Monday, January 30, 2023

The Gulf Islands National Seashore

The beaches are white quartz and stretch for many miles on the barrier island Santa Rosa

The National Seashore was authorized in 1971. The Santa Rosa Island where we've been spending the last 4 days was previously protected as a National Monument starting in 1939. The park has managed to bounce back from successive hurricanes in 2004, 2005 and Sally in 2020, and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010.  It's a gorgeous place, white quartz beaches that stretch forever, with day park facilities and bike paths throughout. We feel so lucky to be here as we had no knowledge of any of this when we made a reservation for 4 nights at the Santa Rosa RV Park. We just needed to spend some more time on the trip as we didn't want to get to Dallas before 2/10 . That's when our grandchildren have vacation. 

Here's our site at Santa Rosa RV Park right after we pulled in. There had been a storm the night before and it was just clearing up - it was sunny the rest of our stay!

And the RV resort was another wonderful surprise. Our site was right on the beach and next to the pool. It was level and had a concrete patio with a picnic table. The weather was cool but sunny every day. A neighbor helped us back in and then invited us to the pot luck happening at the pool - soups and pie! It was all delicious and reminded us of the cruiser life. The next day there was a singer with a/guitar & keyboard, a good musician and sang for 2 hours, mostly all great hits. Many people danced. The staff provided chili and cookies. There was coffee and donuts the next morning - lap of luxury! This does cost however, $130 a night. But the pool was big and heated so I swam laps all 4 days. There were comfortable areas with propane heaters around the pool and in front of the community center where we met people.

Here is the community center and pool with our live music and dancing. There were many more people than shown here all around the pool. 

On a walk around the site we got talking to a very interesting couple from Charlotte, Jim & Shelley, and they invited us over to their enormous motorhome for drinks one night -lovely time, we hope to see them when they come up to Vermont. Again, it felt like boat cruiser time. But we didn't just socialize at the RV Park. Our first full day we explored the barrier island up to Pensacola Beach and back, walking down the "longest pier in the east" and on the beach. We were scoping out the bike paths which are all over the area. Our lunch was at a beautiful place on the beach "Red Fish, Blue Fish" - excellent. We had gotten a little chilled so it was so nice to step into the inside part of the restaurant where heaters made it so toasty. In nicer weather there are lots of tables, fire pits etc. out on the deck overlooking the beach.

Our table at Red Fish, Blue Fish - you can see the water and deck outside

The next day we came back and bicycled down the path in the National Seashore At this point you can see both the ocean side and the sound between the island and the peninsula. Afterwards we explored the Navarre Beach area, which like the National Seashore has extensive public facilities. Finally a late lunch at the Dewey Destin restaurant near the bridge. This was a casual local place where you ordered your meal at the counter and it was delivered. Good fried fish!

Our last day we intended to bicycle again out on the island but it was so windy we didn't. Instead we did all the chores that needed doing - laundry, shopping, refilling prescriptions, cleaning the RV. But we got in a good walk and swim too. The next morning had another swim and we waited till the last minute to leave - at 11 AM. We'll be back here again and next time, we'll stay longer! But now we're off to Alabama.

Yummy fried fish, zucchini and hush puppies.

Dewey Dustin's (in cool weather inside)

Looking back at the beach from the pier.

Several surfers were working the waves. This is
the developed part of the island

A group of fishermen gather at the end of the pier
and said the fishing was good.

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