Friday, February 29, 2008

Rambling

Sunday, Geri drove me over to Indian Pass, near Port St. Joseph. It is a pretty little area, not near as heavily populated at St. Joseph Peninsula or St. George Island. There is a campground worth investigating at some future time. The homes represent more of an old Florida style - not so boxy (or birdhousie looking) and just maybe one or two stories high and lots of screened in porches. They are further apart than others I have seen.

We drove along the beach looking for dolphins but did not see any. I scooped up some sand and shells for Sherry back in Dodge City KS. Across the way,
(Geri w/St Vincent in background)
is St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge and is accessible by pontoon boat. “It is a barrier island, triangular in shape, nine miles long and four miles wide at the east end and gradually forms a point at Indian Pass on the west end.”, says a brochure put out by the US Fish & Game Wildlife Service.

It was really a beautiful day, not blazing hot, nice breeze. We stopped at The China Garden in Apalachia and had a late lunch. By the time we both got home, we were ready for a nice nap - unfortunately Geri said she had a couple of chores to do though.

I have TV! Have watched only 1 night of TV while on the road and until now. I ended up buying some longer cable cord so I could reach the system hookup at another spot at the Campground. Mine apparently had been damaged when a tree fell on it sometime ago and was never fixed.

Watched some folks move 5th-wheel RVs around this morning - I know that’s real exciting - it was an excuse to spend a bunch of time outside. It has been beautiful out today, but according to NOAA, that will change tomorrow with a high chance of rain Tuesday. Laundry will get done Wed and then I head eastward for a day of seeing St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, stop at WalMart in Crawfordville to pick up some things and back home.

There is a mosquito that has spent the last several days with me and it has bitten me twice in the last 24 hours. I just cannot seem to make connection with the fly swatter.

Wednesday - it’s chilly today and suppose to get in the mid-30’s tonight. That’s cold for here. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of “nice” days I have had - either rainy, windy, cold, snowy. But, the temperature is higher than home though - for the most part. So that makes up for it. Yesterday I went over to St. George Island, in between storms, and walked on the beach for an hour feeling the energy from the wind and waves. Felt good and revived me and I slept good last night.

Watching the local channel has been interesting as there are a number of stories on the area. I have watched a segment on St. Marks Lighthouse, concern about the lower water levels in the Apalachicola River due to powers that be in Georgia diverting water to Atlanta, to a “discussion” going on about the change in the state line between Georgia and Tennessee, watching an oystering couple who have been oystering for over 20 years - he is a “tonger” and she shucks. This area provides 90% of Florida oysters and 10% harvested in the US; and, the concern about the lower water level in the Bay are of ligament concern for the ecosystem as well as for the economy of the area. I heard somewhere that there hasn’t been a decent shrimp harvest for several years. The recent hurricanes have hurt that industry tremendously. So this area has suffered substantially over the last few years.

Here is some interesting facts about oystering, from the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce:
“Apalachicola Bay encompasses the waters of St. George Sound and St. Vincent Sound, which provide an ideal environment for oysters. This 210-square-mile estuary is wide and shallow, averaging between six and nine feet deep at low tide. The estuary is dominated by the Apalachicola River, which provides nutrient rich fresh waters vital to the Bay’s natural productivity. Oysters grow rapidly in these waters reaching marketable size in less than two years. Apalachicola Bay produces some of the nation’s highest quality seafood.

“Tongers (traditionally called "oystermen") harvest the oysters today in the same manner they have for a century. From small wooden boats 20-23 feet long, using tongs that look somewhat like two rakes attached in scissor-style, the oystermen bring the oysters to the surface. The oysters are brought onboard and sorted on a culling board where they are separated by size. Oysters must be at least three inches in length to be considered legally harvestable. The oysters are then stored in burlap bags and shaded until they reach the shore. On shore, the seafood houses employ "housemen" who sort the oysters and package them for sale either in bags or boxes, or send them to be shucked, washed and sold in pints or gallons."


I have seen two Bald Eagles (or maybe 3) on this trip. One was in SW Louisiana and the other 2 (or 3) are here in the area. Geri has told me that there is a pair of Bald Eagles in the Apalachicola area. They are beautiful birds. I rarely get to see Bald Eagles on my trips and here I’ve seen several.

Friday morning: Yesterday I did make it to WalMart and St. Marks Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, but had an unsettling night after the news about a “suspicious spot” in my daughter’s MRI mammogram she had had on Monday. She is a 2-year breast cancer survivor. I sense the prognosis will be a good one, but I didn’t realize how much stress I had put my body through until yesterday. So the day wasn’t enjoyed as much as it would have been otherwise.

I drove to Crawfordville first to take care of the things I needed from there - and to just see what new things were around. From there I drove over to the Refuge. Spent some time in the Visitor Center, watching a hawk and egret out back for awhile. I then drove out to the St. Marks Lighthouse and walked around, sitting and watching the waves do their thing, watched another egret and looked to see if I could see any alligators. A professional photographer, from Georgia, was there and we both tried to find some but neither one of us had an luck. I did see another Bald Eagle and 3 deer on the way out of the Refuge.

(Enlarge photo to see what sign says. Control burn in background.)
Since I like lighthouses, so naturally had to go see this one. It is no longer in service but was automated in 1960 with an occulating white light every 4 seconds. This one was built in 1820’s at St. Mark, FL, which served as an important port for the shipment of agricultural products grown in the area. In 1842, erosion threatened the lighthouse. A new tower was built further inland with the original lantern and illuminating apparatus placed on top. The original tower was torn down.

It played various roles thru the Civil War and had to be rebuilt after the War. In 1883, the tower was extended another 10 feet, raising it to its present height of 82 feet above sea level. The area around the Lighthouse is now incorporated into the St. Mark’s National Wildlife’s 68,000 acres. The Wildlife serves as a wintering habitat for migratory birds.

After getting home, I went over to Geri’s for supper and met Chuck, a former Casita owner and former Californian who is moving to Eastpoint. He recently purchased a fiberglass Oliver brand trailer and will be going up to Tennessee in a few days to bring it back here.

Today, I am just kicking back, have a new book to read, and then will go over with Chuck and Geri to St. George Island this evening to view the art work that is part of the auction Saturday on St. George. Tomorrow is their big Chili Cookoff so will probably brave the crowds and be a part of it. Temperatures are suppose to be in the mid to upper 70’s so that will be nice.

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