February 9, 2015, Daphne, AL to Lynn Haven, FL- The Gulf of Mexico region is largely about the interplay of water and earth. Man can only influence either, just so much. I looked at the weather report, while eating breakfast at Key West Inn, in Fairhope, just south of Mobile. There were scenes, straight from my childhood, of a New England that is overinundated with snow. It was not just my imagination that the white piles were the height of two grown men. Winter has returned, and as I regarded the bright sunshine outside, it occurred to me, “Plow it all into the sea; neutralize the acidity”.
The Gulf, at least for the moment, does not have to deal with Old Man Winter. It did face the onslaught of cold, in December. Now, though, the Gulf welcomes the refugees of the Big Chill. Several of my fellows in the breakfast room were from places like Wausau, WI (There is also a Wausau, FL), Lima, OH and Bangor, ME. Fairhope, founded on fervor and belief, is still a place of safe haven.
My first photos of the day were taken in nearby Daphne, as my initial concern was to connect with a friend on the Florida Panhandle, about three hours further east. Daphne has narrow roads, and in the style of the rural South, no streetside parking. This is not your tourist Antebellum-land. Daphne City Hall, though, is magnificent and has plenty of parking space.
This great laurel tree predates City Hall.
The town is named for the wife of its founder, who, in turn, proposed this statue of the Greek nymph, for whom she was named. The original Daphne, so closely associated with fountains, is true to form here.
I left Alabama behind, for several days, entering Florida just west of Pensacola. The Welcome Center is fully-stocked with all things Sunshine State, including palm trees.
Florida has some of the oldest European settlements in this country, but is also an integral part of Man’s looking heavenward. Pensacola is key player in aeronautics.
I had lunch at the local branch of Sonny’s, a regional chain of barbecue restaurants, with smoked turkey and slaw lovingly served by Brittany. Then, it was onward towards the Panama City area, with just a stop at a rest area near the turn-off to Destin, intervening. Florida’s Northwest is quite heavily-forested, and this grove evokes the turpentine “forests” I saw four years ago, near Live Oak.
The inlets of the Gulf are a major draw, once one gets about twenty miles below I-10. Lynn Haven, just north of Panama City, is a lovely water-based community on the island that includes PC. I spent about an hour or so at Porter Park, on the north side of Lynn Haven, enjoying the water scenes and a walking path, parallel to the Causeway connecting Panama City Island to the mainland.
Florida depends greatly on fishing, both recreational and commercial. With an eye towards the safety of marine life, as well as keeping eyesores to a minimum, the State and its cities provide these.
With darkness approaching, I abandoned, at least for the day, the thought of connecting with a friend who lives here and caught a glimpse of sunset, at The Cove, in Panama City.
It was time to head further east, in preparation for my main focus of the next few days- visiting my mother-in-law and my late wife’s cousin, near Leesburg. I ended the day at an Econolodge, just east of Tallahassee.