Chasing the Sunshine Across the State

I love the East Coast of Florida, but I miss watching sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. I catch the sunset from time to time from the barrier islands of Palm Beach County, watching the light go to sleep over the mainland. It’s lovely, but it is not the same as the ones watched growing up in Clearwater.

I am hypnotized by that big orange ball sinking into a clean horizon. I have spent many golden hours looking for “The Green Flash”, a split second optical illusion, that if you blink you probably missed it. It occurs by the sunlight refracting as it goes out of line of sight. It is so rare to see, that by Florida legend, it is said to bring you luck and prosperity if you get a glimpse of green.
We have stellar sunrises on the East Coast and on days where I’m not my normal anti-morning self, I love to gaze at them. I need to take the time to appreciate them more, and actually wake up at my 5AM alarm rather than cursing and hitting the snooze button 4 times.

An item on my Florida Bucket List for some time has been to “chase the sunshine” across the state; to wake up and watch the sunrise on Florida’s East Coast, then watch the sunset on the West Coast.

A few weeks ago, I checked it off—kind of. My boyfriend and I were amping up for our trip to The Everglades and I told him my intention. I am not sure he was as enthusiastic about chasing sunshine, but he usually just smiles and goes along with my adventures. It was also looming around my birthday where I can convince him to do most of my harebrained ideas.
We woke up around 5, grabbed our dog, Hazel and headed out to Lake Worth Beach to watch the world wake up. On this particular morning when I decided to actually wake up, the sun slept in behind a clump of gray clouds. Just as we made it from our car to the sand with coffee in hand, it started raining on us. We saw glimpses of yellow peep through the clouds and I raised my cuppa joe and said “This still counts as sunshine!”

That afternoon we planned to leave in good time to comfortably enjoy the sunset, however my boyfriend got caught up at work. The sunset show was scheduled for 6:05 PM, and after he was cut loose from The Man we were set to arrive just in time by our GPS. Traffic, terrible GPS reception kept changing our ETA to after dark, and my drive across Alligator Alley became a scene out of Fast and the Furious.

We serendipitously made it, at 5:59 PM, made possible by the grace of God and a lack of FHP presence on I-75. As disappointed we were in the sunrise, the sunset was breathtaking.
All the elements were working for a perfect sunset. A couple of pelicans showed up for their shift of being for surfing sunset waves, the weather was perfection, and the clouds had partially cleared to make a challenge for the rays to cast through making a beautiful monochromatic mess of peach. We experienced an unidentified phenomena, what I called the “Southern Glow.” I was enjoying the Golden Hour after the sun went down, and suddenly all the sand beneath our feet began to glow in a melon hue. My boyfriend tapped my shoulder and said “Look up!” and there was a sherbet sky above us. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my many evenings of sunset sniping.

Florida Bucket list item done, however I will do it again, perhaps repeatedly on special occasions. I have caught many sunsets all over Florida, but this one made for a very memorable birthday trip.