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Monday, October 26, 2015

St George Island Wrap-Up

Well,  we are back in Ohio.  Normally, I'd have a really bad case of post-vacay blues, but the re-entry hasn't been quite as turbulent as in vacations past.

Someone asked me in a meeting this morning what my favorite part of vacation was for me.  I immediately answered "The eagles."  I got to thinking about my answer as I rode home for lunch.  I have never seen eagles in the wild before.  While never seeing them outside of a zoo setting and then seeing five over the course of a week was truely amazing, I think I have to amend my answer considerably.

This was Foxy's first vacation.  I know, she's a dog.  But Foxy is a part of our family and it was very fun bringing her with us.  She is nine now and she was acting like a puppy again.  Romping and carrying on in the sand.  I think that she understood that we were on a vacation.  It was really good to experience that.
Foxy Cleopatra on a beach walk

There is also something to be said about where water meets the land.  Three of the four elements coming meeting really does something to me.  It helps me find my zen and lifts my attitude.  St George Island was a beautiful place.  The sunrises and sunsets were stunning every day that we were there.

Good morning, SGI!

Another great part of this trip was the exploration.  We would take roadtrips to different little towns along the Forgotten Coast.  The one thing that remained the same with each stop was that the more you spoke with a local or looked into something, the deeper you can go.  We only scratched the surface of the adventures to be had.  There is also a rich, deep history in this area.  Many times stories revolved around the civil war.  It was a very interesting and different perspective.  It connected me to the history lessons I learned in school on a very real level.

Cape San Blas Lighthouse

Downtown Port St Joe

Me and the Mrs.

Grady Market Apalachicola

Carrabelle Beach

Carrabelle Harbor Marina

Sea grasses at St George Island State Park

Scuttle to SGI lighthouse lantern room

SGI halloween decorations

Thanks for visiting.  See you on the flip flop side!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

St George Island Day 7

Today is our final full day.  We took a really long walk on the beach this morning with Foxy.  I think she can sense that we have only one more sleep here.  After a quick errand we had some lunch and hit the pool at 300 Mile.  This is a very nice condo community.  There are two pools total.  After a couple of hours at the pool, we retired to the crow's nest to enjoy the ocean sights and sounds.

Foxy was planted in her bed on the crows nest and Dar would pop in and out of the sun for the finishing touches.  I wanted to post a little video for all of you so that you can enjoy the sun, sand, and sounds of St George Island.

After a very relaxing day at the beach and pool, we had to start the inevitable task of cleaning up and packing.  Do we go home?  Do I YouTube how to fish in the ocean and clean it so we can stay and be beach bums?  This level of contemplation requires Corona.  

After that sad state of affairs, we drove over to Apalachicola for dinner.  We ended up at Tamara's right on the main drag.  We scored a prime outdoor table along the side of the building.  Darla got the seafood linguine with red sauce.  It had mussels, scallops, and shrimp in it and Dar enjoyed it very much.  What drew us there was the pecan crusted grouper.  It was good, but fried and didn't seem like the best piece of fish.  Our overall experience was good.  We would return, but after we've tried some of the other places first.

After dinner we took a stroll through town to let our food settle.  Dar stopped into the Artemis Boutique to make sure there were no more sales to be uncovered before our departure.  The owner there suggested that we go check out the art opening down at the Bowery Art Gallery.  There were some very nice pieces of artwork in this gallery.
Bowery Art Gallery
We continued to walk off dinner and found some interesting old buildings.  You just have to wonder what their story was.

We also found a raw bar and a Marina/Hotel that will have to be tried on our next tip to the Forgotten Coast.  While we were in the Bowery Art Gallery a fellow patron suggested to check out the Apalachicola National Estaurine Research Reserve.  They were also having a gallery opening.  We strolled back to the car and headed to the ANERR.  

The Apalachicola National Estaurine Research Reserve should be on everyone's must do list while you are in the area.  I could see spending at least a half-day there learning about all of the critters and ecosystems in the area.  The half hour that we spent there this evening sealed the deal that we would return to the Forgotten Coast, if not for this center alone.  Fortunately, there are at least a dozen things on our list to see and explore next time.
Up The Creek Raw Bar

With that, I bid you adieu.  See you on the flip side.

