Wednesday, 30 January 2008


I am writing the blog late today as I have spent ages on-line this evening booking tickets for going to Paris! If you are reading this and you are also to be in Paris, I look forward to meeting you and celebrating together Mark's most amazing achievement. But to get back to yesterday....The first meandering mentioned in the title of today's posting is the route which Mark took yesterday. Having imagined him to be on a course due east to the Atlantic, it was a bit of a surprise seeing him suddenly change direction and head north. All was explained later in the web diary ... the wee detour is to add up some extra miles... as you do when you've already done about 16,500! The benefit of the change of direction is also that it lets us look at a different sort of environment to the one we've been looking at in the last couple of days.

However, we've not quite finished with coasts yet. ..

One of the features I have noticed along this Emerald Coast in Florida is a number of air force bases and yesterday, shortly after leaving Panama City, Mark cycled past Tyndall Air Force base.

It takes in 29,000 acres of land, extending well to the south east of the runway complex.

Seawards of the base is another set of barrier islands as described in yesterday's posting and separated from the mainland by the sheltered waters of St Andrew Sound ..... Further along the coast, almost at the point where Mark headed inland, is another significant feature of coastal deposition. The feature is a spit and as far as students of geography are concerned, spits are to coasts as ox bow lakes are to rivers. Few have seen them but they can all write about them!
Spits are formed when the currents which take beach material along a coastline by a process known as longshore drift, continue on beyond a point where the coast changes direction. This could be at a headland as here in Florida or it can be at the mouth of an estuary like the Humber in England where it has resulted in the formation of Spurn Head. Sometimes, as here at Cape San Blas, the spit may become 'recurved' if prevailing winds and tides drive the sediment back towards the shore....

There is a short animation here which shows how spits are formed .

This aerial view of the spit which is part of the St Joseph State park in Florida shows the typical features of parallel dune ridges at the recurved tip. and the image below from Flickr shows the seaward side of the spit looking north.

Mark turned inland at Port St Joe opposite the tip of the spit and very quickly left the coastal environment behind. Beaches quickly give way to forest in this part of Florida. As a state, Florida is well forested. It has 25,000 square miles of forest which is half of the state's area. The forests are in both private and state ownership producing 650 million cubic metres of timber and a huge number of timber products annually. Surprisingly (to me at any rate) Florida's highest value agricultural product is trees. Over $16.6 billion is infused into Florida's economy from the manufacturing and distribution of forest products each year.

The first part of the route inland took Mark through many miles of commercial forest with evidence in places of clearfelling and reafforestation. As he approached Gaskins Still and Wewahitchka, the commercial forests gave way to the swamp natural forests on the floodplain of the Apalachicola river and its tributary the Chipola. And here are the second 'meanderings' - this time on the river itself...
After all these months of looking at rivers across the globe, I feel confident I can leave you to explain what you are seeing here! However, what you won't see from this altitude is that there are many small rafts on the river Apalachicola... They are floating bee hives and they are linked to a very unique product of the region - Tupelo honey! The town of Wewawitchika is the global centre of Tupelo honey production as explained here.... and here the website of the company who dominate production.

North of Wewawitchika lies the Dead Lakes so named bacause deposition from the Apalachicola blocked the mouth of the Chipola causing it to dam up and flood its valley. Dead Lakes State Recreation Area activities include hiking, fishing, boating, camping and nature viewing. Among the wildlife of the park are foxes, cotton rats, racoons, deer , beavers, turtles, snakes and alligators. A variety of trees can be found in the park, including longleaf pines, magnolia and cypress trees.

>Beyond Dead Lakes Mark meandered his way north toward the border with Georgia where he stopped last night just south of Lake Seminole at the town of Sneads. Lake Seminole was formed by damming the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers which flow into the lake from the north and east respectively. The Jim Woodruff lock and dam impounds the lake from which the main outflow is the Apalachicola river.

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