Monday, May 25, 2015

St. George's Island

Last Saturday the Perkins Family set forth toward St. George's Island for a summer vacation.  While Dad, Mom, Royce, and Erin loaded the car to maximum capacity and started the drive from Atlanta, I packed two carry-on bags and took a quick flight from Charlotte to Tallahassee.  My chariot picked me up from the airport and we all headed an hour's drive south for sun, sand, and seafood.

Our first taste of seafood came from Up the Creek Raw Bar on the Apalachicola Bay.  A grouper sandwich, side of mango slaw, and waterfront dining was the perfect start to the vacation.  A quick visit to the gourmet Piggly Wiggly and local produce stand for groceries filled the car to the rafters and we had no choice to head beachfront. 

A short time later we arrived at the Island Princess, our VRBO and home away from home for the week.  Nestled among palm trees and less than 50 feet from crashing ocean waves, it was the ideal location. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home included a pool, hammock, and a wrap around deck with sunrise and sunset views.

Mom made a delicious enchilada casserole for our first night's dinner.  A hearty portion topped with guacamole and sour cream was a satisfying meal we all enjoyed prior to watching the sunset.  Other meals throughout the week included fresh grilled fish at the house, as well as meals out at Blue Parrot, Owl Cafe, Boss Oyster, and the Tap Room.

Since I was without a bike for the week and didn't have any interest in swimming in the ocean (I'm sure I would look like an ideal lunch for the sharks we witnessed), I stuck with running.  What I didn't anticipate was what a huge effect the high humidity and warm early  morning temperatures would have on my running abilities.  Needless to say, I made a few stops for pictures and catching my breath that first morning.  Regardless, any run that includes views such as these is priceless.

Although we didn't have a direct view of the sun setting into the water from the bayside, we were still able to enjoy the evening color and sunset from a corner of the deck.  Rocking in a chair on the deck and watching sunset is without a doubt the perfect way to relax after a day in the sun.

Relaxation was the name of the game this week.  We all rotated from place to place with our books and magazines, including the shaded deck, lounge chairs by the pool, float on noodles in the water, the hammock, and occasionally, the comfortable leather reclining chairs inside.

Naps were enjoyed by all, several novels were read cover to cover, and there were endless opportunities to kick back, relax, enjoy family time, and take in the sights and sounds of the ocean.

We all agreed that after last winter's trip to Whitefish, Montana where we froze in single digit temperatures, soaking up the sun felt fabulous!

We took two fishing trips during our stay - an offshore excursion on Tuesday and then an inshore and inlet trip on Thursday.  Evidently our fishing guide Paul has a reputation of catching, because this pelican landed on the boat as we were pulling away from the dock and hung around until we picked up speed.

The seas were nearly perfect on our first day and we headed 8 miles offshore in hunt of King Mackerel, which are known to put up an excellent fight.  That proved to be successful and we filled the cooler with six fish, all of which were quite sizable.

Check out the flounder that I caught when we were trolling in the inlet.  I suggest you don't come anywhere near his teeth!

Dad and Royce were loving every moment of the fishing trip and being on the boat.  Having grown up in Florida with a boat of our own and spending countless weekends fishing, boating, and skiing/knee boarding, boats and the water our one our family's most treasured memories.

While we were offshore a large pod of porpoises came by the boat chasing a school of fish.  They did quite a few jumps and put on a show for us to enjoy.

Back at the dock, we posed with our catch - five King Mackerel (the largest approximately 20 lbs) and one Spanish Mackerel.  Later that night we enjoyed some King Mackerel for dinner - prepared both blackened and fried by one of the local restaurants.

We ventured a few miles down the island to St. George Island National Park on Wednesday.  The secluded east end of the island is known for their pristine white sand beaches and excellent fishing.  We explored the area by foot on a 4.5 mile walk, collecting sand dollars and shells as we meandered.

There aren't many things in the summer that beat sunshine, ocean water, and toes in the sand.
The water along these undisturbed beaches was beautifully clear, and combined with nearly cloudless skies, made for a picture perfect morning stroll.

Apalachicola Bay is known throughout the country for their oysters, and we did our fare share of eating them at several meals.  Our favorites were the char grilled variety from Boss Oyster.  However, the large plump raw oysters with a squeeze of lemon, cocktail sauce, horseradish, and a saltine cracker is an awesome mouthful!

The weather was picture perfect for the entire week, with the exception of a single afternoon when a thunderstorm rolled through for about an hour.  Otherwise temperatures were in the low to mid 80s with variable winds and sunny skies all week long.

My favorite mornings included sleeping in, lounging in pajamas, making a pot of Fresh Market vanilla maple coffee, and sipping it on the back deck while watching the morning ocean waves.

Each afternoon we continued to soak up the sun by the pool (while coated in a heavy layer of sunscreen - Dad's melanoma scare had us all being extra careful) and cooled off with dips in the pool.

We rented bikes for the week and took them out for a spin around the island several afternoons as well as in the evenings to watch the sun set.

No trip would be complete without a family game of dominos!  It's a tradition that dates back to our annual summer vacations in the Florida Keys and one which I can't imagine we will ever forget.  There are always abundant laughs as we build successful (or unsuccessful) trains and keep up with the trash train.

Our last full day was the definition of beach paradise.  The ocean literally looked like a lake since the winds died down.  Dad and I spent several hours fishing that morning and caught several small fish that weren't keepers.  Once again, a morning cup of coffee at the water's edge was a necessity.

At the beginning of the week we all commented that we had seven whole days to rest, relax, and soak up the sun and the sand.  Then suddenly it was Friday night and the days had vanished in a blink of an eye.  That must be a sign of an awesome beach vacation!  Although Royce and I are getting older, we both treasure our annual family vacations and hope that we can continue to make these memories for endless years to come!  Thanks for a great week at St. George's Island Mom and Dad!

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