Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Life's a beach!

Yesterday's route was one long beach! It started at Navarre beach and ended at Panama City Beach via Wynnehaven, Fort Walton, Destin, Miramar, Blue Mountain, Grayton, Seagrove, Alys, Hollywood and Laguna (all plus 'beach' in their name!). This Gulf coastline of Florida's 'Pan handle' is known as the Emerald Coast and is an almost continuously built up string of beachfront developments facing on to white quartz sand and turquoise water (when the weather is fine).....
Incidentally, I came across this bit of trivia about the Florida Panhandle.... shortly after the Civil War, residents of Florida's peninsula considered ceding the state's entire western arm to Alabama for a million dollars. Alabama's leaders decided that the land was "a sand bank and gopher region," and not worth the money! As a result, the Panhandle remained a part of Florida. and is now a major source of revenue for the state today.

But to get back to those glorious beaches.... looking at this coastline reminds me that we have actually seen quite a few contrasting coastlines along Mark's route and that this might be a good time to do a bit of revision! When we study the physical features of coastlines in geography, they are usually classified as either coastlines of erosion or coastlines of deposition. Mark has 'taken' us to some fine examples of both. Do you remember back in Australia the Bunda Cliffs on the Southern Ocean described in this posting on the 19th and a few days later the cove at Ellison described in this posting on the 24th?

And then there was Cape Catastrophe at the south end of the Eyre peninsula which was described here in the entry fo 25th November .

They are all fine examples of coastlines which are being carved out by a variety of erosion processes.

Then, still in Australia, there was the lovely Coorong at the mouth of the River Murray where prehistoric sand dunes had been inundated by rising seas. You can read about it again in this posting - a reminder that some coastlines are the result of deposition...... which brings us back to the Emerald coast and a coastline which looks not dissimilar to the coastline at the Coorong and may, in fact, have formed in a similar way. The barrier islands of the Gulf coast such as Santa Rosa island offshore from Navarre where Mark overnighted on Monday are a series of sandy islands running parallel to the mainland. Between the islands and the mainland is a tidal lagoon. The jury is out on the origin of barrier islands but they tend to develop on coasts with powerful waves and a low tidal range. One theory is that they formed originally off shore below the low tide mark and that they have 'rolled' progressively on-shore. Another theory (the one favoured for the Coorong) is that post glacial sea level rise partly submerged old beach ridges.

Either way, the Emerald coastline of Florida is lovely..... with a whole sequence of beach resorts lining both the mainland and the barrier islands, linked one with the other by a number of causeways and bridges. There is little to distinguish one resort from the next (though I daresay their municipal authorities might disagree!). Here is just a flavour of some of them starting at Navarre beach and heading east along the coast......
.....towards Fort Walton

...past Okaloosa and the harbour and beach at Destin

which you can see more of below...

..and the golf resort residences which look pretty smart ....
even if the bunkers are a bit tricky!

Although continuously built up for almost 200 miles, this coastal playground is little more than a narrow strip when viewed from the air. Only a mile inland, natural woodlands take over from the flamboyant land uses of the coast.... Above is Point Washington State Forest with what was at first a puzzling, rather 'blotchy' appearance until I read ..An important management tool used on the Point Washington State Forest is the prescribed burning program. The use of controlled fire in managing timber, wildlife and ecological resources on Point Washington State Forest is necessary for the Division of Forestry to fulfill its goal of protecting and managing Florida's forest resources. Objectives of the prescribed burning program include reducing undergrowth and maintaining biodiversity.

.... and finally, still on the Emerald coast, Mark's stop over location for the 28th at Panama City beach...

Nice beach ....shame about the buildings!

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