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Saturday, July 30, 2011

۩ St. George Lighthouse ~ Florida ۩

As you know we are staying on St. George Island at the state park here. One of the main tourist spots is the lighthouse on the island but it has had a very sad lifetime so I wanted to share the history of the St. George Lighthouse.

The Cape St. George Lighthouse stood at the southern-most tip of “Little” St. George Island in the Gulf of Mexico. The island is 8 miles offshore of Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle. Built in 1852, this 153-year-old veteran of hurricanes, wars, and erosion collapsed on October 21, 2005.

Its light was turned off during the Civil War so not to aid Yankee ships and it was not until August 1, 1865 that lighthouse keeper James Reilly relit the beacon. The lens suffered some damage during the war, but was replaced in 1888. In 1949, the Coast Guard installed an automated light, and by the 1950s lighthouse keepers were no longer needed, although the keeper’s house and oilhouse remained on the island.
Beginning in 1992, storms and natural erosion had once again placed the lighthouse in peril. 1992's Hurricane Andrew pulled a major part of the beach area surrounding the Cape St. George Lighthouse back into the Gulf. The Coast Guard, realizing that the lighthouse might be lost, deactivated the light in 1994.

Before nature could build the beach sand back up around the lighthouse, Hurricane Opal struck in 1995. The resulting powerful tidal surge swept around the lighthouse, forcing it to move from its foundation. As the lighthouse settled into the sand, the iron circular staircase inside was torn from the walls, and the tower developed its lean. The oilhouse and the keeper's house were also severely damaged by Hurricane Opal. Photos of the Cape St. George Lighthouse, listing drunkenly at over 7°, became the unofficial graphic of the island. The entry door was boarded over, and “Danger!” signs were placed on the lighthouse. For a long time, this historical Florida Lighthouse seemed doomed.
Around 1995, Apalachicola Times editor John Lee began the "Save The Light" campaign. Contractor Bill Grimes, using a backhoe, slowly excavated sand from around the base of the lighthouse on one side. After many days, the lighthouse settled into a vertical position. With the lighthouse level, he then drilled through the four-foot thick concrete walls at the base, inserting fiberglass reinforcing bars. A corrugated ring was placed around the base, and filled with concrete, forming an island around the base. But storms and erosion once again surrounded the Cape St. George Lighthouse with the Gulf of Mexico's swirling water. By Spring 2005 the lighthouse sat 20 feet out into the water, completely engulfed and the concrete platform Mr. Grimes poured had begun to see the effects of the wave action. On October 21, 2005 the lighthouse finally collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Dennis struck the Florida Panhandle on July 10, 2005 as a Category 3 hurricane. As the storm was compact and fast-moving, damage was less than had been predicted. Cape St. George Lighthouse, located roughly 100 miles from where Dennis made landfall, survived the storm intact. 2005 was a record year for hurricanes, but as no other hurricanes came close to the Cape St. George Lighthouse, it seemed the tower would survive another hurricane season. However, on October 21, years of stress on the leaning tower apparently became too much, as the lighthouse toppled into the gulf at 11:45 a.m. This dramatic photograph, taken the following morning by Debbie Hooper, shows the partially submerged tower.

The St. George Lighthouse Association, established in 2004 to "rescue the light", worked with the State of Florida DEP to salvage the pieces of the fallen light. The lighthouse was rebuilt at the center of St. George Island and opened to the public in December of 2008.

We had a great time exploring St. George Island and all the surrounding areas. I highly recommend you to come to this wonderful part of the Florida Panhandle and enjoy the beautiful beaches, gorgeous sunsets/sunrises and incredible food!

Have Fun, Travel Safe & Stay Healthy!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

۞ The World’s Smallest Police Station ۞

Carrabelle is a small fishing village located on the eastern side of the panhandle.

Carrabelle has one claim to fame ~ it's home to the world's smallest police station. Sure, it may look like a phone booth, and the truth is, there's not even a phone in it anymore. But, no other town can claim to have had its police force operating out of a 4-square-foot office.

Up until 1963, Carrabelle's police officers would answer calls, using a call box that was hanging on the side of a downtown building. It wasn't a very good system, because the officers would get wet when using the phone during bad weather, and at other times, civilians would use the phone to make long-distance calls, on the city's dime. When the phone company replaced a phone booth in town, the phone company gave the old one to the police, and moved the call box into the phone booth. Their biggest problem was people sneaking in and using the phone until they removed the dial so they couldn't call out It also happens to be right down the street from the restaurant we had read about and wanted to go to.

"The Fisherman's Wife"

We had read about this place, so decided to give it a try after a long day of sightseeing. We had read that the place was actually one of those food trailers, but it is permanently parked on a lot on the water across from the Worlds Smallest Police Station. . Well the business had grown so popular and busy that they have opened a restaurant across the street and down the road from where they were. It use to be a house at one time and they have even attached the Big Red Food Trailer to the building and still cook in it. The food is simply amazing. We had the best fried fish we have ever eaten -- and we've eaten a lot of it! The portions were huge and it came with cole slaw, cheese grits, french fries and hush puppies. We also ordered a side of Fried green tomatoes which was served with a yummy buttermilk ranch sauce. The owners really are the wives of fishermen and they are a hoot! They'll cook your food then come out and chat with you. If you're looking for excellent food and some local color - this is your place. Great food, huge portions, and good conversation ~ what more could you ask for!

