We left Pensacola without a firm destination in mind but knowing that we would take the coast road rather than the main interstate with the idea of stopping off along the way. Pensacola beach was the first place we drove through and Jen's shout of, "should we stop here", was immediately shot down by everyone else in the car. The place was ram packed with cars and people and charmless hotels, I for one was looking for more out of the way things.
Our first stop was someway along the road where we jumped out at a beach of beautiful white sand and had a quick walk. There were only a few other people around and some parked up diggers which I assume were part of the oil clean-up effort. We didn't stay long there, just enough time to marvel how hot it had become. There were people just sat around on chairs - there is no way I could manage that in that heat (I recall Andy saying the car was clocking it at 36c).
Somewhere further down the coast we stopped for lunch at a small town of which the name escapes me before continuing to Grayton Beach state park. Again it was beautiful white sand, this time with quite a few people. Everyone barring me and Andy rushed into the sea where in the shallows was a massive school of bait fish. Andy's strange aversion to sand kicked in even quicker than usual and he left for a fag. When we re-grouped we took a forest trail to try and see some wildlife. There were plenty of insects, a lizard or two and Andy and I saw a brilliant red Cardinal and what we think was a Blue Jay. It was this kind of walk that I had been waiting for, the natural world being my favourite thing about the US.
Not knowing where we were headed, we hadn't sorted out a place to stay so tried at a couple of the coastal towns along the way. It being a weekend we weren't able to find any with vacancies except one which looked a bit shady. We took the decision to drive inland a bit pointing toward Tallahassee and to look for motels along the way. This took us up a very straight and boring road through Apalachicola National Forest as the light slipped away.
It had been dark for some time when we got to Tallahassee and started pulling into malls off the highway. Several had no vacancies but we managed to find a cheapish one that did and booked into that. Sitting outside our rooms having a beer we got chatting to a Mexican roofer who tried to explain his woes to us in broken English.