Back to the Panhandle – December 2017

After our day in The Villages, we needed to start putting miles on heading west. We were expected at our daughter’s on Dec. 23, which gave us less than a week to get from central Florida to Texas.

Friends from our local Excel owner’s chapter were also south and happened to be staying at Rocky Bayou State Park, which was basically eight miles due north of Henderson Beach State Park. So we decided to reverse our last drive and stay there two nights so that we could visit. It turned into an Excel mini-rally.

Besides us, we had a local Florida Excel owner and a couple from Colorado that had bought and remodeled an older Excel staying at the campground. Outside of an organized event, I’ve never seen more than one other Excel at a campground or RV park as they were never produced in large quantities. And the local Floridian said they had only seen one other Excel in the area over the past few years.

The campsites at the park were all at 90 degrees from the road, but most were quite wide which made getting into and out of them pretty easy and also allowed us to easily park the truck next to the trailer. The campground backs up to Rocky Bayou and has a couple of trails you can hike. Although not located in as touristy an area as Destin, there are still plenty of restaurants and stores within easy driving distance.

A view across Rocky Bayou

We had a nice time catching up with our friends and meeting the other Excel owners. Besides socializing over meals and at the campground, we also visited the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base. Fortunately we did not have to actually go on-base to get to this museum so all of us avoided the extra screening that might have occurred.

An overview of some of the museum. Exhibits are located both the ground and upper levels. A Tomahawk cruise missile (orange and white) is in the foreground.
An A-10 Warthog. The Warthog has been in service for 42 years and there is no timeline to retire it.

Although it was technically an armament museum, it has many aircraft on display both inside and out, including another Blackbird, B-17, B-25, B-52 and a host of Korean, Vietnam and more recent aircraft. The armament exhibits were very interesting (if you are interested in that subject) with the development of simple early bombs (WWI-era) to modern smart bombs, as well as various types of missiles (heat-seeking, radar-seeking, guided, smart). We probably spent close to three hours there, and you could certainly spend more if you studied every exhibit.

Vietnam-era F-104 Starfighter

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