian & Hawaiian beaches (of course, there are other lists that have different ones, so pick you preference?) - two on that list (w/ an *) are in the area we visited. Dave :)

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  5. scifan57

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    I've seen beaches that white in Hawaii and they also have beaches with black sand. I assume they could get quite hot under the tropical sun.
     
  6. giradman

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    Yep, I've been on those beaches in Hawaii - we did walk on a number of beaches w/ temps in the low 80s (i.e. F) - really not hot at all; of course, north Florida is really not a tropical climate. But, I must say that having been on MANY beaches over the decades, their 'whiteness' here was surprising to me - my next posts will be about our day trip to Pensacola which included a visit to the Gulf Shores National Seashore and Fort Pickens - a couple pics below driving into the area - in all honesty, I was not sure that what was adjacent to the road was sand or snow - Dave :)
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  7. scifan57

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    You're right, especially in the first picture. It looks just like a highway in the wintertime.
     
  8. giradman

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    Once entering the gate to the National Seashore and driving to Fort Pickens, the road was like that for a number of miles and often looked like snow spilling onto to the sides - the pic is from the web (not a lot of places to stop and take photos), but is exactly the view seen from our car - eerie! Dave :)
     
    #8 giradman, May 24, 2016
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  9. giradman

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    Pensacola - City of Five Flags

    On our first full day on the Panhandle, we made the 2-hour drive to Pensacola (see quotes below and maps) - our first stop was the Gulf Islands National Seashore & Ft. Pickens on Santa Rosa Island (shown on the maps); our second stop was the Naval Air Station, and specifically the National Museum of Naval Aviation - there were a number of other sites to see, including the downtown historic district, but we just did not have enough time.

    Pensacola was first established in the late 1550s (a half dozen or so years before St. Augustine in 1565), but the settlement was not permanent - the second attempt came after the founding of St. Augustine. We had lunch on Pensacola Bay at Nick's Boathouse - first shared a dozen Apalachicola oysters - I had a mixed green salad w/ fresh grilled grouper, while Susan had the shrimp & grits.

    Next posts will cover the places visited mentioned above. Dave :)

    P.S. the name City of Five Flags (explained below) refers to the governments that ruled the city for nearly 500 years, i.e. Spain, France, Great Britain, United States, & Confederate States of America.

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  10. giradman

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    Fort Pickens & Gulf Islands National Seashore

    We entered the Gulf Islands National Seashore via the National Park gate and drove a two-lane road often lined by the whitish sand that I've ever seen and looking like snow (see one of my previous pics). Our objective was to visit Fort Pickens, a pentagonal masonry fort near the tip of Santa Rosa Island; construction lasted about 5 years (1829-1834) and the labor was done mostly by slaves - see the quotes below, the first a general summary and the second about the fort's history during the Civil War, the only time that the structure was used in battle.

    The entry to Pensacola Bay was protected by a number of forts and numerous batteries (see the first pic below, followed by aerial views of the current structure); subsequent images show some inside & outside views of the fort's remains, including a number of large cannon; a huge explosion occurred in 1899 and bricks were thrown across the bay to Ft. Barrancas. In the 1890s, Pensacola Battery was built w/i Ft. Pickens (the black structure on one of the aerial views) - "the position of the battery illustrates the evolution of coastal defenses from brick and stone fortifications to the modern reinforced concrete installations. Begun in 1898, Battery Pensacola mounted two 12-inch rifles on disappearing carriages capable of firing 1,070 lb. shells approximately 8 miles" - amazing the size of these two cannon.

    Beach roaming, surf fishing, camping, etc. are just a few of the many activities available on the National Seashore - there is a fee to enter the area, but we have 'Senior Passes' which allowed us in free. Dave :)

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