After our last few miles in the woods we follow a small road out to highway 87.
The Tom Thumb shop is a welcome little stop but we soon continue on following a side walk into Navarre. I buy some travel soap and shampoo at CVS while Greenleaf is panhandling on the side walk. Of course he’s not really panhandling but a lady stops to chat and gives him two dollars to have a drink on her. And she won’t take no for an answer.
The Florida Trail app mentioned JJ Chago’s coffee shop and when we looked up the menu we got very excited. Fancy coffee, avocado bagel breakfast sandwiches, it sounded delicious! When we get our orders we are not disappointed. The owner has plans to run some of the Florida Trail. I wish him good luck.
The next stretch has us walk over the bridge to the Navarre and Pensacola beaches. Finally we are going the beach! The end is in sight!
We’re making the most of the last restaurant on trail for today and order sandwiches to go. While Greenleaf is ordering inside I enjoy a break on a bench outside. It’s sunny out but nice underneath my shade umbrella. I get a message from TruckerBob who is in the area, he just missed us at the breakfast place but will be on his way to say hi in a bit. He shows up just as GL makes it outside with the sandwiches. To our surprise our friend Bayou from Ocean pond is with him. How fun! We hang out and chit chat for a bit until they have to move on. We move on too but not far. Just a block over to be precise. There is a Tom Thumb there with some smoothie drinks with our names on it.
We take the drinks across the street to some sheltered picnic tables and wait out the heat for a bit. I go and play in the ocean with GL’s sun bonnet on and GL stays in the shade relaxing. Water really isn’t his thing. We’re both happy as clams. Or something like that.
Eventually we move on and it’s still pretty hot and bright. My sunglasses aren’t dark enough for this and my eyes aren’t happy. Luckily GL has an extra pair of darker ones which make my life a whole lot better.
We walk the bike path through a neighborhood with beach condos. There are some high rises too. Somehow we had both expected this area to be less developed. We didn’t quite realize there would be a road all the way to Fort Pickens.
We eventually transition to the Santa Rosa area of the Gulf Islands national seashore. It’s a preserve with no development except for the road and bike path going through. The trail has us go on the beach and I’m looking forward to it. GL is going to stick with the bike path and we plan to meet up later.
I very soon realize that this beach is not like the New Zealand beaches I’ve walked on. The only section of sand hard enough to walk on without sinking in is at the water’s edge which at this time is at a slope. It’s no fun walking this way and as the tide is coming in the sand gets softened up again as I’m walking. Oof, this is tough walking and slow going. I love the beach and the ocean but I decide I’ll be happier on the bike path with Greenleaf and it will be more fun for him too.
Luckily I’m not too far behind him when I get back to the road and I send him a text to look back. Happily reunited we walk on.
Just as the sun is setting we pull up at Opal beach which has covered picnic tables. After shooting a gazillion photos of the beautiful sunset we eat our dinner sandwiches and since the temperatures are so nice now we walk on some more. We miss the turn to the Bayview campsite and sleep out on the beach instead. The stars and the moon are amazing, the little flies less so.