Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Day 591

     We are at the fairgrounds in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to attend an RV Rally. Not only is there no Fort here, there is no Beach.

     George Walton, born 1749, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from Georgia. His son, also named George Walton (some people are just not very imaginative), born August 15, 1786, was a Colonel under General Andrew Jackson during the 2nd Seminole War. He was named Secretary of Florida under Governor Jackson. Walton County was named for him. 

     Fort Walton Beach was originally named Brooksville, after John Thomas Brooks, who was the first settler in this area. In 1913 Brooksville was renamed Camp Walton. During the Civil War confederate troops “camped” here. Their camp consisted of tents, and nothing more. Walton is the name from the County that encompassed Brooksville. In 1932, Camp Walton changed it’s name to Fort Walton, because it sounded better. In 1953 Fort Walton was renamed Fort Walton Beach to attract tourists (even though there is no beach).

     The only interesting thing we found at Fort Walton Beach was the restored one room school house, built in 1912, that housed grades 1 to 5. 

     As it turns out, I am not smarter than a 5th grader. 

     You are really old if your grade school Report Card looked like this: 

Technical Stuff:

Milton, Florida to Fort Walton, Florida: 56.2 miles

1 hour 37 minutes

9.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Indian Bayou, Milton, Florida

Day 586

     Our campground is located on the Indian Bayou. We decided to go canoeing on the Bayou from our campground, even though we had never canoed before.

     It took us 15 minutes to get the canoe off the shore. We placed the canoe in the water, with the rear still on the beach. Barbara got in and we almost turned the canoe over. We decided I would get in the bottom of the canoe in the middle, with Barbara in the rear. Could not get the boat off the shore. Got out, pushed the canoe further in the water, and tried again…. and again. Finally got all the way in the water without tipping over. 

     Fortunately, the water was very calm. We paddled for about 45 minutes up the Bayou when he saw a large splash in the water just ahead of us. We saw bubbles coming out of the water from the shore to the middle of where we were paddling. We figured it was either a large turtle, or an alligator. We quickly made a 180 degree turn, and began paddling back down the Bayou.

     We did see some wildlife (other than the turtle or alligator). 

Air Force Armament Museum, Florida

Day 585     The Air Force Armament Museum, adjacent to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the only facility in the U.S. dedicated to the display of Air Force armament. Founded in 1975 it was originally located on Post, but move just off Post in 1985.

     The leader of our Alaska trip was with us. He was a Combat Control Specialist in the Air Force, the equivalent of the Navy Seal, during Vietnam and recently retired as a Rocket Scientist with the Department of Defense at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. 

     He explained to us all the airplanes on display from Vietnam to the present, including the Black Bird, the high flying reconnaissance plane. 

     Another cool thing in the museum was this Norden Bomb Site. Developed by Carl Norden, it was used in World War II in the B-17 bombers. Although I have heard about it, this is the first time I saw one. 

     In tribute to one of my faithful readers:

 

Milton, Florida

Day 584

     Milton was settled in the early 1800s as a small village centered on the lumber industry. The settlement was originally known as “Scratch Ankle” because of the briars and bramble that grew in the area. Milton was incorporated as a city in 1844, one year before the Territory of Florida joined the United States as the 27th state.

     We went to the nearby city of Fort Walton to view the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. They have a long fishing pier on which we walked  1/4 mile into the Gulf.

     The Pelicans also liked the pier:      As well as the Blue Heron: 

     And, of course, the sunset:

Technical Stuff:

Lamont Florida to Milton Florida: 205.6 miles

3 hours 45 minutes

10.3 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Lamont, Florida

Day 581

     Lamont, Florida is an unincorporated town off of I 10. The only thing here is this campground and some gas stations and eating places. We are here as a stopover to Avalon, Florida, where we will be meeting with some of the group that we will be going to Alaska with, and then going to an RV Rally in Ft. Walton, Beach, Florida with them. 

     We were going to drive the 25 miles to Tallahassee, Florida, but then realized we were there on day 340. Until we looked at the blog for that day, we did not realize we had been there. Have we been traveling too much?

Technical Stuff:

Mount Dora, Florida to Lamont, Florida: 202.1 miles

4 hours 41 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.86

Rocket Launch, Mount Dora, Florida

Day 578

     Our campsite featured a Blue Heron:

     And a Gekkonidae:

     We came to Mount Dora to visit friends.

     They took us to their friend’s house who had a direct view of launches from Cape Canaveral. We watched the SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch from the Cape. The payload was SpaceX’s founder Elon Musl’s red Tesla Roaster. 

     Enlarge the picture and see the Tesla through the space craft window.

     Away it went, leaving only a vapor trail:

Mount Dora, Florida

Day 577

     We were here on Day 18.

     Dora Ann Fletcher was born on May 12, 1826 in Irwin, George. She married James Drawdy in 1843 and had 3 children. When he died in 1848 she married his cousin William and had 6 more children. She and her husband, William, wanted to live the frontier life. At that time Florida had recently joined the Union and was mostly unexplored wilderness. The Drawdy family built a raft and ferried their possessions down the Suwannee River and then by horse and wagon to Central Florida. William and Dora placed a claim on 164 acres near a large lake. 

     Dora befriended federal surveyors with her warm hospitality. In 1846, the surveyors named Lake Dora for her, and years later, in 1883, the small but growing town was named for the lake. The town’s name was officially changed to Mount Dora to reflect the fact that the settlement rests upon a plateau 184 feet above sea level – an unusual feature in Florida.

     Visited the Mount Dora Museum. This museum is the location of the first fire station and city jail, which opened in 1923.

     The exhibits highlight activities in Mount Dora from the 1880s to the 1930s. Like this old time mix-master:

     Whether you lived or died, this guy made money:

Technical Stuff:

Ft. Myers, Fl to Mt. Dora, Fl: 206.9 miles

4 hours 33 minutes

9.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.96