Monday, April 15, 2013

Saying goodbye to the Forgotten Coast

April 13-14, 2013
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Sadly, we are only staying in most destinations a few days now before moving on. To make the most of our last day in the Forgotten Coast, we decided to head back to the charming town of Apalachicola as well as check out an area called Indian Pass near Port St. Joe. In Apalachicola, we decided to take a self-guided walking tour of the old homes and notable buildings in town. I took way more photos than I want to share, but I will give you a little flavor what these historic neighborhoods looked like on a beautiful spring day (78 and sunny).

We also just had to check out what may have been the most intriguing liquor store I had ever been in:  Honey Hole Liquors and Antiques. Aside from the building itself being full of character, everything in the store was artistically arranged with all the prices for every bottle hand-painted on oyster shells. Unfortunately, the prices reflected the character of the place so we did not leave any money there.

Just a couple more photos of interesting things we saw in Apalachicola: oyster shells used as mulch and a fun mural painted on the doors of an art store downtown.  (With thanks to Erin of Two to Travel’s Phaetons Journeys for my new obsession with taking photos of murals.)

After enjoying our walk around the town, we knew we wanted to have another chance to eat more of the local oysters. As luck would have it, the night before I learned about an iconic place to eat oysters in the area: Indian Pass Raw Bar—about a thirty minute drive from Apalachicola. The Indian Pass Raw Bar began as a country store in 1903, so this little hole in the wall place has been serving food for 100 years. Make no mistake: this is a no-frills place. The beer is self-serve from the tap or the cooler and you just tell the person at the cash register how many you had along with what you ordered. Gotta love it.

The seafood menu is simple: shrimp, crab. gumbo, or oysters—raw, steamed, or baked. The baked oysters only come one way: with garlic, butter, and parmesan cheese on a black roasting pan and boy were they good. We could easily have eaten another dozen but instead tried their gumbo which was quite authentic even though it was served in a black plastic bowl. I asked one of the chefs behind the bar if this place had been featured on the Food Network and indeed it has, as well as the Travel Channel as well as several mentions in the New York Times travel sections.

After such a great day, we had another special occasion to look forward to: breakfast at Two Al's at the Beach Cafe with Sherry and David of In the Direction of our Dreams fame. After almost a year of connecting via blog entries, we finally realized we had a one day overlap in the same area so we made a plan to get together for breakfast. We connected instantly and, after almost two hours of lively conversation, we  needed to say goodbye as a big storm was brewing and it was departure day for us. I have enjoyed reading Sherry’s blog, following both their challenges with David’s health and their inspiring travel adventures (mucking through the Everglades swamps!), but I just have to say that meeting them in person is way better. I never knew when I started to follow others' blogs that such lovely friendships lay in the waiting. I honestly don't think I could continue to pursue this lifestyle if we did not continue to meet such special people along the way. Although I agree with a comment on my last post from Pam of  Oh, the Places They Go!: "Ice cream, chocolate, and seafood. . .  what else is there!!"  Pretty places, good weather, and gastronomic delights only go so far. Life is ultimately about the relationships we make and we feel quite blessed in that regard.

After breakfast, we returned to the coach to pack up for what should have been only a three-hour drive to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach.  By the time we left Carrabelle, the skies were darkening and alerts for tornado watches were posted for most of the Florida Panhandle. We traveled as far as we could until the skies opened up and buckets of rain kept us from traveling safely. At that point, we pulled into a Walmart in Panama City Beach, less than an hour from our destination.  The lovely part about being self-contained is we put on the teapot, made some chicken salad sandwiches, and watched the Masters, happy to be safe and sound inside.

Fortunately, after about an hour and a half of parking lot bliss, the rain started to let up and we were able to get back on the road. By the time we arrived at Topsail, the tornado warnings had expired and the skies were starting to clear.  The best part is that the forecast for the next three days at this incredible sugar sand beach is for mostly sunny skies with temps in the high 70s.  Yay!


  1. Thanks for the shout out! Murals can be addictive so watch out! I'll put this on my list to photograph when we someday make it to the area. Sorry you had to travel in such bad weather. We had a doozy of a wet one at Buccaneer on Sunday ... luckily with little in the way of wind, but lots of thunder and lightning. Three storms in two weeks ... too many. I'm not an oyster person, but I showed Mui the picture and he's ready to go there now ... good thing I didn't show him the photo of the chocolate turtles, too ;-)))

  2. I love touring old historic homes. These look like beauties.

  3. Great trip to Apalachicola. Hope I can tear myself away from the beach and get some of those oysters. mmmm they look so good. Pretty clear from the smiles on our faces what fun it was spending time witj you two. Looking forward to hearing about Topsail.

  4. What a nice post! We love to eat at Indian Pass.

    Can't wait to hear about Topsail. We have never stayed there, but have heard such great things about it. Enjoy those beautiful beaches!

  5. What a beautiful little town! Lovely houses. Those oysters look SO good! I really miss fresh seafood. But it is a small sacrifice for my beautiful rocks.

    We stayed down the road from Topsail closer to town. We were at Geranimo RV Park about 2 block from the beach. We rode our bikes over to Topsail to look around and check out the beach. Very nice park!

    Glad you arrived safely. That is one of the many nice parts of being self contained when you need to stop for weather.

    I'm looking forward to pictures of the area. We spent the last two Aprils there.


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