It’s mid morning on a comfortably cool sunny day when Don asks, “You want to go for a drive?” ” Sure” I reply, “Where to?”
St. George Island
St George is one of the many barrier islands off the Florida panhandle. Unlike some of the islands that can only be reached by boat, St. George is easily accessible by a 4 mile long bridge over Apalachicola Bay. The island is 28 miles long with 9 of those miles on the eastern end belonging to St. George Island State Park. Our exploration destination.
Most of the park is undeveloped beach with rolling wind swept sand dunes covered with sea oats, prickly pear, and railroad vine. The remaining portion is designated for camping and hiking in a pine flatwood forest. We chose to do a little hiking since we had Beau with us and he wasn’t welcome on the beach. ( I admit to being more than a little peeved about this. Nine miles of beach and the park service can’t designate a mile or so as being dog friendly??? Harrumph! ) At any rate, it was a nice day for an unhurried family hike and the scenery was pleasing.
A visit to the island wouldn’t be complete without making a stop at Cape St. George Light. The lighthouse was first built in 1833, and rebuilt three times afterwards before it finally succumbed to beach erosion and pounding waves. In 2008 the light was moved and reconstructed. In 2009 a replica of the original lightkeeper’s house was constructed next to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is open for touring as is the lightkeeper’s residence which houses a museum. Only the grounds are pet friendly. Still, it was neat seeing Cape St. George Light decked out in all of its Christmas finery.
Don qualifies for the National Park senior pass
Friday was Don’s 62nd birthday and knowing my way to his heart, I take him out to eat. Traditionally it’s dinner out to a nice restaurant of the birthday boy’s choosing but I decided to expand on this and offered to take him out to breakfast as well.
Emsy’s Cafe, a little breakfast diner within walking distance from us, always has a packed parking lot. A good sign, right? With that and the wording on the restaurant board out front stating, Breakfast, come get you some, how could we resist.
Well I won’t go into detail but let’s just say you can’t depend on full parking lots as an indicator of good food in a small town with few breakfast joints.
We more than made up for our disappointment from breakfast with dinner though. One of the regular Snowbirds I struck up a conversation with at the laundry house turned me on to Angelo & Sons Seafood in Panacea and we’re both glad he did.
Angelo’s started out as George’s Cafe & Bar back in 1945. George, Angelo’s father, constructed the original restaurant of salvaged lumber from the closing of Camp Gordon Johnston. Strategically erected on the waters of Ochlockonee Bay in what was a “wet” county surrounded by “dry” ones, it permitted the restaurant to sell alcohol. It’s the reason George’s became such a popular watering hole.
By the 1950’s the restaurant was becoming known far and wide for its fresh seafood taken right from the very waters upon which it sat. And just how fresh is the seafood? It comes straight from the boat, Angelo’s has its own fishing fleet, to the chef, then right to your plate. Since the Big Bend region of Florida is noted for its oysters, we decided that’s what we’d have to celebrate Don’s big day along with grouper, shrimp, and rum drinks. Everything about Angelo’s was top notch from the food to the service to the atmosphere. We already have plans to return.
Holiday on the Harbor & Boat Parade of Lights
Carrabelle hosts a Christmas festival annually. This year’s event started with the Senior Center’s Jingle Jog 5k run/walk then continued downtown with food, live entertainment and street vendors. There were several children’s activities going on too, from bounce houses to crafts, and of course a visit from that jolly old man of the north. The highlight of the festival though was the boat parade from St. George Sound up the Carrabelle River. Decorated boats of all sizes participated, from an inflatable Sea Eagle to fishing boats to huge yachts. We had a primo viewing spot at the Timber Island boat ramp. Not only did we have a clear view of the boats but also for the fireworks that ensued. What an awesome and fun way to ring in the holiday season!