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Gone Shrimpin’ ~ Coastal Georgia

May 25, 2010 by · Comments Off on Gone Shrimpin’ ~ Coastal Georgia 

The Lady Jane

The Lady Jane

I’ve driven in a drag race, slide down a chute into a salt mine and run a marathon through the vineyards of Bordeaux, but I’ve never been on a shrimp boat or watched fishermen trawl– except for scenes of Bubba shrimpin’ in the movie Forest Gump.  That changed recently while I was a guest at the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia. I boarded The Lady Jane in nearby Brunswick  for a two hour outing that not only let me see the operation up-close, but taste it, too.  And, there was even an on-board marine biologist to explain all the sea-life that came up in the net.

The catch

The catch

I watched as Captain Larry Credle lowered the nets and commanded the boat at a slow pace, approximate 3 miles-per-hour. The real fun started when the crew pulled in the catch and emptied it on deck.  Along with jumbo sized opaque shrimp, the haul included string rays, Horseshoe Crabs, Puffer Fish, Amberjack, Crocker, Blue crab, Skate, baby octopus, some anchovies and jellies. Not to worry, all creatures except the shrimp were quickly released back into the water.

Look what we caught!

Look what we caught!

Our first catch also brought up a baby Loggerhead turtle. According to marine biologist Paul Christina from the University of Georgia, they only catch about eight sea turtles each year, so we were very lucky to see one. Captain Credle quickly snapped a photo, took some measurements and filled out a form for a state project following the turtle population.  Little Loggerhead was then returned to the marshy water where I hope he continues to grow.

A Loggerhead Turtle

A Loggerhead Turtle

True to Captain Credle’s word, we got to taste some shrimp and it really does’t get any fresher.  A plate of beautiful boiled Georgia shrimp was served with a side of crackers and delicious cocktail sauce. I learned that most Georgia shrimp are consumed within the state because of the popularity of the local delicacy.

An excursion aboard the 60-foot United States Coast Guard certified 49 passenger steel-hull boat couldn’t make a better family outing. Adults and kids will be fascinated with this unique experience. The boat leaves from Spanky’s Marshside where you can park your car.  The decks are safe and wide, the cabin is air conditioned and bathroom facilities are available. Don’t forget to bring your camera.

Now like Bubba said in the movie,” Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” Well said.

Colorful Georgia Shrimp

Colorful Georgia Shrimp

For reservations and information:

912-265-5711

$39.95 adults
$25.00  child,  under 6yrs

www.credlesadventures.com

Returning to Daytona Beach

May 15, 2010 by · Comments Off on Returning to Daytona Beach 

Daytona Beach as seen from my room in the Hilton.

Daytona Beach lies just 90 miles south of my home, yet my only previous visit dates back to 1960. That’s a long time ago, but childhood memories remain vivid. I can picture the one-story motel on the edge of a seemingly endless beach. My brothers and I frolicked on the firmly packed sand and splashed through the rolling surf. Thanks to Mom’s careful budgeting, our Florida vacation became a reality and demonstrates the profound and lasting impact of travel.

Back in 1960, coastal Highway Route # 1 brimmed with Mom and Pop motels, most of which we’d now consider tacky. Their cinder block construction stood maybe two stories high, with room entrances on the exterior. The advertised swimming pool measured about the size of a hot tub. But, Daytona boasted the widest beach we’d ever seen.  We were thrilled.

Recently, I rediscovered Daytona and can happily report the expansive world famous beach still struts her stuff.  It’s flat and broad with waves surging strong enough to attract surfers. She’s perfect for walking,  biking and even driving. The famous auto race began on the hard sand  in the 1940’s. In addition, I uncovered a vibrant downtown, one’s that’s opposite the  ocean side of the causeway, but strangely named Beach Street. The promenade edges a brick paved road lined with palms, upscale shopping, ethnic restaurants and a luscious chocolate factory.

Downtown Daytona -- Beach Street

Downtown Daytona -- Beach Street

For lodging, I chose the elegant high-rise Hilton Oceanfront Resort.  When I opened the room’s sliding glass door, a symphony of repetitive waves calmed my senses, yet the view of the boardwalk and breeze carried  hints of excitement. In the morning, I strolled along the salty shore, studying a lacy edge of foam rolling in. I bent over to pick up shells as exercisers jogged past.

Hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne rampaged the area in 2004, crumpling most of the old motels.  Many were abandoned while the newer, more substantial ones were rebuilt. Still, six years later, numerous empty lots dot the seaside. However, the county coffers prosper, thanks to the money spent by  hordes of visiting bikers and race fans. With generous tax revenues, Daytona County was able to purchase a few beachfront properties thus providing and protecting  public access and ocean views.

I also learned of  Daytona’s slower side during a kayak outing on  Cracker Creek. The stream barely flows, her water resembles day old cola, dark brown and  flat. Dip your paddle in and watch the wave motion gently travel to caress the languid lip. The Spruce Creek preserve is home to white ibis, egrets and sun worshiping turtles. Giant cypress trees, hundreds of years old, stretch their Spanish moss laden branches overhead, creating a shady canopy that humbles all. The cypress  knees (roots) protrude above water creating idyllic camouflage for critters.  And, there I spotted a gator hiding, not a big scary one, but not a baby either. I quietly paddled on the far side of the creek blessed to be in this thriving,  peaceful habitat.

Kayaking Cracker Creek

Kayaking Cracker Creek

Seeing the alligator once more flooded me with youthful flash backs. My brothers and I each selected stuffed taxidermy gators from a roadside stand, at the time our prized mementos from the trip. Today the highway is generally void of those kitschy Old Florida tourist stops. Currently travelers find yogurt emporiums and gift shops flaunting designer beach bags, over-sized towels and, of course, souvenir tees. Sorry, no more free Florida orange juice stands.

Returning to a cherished place after so many years is often fraught with anxiety and fear of  disappointment. But, I wasn’t disenchanted. Mother Nature continues to bless Daytona Beach with the gift of sunshine and sand. And the city today offers visitors much more variety: historic homes, a lighthouse,  museums and golf,  just to name a few. I found returning to my past lead to unexpected surprise and I will surely revisit again.  Next time, I won’t wait fifty years.

The World Famous Daytona Beach

The World Famous Daytona Beach

Beach at Sunrise

Beach at Sunrise

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