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The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about what is happening in the natural world in our neighborhood. Bugs, buds, birds - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
March 28, 2012.

  It's an extremely pleasant day here along the south shore of the Florida Panhandle. Has been all week - daytime temps in mid-70s, overnight to 60, seabreeze from one direction or the other, sunny, and clear at night. Out here away from city lights I finally saw that awesome view of the waxing moon playing with Venus & Jupiter; plus Orion passing thru the Milky Way; and the Big Dipper pointing to the North Star.

This state park is on a spit of land that juts out from the Gulf of Mexico with the Gulf to the west and a big bay to the east. The park is on the north half of the peninsula and is about 10 miles long and 1/2 to 1 mile wide. Big dunes run along the Gulf with smaller dunes on the bay. Sea oats and grasses, scrub oaks and pines, beach rosemary and palmetto hold the sand. There's no other place like this, maybe not for everyone, but if you like nature and beaches and not many people, this is the place.

Red marks the park entrance. Continue below for more photos of one of Florida's top-rated parks.

  We are staying in cabin 8, the last cabin before the wilderness area. It's a very private 2 story, sleeps 5 or 6, full kitchen, screen room and a boardwalk to the bay. Be advised that this cabin has 20 steps down to beach while others vary from none to several steps. The hiking trail starts right out front and you can go west over dunes to beach or up center trail to the end of the peninsula 6 miles north. A permit for primitive camping or to access the wilderness area must be obtained at the ranger station; even day hikers are now required to pick up a free permit.

Here's a picture taken along the bay by our cabin looking north. The wind was from the south and had been piling up sea foam and scudding it along shore all day.

This was taken with my iPhone looking south. I'm in the shade of a couple of the larger pines; one had an osprey in it that morning.

The trail over to the gulfside is now roped off to keep folks out of the dunes. It's hard walking in the sugar sand; sign said 1200' feet thru dunes to beach. Feels like a mile.

This is nearing sunset  - view of beach dunes looking south

and to the north.

A setting sun splashing the waves.

This snake (black racer?) was hanging out by cabin. I think it was wanting to warm up on my boardwalk.

And a very lucky "catch of the day" on my iPhone while watching juvenile redfish schooling and feeding on minnows along the bayshore.

Of course I've taken hundreds of pics, and videos of everything that moved or didn't move, and will take that many again over the next 2 gorgeous days here in this fantastic park.  Hope you all enjoyed this little visit to the beach and seeing a part of Florida most visitors pass by. So what's going on in your neck of the woods? Are the fish jumpin'?

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 09:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.

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