Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Apalach daytrip never disappoints

APALACHICOLA — Driving into Apalach, we were greeted by a bald eagle that floated on still wings above the roadway, finally canting to one side and disappearing behind the pines. We’d been watching for him, as we had seen him in the same stretch of road on our last day trip here.

It’s nice not to be disappointed, and Apalach rarely does.

My daughter’s boyfriend had never been to the Franklin County town, so we decided to make a day of it last weekend. I confess to some worry that he wouldn’t enjoy walking through the downtown area and browsing the shops as much as we do, but our first stop settled that: At Apalachicola Sponge Co. & Smokehouse Antiques, he found a corner dedicated to vintage electric guitars and tried one out while the ladies picked out handmade soaps.

We visited shops including Market Street Antiques, Sirens, the Grady Market, the outdoor menagerie of Peddler’s Alley, and the Tin Shed, where we posed for photos with life-size pirates and pirate wenches. We also got a photo with the life-size Elvis on Commerce Street.

We saw a man building a wooden boat outside the Maritime Museum, just down from the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and Art, where a 52-foot dugout canoe dominates the open gallery space.

I spoke with Port St. Joe author Linda Heavner Gerald in the back of Downtown Books and Purl, where she was selling and signing copies of her novels, including “Rosemary Beach.” (Here's a featurearticle about her.)

We stopped in to enjoy the scent and bare brick interior at Apalachicola Chocolate Co., and watched the chocolatiers at work. Then we walked through the arch connecting the chop to the gallery of Robert Lindsley Studio, where the artist’s canine mascot happily welcomes visitors.

Having roamed a few blocks under the springtime sun, we took a break in the Old Time Soda Fountain, where we had waffle cones filled with Blue Bell ice cream. Somehow it was a further decompression on a day of relaxation.

We circled through the dock, watching the sun on the water and absorbing the scene of boats rusting and decaying, some actually having sunk or still hanging among the trees after a long-ago storm.

At Lafayette Park, my daughter played on the swing set. I blew apart a dandelion while taking photos. We walked down the slope of the boardwalk to the pier, where a young man worked a cast net, meticulously throwing and retrieving, gathering and throwing again. We looked down on the brown bay water, saw how the afternoon sun filtered through and moved among the bottom grasses, and spotted a large snapping turtle.

And finally, on the drive home, I listened to the soft breathing sounds of a car full of sleeping passengers. The eagle didn’t appear to see us off, but that’s all right. We were not disappointed.

Peace .

If You Go:
  • The annual Apalachicola Art Walk is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, with a wine tasting from 3 to 5 p.m., and the songwriter festival at The Dixie Theatre at 8 p.m.

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