Fort Pickens quickly became one of our favorite spots when we arrived here 2 years ago. The unspoiled beaches, the white sand dunes reminiscent of snow banks, the great beach walking opportunities and even an old fort to explore combined with great weather made our stay wonderful. We have wanted to return ever since.
Fort Pickens Rd coming into the park.
Fast forward to April 1, 2014 and we did, indeed, return. This time, we were lucky enough to score a site in Loop A which is a bit more big rig friendly. The other loops are extremely tight and people seem to have a problem with parking their vehicles in overflow parking so the right of way is crowded with cars and trucks and maneuvering is a nightmare. That’s the down-side to camping in an old campground built for smaller RVs, right on the beach, where everyone else wants to be :)
We were entertained by the Blue Angels practicing over Pensacola Bay our first morning here. I took several photos but was only fast enough to get one with planes actually in the picture! Man, they move fast! :)
Our first couple days here have been lovely weather-wise and we got in some nice bike rides and walks. We came home a couple days ago to find we had a new pet in our backyard :)
I think this is only the 2nd time I’ve seen a live armadillo. Most of my sightings have been the “dead on the side of the road” kind :)
The weather took a turn for the worse on Friday when we received quite a bit of rain. The forecast for the weekend didn’t look pretty.
Everyone receives a letter from the Park Service when they arrive and register. This letter maps out the flooding issue of Fort Pickens Rd during periods of heavy rain.
The section in bold reads: “ If we anticipate that a flood event will likely result in a closure of the road, or if water actually starts to overwash the road, we may evacuate the campground, cancel reservations, and close the Fort Pickens area altogether. This may be done on very short notice. You must be prepared to leave on short notice. “
Saturday morning, as we were eating breakfast (brunch, actually) the camp host came by to inform us that it was likely we would be asked to evacuate Sunday morning. They were watching the weather and would make a final decision early Sunday. Uh-oh.
We came up with a tentative Plan B if needed but on Sunday morning they came by and said the evacuation had been cancelled. Whew! They said they would continue to monitor the situation and would keep up updated as necessary. It rained off and on all day so we spent the day inside reading, working on the computer and watching TV.
This morning (Monday) dawned dark and ugly. At 8:20 AM a Ranger knocked on the door and told us they had closed Fort Pickens Rd; no one was allowed in. They would allow people to leave but only if they could be gone in 30 minutes. The choice was ours whether we stayed or left. If we stayed, they wanted us to have enough supplies to last at least 36 hours. That is never a problem for us. I always have at least one freezer full; usually 2 :)
Many chose to leave and took off in record time.
We knew we were under a tornado watch but when we checked the radar, this is what we saw.
There really was no where to go. If there is one thing I hate worse than weathering a bad storm in a motorhome, it’s driving the motorhome down the road in a bad storm! So, we decided to stay put. The concrete bath house was right across from us should we need shelter.
By 8:40 AM the sky had opened up and the winds were howling. I put together an escape bag-important papers, laptop, cash, wallets etc. in case we needed to run for shelter. Then we waited.
By 11:00 AM it was all over. Originally, what was to have lasted until at least 3:00 PM is now completely over and all dried out. Breathing a sigh of relief, I unpacked our escape bag and put everything away :) It’s supposed to rain a little more tonight and tomorrow but after that the sun has promised to shine :)
We now have the campground almost to ourselves. It’s just us and a few other hardy souls :)
Fort Pickens doesn’t empty out like this often. We’re going to enjoy it while it lasts! Thanks for stopping by.