Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1485.4 Miles - Part III A Panacea for what ails you.

Early Friday Evening we arrived on the Forgotten Coast and immediately got lost or at least confused. We had trouble locating the rental office in Panacea, because in spite of the twelve high foot sign in front of it (which we missed) it was in an area identified by the road signs as Ochlockonee Bay, not Panacea, which we had already passed as our directions said. In any event, after a scenic trip to St. Teresa and back we found it, picked up our keys and found the house. The detour even helped us locate the turn off to Alligator Point.

After unloading it was still early so we decided to check out some of the local seafood restaurants we had passed.

That turned out to be harder than we anticipated. The area was hit hard by Hurricane Dennis and many of the local restaurants either were still closed or weren't going to reopen. Harbor House, a water front restaurant, seemed to be closed. We saw a sign for Angelo and Son's but couldn't even find the restaurant.

We ended up at Posey's Oyster Bar. It is an unpretentious place with very good fried seafood. Apparently it was formerly a bar or road house judging by the stage and pool table in the corner. We had two dozen very good small oysters on the half shell for $5.00 a dozen. I had the seafood basket which had grouper, shrimp, oysters and scallops in it along with something they called crab puppies. They looked like hush puppies to me, but they were good. Dinner for the two of us with drinks was less than $40.00. A very good deal.

We finished the night unpacking and sitting on the porch listening to the surf.

Saturday morning dawned late. Followed a southern breakfast, a beach walk and discussions of what to do next. Nothing would have been a good answer, but we had to go down to the rental office and settle up. Stirred from our somnolence we drove to the rental office and gathered a lot of local intel.

Our Beach

In the house we had already discovered a glossy brochure for the Big Bend Scenic Byway.

We picked up our own personal copy at the rental office.

The descriptions were seductive, so since we had already decided to check out the surrounding area, we decided to use the Big Bend Scenic Highway Brochure as our local guide. We headed for the beginning of the Big Bend Scenic Byway, the St. Marks Wildlife refuge and lighthouse. We though we might find a nice local place to eat somewhere along the road.

The Byway begins at the intersection of US 98 and SR 59. Sr 59 leads to the coast through the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge to the historic St. Marks Lighthouse. It's worth the trip.

St Marks Light

The coastal landscape was spectacular. Oddly for a wildlife refuge they allow fishing. I think that odd. She looked apprehensively for alligators all day with no success and some disappointment, I think.

St Marks Wildlife Refuge

On the Way back we were close to the Historic town of St. Marks and according to the guide there were restaurants there on the river.

Town of St. Marks

St. Marks is at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers and is a big boating stop. The area boats great fishing and St. Marks is Close to the Gulf, but far enough inland to offer some protection. The town has a long history but unfortunately little of that remains. There are a few old buildings and a lot of marinas, cabins and trailers.

The original Posey's, now closed.

Many of the older buildings are abandoned, possibly as a result of Dennis and new building regulations.

We ended up at The Riverside Cafe, a sort of Boater/Biker Bar/Pirates Den located next to the former Posey's, which seems closed. It had a dockside dining similar to the picture of Posey's below.
The Deck at Posey's

We had a very pleasant late lunch with another dozen of the fresh local oysters. After touring around St. Marks we headed back, determined to buy some local Seafood for a home cooked dinner.

In Ochlockonee Bay we stopped a local seafood shop, we purchased a couple of pounds of hopper shrimp. They only sold them with the heads off, something we had noticed before in Florida. I love to make barbecued Shrimp similar to Pascal's Manale Restaurant. It tastes much better if you have head on shrimp, so you can get the full flavor of the shrimp. I sometimes use the heads and shells to make shrimp stock.

Hopper Shrimp

We also purchased a beautiful grouper fillet. I think grouper is one of the best eating fish there is. The firm white flesh cooks up with large tasty flakes. It's as good as Snapper and almost as good as Pompano.

Red Grouper

While we were they the were whipping up a batch of the local delicacy, smoked mullet. The whole place was like a smoke house. I didn't realize how much until the next day when I opened the sack with the remaining shrimp and got blasted with the smell of smoke. Every place in town seemed to be pushing mullet, it must be mullet season.

A late afternoon swim and walk on the beach followed by dinner of grouper, summer squash and fresh bread. We spent the evening on the screen porch looking at the cloudy sky and sipping some white wine.

Alligator Point Beach

Sunday morning I made one of our traditional brunches. A Portobello mushroom stuffed with mixture of artichokes and shrimp topped with a poached egg and Bearnaise sauce, served with steamed asparagus and cold champagne.

We hit the beach again and got in a nice refreshing swim.

After our beach time we decided to head down the Big Bend Scenic Byway West this time towards Carabelle and Eastpoint. We hoped to see some sights and possibly find a place for an early supper.

The drive west on US 98 was attractive, much of the shoreline is really a bay behind barrier islands and it all seems to be under small scale development. One place which just started is called Summercamp and is being developed by St. Joe a former paper company, that just happens to own 800,000 acres in Florida.

The towns of Carabelle and Eastpoint aren't big and overgrown, to tell the truth there isn't much there. But is it beautiful, friendly and quiet.

We decided not to go all the way to Apalachicola, been there done that, probably will do it again.

We stopped at That Place on 98 in East Point. It was a nice family style seafood restaurant.

That place on 98

We stopped and although there were cars in the parking lot they didn't seem busy. We were a little concerned they might not be open. As we approached the front door I noticed a sign "Closed Sunday". Since it was Sunday I was confused. Inside we were greeted by the Owner/Manager and he seem perplexed that we though they might not be open. He told us "Of course they were closed on Sunday, except for holiday weekends". Of course this was a holiday weekend. Obviously we were the only people puzzled by this unwritten rule.

That Place on 98

That Place on 98 was inundated by Dennis and has been almost completely rebuilt. There are pictures of the damage and the rebuilding all over the place. Reminders of Dennis were everywhere along the Forgotten Coast.

A nice drive back and sunset on the porch, and another quiet evening.

Sunset at Alligator Point

Monday we get ready for reentry.

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