Fort Pickens, FL – Day 4, Day 5

Our reasons for choosing Fort Pickens, Pensacola were simple: it is half-way between Atlanta and New Orleans; it is camping on the beach.  We were very ready to catch some rays and some z’s before heading to the rowdy Cajun town.  So it was like, suuuper fun to be greeted instead by on and off storms, sometimes quite scary-looking, from our little plot of sand.

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The rain died off as we rolled into Fort Pickens and set up the marshmallow. We were even able to take a nice walk on the bay side of the island – discovering an incredible hermit crab habitat (*ahemcrabitat, if you will).  Why in the world they clamor on top of each other for a half-inch plot of rock to cling to in the rocky current will forever be a mystery.

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Made a few friends, mostly drifters like ourselves ^^^

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Happy and oblivious about what the night would bring ^^^

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Little treasures ^^^

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Weathered ^^^

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The crabitat ^^^

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The night sky displayed a brilliant sunset just behind our campsite. The photo does  not do it justice, but the sky was on fire for a few minutes and we’re looking forward to watching it again tonight.

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Skip to 4:30AM. Cue terrifying lightening.  Cue frantic sleepers. And cut to dramatic escape from Death Island. Remember that sad little Christmas tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas? Well, this exact tree was our best hope for any shelter from the eminent rain. Most of our neighbors came in RVs and weren’t a bit worried by the crashing lightening surrounding our skinny stretch of island on all sides. But it was 4:45 in the morning and we are fairly new to this thing. So, panic.

Immediate Google findings included “do not pitch a tent near a tree”. Hahaha, thanks Google! Too late!! & they probably meant to include “even if that tree is a sorry excuse for a small branch.”  Our Gulf Island National Park literature repeatedly reminded us that the Fort Pickens access road is very prone to flooding. Also to sand. It was decided that we would drive to town before the rain came, wait out the storm there, buy groceries.

We can now say we have slept in an IHOP parking lot, survived a tropical storm, and outsmarted the three terrors of the Fire Swamp. (Correction: success over ROUS’s TBD).

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Pre-breakfast stop at the beach circa 8am, post-IHOP snooze ^^^

The wind & rain died down long enough for us to experiment with the Coleman stove mom & dad got me for my birthday (shout out! thanks, parents!). Cold OJ, scrambled eggs, and pancakes topped with strawberries & maple syrup. We will give this meal a “mostly yum” due to the part where the stove was turned up so high it melted the spatula & we had a butter/plastic pool on one end of the griddle, forcing us to cook solely on the other end. (“If you see any black pieces, just don’t eat them.”) But once we got the hang of it, those pancakes turned out pretty good!

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Trying out the stove ^^^

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Trying out the strawberries ^^^

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? ^^^

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MMM! What a delicious looking breakfast! ^^^

We waited out the rain inside the tent, dozing off to Oscar Sack’s “The Mind’s Eye” (highly recommended), before finding this wi-fi hotspot in THE aforementioned Florida Starbuck’s. It’s looking dry & sunny again so we are off to find the sunset.

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A little drama to end the evening… ^^^

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Hope we survive  …. ^^^