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Winter Wanderings Day #24-25, Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL, Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson, Wetumpka, AL

It was difficult to leave Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola. We had fallen in love and wanted to stay. We finally got the weather, we had gone in search of when we hit the road south from the WNC mountains, January 13th. Our time at Big Lagoon was dreamy! Sadly, pesky work got in the way, and we had to head north for meetings in Greenville, SC, this coming week. The rain, the morning we were to leave Big Lagoon, helped soften the blow. Will look forward to returning, next winter for sure. Add this one to you campground bucket list.

We drove through rain and storms from Florida to Alabama. It was an unpleasant trip. We arrived at Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson Park, near Montgomery, in the rain. What we saw of the park, from the van, was good. There was, what looked like a fort by the Visitors Center/Camper Registration. We looked forward to exploring the forts and park in a couple of days when the weather cleared up. Looked like it was going to be a rough couple of days of rain until then…

The Visitors Center/Musuem/Camper Registration was “located inside the “Graves House”, a Carolina Tidewater Cottage built around 1830 in Lowndes County Alabama. The Bookstore and museum features archaeological collections from French colonial, early American and prehistoric Indian items”.

We registered then went to get settled. The campground was sparsely populated. We chose campsite #32 on a bluff above the wide Coosa River. We had no neighbors, which was nice. The site was under large Spanish moss covered trees. Despite the rain, it was a beautiful setting. We had awful thunder and lightning storms with strong winds all afternoon and evening. The puppies were super stressed. Pippa went and hid under the bed in her cave. Nigel came and cuddled up with me on the bed, while Wiley worked in the front of the van. That night they were both in bed with us.

We spent almost all day, the second day, inside due to weather. We started the day with a tornado watch, which is scary, when you’re in a campground, in a van, down by the river. Thankfully, we did not experience any severe weather, just thunder, lightning, and strong winds. It’s very rare, we have an entire day, where there is not a break in the rain long enough for us to get in at least a short hike. At one point, Wiley went to take the puppies for a walk, just through the campground, when he thought the rain had stopped, but as soon as they left the van, I heard the rain start up again. They were not gone long and came back wet. I did not leave the van at all. Not a fun day. Nigel, particularly, was not amused. We could not wait for it to clear up, the following day, so we could see all there was to see at the park. Bring on the sunshine!

From two days spent in the van, you get puppy pictures. You are welcome!

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Winter Wanderings Day #22-23, Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL

Monday and Tuesday were dreamy at Big Lagoon. It was low 70’s, both days and we were in shorts. Yes, shorts! It was the first time on our Winter Wanderings this year, that I was able to don shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Oh, happy day!

Monday, it was sunny and bright, but not hot. Perfection! We hiked to the Governor’s Pavilion and scenic overlook on Big Lagoon. We had a nice picnic in the Pavilion, then, as we were about to leave, we noticed some picnic tables, past the playground, through the woods, so decided to check it out. Boy, were we glad, we did. We stumbled upon West Beach on the Lagoon. There was a great sandy grass area, right before the beach, that was perfect for Nigel to play ball. For Pippa, there was a tree with brush all around the base, that she stayed hidden in, blissfully, hunting the entire time, Nigel was fetching. Everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

Continue reading Winter Wanderings Day #22-23, Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL
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Winter Wanderings Day #21 Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL

Sunday morning, waiting for it to warm up at Big Lagoon, I worked on the second leg of our Winter Wanderings. We begin to head north on Wednesday to be in Greenville, SC for Wiley’s meetings 2/10-12. We’ll visit with family and friends there, then go check on the house and see friends in Sapphire for a couple of days before returning south. Of course, everything in Florida is booked, because of the snowbirds. Thankfully, I put in requests on reserve.wanderinglabs.com for all the parks and dates we want. WanderingLabs has always come through in the past, so here’s hoping that trend continues. We were able to book our old standbys, Jekyll and Edisto, for the return trip. We always love both of them, but that is all we were able to book. Eek! Send good vibes!

Before lunch, we packed a picnic and set out from our campsite, #28 to catch the boardwalk, right across from us, leading to the trail system. Sweet spot! We hiked to Long Pond, where we decided to have our lunch at the covered picnic table overlooking the pond. It was sunny and 62, an absolutely perfect day. The day, I had been dreaming of since leaving the mountains 1/13. We had a lovely picnic then hit the Estuary Trail towards the observation tower and Big Lagoon. When we arrived at the shore, we saw sailboats, fishing boats, and kayakers enjoying the water. The sun was glistening off the water’s surface, like diamonds. It was so picturesque. It just took my breath away. In that moment, there was nowhere on earth, I would rather be than right there with Wiley and the puppies. My heart was so happy and grateful.

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Winter Wanderings Day #20, Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, MS, Bark Park, Perdido Key, Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL

On Saturday morning, we left Buccaneer and headed east. We were excited to drive through historic Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, MS, I had heard about from my parents. They were really beautiful! Sadly, neither had a dog friendly beach, so we kept going. We stopped at Buc-ees, Texas sized “convenience store” near Foley, AL on Ashe’s recommendation. It was crazy! Outdoors gear, toys, home decor, grills, smokers, boilers, fire pits, food, and more. The size of a TJ Maxx. If you see one, stop! En route to Pensacola, Bringfido.com located a dog beach for us, just 4.5mi before we arrived at Big Lagoon State Park. The “Bark Park” or River Rd Dog Park was right before the bridge that takes you from Perdido Key to Pensacola. The park was cute. It had a big dog and a small dog area. It was cold and very windy, so we had it all to ourselves. We opted for the big dog area, because it had agility equipment and covered picnic table, where the small dog area had nothing. After exploring and playing ball a bit, we went on through to the beachfront area. It was great! It had a small sandy beach and a wonderful, huge saw palm and brush area at the base of a tree for the dogs to hunt in. Our two loved it! Nigel played ball and hunted, because the hunting area was so sweet. Pippa was in heaven. Being so chilly, us parents did not make it long. After a while, we had to rally the troops and get back in the van. Being so close to the campground, we could return when the weather would be warmer, while we were staying nearby if needed. We would see.

We drove into Big Lagoon and were pleased from the get go. We wound through the pretty sand hills, all the way to the end of the park on the Big Lagoon. We parked and walked towards the observation tower. We were amazed by the beauty of it all. There were boardwalks over marshes, raised, covered picnic areas, overlooking the water, trails throughout, and the tower with great views of Grand and Big Lagoons, the marsh, beaches, lakes, and forest. We looked down into Big Lagoon from the tower to see two dolphins, swimming near one of the two kayakers. Wow! This park is a dream, especially with the promised weather ahead. Hallelujah! This was the perfect place to end this leg of our Winter Wanderings. It was chilly and windy, so we just did a short hike around, planning to explore a lot more over the next few days with warmer temps. The only drawback, being, like all Florida State Parks, no dogs allowed on the beaches. Other than that it was perfect!

Continue reading Winter Wanderings Day #20, Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, MS, Bark Park, Perdido Key, Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL