A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Freezing in Florida in the New Year

Dining and Driving around the Penninsula


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2008 Winter Road Trip & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

After we got off the NCL Pearl we started driving west

Saturday 29 December 2007

We had over 400 miles to drive today so I was concerned that we wouldn't be there before the office closed to check in to the Casa Blanca condo unit. I woke up about 7, and ate a little bit of breakfast, and after Bob shaved and ate, we put all the groceries in the car (I had only brought one bag in plus the computer and I was basically still wearing the same clothes), and left a little later than I wanted, but we were on our way out before 0900.
Bridge

Bridge


We went north on I-75 past Ocala towards Tallahassee and I-10. I was afraid (looking at the mapping program and also the triptik) that there wouldn't be any place to eat AND get fuel after we got onto I-10 until we got almost half way along the panhandle of Florida, so we stopped at Lake City at about 1145. Gas was over $3.10/gal, but as we drove farther away from the interstate, it got cheaper. We had gone 200 miles, and it took 6.1 gallons. Which isn't too bad. We ate at Pizza Hut because I was cheated of my pizza on the ship in the Italian restaurant. (They said there we had to have more than two people to order pizza.) But this one didn't have the lunch buffet, or any other Italian food, so we each got a Personal Pan pizza. We were out of there before 1230. Lunch including tip was $10.45.

Continuing west, I wasn't sure where the line between Eastern and Central time was, and I missed seeing the sign on the highway. So I probably need not have worried about getting there in time as we gained an hour. I haven't been able to fix the computer to have the correct time as it had Eastern time labeled as Central time. I finally gave up and set it on Mountain Time.

We got to Panama City in rainy weather about 1600. The RCI page about the place said that it had 2 stories and they charged for local calls. They don't charge for local calls, and there are three stories. We were on the third floor. There was no elevator. The guy that checked us in gave us a Panama City Beach map and some restaurant recommendations.
Rainy View from our unit on Dec 29th about 5 pm

Rainy View from our unit on Dec 29th about 5 pm


After we carried everything up to the third floor, we unpacked
Sunset from the unit

Sunset from the unit


and decided to go to Bonefish for dinner as the desk guy had said they had early bird specials. But we couldn't find it, so instead we went to a place called
937199463832284-Camel_in_fro..City_Beach.jpgShuckems Sign out front

Shuckems Sign out front


Shuckems (motto - We shuckum, you suck um) which was VERY casual. Come in and seat yourself. Tables with graffiti carved in them and dollar bills stapled to the walls.
Booth

Booth


The prices were quite reasonable. Bob had the house special which included a cup of clam chowder which had more clams than soup,
Bob's dozen raw oyster special

Bob's dozen raw oyster special


a dozen oysters, steamed shrimp, hushpuppies, and fries for $16.95. I had a cup of seafood gumbo for $4.95. My gumbo had sausage in it in addition to the seafood - and an
Oyster PoBoy  for $13.95

Oyster PoBoy for $13.95


The whole thing was $38.56 before tip.

I tried again and again to get on to the free wi-fi and finally succeeded. I do not have the hang of this yet. I also tried to dial on the phone, but couldn't get the computer to recognize a dial tone.

Sunday 30 December 2007

One of the main reasons for going to this condo was to shelter somewhere for New Years. The amenities included

  • Located directly on Panama City Beach (which wasn't anything that we really needed)
  • Easy access parking lot

Reflection in the condo windows

Reflection in the condo windows

  • Gulf view

Condo kitchen - full size refrigerator on the other side

Condo kitchen - full size refrigerator on the other side

  • Fully furnished kitchens
  • Guest laundry services

TV in the unit

TV in the unit

  • TV, HBO available
  • Newly remodeled pool (heated), sauna, spa. BBQ gas
  • Workout room
  • Golf, tennis nearby
  • Walking distance to countess shops, restaurants & events.

And of particular interest -

  • Wireless internet

Which they did have, but it took a long time to get the computer to log on. I often had to go and do something else (have a shower, edit photos) and let it log itself on at leisure.
Bed area - with mirrors to make it look bigger

Bed area - with mirrors to make it look bigger


The room was mirrored to make it look bigger. This was a Space/A condo through Armed Forces Vacations. On their website a one bedroom unit Nov. 29 - Feb. 6 is $99 /day $600/week. We paid about half that.

Today, we stayed in the unit mostly. It was EXTREMELY windy and was blowing hard most of the day - big surf on the beach. After I finally got the computer to log on, I uploaded photos and watched football. Bob walked over to Walmart (which was a little farther than he thought it was - the advertised walking distances was a slight exaggeration) and bought a new step counter, but forgot to get glue for the leg of his glasses that he squished off in packing. He did find a cheap place to get gas.
Super 8 from my window (on left)

Super 8 from my window (on left)


It was overcast and alternately rainy but fairly warm, and there were people in the (heated) pool. It is forecast to get colder. Bob went down to the office to complain that our A/C/heat pump didn't turn on, and that the light in the bathroom did not work either. The man came up and said the cords on the units failed and he replaced it so we do now have heat. He also fixed the bathroom light. I have discovered that their night light does not work, but we haven't done anything about that yet. He also got us a phone book.

We went out to try to find Bonefish again, but failed again, and ended up at Tony Romas. Tony Roma's is a chain that does ribs, seafood and steaks.
b48704e0-a60b-11ea-8d88-876200affc1d.JPGTony Roma sign and Inside Tony Roma's

Tony Roma sign and Inside Tony Roma's


We were a bit tired of seafood so Bob got a rack of ribs and I got
The "Naughty special"

The "Naughty special"


which had ribs and steak. I only ate the ribs and brought the steak home for lunch. $40 before tip. We also got gas - 247 miles and it took 7.8 gallons.

