I know that I’m going to start catching a lot of crap from my friends in and around Lake Lanier, Georgia, but I think the time has come. I need to change my hometown on Facebook to Port St. Joe. I don’t think my wife has quite reached that point yet, but I can tell she is getting close.
This week will be our first anniversary of coming down here. One year ago my wife talked me into spending our 26th wedding anniversary down on the Forgotten Coast. We secured a small place for the week out Indian Pass way, packed up the dog, and made our way down.
It’s funny thinking back. As we slowed to a stop at the end of Hwy 71, we knew we were close. I looked down at my dumb phone and my Google Maps said, “Hang a right.” Faithful followers of technology, we obeyed the command in anticipation of ending our long drive. We drove. We drove some more and continued driving until our navigational partner said, “Stop! You have arrived.”
My wife and I looked at each other. Can this be right? We pulled into a couple of establishments and asked where Hwy 30A was. We were met with confused looks and shrugged shoulders. We finally pulled into the bait and tackle shop by the bridge in Mexico Beach. I found an old fisherman who could help. He asked, “Where exactly are you trying to get to, son?” When I said, Indian Pass, he replied, “My friend, you’re a long way from home.” I never realized how true his words would be.
With his guidance, and the dumb phone turned off, we were on the road, going back the way we came. In reality it wasn’t that far, but having to backtrack is never productive, always a waste of time. Or is it? We finally found our destination just a few miles past what we would later learn is a regional icon, The Indian Pass Raw Bar.
Tired, weary, and thirsty from the trip, after unloading the car it seemed to make sense that stopping in for a cold one was a good idea. It turned out to be the very best in ideas. Long story short, we were made to feel at home. There’s that word again.
Through a fortuitous series of events, and while eating some of the best baked oysters ever, we found ourselves in all the right company. We became immediate and natural friends with Randy and Barbie Everett from out on the cape. They invited us into their tight circle of friends and we’ve been ruined ever since.
With their help and assistance, we made several trips back and forth in search of a second house. Each trip back expanded the network of friends even more, solidifying our intention to find someplace, somewhere to call our own. We found it in beautiful Port St. Joe, a little cottage we now call The Blown Inn. We couldn’t be happier.
I know it is a cliché, but I guess it is true. Home is where the heart is. For me, I leave mine on the front porch of The Blown Inn every time we pull back out for Georgia. I’m pretty sure, my wife does too.
Looking back, I think about that wrong turn. I think about the time spent going the wrong way. I think about the old fisherman and his words. Then I think about how things might have turned out had we not ended up in Mexico Beach, how the timing might have changed, and how our night at the Raw Bar might have been different, changing the path that would ultimately bring us to where we are today.
It was as I said, a fortuitous series of events, and it all started with a wrong turn. Maybe that phone isn’t so dumb after all.
Kirk S. Jockell
Port St. Joe