St George Island Day 6.1

This is a continuation of yesterday's post.  After we took a long walk on the beach and Dar took a run, we decided to drive over to Port St Joe.  I wanted to try to find the recently relocated Cape San Blas Lighthouse.  The lighthouse had to be moved off of the cape due to erosion issues.  Apparently, there was quite some contention as to where and who would be moving the lighthouse.  There was a race for grant funding between the City of Port St Joe and the Gulf County.  The county only wanted to move the lighthouse a little more inland towards Indian Pass, and the city wanted to move it to their city park, which is in between the Port St Joe Marina and the Gulf County Welcome Center on Miss Zola's Drive.  Here is the lighthouse's facebook page.

Cape San Blas lighthouse

Cape San Blas lighthouse and keeper's houses

Well, the City actually got the grant funding first and the lighthouse was moved to City Park.  Locals were up in arms about this as well, because why would you put a lighthouse in a park.  Now that it has been moved, the general consensus of most of the folks we spoke with, was that it ended up being a good move and enjoy the lighthouse there.  It actually anchors (see what I did there) the park as being a focal point of all of the festivities and events that are hosted there.

Twice now, I've tackled (more like tagged and ran away) my fear of heights and went up to the top.  This one I was not secure behind glass.  I had to go out onto the precipice.  But it was worth the view.  
Cape San Blas Lighthouse view

Cape San Blas Lighthouse view

Cape San Blas Lighthouse view

131 steps for me to fall down

After the lighthouse tour, we walked around the park.  Along the way we came up to the Port St Joe Marina.  I've always wondered what these big buildings were that were situated along with the marinas.  Holy cow, they are an enclosed shelving system for boat storage.

Boys putting their toys away.

Down by the marina there appeared to be an abandoned sail boat.  Or at least moored in too shallow of water.  I thought it made for a nice shot and was happy with some of the reflection I was getting.
Run Aground

I was also very lucky to get some info about a Roseate Spoonbill and get a couple of pictures of it.  We later stopped into No Name Cafe and the they had an Audubon bird guide.  Dar got 87 books while we were there.  The home territory and migratory area is very small.  Its limited to the coastal area of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Louisiana.  Unless the Spoonbills are a nuisance bird, this was a rare opportunity, especially for a land lubber like myself.
Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

We went and had a late lunch at Sunset Coastal Grill.  Finally!  Cold shrimp cocktail.  There is nothing wrong with what appears to be the staple hot peel and eat, but I prefer cold shrimp cocktail.  This was by far, the best meal we have had while here in Florida.  We have come to find that when the menu says 'grilled', they actually mean griddle.  Nothing wrong with that, but to me, grill means open grate, open flame.  I had amazing grilled mahi fish tacos.  The fish was so fresh and flavorful, very little seasoning but prepared perfectly.  The soft taco shell was even toasted!  What a great touch.  I will have to remember that!  Darla got the crabby patties and they were delicious as well.  They had a very nice and firm consistency.  The crab pieces were shredded and small, not chunked.  Excellent meal and I highly recommend this place.  Darla even got into the photography game here.
Darla getting creative with some coastal bokeh

This is where our day got immensely more interesting.  A gentleman walked in with a camera on a tripod, camera bag, and some notebooks.  Darla's curiosity was bothering her so she went over and struck up a conversation (more like inquisition) with him.  It turns out it was Dan Anderson, Editor and Publisher of the Forgotten Coast area's Must See Magazine.  What an amazing source of info and wealth of knowledge.  For the better part of an hour, Dan told us all about the area, from history and lore, to the best shops and places to eat.  A tip of the hat goes out to Dan for taking the time out of his day to chat with a couple of Northerners.  Dan, if you read this, we were able to find several past issues of Must See.  And for what its worth, a couple of business owners that we struck up a chat with had nothing but great things to say about you.  Keep up the good work!

Port St Joe has a really cute 4-5 block stretch of downtown area.  Again the boutiques and shops were top notch and Darla investigated each and every one of them.  This afforded me the chance to get a couple of pictures of the area.
Downtown Port St Joe

Downtown Port St Joe

Downtown Port St Joe

Downtown Port St Joe

Downtown Port St Joe

A Studio 35 sourthern remote location?

