We had our morning coffee while watching this scene in front of the rig. Two of the three host couples here at HoHum have these really slick fishing boats and were coming in from early morning fishing, bringing in a nice catch of sea trout.
By mid day we were on our way for an adventure on St. George Island. The 25 mile trek from Hohum was mostly along beautiful shoreline and included the 4 mile long St. George Bridge.
The St. George Lighthouse is directly in front of you and you reach the island. This is the recently rebuilt version of the structure which actually toppled in 2005. Local volunteer organizations are doing an outstanding job of restoring this part of local history, using as many of the original materials as possible and the original plans for the lighthouse found in the National Archives in Washington, DC.
They are now doing a careful reconstruction of the Keeper’s House. This should give visitor’s a real sense of what the lighthouse keeper’s life was like 100 years ago. I was really impressed by this community project. They’ve also done a very good job of documenting their progress online at the St. George Light Organization website.
We drove toward the west part of the island which is mostly private residences but with places for public access to the beach every so often. This is where we were able to let the dogs out of for a stroll on the beach.
For those with beach loving dogs, be aware that an increasing number of beaches DO NOT allow pets. AND, the State Park on St. George Island DOES NOT allow dogs on the beach. However, the St. George community prides itself on being one of the few remaining ‘dog friendly’ beach towns and leashed dogs are allowed on the public beaches outside the state park.
I guess Ditka decided this would be a great beach for sand-castle building since he went to work digging in the sand. Actually he was bound and determine to catch some of those pesky little creatures that he kept smelling in the sand.
The pups have so much fun on the beach, it frustrates me that there are people who allow their dogs to do their business on the beach, or allow them to run off-leash, and so cause the increase in restrictions we have seen.
While the dogs were having their fun, Ken and I got our best view and best shot of the porpoises that seem to be so populous along this coast. There were probably about 20 in this large pod. This is one of my new favorite pictures!! These gentle creatures appeared so graceful, playful and carefree.
Next we decided to do lunch as the Blue Parrot, a recommendation from one of the hosts back at HoHum.
We sat on the porch overlooking the Gulf.
I tried the local specialty, oysters, which I’ve never had fried before. Great!
When we were nearly finished eating, the owner stopped by our table and asked if we were from Illinois. When we said yes, he said he noticed the dogs napping in the back of the jeep, and just wanted to be sure we knew that they were actually welcome at the restaurant so long as we stayed in the lower level down by the beach tiki bar and umbrella tables. Darn, wish we would have known later. This is really good to know though for people who are coming to the island for the day, since most, like us, don’t like to leave the dogs in vehicles. While we leave the jeep open so they have shade and plenty of air, we love the idea of a restaurant where they can set at our feet while we eat. Again, the owner mentioned that here at St. George they pride themselves on being pet-friendly.
As usual, Sox and Ditka, attracted attention and we had a conversation outside the restaurant with folks who were staying at the state park and had made the 8 mile bicycle ride in from the campground to the town. They confirmed that the island was set up to be very bicycle friendly which is also something we will keep in mind the next time we come back.
We drove to the state park and paid the $5 entrance fee. This is a beautiful, untouched area of sand dunes and beaches.
We took the dogs on a short walk down one of the nature trails and drove through the campground to check it out. These are electric/water sites. While there were several motorhomes in the campground, you would need to be careful on what you are assigned since some of the sites are small. Since this has no sewer and is up to a mile walk/ride to actually get to the beach and dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, we decided we are happy we chose HoHum over the state park with our great view over the Gulf, community atmosphere and full hookups.
As we left St. George, we drove by several vendors with their rigs selling their fresh caught seafood. We already had a steak laid out for dinner so we passed them by but this is another part of the island life that we’ll likely take part of in another visit.
It’s become obvious that this Forgotten Coast, has become one of our new favorite parts of this great USA and so as we explore we are already coming up with ideas on what we will do ‘next time’.
One final note, there are SO MANY good local restaurants down here and local seafood specialties that there was no way we could try out all the recommendations. Next time, we’ll need to check out the Harry A’s just as you get off the bridge in St. George and also ‘The Hut’ in Eastport where you get on the bridge from the mainland. Local specialties are basically anything to do with oysters and shrimp which are the big catches in this area. I also understand that Harry A’s serves some Conch Fritters that rival the vendors in Key West!
While I haven’t gained back any of the weight I lost before this trip, I am certainly not continuing to lose and wonder how folks live this lifestyle without packing on the pounds. As you’ve probably picked up, one of our absolute favorite parts of travelling is enjoying the local flavors at the small town restaurants, and that’s really hard to do and count weight watchers points!!