Monday, April 7, 2014

On To Fort Pickens…Uh-oh!

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! :)

Blue Angels

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. Turtle


  1. It freaked us out last year when we were there and they closed the road. Thankfully we were inside, but they weren't evacuating us, just the non-RVrs. I think it would be a bit scary to get caught out there!

  2. Boy did you make the right decision!!! Enjoy!

  3. We waited it out in our pop up camper. Whew!! Glad it's over. No one came over and told us anything about the road closure, but we noticed the camp ground was almost empty. We enjoyed the reading time. Looking forward to the sun shine!

    1. So glad you were safe. I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to wait it out in a pop-up! I notice we are slowly filling back up again. Guess the road didn't remain closed long :)

  4. Now that put a little excitement in your day! I think I would have stayed put too.

  5. We thought about you when we saw that line of storms this am. Glad all turned out ok.

  6. Saw that storm early this morning on the weather map and glad to know all is well with you two. We were in the "other" campground in some heavy rain and the center of the campground became a BIG lake;o)) Looks like some beautiful weather heading your way...enjoy!!!

  7. We are in MS and was watching that line of storms. They went toward you and we barely got rain. Whew. I'm glad you made the right decision.

  8. Glad it turned into a non event, doubt we would have left either. Now you get to enjoy the empty campground. Had some tornado warnings south of I-40 here in Nashville the other night don't think they amounted to anything either.

  9. Fabulous. . .well. . .NOT the storm. . .but the fact that you are at Fort Pickens. . .we loved it too. . .and will definitely return!

    Enjoy the rest of your stay. . .

  10. Really glad you stayed and it all worked out. I would have done the same thing. Where can you go if it's all around you? After two weeks in St. George Island State Park, we were scheduled to leave this morning and move to Suwannee River State Park. High winds and tornados were predicted but we took a chance and made it easily including a stop in Tallahassee at Whole Foods. Unfortunately it looks like the tornado warning followed us up here. They changed the warning area and we're under a Tornado warning until 11pm. Rain is pouring down now. Hope we don't have to go to the bath house. Glad it's over for you. Great place! Enjoy!!

  11. Looks like you have one of the best sites there. Glad things worked out and the storm wasn't too bad there. Enjoy the white sands!

  12. Wow - that sure was a close call. Glad you are o.k. and that you didn't even have to move out. I've never, ever been close to even a Tornado warning and I hope I never am.

  13. Whew! Glad everything turned out okay. Storms -- especially when accompanied by tornado warnings -- are no fun in an RV!

    I like your backyard pet, but I think I like our furry pets better. :-)

  14. Glad the storm passed quickly. That is a positive for Florida - they usually move through pretty fast.

  15. At least they were nice enough to warn you. It wouldn't be good to wake up and find yourself floating down the road in Lucy! ;c)

  16. I'm so behind and just reading. Oh I remember that road be closed for our stay...I thought so exciting! And that storm...we felt it in AL and it was an ugly one. I just loved that park...especially when nearly empty. Best beach ever...hope all is well!


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