Downtown Port St Joe

It's not a beach trip without the obligatory buggy.

Port St Joe was a great town.  As I said in my initial blog, the benchmark is St Augustine.  I am not sure that the Forgotten Coast is beating the St Augustine area, but it is giving it a good run for its money.  Dan, with Must See, really put it into perspective for us.  Dan points out that this low key beach life comes at a price.  You wouldn't just move down here and expect to find a job.  Most of the stores are being actively worked by their owners, they aren't absentee.  You also won't find a Walmart, or a Lowe's.  But if you don't need an 87 pack of toilet paper or 812 count of galvanized wood screws in black, brown, and white, then you'll be fine.  

You will definitely want to investigate where to shop.  The last place that I expected to have the best selection of vegetables and other grocery items on SGI was the one gas pump Piggly Wiggly Express.  That's because they are locally owned and operated. They had everything you needed and nothing you didn't.  There weren't 14 manufacturers of sunscreen on the shelf, there were two.  The more commercial competition across the street was a trip I'd like to forget.  Their fruits and vegetables were rotting right on the shelves.  They should have removed and pitched it rather than leave it on display.  That's where local pride prevails.

Sorry for the off-topic tangent there.  As we headed back to beach basecamp I caught a really nice view.  As we pulled up to the condo I was also able to get our crabby friend just as he was preparing to eat his fresh caught dinner of dragonfly.

Cheers!  See ya on the flip side!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

St. George Island Day 6

Good morning!  This is an early post.  I will probably update it later on in the day but I wanted to share the beautiful sunrise we had this morning.  Foxy actually woke us up just before daybreak.  She didn't have to go outside.  I really think she wanted up so that we could set up her crow's nest to enjoy the sunrise.
Foxy enjoying the sunrise

St George Island sunrise

St George Island sunrise

St George Island sunrise

St George Island sunrise

St George Island sunrise

St George Island sunrise

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

St. George Island Day 5

Today was a relax day.  We didn't get up until late.  4 hours after we normally get up.  9 am.  We had some coffee and took Foxy out for a morning beach walk.  We both agree that we could get into a schedule where we wake up naturally.  I am not sure that we've ever been more relaxed.  Couldn't we all?  

Dar and Fox were sunning themselves on the deck, so I grabbed the camera and headed towards the beach.  I got pretty lucky with some critters right around our beach access.  I had a lot of fun taking these pictures today.  A couple of the crabs that I snapped really were as small as they appear.  Their bodies were no bigger around than a nickel. 
This guy was under our stairs right by the car

Little skink getting some morning sun

This cute little guy was no bigger than a nickel

This is my new friend.  As I was kneeled down snapping, he deedle deedle deedled (bird speak for walking fast) right up to me, under me and then kept on trucking past me.

This bird was having fun in the surf.

Too much instagram.  Crossed legs to look thinner and the closest a bird with a long beak can get to duckface.  Poser.

Time to move on and get a snack.

A couple of wild creatures

Poolside at 300 Mile, St George Island


If anyone can help me identify these birds, I'd really appreciate it.  After some pool time, we took Foxy for another beach walk.  This time we got in the ocean.  She dog paddled back up to the beach and ran away then ran back to us.  I'd pick her back up and the game would start over.  There is something to be said about a very happy, salty dog. 

Tonight's dinner adventure is Eddie Teach's Raw Bar.  We will let you know how that goes!  Cheers!

Late breaking edit- Eddie Teach's was closed.  Not as in for the evening, but as in Holy Toledo there is hurrican fixin to hit us, let's git. 
As Cartman says, "screw you guys, I'm going home."
We ended up at Black Marlin's bar and grill.  We had a really nice dinner of once again, grouper.  Its seems pretty consistent across the island as to how the blackened fishes are prepared.  The service has been really good as well.  Super nice people all over the island.  
Rumor has it that Teach's lease was up Nov 1 and they left early.  A bonus to eating at Black Marlin was that they are right next to Paddy's, who had live music going on, so we enjoyed a nice guitar musician as we dined.  
Black Marlin's Bar & Grill

Bay side sunset from patio at Black Marlin