Florida Panhandle Tour

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers

The R rule is one of the seafood basics I remember from my younger days on the Chesapeake Bay. If a month contains the letter R, it's OK to eat oysters. My destination is the Florida Panhandle, the month is February, and the Apalachicola area of the Panhandle happens to be world renowned for its oysters. I'm certainly no rocket scientist - they're all over at Cape Canaveral - but it appears that somebody's going to be slamming down some bivalves.

I Can't Help My Shellfishness

According to the rule, February should be the best time to chisel my way through a pail of shells. After all, it's the only month with two R's, whether the first one is pronounced or not. R regardless, the Kawasaki Concours is tossing back the southbound miles on Route 319 with ease and the prospect of hitting Tallahassee at lunchtime has me thinking college-town chow. Aside from being the Sunshine State's capital, Tallahassee is home to Florida State University. With plenty of hungry Seminoles constantly on the prowl, I know my culinary choices will be endless.

About 30 miles north of town, I take Route 12 west over to Route 155 south and soon find myself officially on the tour. I am pleasantly surprised to discover I'm riding on one of Tallahassee's famed Canopy Roads, originally old Indian trails that later became market roads. Plantation owners lined the roads with live oaks that have since grown over the road, their branches intertwining. Spanish moss has taken a liking to these surroundings and hangs copiously from the limbs. The sunshine filtering through the porous archway seemingly springs to life, partnered to sway in the warm Florida breeze with the grayish-green filaments. I vastly enjoy exploring these canopy roads. But my schedule says otherwise. It's good to know that the state law protects Tallahassee's Canopy Roads. They'll be around for years to come.

Forging ever closer to town, Route 155 becomes North Meridian Road. Eventually houses, condos, and lots of cars replace the live oaks. The warm day heating up the bumper-to-bumper traffic has me rethinking lunch, and the decision to escape the throngs of harried drivers, all seemingly late for class, comes easily. I find Route 20 and head west.

A quick, tasty bite of spicy-sweet brisket at a local barbeque hangout just outside of town has me reenergized and ready to tackle the afternoon. Despite the bellyful of tender beef, I know that somewhere south of here a number of poor, unsuspecting oysters are being rudely pried from their bed. Dinner tonight will be compliments of a hard-working waterman's tongs.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the May/June 2005 back issue.