Saturday, March 7, 2015

Florida's Forgotten Coast

Carrabelle Beach
Florida seems to be loaded with "coasts".  There's the First Coast near Jacksonville, the Space Coast near Titusville,  the Treasure Coast near Stuart, The Sun Coast near Fort Myers, the Gold Coast near Miami, and the Emerald Coast (aka the "Redneck Riviera") near Panama City and Pensacola.  The one I like the most is The Forgotten Coast, which is on the Gulf Coast and goes from St. Marks to Port St. Joe.  Its a very different part of Florida.

The Forgotten Coast is a quiet and undeveloped coastal area in the Florida panhandle.  Its not a place that gets a lot of attention or many visitors, which is probably how it got its name.  You won't see high rise condos, traffic, or strip malls.  Instead, its very rural with lonely stretches of road and sleepy little towns where time seems to stand still.  Some call it "Old Florida".  Its also has some of the country's best beaches.


Upon ending of our winter stay in St. Augustine, The Forgotten Coast was our first destination on our westward trek to the southwest.  It would have been easy to blast west in I-10 and get to Pensacola or Mobile, but the Forgotten Coast is one of those "blue highway" routes that is too great to bypass.

We picked up Florida Route 98 near St. Marks.  Route 98 is part of Florida's Big Bend Scenic Byway.  Its a lonely road with sleepy little towns like Medart, Sopchoppy, and Lenark Village. Our first stop was just near Carrabelle.  I wanted to get a big drive day out of the way so we could take the next day very slow and enjoy the beach views and small towns along The Forgotten Coast.

Water front sites at Ho-Hum RV Park
We spent the first night at the Ho-Hum RV Park.  It's a few miles east of Carrabelle.  Its a small park that is aptly named.  Nothing fancy. Just a gravel parking log with full hook ups.  But the price is right at $30 per night and most sites are right on the water or have a water view.  Our weather was still cool with misting overcast skies and temps in the mid 50's.  Not beach weather but it sure beats the snow that everyone else seems to be getting.

J. Dawg's rig at Ho-Hum RV Park

On our next day we started meandering west on Route 98.  This is another road that I first found and experienced on a bike trip.  I biked from Apalachicola to Monticello on this route.  Its a lovely road that has light traffic and great water views.  Between Apalachicola and Carrabelle it hugs the shoreline for about 15 miles.  Here's a dashcam video of driving on Route 98.


There's some neat stuff do see and do along this section of Route 98.  The small town of Carrabelle is a nice small fishing and boating town.  There are a couple of museums in Carrabelle.  One is the WWII Camp Gordon Johnson Museum.  Just offshore from Carrabelle, several military units trained on Dog Island for the D-Day amphibious landing.  The museum houses artifacts, photos, and memorabilia of the soldiers who trained in the area during WWII.  Carrabelle Beach is a lovely white sand beach with a nice parking and picnic area.  St. Georges Island is part way between Carrabelle and Apalachicola and home to St. Georges Island State Park, which has a campground and miles of beautiful beaches.
 

Apalachicola is one of my favorite Florida small towns.  With a population of just about 2,300 people, it’s a sleepy little place where not much appears to have happened for the past 60 years.   But that’s what gives it its charm. The houses are mostly historic Florida cottages with large porches and big canopy moss covered live oaks in the yards.  I can just image people sitting on those porches sipping mint juleps on a hot afternoon.  Here’s some pictures I took while in Apalachicola.

J. Dawg parked by the shrimp boats
Southern Oysters - lightly cooked with collards, bacon, and parma cheese

Beautiful live oak in front of the Episcopal Church

Apalachicola "mulch"


After, our day on Route 98 and in Apalachicola, we headed for our next destination 30 miles down the road to the far end of The Forgotten Coast - to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

2 comments:

  1. Pictures of food really? I wanted the quaint cottages with the moss covered trees.

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    1. Well, Apalachicola is famous for its oysters. 80% of all oysters eaten in FL come from Apalachicola Bay! And the ones it the picture were delicious. I see that picture and it brings back the experience. It was a foggy day while we were there, otherwise I would have posted more pics of the houses.

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