I think I had somewhere around 2,000 steps to my name when we finally hit Panama City Beach this afternoon. We had a beautiful drive down through Alabama. I don’t think we saw a cloud all day and the roads were clear even through the big cities (Birmingham and Montgomery). After Montgomery, we split off onto a non-interstate US highway (231). We drove that road all the way down to Panama City, Florida and I LOVED that road. It was the long version of my Zen Drive to Cubelandia every day. That’s about the only way I can describe it (I drove most of it). We’ll talk about the S-town podcast we listened to for most of the trip some other day. The road would’ve been cool with or without the podcast but probably not with tornado warnings but we didn’t have those…
So, we crossed into Flo-ri-duh in the panhandle this time. Of COURSE we stopped at the welcome center to get our free little cup of orange juice. We are honoring The Gumper (my late father-in-law) when we do this but I think we would do it *anyway*. Apparently there is a secondary part to this stop, which is to get a Florida road map. The map is not on my radar screen but the GG did snag one. We ate road sandwiches (PBJ) there and then got on down the road.
After about an hour of difficult gyrations in the Panama City area, we snagged a room a few blocks from the gulf in Panama City Beach. I was ready for some walking but not until I had a wee bit of a HARD STOP! 379 miles is not 653.7 miles but it takes a toll. The GG found a cool-looking beach-type bar/restaurant and I was game for that but he was also trying to say that it would be a 3-mile walk there, meaning it would be a 6-mile walk total. Oh man, I wasn’t up for a 6-mile beach hike after a 379 mile drive. But then I looked into it on Google maps and it was more like a three or four-mile hike total, there and back. Okay we can do that. So we walked the 4-5 blocks to the beach and…
You may be able to see a few blue lights in this photoooo. What you can’t see is the helicopter that was circling above or the other billion cop vee-hickles, or all of the police tape that prevented people from getting to the beach or the TV news folks getting their cameras and stuff out of their car trunks. It was one of those folks who said there had been some kind of shooting in the nearby “shoppes”. Seeing the “shoppes” on the map was one of the reasons I thought this particular area of Panama City / Beach would be a nice safe place for some baggy old Michiganders to start their Florida vacay. Things seemed under control and we did find a way down to the beach… Where no one seemed to have a clue about any police action.
This is a beautiful “sugar sand” beach, the kind that you can walk barefoot. My family’s Lake Superior beach has similar sand but I have been on many Fla beaches where I have needed to wear footwear of some sort. We walked barefoot down to Pineapple Willy’s beach bar and encountered this sand castle along the way.
Wouldn’t you know that Pineapple Willy’s actually had Bell’s Two-hearted beer.
We shared a shrimp dinner and salad and then we walked back down the beach as the sun set. Along the way, some folks asked if we would mind taking their family’s picture and of course we obliged… And then the GG got to talking… and they were from Wisconsin… and… the YOUNG looking woman turned out to be the daughter of a WWII dad and that’s too long a story for this blahg but her dad went to the same college (Marquette University) as our beloved Grampa Garth and Grandma Sally, possibly around the same time… The sun went down and the nearly full moon came up as we navigated this conversation. We will probably never see these people again but it was such a fun encounter.