Hatty Hour’s Over

May 10, 2014:

We didn’t last long after the fun-loving Blue Dolphin Crew and their Roo showed us such a great time at the oyster warehouse and diner.  It was a few hazy steps back to our boat docked right in the heart of downtown Apalachicola followed by a solid, sound night’s sleep at the City Dock.  The sun creeped up over our sleepy little dock around 6:30 a.m. the next morning and made some exquisite silhouettes out of several of the Blue Dolphin boats that were anchored across from us in the Apalachicola River.

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“Morning Boat!”


“Morning Apalachicola!”

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We made a tasty batch of coffee in the trusty French press on the boat and ventured out, two piping hot mugs in hand, to explore Apalachicola in the early morning light.  Not too exciting, you might be thinking.  That’s never the case.  Ambling around, we stumbled across this new quaint little hotel in the historic Bowery District.

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Phillip cracked the front door open, popped a shoulder and a coffee mug in and gave me a little head nod to follow.

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It looked like it was built out of all reclaimed wood and metal.  Old wavy sheet metal pieces lined the bottom of the hall under a thick piece of chair rail.  Little antique trinkets and pieces adorned the walls, re-purposed in creative ways.  After creaking over a few floorboards, Phillip and I stirred someone in a back office and he stepped out and welcomed us warmly.  It was actually the owner, Poloronis himself,


and he eagerly gave us the grand tour.  They have four rooms, exquisitely decorated, each with a kitchenette, refrigerator and master bath.  And, most of the wood, countertops, furniture and decor are all reclaimed, refurbished pieces.  Just spectacular.  But, don’t take my word for it.  If pictures are worth a thousand words a piece, here’s like a-quarter-mil.  I give you the Riverwood Suites.  Enjoy!

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Poloronis also told us a little about the history of the building.  Built in 1908, it was first used as a boarding house for the numerous shuckers that lived in Apalachicola and then as a used car parts warehouse.

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The Suites were beautifully-done, rich with history, reasonably-priced, with a super-friendly staff and owners and located right in the heart of all the happenings in downtown Apalachicola.


Which, for future reference, here’s a great site outlining all of the amazing things there are to do in Apalach: http://www.saltyflorida.com/areas-to-visit/apalachicola/.  It’s mind-blowing.  One of which, our exceptional host on the Riverwood Suites tour told us about — BOWERY STATION.  But, we’ll get there.  I’m not sure you can handle Bowery Station just yet.  Shit gets wild at the Station.

After the tour of the Riverwood Suites, we huddled up in a cozy corner of the Riverwalk Cafe to get some breakfast and spend a few hours working.


A little post-breakfast shopping and tinkering around (I just love the old-Florida “look” of Apalachicola), then,

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also at the recommendation of our B&B tour guide, we decided to check out Up the Creek for lunch.  Balcony seating on the back deck with a great view of the river.

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We ordered up a half-dozen of their “Southern Fella” Apalachicola oysters (baked with collards, parmesan, garlic butter and bacon).  Do I even need quote the well-known philosophy on bacon?

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We’ve had oysters many ways, but the collards and bacon were definitely a unique addition.  For lunch, Phillip ordered the gator burger which was great.  The homemade coleslaw on the burger was a nice touch.

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But, my dish, the grilled conch cakes took (no pun intended) the cake!


The conch cakes were incredibly rich and quickly earned the title as one of our best meals of the trip.  We were also pleased to learn they were made with Tupelo honey, which we had discovered during our way down the coast was made right in our very own Port St. Joe!!  Well, Wewahitchka, to be exact.


(Pronounced wee-wuh-hitch-kuh, if you were wondering).

It felt (and tasted) good to be eating local!  The meal didn’t last long, though, and neither did the wine we ordered with it.

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Happy Girl!

Our bellies full, we sauntered back to the boat for a siesta.  This touring and eating is real tough work.


But it was a good thing we did.  We didn’t know it yet, but we were about to fall head-first into a rowdy, raucous party at the Station.  We ventured out around dusk to see what all the fuss was with this Bowery Station.  On our way there, we passed this packed-out antique store, appropriately-named the Tin Shed.  Trinkets, knick-knacks, old trunks, potted plants, anchors, port lights and other random items practically spilled out the door.

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We had to poke our heads in.  Just a quick breeze-through at the very least.  You never know what kind of gems you’ll find in a place like this.


You see?  “You said it, Annie.  You’re never fully dressed without a belt!”  So true.

But, this place was huge.  I lost Phillip within the first five minutes and found myself stepping from one room to the next, through a thick labyrinth of antique marvels.  There were entire rooms devoted to figurines, others to crystal, others to hats, others to old nautical pieces, others to antique Halloween costumes.  It was wild.  I probably could have spent another hour in there, thoroughly entertained, but I finally stumbled out into the first open area I’d seen since we stepped into this alter-antique universe and made my way toward welcoming music coming from the only outlet I saw available, a single open doorway.


