There is a special place in my heart for Franklin Country, Florida. It is in my blood, literally. My Grandfather, on my mother’s side, was born and raised in Carra Belle/ East Point. We had our, Hall family, family reunions at the East Point fire station for the majority of my life. For the better part of my life, my dad’s side of the family vacationed every summer in St. George Island. We would rent a beach house for a week. Spend our days in the sand and our nights playing cards. We would go into East point and Apalachicola for dinner out. Steal the salad dressing bottles after a little too much wine. Cough cough Aunt Kathy cough cough. My time spent in Franklin County as a child is among some of my fondest memories.
My dad’s side of the family is still trying to keep the memory alive. We spent Christmas in a beach house on St. George Island 3 years ago and this year we will be spending New Years there. Honestly, there is no place I would rather be for New Years than in Franklin County with my family.
This area is stuck in time, for the most part. Mom and pop businesses, small-town feel and some of the best damn seafood you will ever ingest. I instantly feel relaxed when I’m here. So recently, when I found myself off-kilter I chose to come here. I needed a reset.
It is officially Fall but Florida hasn’t picked up on that yet. By this time of year, I am itching for cold weather and to go camping. Since it has been 90-degree weather for weeks, I was a little hesitant to commit to camping. I am glad I committed. There is just something about waking up in a tent, having breakfast cooked over a campfire, throwing on your bathing suit and going swimming.
Camping is usually relaxing and a fairly smooth experience, but I wasn’t camping with the most prepared of company. In the words of my sister, ”Madelyn, I am a survivalist. I’m bringing my tent, stuff for smores and my pillow.” I called to ask her what I needed to bring 🙄🤦🏻♀️. I had to get all the small details in order, apparently. You know like food, bug spray, toilet paper, flashlights, etc.. which can be a little stressful last minute. Setting up my tent in the dark was also a challenge. My little sister isn’t the best flashlight holder. Once everything was said and done and we went to bed Friday night, it hit me. As I laid in my tent, listening to fires crack and crickets chirp, I felt relaxation wash over me. My shoulders released, my jaw unclenched, and stress lifted away. This was exactly what I needed.
We stayed at T.H. Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula state park. While it is in Cape San Blas and technically bay county, it was still close enough for us to bounce back and forth between Franklin and Bay county all day. We started our day out with me making breakfast burritos over a fire. They were damn good by the way. We ate and freshened ourselves up to set out on a hunt for coffee and to explore.
We hung out bayside while drinking our coffee and then decided to go all the way to the tip of the peninsula, to beach it on the gulf side. The path to the beach was gorgeous. White sand with big dunes. Seagrass and driftwood all about. Once you stepped off the path there was no one around. Just the gulf and the beach stretched out as far as you could see. The seclusion made it a million times better. I got in the water, reluctantly because I know the red tide is creeping its way up the coast. I’m not trying to add another medical ailment to my list. The water wasn’t emerald like I’m used to but it didn’t matter. I was still in the Gulf of Mexico and that is one of my happy places. On our way to the beach, we found where the nature trail started. We headed back to the campsite and switched out our flip flops for our tennis shoes then set off. We got 3/4 of the way through the nature trail and found it flooded out from recent rain. I certainly was not treading through a mosquito haven. So, we turned our butts around and walked back to the car to get ready to head to Apalachicola. Please keep in mind I don’t usually take this many damn photos, but I brought along my friend who dabbles in photography, when she’s not going to school, working full time and momming. I also had my little sister who said and I quote, ”Do it for the gram”, right before she used a bike rack as a ladder to climb a tree 😂. Needless to say, there are tons of pictures and we laughed a lot. I guess if I continue with this blogging thing I am going to have to get used to taking photos for documentation.
Driving into Apalachicola my second wave of relaxation of the weekend hit. We approached historic downtown and I got a little giddy. The trees with moss all around, the historic buildings mixed with old Florida bungalow style homes, and the view of the water. It’s gorgeous. I was grinning from ear to ear. This place makes me incredibly happy. Maybe it’s because time slows down here, people are nicer, and I experience a sense of calm. We spent the afternoon at Oyster City Brewery, eating at a cafe and in and out of shops.
It was early evening when we headed back to Cape San Blas. The sun was still shining but you could feel it shifting. I had the windows down and sunroof open. My friend Madison was asleep in the front seat, mouth open 😂, must’ve been a good nap. Since she was asleep I knew I could play the music I like that bores her(not everyone can have good taste in music😂). So my tunes were shuffling from Mumford & Sons, The Revivalists, Lord Huron and etc.. All was right in my world. With the Gulf on my left and St Joesph bay on my right, Hello my old heart by the Oh Hellos came on. As far as favorite songs go, this one definitely makes my top ten. Something about this song gives me all the feels. A good song will make you feel something and this one always hits me deep. At that moment as I sang along there it was. My moment of clarity. I came here this weekend to center myself, to regain personal balance, to relax and enjoy nature. Salt air circulating through my car and me singing along with conviction, I found my balance.
Have you ever felt like you’re on the cusp of something? You just know that things are changing and something is about to happen to or for you? Well, I have and I feel it now. I don’t know what it is or when it will happen, but something is brewing.
I do realize I need to slow down. I will not be taking as many classes next semester. I need to relish life’s little moments more. Continue to do more of what makes me happy and less of what makes others happy. I need to keep being vulnerable because it is humbling and a truly beautiful thing. Keep putting myself first. My nurturing nature is a great quality but I have to stop letting it harm my well being. I need to welcome the judgments of others but let them roll right off my back. I also realized with a real reflection, not personal reflection, that I need to get my eyebrows done. What kind of friends do I have? How could y’all not tell me they were looking such a mess?!
When you find yourself feeling off it is important you take the time to step back and reanalyze things. Removing yourself helps you look at things from a different perspective. I am so thankful that I had my little sister who is always down for an adventure, ready to pack up her tent and join me. As well as my best friend of 14 years able and willing to try something new and out of the ordinary for her. They were more than willing to help me and be a part of whatever it was I needed to do for myself. I have the best friends and family. The support I receive daily from you all means so much. Especially all the support when it comes to my writing. I’ve finally found my groove, my flow, with this blog. Please be prepared for much more to come as we enter my favorite month and time of year.