A windy, cloudy day in paradise

So it’s day three of our Forgotten Coast Tour. The day we do a 43-mile out and back from Apalachicola to St. George Island.

In 55 degree weather with heavy cloud cover and a brisk wind blowing down the Apalachicola River and pushing us against the sea.

The thing is, to get to St. George Island you have to cross two very long bridges. The five-mile Apalachicola Causeway put us crosswise with the wind. Not even the pelicans were flying on this cold morning.

And then an equally long bridge to the island. Fortunately, the wind was at our backs for this transit.

Oh, and here’s the mandatory St. George Lighthouse pic.

The western half of St. George is pretty much like any other developable barrier island in Florida – beach house after beach house after beach house.

But the eastern half of the island is a thing of primitive beauty. That’s because it’s a state park and thus preserved from the “let me sell you some beachfront” imperative.

Fortunately, we were well past the “shuffle” season, so no worries about stepping on stingrays. But the red flags were out because, as I mentioned, it was a blustery day and rip tides never rest.

Which means there was nothing for it but to enjoy the wild beauty of the unspoiled half of St. George. White dunes sprinkled with plants of golden hue. Trees twisted and contorted by wind and salt.

If you haven’t been to St. George Island State Park you really ought to go. It is a walk into a primitive pine-and-wetlands wilderness that is increasingly rare in Florida.

You can stand on the edges of forest, water and grasses and imagine a time before high-rises and condos dominated the Florida landscape.

What else? Oh yeah. We had a great lunch at the Blue Parrot. It is one of the all-time great Florida beach bars and eateries. And not to be missed.

Also, great T-shirts.

While we lunched the skies miraculously cleared and the sun came out, and the two bridge journey back to Apalachicola seemed less a grim ordeal and more a joy ride.

Offshore islands that had been lost in the mist just that morning now shown like jewels under the sun.

At Eastpoint we were reminded that Apalachicola Bay was once known as the oyster capital of the world. And it may be again one day. But for now oystering is under moratorium in the hope that the oyster population will rebound.

Soon Apalachicola hove into view. The waterside town that has welcomed generations of mariners, fishermen and, increasingly, cyclists with open arms.

Rumor has it that tomorrow will be colder and windier still. But never mind that. Day four of the Forgotten Coast Tour will take us to Carabelle, Sopchoppy and beyond…

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