I had to laugh when I blinked my way in and saw Phillip there at the bar, already ordering up two glasses of wine for us.  It was Bowery Station!  We hadn’t meant to, but we’d inadvertently stumbled upon the back entrance (connected to the antique warehouse).  The gal behind the bar laughed and told us they get a lot of stranded husbands that way.  Their wives drag them into the antique madhouse next door, and they eventually stumble their way in through the back entrance and enjoy a beer or two while the Misses continues blissfully poking around next door.  Perfect.  But, we had finally made it.  Bowery Station.


The bar was built out of the old Wefing’s Marina Supply store on Water Street.


They still kept all of the old cubbies that were built into the back wall, originally to house marine supplies, but it now serves as a very functional and full-scale wine-rack!


They keep a huge tin barrel of peanuts out, complete with little tin buckets that you can dip in, fill up and take back to your table (which are also stand-up barrels) to share with the whole group.


No surprise, you’ll find the floor littered with smashed-up peanut shells, but they don’t care.  It adds to the character “and helps with the acoustics” the barkeep said with a wink.  They’ve got some great antique decor of their own,


and just a great casual feel.  There’s even a gal out front with a nice rack who greets everyone that comes in.

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Their hours are from 12-8pm, “because no one in Apalachicola really stays up past nine,” the barkeep told us.


And we were excited to learn that the couple who owned and worked the place every day had moved up to Apalachicola from Key West to open this bar.  “Well, I’ll be … WE just came from Key West, too!”  We had a great time reminiscing with them about some of the more questionable joints in Key West they used to frequent–Sloppy Joe’s, Hog’s Breath, the Schooner Wharf Bar.  We had a great time chatting with the two of them as the place started fill up.

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Then she told us about the hat.  Yes, the hat.


See it there?  Just behind the fan.

It’s just a regular old Bowery Station ballcap that they’ve rigged up on a pulley system to the center of the ceiling.  This is Bowery Station’s unique version of “Happy Hour.”  They raise the hat up to the center of room at 5:00 p.m., when they’re aptly named “Hatty Hour” starts and they slowly lower the hat as the hours tick by to remind the patron’s to keep getting drinks while the getting’s good.


Uh-oh, that hat’s starting to come down now.  “Phillip, we better get another round.”   During hatty hour, you get one chip with every drink that entitles you to a free ‘nuther.

They have live music every night too.  But, at the Station, they don’t have a planned music act lined up every night.  No, no.  They prefer open mic night, every night.  Anyone who wants to step up onto their makeshift stage and play something, sing something, hell, snap something, they’re more than welcome.  The gal behind the bar told us they’ve just kept it open since they started and they have yet to see a night where the stage was empty.  I was thrilled when I saw a washboard/banjo band setting up.  We’re such lucky SOBs!

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They were actually really good, and incredibly entertaining.  Especially the chick on the washboard.  That takes talent!  We sat back on our stools, munched on peanuts, sipped our hatty hour drinks and had us a fine time.

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The hat started to sink,


and the locals started to balk.  It was all in good fun, though.  Each time the owner or her husband would turn the crank a few times to lower the hat, the patrons would shout “Noooo!!” (and then happily order another round).  Some of them protest, “Nuh-uh, Nancy, it’s not 6 o’clock yet on my watch!” they’d shout and the barkeep would give ’em a playful frown while pouring them another drink.  The “wine chips” are a great idea, too, because people lose those left and right.  You can find some on the floor, put yours down and someone will take it.  It’s hilarious.  But, the washboard band wasn’t the real highlight of the evening.  It was just before the hat hit the wall that this wild, fanny-pack boasting broad found herself the perfect stage prop and started to it.  Watch out now, she’ll sweep you right off your feet!

See?  I told you.  Times gets wild.  Washboards and peanut shells, wine chips and hat tricks.  Bowery Station has it all.

April 7, 2014 – Keys Log: Day 5 – Goodbye Gorton

They say for a sailor, wind is more valuable than money.  If that’s true, we were filthy, stinking rich when we woke that morning.  It was blowing 20-25 knots and gusting in the 30s!  If we wanted kiting wind, we certainly got it.  It was time, finally to bust out the kites!  Phillip and I quickly donned our kiting gear and got out there!


First suit sighting of the trip!  Finally!


And … then we cover her right back up!  That water was still a little cold, though.  There is one thing I do not like to be when I kite, and that is chilly!

Once we were geared up, we headed over to the cove we’d sighted the day before and pumped up!


Phillip took a spin first to see what the conditions were like.  He is by far the expert and can usually give a pretty good assessment of whether the wind or conditions are too much for me.

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Once we got the kite pumped up and launched, we had a few lookie-loos stop by to see what we were doing.  I always get a kick out of what people think about kiting – some examples:

Onlooker says: “Man, I can’t believe you guys are doing that in this wind!”

We think:  Well, you kind of NEED wind to kite.  We wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t.

