Saint Joe, Florida May 9-11
Date: 5/20/2003 11:52:21 AM Pacific Standard Time
I've enjoyed walking along the gulf coast of florida and arrived in Port
St Joe on friday. The Panama City Fire Dept had contacted the fire
station in Port St Joe, but it didn't work out for me to stay there. They
had tried to call a few churches, and they said no too. The police station
also didn't want me hanging around, so they told me to go to the park and sleep
in the gazebo. I was a little bit put out by it all, but when I found the
gazebo they were talking about, I decided I didn't have it so bad after
all. The gazebo is fairly large, and is built about 50 yards out over the
bay, surrounded completely by water except for a walkway that leads out to
it. Although it was fairly hot and muggy outside, since it was right out
on the water there was always a good breeze. Back on land, there was a park
right there with a restroom, so I was in good shape. I quickly realized I
probably had the best spot in town. So I pushed my cart out to the gazebo and settled in. There was a lower deck to fish off of, and an upper deck with a great view and benches. The upper deck also had a light that came on at night, so I chose to sleep on the lower deck, where it was dark. I'm not sure if too many people have
sat down there on the lower deck late and looked back at the city lights
at nighttime, but it was a beautiful, quiet and serene view, with nothing but
the waves and lapping of the water to lull me to sleep. It was really pretty neat.
While in Port St Joe, I also stopped at the post office and got my mail. One of the packages there for me was a new pair of shoes -- my 16th pair. While I was in Jackson, MS and Natchez, MS, I had received 3 new pairs of shoes in less than a week. This pair was the 2nd of those 3 pairs, and was mailed here for me.
On friday evening, Lamar and Virginia came out to the pier to enjoy the view and we started visiting. I asked where I could attend church services on sunday, and they said they'd come and pick me up on sunday morning and I could go with them. So early sunday morning, just as Burger King was opening up, I slipped inside and tried to clean up as best as I could. I then had some breakfast, and when they came to pick me up for church I felt fairly presentable. At church, Virginia introduced me to everyone there, and suddenly I had all sorts of places to stay at. After church we drove over to Appalachicola and went out to eat at The Hut. We then went back
to my "home" and got all my stuff and hauled it out to Lamar and Virginia's
house. That evening we attended a bible study at Jimmy and Bunnie's house.
Many people that day were appalled at the fact that I'd been sleeping out on
the bay for the last two nights, but I assured them that I'd actually been enjoying it.
Then on monday morning I headed out of town. Hwy 98 goes straight to
Apalachicola 26 miles away, but I chose instead to veer off on Rt 30A and
spend the first night at a campground in Indian Pass, and then head on
into Apalachicola the second day. The campground was about two and a half miles
off the beaten path, and as I was nearing the turnoff to go to the campground, a car pulled over and a lady got out. She said "I don't know who you are, and I don't know where you're going, but I'm sure you've got a story, and it's hot out! Here's a glass of water." And she handed me a jumbo size glass of really cold ice water. I gulped it down and told her my story. Debi then said that she lives two houses down, and that unless I had my heart set on the campground, that I was welcome to stay at their house. So that's what I did.
Jeff and Debi live in a HUGE, beautiful home, and for the next day and a half they showed me around the area. We spent time at the beach, they showed me St. Joseph's Bay, we went out to Cape San Blas, ate oysters one evening, and showed me the campground where I was intending to stay.
They use to live in Port St Joe, and couldn't believe that I slept out on the gazebo while I was there. Debi said that she had driven to Port St Joe that morning and saw me just as I was leaving town. Forteen miles later I was walking past her house, and she had to find out what was going on. She said she immediately thought about a verse in the Bible and brought me the glass of water. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to meet such a special family. They've let many teenage boys live with them at different times and have helped turn their lives around in a very positive way.
While I was there, they had 2 boys staying with them, plus Brittany, their
daughter. They are a family I will always admire.
I also found out word gets around in these small towns, because that
evening Jimmy and Bunnie came over to their house looking for me! Somebody
at the campground caught wind that I was staying at Jeff and Debi's, so they
sent them there. They had made some connections for me farther down the
road, and wanted to give me that information.
I had a great time with Jeff and Debi, and I marveled time and again at
the fact that she was willing to stop and give me a glass of cold water.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me
drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Matthew 25:35" God bless
Jeff and Debi.
Bay State Park
Date: 5/20/2003 11:51:32 AM Pacific Standard Time
I left Indian Pass and headed on to Apalachicola, where I stayed at a
motel for free. Then I headed on to Eastpoint where I stayed at The
Sportsman's Lodge for free, and then on to Carrabelle where I was able to
another motel for free. From there I was heading to Ochlockonee Bay State
Park, around 17 miles away. I stopped off at a convenient store in Lanark
Village to get something to drink, and then continued on. As I was just
leaving the outskirts of town, I saw a lady walking up to the highway to
Joy had seen me in Carrabelle that morning, and had been anticipating
when I would be walking past her road. She had been watching for me all
morning and awaiting my arrival. She told me to come to her house and take a
break, and I gladly complied. I am guessing that she was 60ish, and petite
in size. She sat me down in a lounge chair back on the patio, gave me a
cold glass of water, and set an oscilating fan right in front of me (I was SO
HOT.) She then wanted to hear all about my story. Then after I had told
her my story, she mentioned that in 1990 she had ridden her bicycle from
Miami to California, so we had a great visit telling tales and swapping
stories. She was totally enthralled with my adventure, and before I left she
stuffed $20 in my pocket and sent me on my merry little way.
I continued on toward the park. The weather here is miserably hot and
unbelievably humid and muggy. It has made the walking very long and
tedious. I think I'm doing good if I can do 10 miles in this weather, so doing
17 that day seemed extremely hard. Several times I would push my cart off
into the ditch and go sit in the brush and shade to try and cool off. At
one point, a fellow fishing said that the park was just 2 miles away. But
when I got 2 miles, there was a sign that said Ochlockonee Park -- 7 miles.
What a letdown. I wasn't sure if I could make it. I continued on. I
finally got to the turnoff, only to realize that it was still 2 miles back off
the road to get to the campground. At that point I started getting
goosebumps on my arms and realized I needed to get in some shade and cool off. I
pulled off onto the park road, found some shade, and set up my lawn chair
and sat there for almost an hour. I was so tired and felt so drained.
Finally I packed up and made it to the campground. It was up in the 90s by
then, and I was glad to finally shut down for the day.
State parks in Florida cost me around $11 to spend the night at, but I
asked the park ranger if I could slip in for free. He hemed and hawed, and
debated and thought about it, and changed his mind and then changed it
back, and after MUCH deliberating he finally said yes, that I could slip in.
So far on this trip, I've never yet had to pay for a campground.
I set up my tent and took a cold shower (by choice) and took it easy
the rest of the day. They had a slide presentation that evening about all
the different kinds of snakes in Florida, and I thought that was pretty
In the big city of Newport, the only thing they have there is Ouzts
Oyster Bar and a park. So, you guessed it, I spent most of the evening at the
bar and camped out at the park. They served me a great plate of shrimp,
some cole slaw and some rice pilaf and sent me on my way fat and happy.
There are zillions of little red deer flys that REALLY bite. I must
have a hundred bites on each leg (or at least it feels like it.) I use bug
spray, but then they get tangled up in my hair. After first putting on
sunscreen, and then spraying myself down with bug spray, I have really learned
to appreciate a shower. I've been taking medicine daily to try and fight
the bug bites, heat stroke, and sunburn. But hey, I'm having a great time.
Y'all take care! KB
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