We just returned from a wonderful weekend along Florida’s panhandle. Our home base was the historic fishing village of Apalachicola. What a great little place — lots of history and character. Also lots of characters! The area is inhabited with very prideful, down to earth folks who are clinging to their time honored ways of life. Development is rapidly encroaching around them, but these residents remain hopeful that their delicate eco-system will not be spoiled. They celebrate the slower pace and older ways of doing things and are fighting hard to protect it all.
The economy here has always been based on the seafood industry. Apalach oysters and Alligator Point clams are quite famous to foodies everywhere. The area boasts countless seafood markets, oyster houses, bait & tackle shops, and the like. But there are also a growing number of trendy book stores, elegant cafes, and coffee shops. Oh yes — and antique shoppes — everywhere you turn. It certainly appears that the yuppies are coming.
We witnessed a beautiful Saturday sunset on the Apalachicola Bay. There is such a simple charm to watching the sun disappear in the evening … especially when you’re also looking at boats and shorebirds of all kinds. Herons, gulls, pelicans — they’re all here in bountiful numbers. They are no dummies, these feathered friends. If I was a bird (or a cat for that matter), this would make for a pretty nice hangout.
We got a chuckle out of this diver chilling out on a downtown sidewalk. This snapshot was taken just outside the entrance to the Apalachicola Sponge Company. Yes folks, there is a store here that caters to all (well, virtually all) of your sponge needs. The sponges are all-natural and harvested from the surrounding brackish waters. You can pick up a shower sponge and an oval of magnolia-scented goat’s milk soap for about $8. Put a few of these combos on your Christmas list for those loved ones you deem either in need of a good bath or ”spongeworthy.”
Room 309 in the Gibson Inn is said to be haunted by an old sea captain. We learned that he booked that room so he could keep an eye (Get it? Eye??? RRRRRRRRRRR!!!!) on his ship, which was usually docked just a block or so away on the waterfront. The old salt once dated one of the early innkeepers and he’s said to have quite a sense of humor. For example, some guests have sworn that someone was tickling their feet at night. Room #309 is the most asked-for unit in the inn, so make your plans well in advance if you wish to spend a night with this friendly sea-faring ghost.
The town’s graveyards are shaded by live oaks & creepy hanging moss. We learned that a number of the graveyard’s “residents” were victims of shipwrecks and other ghastly ways to go. Our two sons were a little spooked and didn’t stray too far from us that night. It’s a good thing. Our bed & breakfast (the exquisite Coombs House Inn) was situated directly across Avenue E from the cemetery. OOOOOOO!
We came across this star fish on the secluded beach of St George Island. It was huge and still very much alive. We admired it for a while and then let it slowly move on. The white sand beaches of St. George Island were simply loaded with great shells and all varieties of tiny sea creatures. We spotted horseshoe crabs, slimey sea cucumbers, clams, sponges, coral, olives, sea pansies, cockles, tortoise eggs and scallops. A fellow adventurer even spotted a black bear roaming nearby as we were combing the shores of Alligator Point on Sunday morning. That news sent all of us scurrying for the comfort of Momma’s Ford mini-van. Sorry, I don’t mess with bears or snakes.
This oyster boat was floating off the deck of The Boss Oyster restaurant. Look for my review of the Boss in the next few days. This trip provided so much great material — it will take me days .. maybe weeks to get it all out. The caption on the side of the boat stated, “Shut Up and Shuck!”
I snapped this sign on the facade of the historic Indian Pass Raw Bar. This is an awesome old place located way, way out in the boonies. You will pass a gazillion (no lie, I counted them) towering pine trees on your drive from beautiful downtown Apalachicola. Grab a cold brew from the cooler and then watch with admiration and awe as a master shucker prepares your heroes on a half shell. This joint is rumored to be haunted as well, so slurp quickly before the house goblins re-develop a taste for these fresh, briney bi-valves.