Since we'd really only gone to Florida to go to Harry Potter World, the rest of our time there was spent driving.
We got a relatively early start the next morning, attempting to make it to Grayton State Park in time to camp overnight.
Panama City Beach
We'd read online that it was a nice detour to head to Panama City Beach and drive along the waterfront. Since that would take us straight past the state park, it seemed like a great idea.
As soon as we hit the waterfront, we found ourselves stuck in gridlock traffic. By the time we go there, we'd been driving for HOURS, and this was the last thing we needed. Not only were we stuck in traffic, it was impossible to turn off and find another way to go - by coming this way, we were stuck no matter which way we turned.
An excruciating 45 minutes later, we managed to find a way out of the traffic, and pulled off the road to pick up Subway for dinner. It was starting to get late and we were still an hour away from the camp site, so we didn't want to have to cook dinner when we arrived.
FInally, we arrived at the State Park. They were full. Shit. We asked if anywhere nearby had any spots available, as there were about five more state parks within an hour or so's drive. The ranger smiled, gave us a list of phone numbers, and wished us luck.
After some frantic phone calling, we realised that the Florida beaches were obviously quite a popular place to camp. We were striking out big time. We were each Googling and calling any campsite we could find. Finally, we found one - 45 minutes away at an RV park, nowhere near the beach.
We hit the road quickly, as it was starting to get dark and we still needed to get the tent set up. Plus we were starving.
Finally, we made it, set up camp, scarfed down dinner, and crawled into bed...
To New Orleans!
We hit the road early again the next morning, which gave us time for a detour, and a more scenic drive.
Our first stop was Grayton Beach, which had proved elusive the night before. We walked along the sand, admiring the huge houses and watching a big storm make its way towards us from out over the ocean. After spending so much time in cities and parks over the last few weeks, it was nice to be back by the ocean again.
Eventually, the rain drove us back to the car, and we were on the road again. Despite the traffic the night before, we decided to try our luck with the coastal route again. It turned out to be a great gamble. As we followed the coastline around to Pensacola Beach, we passed through an incredible nature reserve for nesting birds, and often found ourselves driving on ribbons of road with white sand beaches on either side. It was well worth the extra driving time.
We stopped at Pensacola Beach for a bite to eat, and hit another snafu when we accidentally drove off with the boot open. We head a loud crash and turned around to see our chilly bin exploded in the middle of the road... Whoops!
From there, it was smooth interstate sailing to New Orleans!
Lots of love,
S & Z