Port St. Joe, Florida
Saint George State Park was full when we pulled up to the gate Friday afternoon. We should have anticipated that development. Spring and Fall are the prime beach camping seasons in Florida. In the summer, heat, sand fleas and no seeums can make camping very unpleasant. Right now is the time to do it.
We settled for Pressnell’s Marina and RV Park, just outside Port St. Joe. We kind of like these little marinas that also do camping. The residents tend to stay for a week, a month or season to fish and live in tents, old trailers and RVs. They rent boats here and offer fishing guides. Some people come here every year to catch and eat the scallops which abound in the big bay formed by the barrier island.
I bought a big flounder at a nearby fish market. It was very fresh, but it still had the fins and skin on. We peeled it as best we could, expecting a culinary disaster, but it was light and flaky (with lots of bones).
Today we played tennis. I was up 4-2 at one stage, but lost the first set 6-4. After that we drove out to the Port St. Joe Peninsula State Park. It has nine miles of unspoiled sand beaches. In 2002, it was named the best beach in the world (no idea who decides these things). I went swimming.
The water was very nice (about 80 F.) and I spent about an hour letting the big waves crash over me. I do the Stingray Shuffle, sliding my feet along the bottom to let the rays know I’m coming until I tire of that and float off the bottom. The yellow flag is up for winds and rip currents. Mrs. Phred worries and nags but I explain to her that Navy Seals and Old divemasters like me are immune from these concerns.
Outside the park, we see an environmental and economic disaster that stretches 40 miles. Thousands of lovely, new, large and unoccupied beach homes that almost all have a “For Sale” sign in front. These were built and purchased on “spec” and for vacation homes during the bubble. A trillion dollars is not going to come even close to solving the problems of the banking system.
We went to Apalachicola to pick up some books to read and to lunch on their famous seafood. I loved the fried oysters, crab cakes and seafood chowder. Mrs. Phred had no complaints this time. I name Apalachicola for the award Best Seafood in the World for 2009. We need to move on in the morning. This time I make no prediction about where we end up, but I do like the Gulf swimming this time of year. There are a whole series of lovely State Park beach campgrounds along this long stretch of Panhandle beaches. Maybe we’ll get lucky.