Cape San Blas, July 2012

Cape San Blas, July 2012

Meeting old friends near The Cape, we stay in a beat up cabin nestled in the woods amongst the pines and palmettos. St. Joe Bay is a short walk away. The last remnants of Old Florida still exist to this day in a few areas, and this is one.

The morning is spent walking the mudflats as the Bay is very shallow and the tide is out. There are horseshoe crabs and seashells, a few scallops and the fragile shells of the Sea Urchin. The Bay is a mirror of the morning sky. The stillness is stunning. And I thank God.

Our day’s adventure begins with a walk up the Bay. We soak up the natural beauty. Collecting a few dried sea urchins, abandoned seashells and driftwood, I am happy with the day’s finds. The walk is leisurely as we want to see all we can see, smell all the smells, let the sea air permeate our bodies and the warm salt water soak into our skin. There is little conversation. Hours pass.

Of the 5 or 6 times I have walked The Cape I have only managed to find the path across twice. It is not well marked but no matter, as few people bother with the trek.

It is hot and we carry our water and lunch in a backpack. The crickets sing.

With a storm approaching from the East, the decision is made to cross over to the Gulf though once again we did not find the path and it is nowhere in sight.

We walk over the dune and into the heavily wooded interior of Cape San Blas. Through the Scrub Oaks, Shortleaf Pine and Palmettos we wind, marveling at the beauty of the deep greens above us and the rust color of the pine needles at our feet.

There are large areas of Deer Moss, inviting a touch. As children we collected it to use around the Manger Scene at Christmas. My Canadian friend’s responds that they would buy it for the same reason. Lucky me. Though we watch for small cacti and thorny vines, we inevitably get scratched.  No matter, as we can hear The Gulf in the distance and we continue on.

The trees are not tall.  The foliage above is thick and we can see little of the sky. There are no strong shadows and we are grateful for the clouds that have rolled in as it is a relief from the heat. We feel the air cool and are compelled to move faster so as to avoid the thunderstorm, if we can.

A hill covered in pine needles is spotted in the distance. It is difficult to climb as our feet slide in the fine sand. It is an opportunity to see where we are and we crawl up and slide and crawl up again through the top of the trees to a view that is spectacular. The blue-green waters of the Gulf can be seen beyond the large, sparkling white dunes which are dotted with golden sea oats and the sculptural formations of the oaks foliage, shaped by decades of enduring harsh winds.

Behind us is a valley of green we know to be the top of the maritime forest undisturbed by man. We gasp at its expanse, having just been lost in its interior beauty. The green of the treetops contrast beautifully with the dark gray of the approaching storm beyond and when we turn around to take in the Gulf view, the clear sky above her is a testament to the rapidly changing weather of summer.

Dolphins are spotted near shore and we follow the lead of our children running with abandon down the large dune feeling as though we are no older than they.

Though we know better than to swim with a storm so nearby, we must. All of us relish the cool, salty water. We splash, float and swim with smiles. Thunder is the sign there is no more time to swim and we all head towards shore. With leisure we eat our sandwiches as though the day is clear. There is no place to take cover other than below a large oak, which would be unwise. A storm so large will have powerful lightening should it break and the last place one should take shelter is below anything relatively tall. We are wet already anyway and the walk down the beach to the car is far. No reason to worry as there is little we can do to avoid the storm. After a while we begin our walk.  Daniel walks closer to the dunes to look for shells at the high tide line. Ben stops at each roped area protecting the buried eggs of a sea turtle.

My two sons walk together well ahead of the rest. We are often fifty yards or more apart in our own inner world basking in the beauty of this incredible place.

The rain never did fall. Our adventure ends with the walk through the pines and palmettos, to our car.

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