Had someone tried explaining to me prior to my family's trip to the Florida panhandle that 60% of the route would consist of driving through dense pine forests, I would have told them they were crazy. My mind had already painted a picture of what I was going to see and that painting did not include pine trees. But, my first trip through the south was a pleasant surprise regarding the scenery. I was amazed as we drove through Mississippi and Alabama - pine trees everywhere and the overall scenery was gorgeous. How could this be? Was I ignorant or just uninformed? Probably both.
Even as we crossed into the Florida panhandle I figured there HAD to be some point where we'd leave the pine forests behind and we'd move into flat grassland...or palm trees. Where were all the palm trees? I kept picturing breaking free of the pine "tunnels" we'd been driving through to see the ocean waves breaking on the horizon. But, this vision never materialized and those pine trees followed us right up to the edge of the gulf coast. Oh, there were palm trees, too, but how did these pines get there?
This photo was taken on our first morning waking up on the peninsula. We'd finally arrived at the camp ground after dark, so there was some mystery left as to what things would look like right on the beach. Once again, I was thinking there would be more palm trees than anything else. But, walking 20 feet through an opening in the bushes behind our camping spot yielded the beautiful scene here: tall grass, a marshy waterway, and...towering pine trees.