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Although this Nomad is still undergoing cancer treatments, she managed to get out to the beach yesterday. Don’t let the weather fool you – even a rainy day at the beach is a good day!  🙂

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Well, they say Florida is in for a few days of rain… thankfully we have plenty of books, games and tiny cheesecakes to see us through! 😉

It was a beautiful summer day to take a drive along the Gulf of Mexico!

What a night along the Gulf Coast! Severe storms and a tornado warning had us scrambling to the Chevy. Although the storms moved on earlier this morning, the coast remained in a wind advisory for most of the day. We made a trip to the beach to see the waves. Surprisingly, the beach was deserted except for a few birds and this crazy photographer!

 Took a break to enjoy the amazing view as the sun rises over the Gulf of Mexico ~ Mustang Island (TX).

Finding new roads in Texas… although this one leads straight into the Gulf of Mexico!

If you enjoy state parks and find yourself traveling in the Florida Panhandle, don’t forget to check out Big Lagoon State Park. The park consists of over 600 acres of land located near beautiful Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. There are five miles of nature trails to enjoy the birds and other wildlife. And if hiking isn’t your thing, they have a wooden boardwalk and observation deck a short distance from a parking area. In addition to hiking and birding, the park is a great place for photography, bicycling, fishing or beach-combing.

Big Lagoon State Park also offers a boat ramp, canoe launch, picnic pavilions, amphitheater and campground. The campground will accommodate rigs up to 4o’; however, be wary if you have a Big Rig as some sites may require some effort to back-in.

Entrance to the park is $6 per vehicle (up to 8 people) and use of the boat launch is $12 (up to 8 people). The park is open every day from 8AM to sunset.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Gulf Island National Seashore

No, it’s not snow! Just sugary white sand along the Gulf Coast. 🙂

Gulf State Park is a series of parks located in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach (AL).  If the two miles of snowy white beaches along the Gulf of Mexico isn’t enough water for you, the park area also includes access to a 900 acre lake. From picnic areas to fishing piers and cottages to tennis courts, Gulf State Park is a great place to visit if you find yourself along the coast.

The park is located between Hwy. 180 and Hwy. 182, depending on which entrance/facility you are visiting. Entrances fees also vary per location. The beach access points in Orange Beach are free, yet the ones in Gulf Shores are currently $5 per vehicle.

For more information on Gulf State Park, please visit their website at: http://alapark.com/GulfState/

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL)

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL)

If you haven’t visited your local U.S. National Park recently, don’t forget that September 28, 2013 is a fee-free day. In celebration of National Public Lands Day, most parks will be free. To find a park near you visit: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm and click on “Find a Park” in the top left corner.

For those smart enough not to cancel their reservation along the Florida Gulf this summer – they were in for a treat. Most of the summer saw warm temps, sunny days and plenty to do without a lot of crowds!

One of the things we enjoyed doing the last several weeks is visit some of the “forgotten” lighthouses along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Within an 80-mile stretch off of Highway 98, you can visit four spectacular lighthouses. Starting westward at Port St. Joe, there is Cape San Blas lighthouse. There is a fee if you would like to climb it.

After returning to Highway 98 and heading eastward, you are in for a treat on your journey to Cape St. George lighthouse on St. George Island. This lighthouse is visible from the bridge and has a wonderful park and keeper’s cottage. There is also a fee to climb this lighthouse.

Heading eastward on Highway 98 once again (okay, maybe after we had ice cream cones across the street from the Cape St. George lighthouse), we found ourselves enjoying the view so much we actually drove by the Crooked River lighthouse just west of Carrabelle. So make sure you pay attention to the historic signs and banners as you approach Carrabelle. This lighthouse has a cute little museum and a wonderful gift shop. There is a fee to climb it, however you can only climb it on certain days.

After Crooked River lighthouse, continue eastward to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The lighthouse is actually inside the refuge and the main road actually dead-ends at the lighthouse. There is day-use fee for admission through the refuge. You can only climb the lighthouse during special events. However, there is an observation deck which gives you an amazing view of the area and great photos ops (like the photo I took above).

If planning to visit all these amazing lighthouses in one day, I recommend you leave early in the morning so you have ample time to visit the lighthouse gift shops and museums. If you intend to climb, wear sturdy walking shoes or sneakers. Most lighthouses have strict policies regarding open-toed shoes and sandals.

This is Florida and even folks in the best shape will find themselves breathless on a lighthouse climb. Take your time and if anyone in your party is not climbing, give them your purse or backpack to help lighten your load. Stopping at windows (especially open ones), can give you a nice rest stop. Just be mindful of the rules regarding right-of-way for stairwell traffic.

If you are staying west of Port. St. Joe, don’t forget that all these lighthouses are in the Eastern Standard Time Zone.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no parking at any of these locations to handle a RV. You could take a smaller motorhome to St. Marks and Cape St. George, however, you may find parking and turn-around space limited during busy times.

Detailed information and driving directions to these lighthouses can be found at a great website called Lighthouse Friends. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/

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