Usually when you think of bad weather in Florida, you think of hurricanes. Well, Monday was a day of tornadoes. Two of them came a little too close to the island to suit me.
At 4:00 p.m. there was one spotted thirteen miles west of Apalachicola and headed our way. The wind picked up, and the sky started changing by the second. The lightning flashed continually and put on a spectacular show and you could hear the waves on the gulf side of the island crashing onto the shore.
Standing on the top deck of the house gave us a great view of the changing sky with small funnels trying to form. The main funnel cloud had formed behind the houses and as much as the weather fascinates me, I've never boasted being a storm chaser. This was close enough.
The second tornado formed at 3:30 a.m.. John woke me up and said St. George Island was in the direct path of another tornado. But, honestly, I was too tired to care. With the heavy rain that wasn't letting up during the day, I found myself up late into the night, doing whatever it took to keep the water out of my house. Before it was all over, we received nine inches of rain in less than 24 hours. (Good thing I'd just built a boat!)
Fortunately, both tornadoes broke up over the bay and the island was spared. And any damage that occurred was due to flooding along the Apalachicola River. And anyone living along side of it was advised to evacuate.
The time I spent in the middle of the night, protecting the house, proved to be time well spent. The water stayed outside where it belongs. Now the skies are blue again and the shelling ought to be great!
* I wrote this early in the day, and through the day I was informed that the tornadoes didn't break up over the bay like I thought. They actually came across the island. One of them cut across 6th street on the east end. (I'm located around 6th street on the west end). And the other cut across the State Park, on the east end. As far as I know, their paths were such that luckily there wasn't any damage.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
|Treasures from the Sea|
But, this winter, so far, the weather has been wonderful. The temperatures have been above average and the sun has been shining more days than not. (Sorry about the cold y'all have had up north!)
It's impossible for me to walk on a beach and not pick up a few shells. Who am I kidding? Most of the time I carry a bucket! But it's not just for shells. You never know what you're going to find.
The gulf beaches are full of the common shells, like cockles, clams, scallops and arks of every size and color. Sponges, driftwood and a small piece of sea glass will occasionally wash up too. The beaches on the bay side are entirely different.
|The State Park|
Probably, the most beautiful beach on the island, is the beach at the state park. There's a small fee to get into the park, and no dogs are allowed on the beach, so you'll see even fewer people there than the other island beaches. This beach was used for the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and named one of the top five most beautiful beaches in the world.
Not many shells wash up on this beach but it's the most likely place on the island to find sand dollars. Occasionally you'll see the dolphins fishing along the coastline or just playing in the quiet wake. This is the one beach that I enjoy just sitting and letting my mind wander.
|Cape (Little) St. George|
If you want to do some serious shelling, Cape (Little) St. George, is the place to go. This island was once part of the main island until dredging was done to make a shortcut (Bob Sikes Cut) for the shrimp boats going out to the gulf. There's no bridge, so the only way to get there is by boat. Charter boat businesses will always take you to Little St. George if you sign up for a shelling trip.
After Hurricane Debbie came through, the beach was littered with big beautiful shells like you see in the top picture. Huge conchs, tiger's eyes, angel wings, sand dollars, and a queen helmet were just a few of the finds. Getting the bags of shells, and large pieces of driftwood, back to the boat required a little muscle from the captain!
Most people look for that perfect conch, or any big shell that has made it to shore without breaking. But unless you go to the beach right after a big storm surge, those shells aren't easy to find. But, some of the most beautiful treasures are so small, if you don't stop and really look, you're going to walk right over them. I've picked up sand dollars that are less than 1/4 inch in diameter. And shells so small, you could fit a dozen in a thimble.
Shelling and beach combing are two different things. Beach combing is something you can do when you've got nothing but time. Beachcombers aren't looking for just shells, they're looking for anything interesting, big or small, that the sea has to offer.
So, if you were wondering why you hadn't seen any new posts on the blog lately, the beach has been very demanding. And when there's nobody around to run you off, time has no meaning. It's a lonely job, but somebody's got to do it!