Crooked River Lighthouse

For 116 years the Crooked River Lighthouse has stood as a beacon, guiding timber ships as well as local fishermen and oystermen through the treacherous pass between Dog and St. George Islands, along Florida's Panhandle. Built in 1895, this iron and steel structure replaced the lighthouse on Dog Island, which was destroyed by hurricane in 1873.

In 1995, the Crooked River Lighthouse was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard which four years later, despite its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, had plans to surplus the lighthouse and auction it off to the highest bidder. It was at this time that the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association (CLA) was formed by a dedicated group of local citizens with the goal of preserving, restoring, and opening the lighthouse to the public.

It was another fantastic day of exploring the area we are in right now!

Have Fun, Travel Safe & Stay Healthy!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

㊅ What's on Cape San Blas???? ㊅

Welcome to my newest follower Rebecca Bany @ Memories of Me & Mine Go visit her and read about her day to day adventures.

Cape San Blas is a narrow spit/finger of sand dunes, palm trees and sea oats extending into the Gulf of Mexico just west of Apalachicola, Florida. Less than a mile wide at its widest point, and more than 15 miles in length, the Cape separates the waters of St. Joseph Bay from the Gulf. Inhabited primarily by wildlife for hundreds of years, this pristine area became the home of St. Joseph State Park in 1967.

Washed by the crystal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the sand on Cape San Blas beaches is some of the whitest in the world, and has a much finer texture than the coarse sand found on the Atlantic seaboard. Its beaches have been voted in the top 10 beaches. In fact, in 2002 Dr. Steve Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach), author of America's Best Beaches, awarded Cape San Blas as the best beach in the entire USA.

Incredibly beautiful in its own right, the bay side coastline is much different than its Gulf side counterpart. Pine trees and salt marshes, calm, shallow waters with swaying turtle grass, small islands, fishing docks, kayaks and fishing boats, all blend to create an atmosphere of total relaxation. In late summer, visitors snorkel the shallow waters of the bay in search of the succulent bay scallop.

Also on Cape San Blas is a lighthouse... Ralph & I both love to visit many things on our travels and Lighthouses is one of them. Here is a little history on the Cape San Blas Lighthouse: In 1847 Congress appropriated $8,000 for a lighthouse. Two years later a conical brick tower was completed. The signal from the 85-foot high structure could be seen for 10 miles offshore. During a storm in 1851, this structure was destroyed.

Construction of the new lighthouse tower was not without its problems. The ship bringing the prefabricated tower to the Cape sank. Fortunately, the water was so shallow that the structure was salvaged. Finally, by June 1885, the 96-foot high, iron skeleton lighthouse was placed in service. Around this time, two wood-frame dwellings for the keepers were constructed. The two keepers' quarters are identical. They are two-story, wood framed cottages on low concrete pier foundations, each with two brick chimneys. The interior of each residence contains two main rooms on each floor. To avert another disaster, in 1919 the Bureau of Lighthouses moved the Cape San Blas lighthouse inland and the keepers' quarters to their present location.

On our drive back to Tassie I saw this cute little store on the side of the road. I fell in love with their beach chairs but alas I have no room in Tassie for them...LOL

Hunger struck us on our way home so just a short ways further we stopped at the Seafood Cafe and had dinner... I had the best Haddock, lightly battered and fried up just right (here my arteries clogging) and Ralph enjoyed a juicy half pound burger.

The day came to a close with another fabulous sunset...
Hope you enjoyed our day as much as we did.

Have Fun, Travel Safe & Stay Healthy!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

㊅ A Day Visiting Apalachicola, Florida ㊅

Apalachicola or “Apalach“, as it is known by locals, is far from a typical tourist town. Established in 1831, it was once the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico.

This unique city is noted for having some of the finest oysters, its bay oysters having a pure, mild, briny flavor that has been recognized by top chefs throughout the country.

Apalachicola harvests over 90% of the oysters sold in Florida and 10% of the nationwide supply. Smaller open bay boats, moored or trailered each day, tong for oysters in the many shallow areas of Apalachicola Bay

Apalachicola’s vibrant history and rich maritime culture can still be seen on its working waterfront. Fishing vessels displaying proud patinas of years of service line the waterfront and regularly net fresh local shrimp and fish.

Wide, tree lined streets are still graced by picturesque homes from the nineteenth and twentieth century that show the wealth and craftsmanship of its early days. Apalachicola has over 900 historic homes and buildings listed in its extensive National Register District. We did the walking tour that you can do to see a lot of the historic buildings & homes.

After so much sightseeing we were very hungry so we went to Papa Joe's Restaurant on the Apalachicola River. We sat next to the window so we could watch the boats go buy. A lot of people pull their boat right up to the restaurant so they can come in and dine.

On the way back to the campground we pulled over and saw about 20 porpoise in a feeding frenzy... I couldn't even catch them all with the camera but here is the disturbed waters when they fed and the other picture is some swimming around to get fish.

Have Fun, Travel Safe & Stay Healthy!!!


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