This Camper’s Life: Spring Camping Near the Panhandle of Florida
Our recent adventure took us to the border of Georgia and the panhandle of Florida. We stayed at a beautiful Corps of Engineers (COE) campground in Bainbridge, Georgia called Eastbank. We had a fantastic water site and were so happy to spend a week there. Most of the COE campgrounds are near water and the camping facilities are just beautiful with hookups for RVs as well as primitive sites. They have nice bathhouses with hot showers, a boat ramp, and sometimes a beach for swimming. We like camping in COE campgrounds because they are reasonably priced and offer discounts for seniors who have the Golden Age Pass. Eastbank campground did not disappoint at all. We were on Seminole Lake and our view from the Georgia side had the most gorgeous sunsets. As you look across the lake, you see the dam and Florida! Our campground was in the Eastern time zone and, if you travel a few miles down the road, you are in the Central time zone. That was rather interesting!
One of my exciting adventures was my alligator encounter. I have always wanted to see an alligator in the wild. I finally got my wish. This young alligator decided to visit us near our campsite. As I mentioned, we had a water site, so I was fishing off the shore in our “backyard”. I saw this unusual-looking rock in the water. I wasn’t sure if it was a gator because it was so still. It looked like a rock at first. The fishing line went over the “rock” and it moved. I was so excited to finally see my first gator. He came closer to the shore and I looked him in the eye and told him I wasn’t going to feed him. I kept fishing and he got hold of the bobber on the fishing line and tried to chomp it. No luck breaking that apart with those powerful jaws, but he did break the line. That was all we caught that week! Don’t worry I was far enough away that I didn’t feel threatened at all. We had a lot of brush and cinder blocks near the shoreline. It would have been a challenge for our gator friend to get up on shore. He came to visit us three more times that week. He hung out mostly at the other end of the campground. I would hope people wouldn’t feed them. That is not a good idea! You wouldn’t want them to be too comfortable around people.
During our stay, we were able to visit Tallahassee, Florida, the state capital. Unfortunately, the capital was closed as was the old capital museum. We drove around and got a chance to explore the city. The picture here shows the old capital of Florida—now a museum.
We also decided to go to the beach later in the week. We went to Panama City Beach. We walked along the beach for a little bit and put our feet in the water. The water was about 75 degrees, freezing for me, so we didn’t go in. I am used to an 84-degree pool, so it felt cold to me. There were still people going in the water. This was April! The sand at Panama City beach is so fluffy and white like sugar. It is pristine and beautiful!
We also wanted to visit Apalachicola National Forest that week. This is a beautiful natural resource and is the largest protected land in Florida. It encompasses 632,890 acres. It is near Tallahassee and extends west, the only National Forest in the panhandle. There are several campgrounds in there for primitive, RV sites, as well as dispersed camping. There are lakes for fishing and kayaking. You are pretty much in the middle of nowhere inside the forest. It is peaceful and beautiful. There is no cell service! We attempted kayaking at a place called Gully Landing. It was beautiful, but not great for kayaking or fishing. The problem was the water was high and the whole area was filled with trees as you can see in the picture. It made it difficult to maneuver around. There was no wide-open area that we could easily kayak. We gave it a try though! Needless to say, I tried to fish and caught more trees than fish! Oh well!!
This part of Florida was a first for us. We loved the adventure and would highly recommend visiting this area. The weather was beautiful, and the scenery was spectacular! I love our camping adventures!!!! You never know what you will encounter!