May 4 2011 by Amy Graff
The flawless stretch of coastline between Cedar Key and Apalachicola was by far the most beautiful part of the state we'd seen on our trip--yet we seemed to be among only a few travelers.
I guess this makes sense. This less-touristy part of the state has miraculously remained untouched by the eager developers who have built ritzy resorts, glittering shopping centers, and exciting amusement parks up and down Florida's coastlines.
Yet still I could couldn't believe that we hardly saw a single sunbather as we drove by mile after mile of blindingly white beach stretching out into the most beautiful turquoise waters littered with dozens of tiny islands topped with a palm tree or two.
This is where photographers come to get that photo of the impossibly blue water surrounding a tiny island of white sand with only a single palm. I figured those things were done in Photoshop...this was real.
This is the Florida that you didn't think exists. This is what many refer to as the "Forgotten Coast." This is where I fell in love with Florida.
Every mile it seemed we wanted to stop...
In Newport we bought some Tuppelo honey from a man on the side of the road.
In Crawfordville we talked with a man named Kenny who was fishing in a river. He showed the kids where an alligator was lounging in the water
In the small town of Carabelle, we pulled over to chat with a man who was restoring an old pirate ship that looked as if it was being built for the set of Pirates of the Caribbean.
After driving by a couple oyster farms my kids finally convinced me to pull over so they could climb atop a mountain of discarded shells.
We drove through dozens of funky towns with gigantic and old trees strewn with moss. The man at a gas station in one had no teeth and I couldn't hardly understand his thick accent but the twinkle in his eyes welcome to this far corner of our country.
We wanted to stop everywhere but we couldn't. We entirely missed Cedar Key, which is supposed to be like what Key West was like in the 1950s. It's known for its art galleries and shallow waters, perfect for sea kayaking.
We didn't have time for Little St. George Island, where you can go hunting for old Indian pottery.
We never made it to Steinhatchee, the scalloping capital of Florida.
We will return to the crook in Florida's panhandle. We will. We will.