Friday, September 23, 2016

St George Island 2: Ghosts at the Gibson Inn

I am many things.  There are many more things I wish were.  
A travel journalist/photographer just may be one of those things.

I say all this, so that you'll let me indulge myself in this post - as we we explore the little of Apalachicola together.  (As a sidenote:  Hopefully by now you know how to pronounce Apalachicola and have a rough idea of where it's located.  If not, check out my last post.)
After all, my Road Trip Personality Type is a "Scenery Enthusiast."
Find out your personality here - and share in the comments.  If you prefer to fly, you're disqualified from participating.

After crossing the 4 miles bridge across the bay, we exit the vehicle into the center of the town.

Those palm trees...we're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Storehouses like this one used to line the streets.  Actually, bales of cotton would often be found lining the streets themselves.
The first floor was used for cotton and general storage for the ships, and the upper levels would be used as business offices.  

Most of the other warehouses have since been destroyed by hurricanes or fire.
No thanks to the volunteers at the fire department:
Having a firehouse was actually essential for the sawmills and logging industry that sprung in the city.

And this brought an end to the volunteer bucket brigade.

Don't park here.

In 1913 the "Dixie" was opened by a former sponge-diver.

At first it hosted traveling theatre troupes before it became a motion-picture house.

It's only open for 3 months out of the year, but next year will be its 20th season since reopening.

I do know these aren't zinnias - or peonies for that matter - but they were still a welcome sight despite my botanical ignorance.

The "Owl Cafe"

(Catering to the appetites and late hours of we conceptual-thinkers.)
And only about the 5% of you will get that reference, despite the fact that 60% of you probably are owls.


Maybe the fire department does still use the bucket brigade system.

View of the bay from the intersection of Commerce and East Avenue streets.

This is a pretty legit brewery - check out the view from the front door:

I love ivy.

Also neither a peony nor a zinnia.

Power lines.
Purpose #1: Provide electrical power.
Purpose #2: Ruin otherwise perfect photos.

After walking through the Grady Market, we walked out the back door and came upon the bay:

What's more surprising - that this boat was grounded so far ashore, or that it didn't break the picket fence in the process?

Looks like a good place to do some exploring...

I could totally see this sitting in my study some day.

Semi organized still drives my OCD nuts.

For those who want to have the portrait of a random family hanging on the wall.
You can also try this or this or this:

Look at her.  Holding up those sponges like a boss.

In the late 19th century, the city became a leader in the sponge industry and really cleaned up -  becoming the city with the 3rd largest sponge trade.  From their boats, men would sit on the bow, scan for sponges, and use a hook to collect them.

The sponges were later shipped to larger cities like Baltimore, San Francisco, New York - and...St. Louis.  Unfortunately, the trade couldn't absorb the loss of the Greek fleet when it moved down the coast.

My Mom and I ate lunch together where they serve wood fired pizza - NOT dog bones as the sign might imply.

The  sign on the sidewalk was a little less ambiguous.

The county seat, titled as the "Franklin County Government House."

A memorial for Lt Willoughby Ryan Marks who "Sacrificed his the attempt to save a comrade."  He died less than a month before the war would come to an end.
I wish I could find more details on this story, but it seems to be largely left to the imagination.

The historic Gibson Inn built back in 1907.

Today it operates as a restored inn and restaurant.
(Pictured with non-period powerlines and automobiles.)

Can you tell I'm a tourist?

During WWII, the Gibson Inn was used by the US Army as housing for the officers at Camp Gordon Johnston.

The hallways that lead to the captain's room on the third story - room 309.  Named the captain's room because it features a great view of the bay and of the ships at the docks.
But it's also the room where Capt. Wood died and according to the inn's cleaning lady, these halls are still haunted by him!

Not only do I like ice cream and sweet tea, but I also like the most fitting place to consume both which is on a big covered or wrap around porch.

They make me happy.

As I've already exposed earlier in this post, I am no horticulturist.
But I do like a bit of history.

I didn't think of  checking the bark and leaves at the time, but now I wonder if this tree was a "live oak."  If you've seen the movie "Master and Commander," Capt Jack Aubrey tries to capture the French Acheron, a larger ship that both out-gunned and out-manned Aubrey's HMS Surprise.  The French frigate's hull was built such that the Surprise's cannon balls would bounce off its sides.

In reality, the French Acheron of the film is styled after the USS Constitution which is the oldest ship still floating and is still a commissioned warship in the US Navy.

What does all of this have to do with a live oak off the porch of the Gibson Inn and Apalachicola?

Well, cannonballs fired at the USS Constitution's hull really would bounce off of her giving her the nickname of "Old Ironsides."  In between the hull's inner and outer layers of white oak was a layer of this live oak.  The live oak grows (only) in the South Eastern tropics of the United States which means that they're incredibly resilient to the moisture of salt water - and that the United States Navy had an immediate "power up" over the Royal Navy.

Check out the live oak in action against a cannonball here.

I leave you to stay at the Inn until my next post...