Fall in northwest Florida panhandle
Living on St. George Island has a natural effect on your eyes and ears - you learn to slow down and notice things in nature that you might have missed in a less rural, more manufactured existence - and we've all been there.
One of my favorite drives in the northwest Florida panhandle is what some folks might call the most boring drive ever - US 65 south from I-10 down to the coast. It goes through miles and miles of national forest, mostly stands of pine trees, with the occasional cypress thicket and swampy creeks and estuaries of the bay that lead eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. You lose cell phone coverage for about 40 minutes going through there, and the towns are small, far between, and unincorporated. There is one gas station along the way, but not open at night or on Sundays, for sure.
What makes it my favorite is the never-ending magic of wild flowers and grasses that grace the understory of the pine forests and the swampy open lands. They change from season to season, almost weekly, but there is ALWAYS something to see.
This past week it was the purple flowers that got me to pull over to the side of the road, slap mosquitoes and crouch down in the ditch to take a look and try to capture an image or two. The pictures at right are just 3 that got me. It was just after dawn, and the low-slanting dawn light was just mesmerizing.
We're talking side of the road, literally, nothing planned, planted, cultivated, or even noticed I would guess, but those fields of flowers were as gorgeous as anything in an art museum. They seemed to be singing that morning.
Hope you enjoy them too. And my advice is... don't ever pass up a chance to drive that long lonely stretch through the national forest as you are leaving St. George, headed back north to wherever home is for you - no matter what time of the day, or what season - just look, listen, and enjoy that drive.