Sunday, July 12, 2009

Apalachicola: Day 1

Saturday, July 11

We arrived at around 7:30 last evening at the Raney Guest Cottage, where we are staying here in Apalachicola. It is a charming two bedroom house that we are sharing with our friends Steve and Debi Katzman. It is just a block from the downtown area where all the shops and restaurants are located, and two blocks from the river.

[Unfortunately, there is no internet here in the cottage, so my entries here will probably be posted a day late.]

We attempted to have dinner at The Seafood Grill, but all we got there was attitude in lieu of a table and food. We finally gave up and went a block away to That Place in Appalach, which was very good. I had by first taste of Sweetwater Blue beer, from a microbrewery in Atlanta, and enjoyed it very much. Then I enjoyed a second bottle very much.

(Last year Fred, Ray, Mike and I overnighted here during the Tour de Fred. We ate at Up the Creek Raw Bar, a few blocks from here. Fred and Ray enjoyed dozens of fresh-off-the- boat oysters there, but we did not explore the town to any significant degree. It still made an impression, though, so I suggested we do a few days of tandem touring here this year.)

As usual, I had trouble getting to sleep last night, so I finally took an antihistamine, which did the trick and then some. Kathy had to pull me out of bed around 7am. She had the opposite problem, falling asleep easily, but waking early. By the time I started moving around, she had already prepared coffee and oatmeal. I finally shook out the mental fog after about 20 minutes and swallowing a large cup of coffee.

We had hoped to be riding by 8, but actually rolled at around 8:30, which wasn’t too bad, considering we had to put the front sections back on the tandems, reconnect the cables, pump tires, etc. (Both tandems have S&S couplers to break down the frames for travel. By removing the front section of each bike we are able to put both tandems, plus four people and all our luggage in the back of the van. It works really well.)  

Our destination for the day was St. George Island, about 11 miles from Apalachicola. Of the 11 miles, approximately 9 are on long bridges! We had a little headwind on the way out, so we were not going very fast. The island has one main road that runs the length of the public part of the island. There is a nice bike path that runs right alongside it, except within the state park on the eastern end. We rode the path as far as we could to the west, about three miles, then doubled back and went all the way to east, and into the park. The park is all sand dunes, sea oats, and bird sactuary. A good deal of it is marked as nesting area, with signs warning people to stay out. It was really very nice. A slight overcast and the breeze, which continued to freshen, kept it quite comfortable.


View from one of the bridges between Apalachicola and St George Island.


Steve and Debi riding along the dunes in the St George State Park.

Once we turned around, the wind was behind us, so we suddenly found ourselves going 19 or 20 mph with little or no effort. In no time we were back at the main intersection with the road back across the bridges. We stopped for lunch at Harry A’s on St. George. The food was good, and there was a musician playing excellent light jazz arrangements of familiar tunes while we enjoyed our meal. There were only a few occupied tables, so we made a point of clapping. It seemed like he was playing mostly for his own enjoyment, though, and would have played just as well if there were no people there at all.


A few of the many beach houses on the Gulf side of St. George Island. Our tax dollars subsidize the insurance on these homes that are regularly destoyed by hurricanes.


St George Lighthouse


Harry A’s features a very large menu.

We were blown back into Apalachicola in no time. After getting cleaned up and resting a little bit we headed into town to do some more exploring. Actually the exploring was done primarily by Kathy and Debi. Steve and I located a shady spot, poached some wi-fi bandwidth to check our email, then sipped a couple of beers and talked for a while before wandering into a book store, where we located our women-folk. Kathy presented me with a carved wood figurine in memory of the successful Pirate Tour.


Complete with peg-leg and hand-hook

Our friends Linda and Neil Samuels and Debbi and Harris Samuels (who put us up the second night of the Tour de Seth/Pirate Tour) decided to join us for a few days of this trip and showed up this afternoon. They are staying next door at the House of Tartts. We all had dinner together tonight at Veranda’s. Another wonderful meal. Very creative menu, and our server, Rick, did a terrific job. I tried another microbrew, this one called Orange Blossom Pilsner, which was very bland. I followed up with Abita Turbodog from Louisiana, one of my favorites – a very tasty dark beer that I discovered last year on the Tour de Fred.  

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