What’s Happening in Apalachicola, FL

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We visited this small town on the Gulf coast of Florida for a nephew’s wedding.  My knowledge of the area was mostly that we had a college friend who worked in a medical clinic nearby for a couple of years and was bored given the absence of things to do in a more urban environment.  And, of course, being from the Atlanta area, we frequently read about the consumption of water from and the pollution to the Chattahoochee River, which winds its way down the GA and AL border to this small town in Florida.

It’s a fairly lengthy trek from the Big City to the Little Town, population ~ 2,231 (census: 2010).   The town was once the third largest point on the Gulf of Mexico, and has progressed through a variety of major industries including cypress harvesting, cotton, and when depletion and economics changed all that, to seafood.  Today, Apalachicola accounts for 90% of domestic oyster production (which adds up to only 10% of U.S. consumption), which is why the quality of the water flow matters from the Chattahoochee.  We even saw a scientifically occupied person taking sediment samples to monitor that very thing.

The town doesn’t look like this, but I suppose this building is a sign of how far the Apalachicola has come in updating a downtown area full of restaurants, shops, art galleries, etc.  Likewise, many of the historic homes have come into the caring hands of people with disposable income.

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Which is good, because the average household income is less than $45,000/yr.  So.  What does it have to offer? (aside from photography opportunities...)

Well, Oyster House Brewing Company.  That was a shock.  Yep, downtown.  It’s not often open to the public, but it’s there.  Imagine one brewery per 2,200 people as a national ratio.  Apocalyptic?  The beer was only satisfactory, but still shocking nonetheless.

We tried two restaurants which were not only satisfactory but excellent.  Those would be Hole in the Wall Seafood, which had a literal hole in the wall, and the Owl Cafe, which absolutely nailed a wedding reception, including sociable space, food, and beverage service. 

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Two stories about, essentially, my one day in town:

Story #1. 

My son had to get his haircut before the wedding, as he was a groomsman.  Long story short, the only place that showed up on Yelp was the Mane Salon (and Day Spa).  The series of conversations went like this:

I call. “Give me your number. I’ll call you back when I get done with this nail appointment.”

I wait an hour.  Pictures have to be taken in 4 hours.  We stop by.  She’s doing nails.  “Come back in about an hour.”

We come back in about an hour.  “Almost done with this haircut.”  We watch football, which the ladies gathered knew something about, and listen to ladies having fun talking. 

Those lady include the one lady working, who presumably owns the place, a friend who’s keeping her company probably for the afternoon, and the lady who was getting her hair cut (and hung around to let it dry and whatever). 

The stylist asks my son how he wants his hair cut.  I show her a picture on my phone.  She looks back and forth, in exaggerated looks of a discerning eye, and says, “That is you, isn’t it?  You’re a good looking boy.”  Then I have to show thIMG_4839e pictures to the other two ladies, and they agree with the picture, if not the person before them.  The haircut begins with a “I’ve never cut a man’s hair before...”, in jest, and after the floor is littered with hair, she turns my son toward her friend, who says, “When you came in here, you looked pooooooor.  Now you look like you got money.”  

It was almost on of those “Pay for the comedy;  the haircut is free” kind of places.  Ah, the small town South.

Story #2:

I drop my son off at 4:00.  I then refill the gas tank and scrape away the remains of many a bug that had been attracted to the headlights the night before.  I decide that, since there is time, I may as well go find the rumored marina where the shrimp boats dock.  But first, I’m reminded of the Gorrie Museum that my wife and I had passed by.  So I do that, and soak in all that there is to soak (forthcoming post), then I’m off to find the marina.

And I find the marina, and I take a suitable number of obligatory “Shrimp Boats at Dock” photos.  This one will do:

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Scenic, eh?

Then I’m off to the condo to pick up my wife.  It’s now 4:45.  (Time lapse if you missed it:  45 minutes).  It’s amazing what you can get done in a town with no traffic lights.

Well, about that condo.  The first floor has some shops in it, and the second floor was converted to living space.  I didn’t take any pictures within, but it’s quite well done, both in the renovation and the owner’s taste in styling.  The building is historic and served the maritime businesses for stock and repairs and such for years.

Here’s the deck, at least.

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And that deck overlooks:

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Yeah, well, normally there’s a couple of shrimp or oyster boats docked there, too. 

We enjoyed it more than others that came for the wedding, I think, and I’d like to return once more just for the photography exercise, the lack of traffic, the food, and some really nice locals.

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