I just spent 4 weeks on “the forgotten coast”. It reminded me of the keys 35 years ago. Relaxing, low key, quiet. We were told it’s busier in the summer but for us right now it was perfect.
I’ve only ever driven through the Florida Panhandle once and that was in 1988 when we left Aspen and finally ended up in New Bern after a years stop off in the Keys.
We stayed about 5 miles out of Port St Joe, which has some cute shops and good restaurants and all along the coast are new homes and buildings. Didn’t really talk to anyone about it but expect that recent hurricanes or the oil spill might be a reason for that.
Next door to where I was staying.
My favorite town was Apalachicola or Appalach, as the locals call it, about 20 miles east of us. What a great little town, with restaurants, shops, bars, galleries. And lots of history.
I saw lots of interesting artwork from artists like – Sherron Totter…
and Leslie Wallace-Coon – gallery owner of Bowery Gallery and potter/sculptor…
and Clair Raabe Glass to name a few.
Just up the road at Wewahitchka (or Wewa as they call it) is where you go to buy tupelo honey. The tupelo gum trees grow along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers.
This river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially. You can read about how it is harvested and why it is more expensive than other honeys (and probably better for you) right here.
We saw this amazing 50 foot traders canoe in the Apalachicola Center for History, Art and Culture. The fact that metal tools were used, along with the shape of the canoe, suggest that it was manufactured sometime between 1750 and 1850. Dugout canoes had been used by the Indians but the metal tool marks show it would have been made by Europeans or Indians under the direction of Europeans.
They have found older dugouts that date back between 3200 and 5000 years, but never one this big.
The hostess also told us that the building this canoe and art center is in was one of 48 that lined Water Street, the front porch of these buildings was the wharf so they loaded ships from here. She said the 2nd floors were cotton warehouses and the owner had identical buildings in NYC, many of which are still there, while in “Apalach” only two remain, others were destroyed by hurricanes and fire.
Other places I liked the look of….
This town is a neat mix of really funky and really nice, hippie and yuppie, just what I like. It only has a population of about 2500 but like New Bern, there isn’t another town or anyplace else to shop for many miles, so more restaurants and shops than you would expect for a town of this size.
The beaches here are deserted and beautiful, great shelling! This is WindMark Beach.
Lucky shot, a fisherman tossed this fish to the heron and I snapped this just before he swallowed it in one gulp on St George Beach.
We saw thousands of pieces of sand dollars and even found a few whole ones.
The lower 52 miles of the Apalachicola River, adjoining uplands, and the Apalachicola Bay estuarine, support the local fishing industry. We ate local shrimp and oysters every day!
We sat on the bridge to St George Island and it was so interesting to watch this oysterman (these fishermen are called tongers) use tongs to harvest the oysters, as they have for centuries. They can fish this way because the bay is just a few feet deep.
And we enjoyed seeing other fisherman come in too!
I am not an avid birdwatcher but I do like to paint them and the pelicans are always so much fun to watch.
The sunsets were amazing.
What a great month.
Next I’m off to Key West and points in between.