Port St Joe
St Joseph’s Peninsula State Park is on a peninsula at the end of the road on the Gulf of Mexico. St Joseph Bay is on the other side of the peninsula. This park and the next one are listed as two of Florida’s best state parks. The weather was very cool the entire time we were at the park and there was a small tornado that took out four power poles and we were without power for one day. I took the opportunity to drive the 35 miles eastward to visit the small town of Apalachicola, population is about 2400.
“Apalachicola” comes from the Apalachicola tribe and is a combination of Hitchti words apalahchi, meaning “on the other side”, and okli, meaning “people”. In original reference to the settlement and the subgroup within the Seminole tribe, it probably meant “people on the other side of the river”. Many inhabitants of Apalachicola, have said their name means “land of the friendly people”.
In 1849, Apalachicola physician Dr. John Gorrie (1802–1855) discovered the cold-air process of refrigeration and patented an ice machine in 1850. He had experimented to find ways to lower the high temperatures of fever patients. His patent laid the groundwork for development of modern refrigeration and air-conditioning, making Florida and the South more livable year round. The city has a monument to him, and a replica of his ice machine is on display in the John Gorrie Museum.
Thank you Dr. Gorrie for the ice and thank you Wikipedia for the info!
Apalachicola has a downtown area with nice shops, restaurants, and bars and I explored most of them. The next day I returned for the Oyster Cook Off.
Once a year there is an oyster cook off for non-restaurant folks to show off their skills. There is also live music and things to entertain children. The music was from a band that is a regular in Nashville and was EXCELLENT! I indulged in fried oysters fresh from the area and they were delish! I don’t care for raw oysters, however, I love fried oysters. Makes a great meal along with a local brew. I talked with a few locals and had a great day.
Our next stop was Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, just east of Destin. We had the worst weather here; storms and a tornado watch. We were parked in a protected area so we didn’t get all that much wind. I ventured into Destin one day and went to the Fishing Museum and talked with the docent who was born and raised in the area. Her family photos were in the museum.
Destin was a small fishing village and now is a large fishing village. They hold the Fishing Rodeo there once a year. Fishing is unique in Destin because there is an ocean shelf not very far offshore with a very deep drop in the ocean. This means that you can fish for deep ocean fish a very short distance off the shore. I didn’t get any photos while in Destin.
The panhandle area of Florida is very different than South Florida and is truly the deep south. Many more Southern accents and much, much less populated than the rest of Florida. However, it is catching on with snowbirds and there is a lot of development occurring. I would love to return when the weather is better.
Next stop New Orleans!