Onlooker says:  “I bet you have to be SO strong to not blow away!”

We think:  Not really, any lightweight can learn to kite.  It’s just about how you fly it. 

But, I understand why they’re often so taken and intrigued by it.  It is a pretty novel act to watch – powering yourself across the water with a kite.  And, Phillip certainly makes it look easy.


Video HERE.  (But he always does!)  I was chomping at the bit to get out there, but I stood by on the shore, like a faithful kite groupie, snapping pics and footage and fielding questions from the peanut gallery.  We had two guys keep coming out in shifts, one then the other, to check us out.  Once I struck up a conversation with them, they told me they ran the local tavern there and were taking turns leaving the bar one-manned so the other could come out and watch Phillip kite.  They were really captivated by it.  We also had a gal from the Gulf County Visitor’s Center, which was right down the road, stop by to snap some pictures.  Phillip seems to attract onlookers like the paparazzi.  I sometimes feel like his big-shot manager on the shore – “No pictures, please!”  But, the Gulf County gal, Kelli, got there just as Phillip was coming in to deliver the bad news.  It was really picking up out there – blowing probably 28-30 knots – and Phillip said it was probably too much for me.  He could barely hold down the 9 meter kite (our smallest).  Unlike money, sometimes the wind is just too much.  But, my time would come.

I told the gal from the Visitor’s Center that I had some footage and pictures I could send her as I helped Phillip pack up the gear.  She was grateful and told us to stop on by the visitor’s center while we were there for some freebies and good info on the area.  We’re always game for good local info and anything free.  So, after we got all the kite gear cleaned up, we set out to find the visitor’s center.  And, find it we did!  They had a great facility there.

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Our newest kite groupie – Kelli!

The gals there were really nice and invited us in for a tour of the facility.  They told us about the annual scallop festival they host where they send several travel writers out for a day of scalloping in the St. Joseph Bay so they can do a write-up on the festival and the area.  Guess who will be coming back in September!  Sweet!  They also gave us some free samples of Tupelo honey which is made right there in Gulf County.  Sweet-ER!

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In all, the gals there were very nice and gave us some good tips about motoring the ditch through Lake Wimico, some good anchorages near Carabelle and some lagoons to look out for.

We thanked them for the info, left the facility to stroll around town a bit and stumbled upon The Thirsty Goat.  They had some awesome t-shirts there.  Thirsty?  Get your goat on at The Thirsty Goat.  Ummm … yes, please!  I snagged one and slipped it on.  And, it was some kind of stroke of luck because I had it on when we made to the next stop on our impromptu pub crawl – The Haughty Heron.  

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I didn’t even think about the fact that I was wearing the competitor’s logo proudly as I strolled around the place, eyeing their t-shirts and almost wishing I’d saved my one “bar shirt buy” for this place!

Haughty or Naughty?  “Naughty!  And, do you have that in a small?”


But, the cool thing was when the guys came out from the back to help us out and offer a drink, they turned out to be the very same oglers from the kiting cove.  THESE were the two blokes who were taking shifts at the tavern to come out and check us out!  Recognizing us as the local kiters and spotting my Goat shirt, the owner, Blake, quickly said he wouldn’t stand for it.  He hooked me up quick with a good ‘goat cover’ – one of his own Haughty Heron shirts – for free!


He also poured us two free glasses of Healdsburg Ranches merlot to try.


I’ve told you our position on freebies …

In all, it was a very “fruitful” venture.  We didn’t even mind that it started dumping buckets as we were walking back to the boat and we got totally, completely head-to-toe soaked.  (It certainly didn’t hurt that our ‘spirits’ were nice and high by then … we were literally singing in the rain!).  We made a make-shift drying line in the cockpit to hang up our sopping threads and tucked in for the night.


And, friends, while the day was done, I had one more deed yet to do, and I feel I have to share it with you.  It’s certainly is a significant milestone in my sailing career and easily a very blog-worthy event as I feel these guys have sort of developed into their own character on the blog over the course of this past year.  You’ve seen them time and again, keeping me warm and dry and highly visible in fashionable raincoat yellow.  Yes, that’s right, the Gorton’s Fisherman Pants.


The ones, actually, that came with the boat.  Plaintiff’s Rest’s previous owner had left them for us, knowing, probably, what a true sailing asset they were.


It was time to say goodbye, though.  They were huge and clunky and completely cumbersome to begin with, but I used them all the same because they served their purpose.  But now, they had started to flake and crumble and leave little yellow flakes everywhere I went on the boat.  We were also coming into summer and they were an extremely hot, constricting foul weather cover.  We had picked up some new Frogg Toggs at Port St. Joe, and I had to retire the Gorton’s pants.

So, put on some nostalgic, sentimental song – I recommend Joe Crocker’s raspy theme song to the Wonder Years – With a Little Help From my Friends – as you scroll wistfully through these photos.  They certainly were friends to me, and we hated to see them go.

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We’ll miss you Gorton’s!

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