Christmas Cold

A St George Island holiday.

After a week at Grayton we moved down the coastline to our favorite place in the Florida panhandle, St George Island. This is the wildest, least developed area I know of down here. We’ve visited St. George more than any other spot in Florida and we never tire of it. We’d spend more time here if we could, but it’s not a big campground and everyone wants to be here.

This is where we holed up for the cold front that swept across the United States around Christmas. Even down here the panhandle, where the clear tropical waters still looked inviting, the temperature dipped into the low 20s. I had to put on socks for a week and regular readers know how I feel about socks.

The kids never mind the cold. They met some fellow campers their age and we didn’t see much of them after that, they all ran around the woods or were playing soccer in the sandy clearings around the campground. The cold is also the one time a year they can talk us into hot chocolate.

The problem with cold is that it tends to keep me indoors — I have to fight a tendency to sit around in the bus that doesn’t exist when the weather is warm. To avoid falling into the trap of inaction I forced myself out on a long walk in the cold. There’s a trail leading right out of the campground here to a point that sticks out into the Apalachicola Bay. It’s a wide sandy trail through a slash pine forest. I’ve never been quite sure what species “slash” pines are. The name comes from the turpentine making process, which involves slashing the tree to collect the sap, but there are several species capable of making turpentine and none of the signs I’ve ever seen indicate which species you’re walking under.

Whatever the case the tall pines are popular with Bald Eagles. I saw four in the five miles I walked; along with seemingly every yellow rumped warbler in North America. I mostly stopped birdwatching while I was here, because every little bird I saw flitting in the bushes turned out to be a yellow rumped warbler. Florida in winter is just yellow rumpled warblers all the way down.

Despite the cold and the wind I saw a suprising amount of wildlife out and about, even a little yellow rat snake that came out to grab a bit of sunshine and maybe a bite to eat before the freezing cold of Christmas Eve set in.

Gap Point, as the end of the trail is called, was a windy, wild place when I was out there on Christmas eve. I had the place to myself, save for the occasional circling eagle.

While I’m not fan of the cold, if it has to be cold, Christmas is the time to do it I suppose. I’d even be okay with snow for the night, but that didn’t happen. We had a good holiday anyway.

The day after Christmas Corrinne and the kids headed up to Georgia to see her parents for a few days while I headed back down the coast toward our next stop — our other favorite place on the gulf coast, Fort Pickens, Florida.


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