Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hiking the River Gorge Trail at Raccoon Mountain

Fall is such a lovely time to be outdoors, and yesterday was the perfect day for a hike.
I had invited my ESL students to join us, and four came with their families. Our short easy hike on the River Gorge Trail was rewarded with a fabulous picnic lunch complete with soup and dessert! These people certainly know  how to pack a picnic and eat well.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cruising the gulf coast of Florida: Dog Island to Apalachicola, Florida

Fall is here. It's peak foliage season up in New England this weekend. Down in Southeastern Tennessee, it's been raining a lot. The cold spell lasted for several days, barely long enough for the leaves to change color. I'm not complaining. By Halloween, it'll be plenty cold. Then we'll have a decent foliage, and before we know it, the holidays will be upon us. For right now, we're enjoying the cool mornings and evenings, perfect for kayaking on the river.

I'm so excited to visit our boater friends Doug and Shelby in Carrabelle, Florida next weekend (an 8 hrs drive by car). We have fond memories of the area. We had cruised from Tarpon Springs to Dog Island (near Carrabelle) in 2006. While we didn't stop in Carrabelle, we had enjoyed exploring the laid-back town of Apalachicola, where seafood, especially oysters, are to die for. Just thinking about them is making my mouth water ...Almost all the Florida oysters are harvested in Apalachicola Bay. I may in for a rude awakening, as I just read that the oyster harvests have dropped sharply since 2010 and there is talk about shutting down the fishery.

Shrimp boat on the waterfront

The Gibson Inn
A cute store front

Dixie Theatre

Here is our trip's log:
Tied up at Scipio Creek Marina, Appalachicola, May 22, 2006
We were on a mission for oysters, and Apalachicola is the place. A short two hours run took us to Scipio Creek Marina, where we stopped to provision, do laundry and wash down the salty boat. We chose this small town for its old Florida feel, and its famous restaurant - Papa Joe's. We picked up the local paper and a column caught our eye - "If you ain't been to Papa Joe's, you ain't been to Apalach." How about that for raising one's expectations? 

 Luckily, we were not disappointed. The oysters were plump, succulent and on the salty side (as opposed to New England's which is sweet); even better, it was cheap at $5.95 a dozen. We had another 1/2 dozen baked with crabmeat, sherry and Monterey Jack cheese ($6.95). However, we think fresh oysters are best eaten raw. The captain ordered the seafood platter - fried shrimp, oyster, grouper, clam strips, crabcake and hush puppies - ($21.95). They were absolutely fabulous. The downtown has one blinking light, some nice shops, several restaurants, and century-old homes that have been restored to their former glory, but the waterfront needs work. Although most guidebooks rave about this place, we thought for a small town, people could've been friendlier.

It's been eight years since we last visited. Is it more developed now? I can't wait to find out.

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