Travel writer Dee Farrell currently lives and works in Australia - when she's not renewing her driver's license and post office box and voting in her former home state of Florida. She's lived in the capital city of Tallahassee, once a sleepy college town, and at the furtherest tip in Key West, a.k.a. The Conch Republic. She's been gone for 15 years, and things have changed. Not to mention the impending "high test" oil slick hitting her beloved beaches on the Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico. Paddle on!
Here in North Florida, the weather can change every 10 minutes. I've even experienced simultaneous rain in the front yard and sunshine in the backyard. This visit has been pleasantly cool, not too humid or "buggy." I ventured to the far beaches, paddled down a river, went lake fishing, and erstwhile drove around visiting my former abodes of 35 years ago. Seeing friends and family has been warm, as if I never left, but the traffic congestion and crime has been a shock. Oh well, progress, eh?
St. George Island is still pristine (pre-oil spill arrival), and the local catches of shrimp, mullet, and oysters plump and tasty as I remember. (I paid $4 for a half-dozen versus $4 each in NYC at the Fresh Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station last month!)
Other favorite foods I've been goughing on? Boiled Peanuts, Smoked Mullet, Crayfish and farm-grown trout in lieu of local catfish that I devoured regularly with lots of hush puppies on the side. (The source - Lake Talquin Inn - is closed. So is world fanous Poseys at St. Mark's Refuge and Lighthouse Point where I used to peel pounds of shrimp at a sitting with my local seaf00d-loving mates.)