Monday 31 December 2007 - New Years Eve

Next morning - Sunny - Holiday Inn pool over the fence

Next morning - Sunny - Holiday Inn pool over the fence


There isn't any wind today, and the beach has a green flag. Bob was complaining that we hadn't been anywhere in Panama City yet, so I went onto the internet to try and figure out where we should go. I went down to the office and mailed the roll of film I took in Grand Cayman, and we went to the information center
Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Convention and Visitor's Bureau


and got a map of the county and also a lot of travel information.
Police station near the Visitor's Center

Police station near the Visitor's Center


I decided we'd look at beaches in the Florida state parks today while it was warmer. We took the phone book with us and drove around to find Bonefish (and we actually found it)

All along this section of the coast there are sparkling white sand beaches. In the winter when we were there, this made me think that there was snow.
White sand beaches

White sand beaches


But it isn't snow, it is sand. Panama City Beach advertises their beaches as The best beach this side of paradise...

First we went to St. Andrews State Park ($5/car), which is in Panama City Beach. Park entrance

Park entrance


I picked this park to visit because it was close. The fact that it was named by Dr. Beach (Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman) as America¿s Best Beach in 1995 didn't really matter to us as it was January and cold. At other seasons this might be a selling point for the park which s 1,260-acre park is located on a peninsula with over 1.5 miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon.
Bob walking in to the Environmental Interpretive Center

Bob walking in to the Environmental Interpretive Center


First we went to the Interpretive Exhibit at the Environmental Interpretive Center. This is one of the things you can do even in the rain or when it is cold in the winter. It isn't Smithsonian quality, but they did have a small aquarium, some diorama exhibits,
Diorama of turtles hatching

Diorama of turtles hatching


and posters about migratory birds, butterflies and shells that are local to the area.
Information on the Migratory birds

Information on the Migratory birds

Local shells

Local shells


One of the interesting exhibits was about the Hermit of St. Andrews.
The Hermit of St. Andrews

The Hermit of St. Andrews


According to that exhibit, A Norwegian seaman, Theodor Tollofum became the hermit of St Andrews in 1929 when his 26 foot fishing boat wrecked on the peninsula during a hurricane. "The boat wrecked here and so we've stayed together" is how he described his decision to homstead on the windswept sandy shore for the next 25 years. Subsisting on fish he caught each morning, Teddy built a shack, smokehouse and pen out of driftwood and kept chickens, cts and a pet pig that loved to go boating.

There are two trails in the park to choose from: Heron Pond, and Gator Lake trails. The Heron Pond Trail takes you on a hike through the flatwood pine forest, and past the Turpentine Still. The trail at Gator Lake takes you on a scenic view of Gator Lake. We did the Gator Lake trailWe got there about 1100, and first went into the visitor's center. Then we drove out to the lake which was supposed to have alligators. and got off at the overlook. Didn't see any alligators, but did see some coots.
Only alligator we saw at Alligator Pond

Only alligator we saw at Alligator Pond

Coots paddling next to the Alligator warning sign

Coots paddling next to the Alligator warning sign


100_1483.jpgGreat blue herons

Great blue herons


The information center behind the store was closed
Information center

Information center


and I got a splinter in my finger from the hand rail. There were a lot of people riding bikes and hiking trails. The shuttle boat to Shell Island was not running, although it wasn't because of wind.

In addition to beaches, summer activities might include (in alphabetical order), bicycling, boating and boat tours (boat launch is $12 for one person with a boat), camping, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, picnics, a playground, scuba and snorkeling, surfing, and swimming.

We drove out past the Ripley's Believe It or Not (which has the shape of a sailing ship). Ripley's

Ripley's

I remember old Believe It Or Not cartoons or other print media or radio items when I was growing up. I haven't visited this particular museum and have generally avoided going to these museums when I see them. There is one in Key West, and in Branson which I also have not been to. I have been to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg TN

We passed this and I took a photo - it was open which not everything was in the off season when we were there. It might be something to do on a rainy day. They apparently not only have an Oddities museum but also a 4D (!!) movie and some games such as Laser tag.

We went to Panama City, and then out along US 98. We went through Tyndall AFB. No place to stop to get something to eat along there. We finally came to Mexico Beach and stopped about 1300 at
Sharon's Cafe sign

Sharon's Cafe sign

Mounted fish and Xmas decorations

Mounted fish and Xmas decorations


They were getting ready to close, but I got
Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad


and Bob got a
Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken Salad Sandwich


Lunch was $10.96 plus tip. We read pieces of the paper that were there.

Back on the road we went to Port St. Joe, and from there to the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park which is about 30 miles out onto a peninsula.
100_1540.jpgNational Gold Metal Winner State Park

National Gold Metal Winner State Park


It had $4.00 entrance fee. There is a sign at the entrance saying that the sand off the road won't support a vehicle.
Bird on the Visitor Center sign

Bird on the Visitor Center sign


There are some unmanned stations from Eglin AFB out there.

There was also a burned over area,
100_1514.jpgBurned area

Burned area

Fire sign

Fire sign


with a sign about that. They not only have cabins, and camping sites (trailer or tent), but also have boat ramps, swimming, and bike riding. As a coastal barrier peninsula, St. Joseph provides excellent opportunities for bird watching; over 240 species have been sighted in the park. On the way back I saw a kingfisher and also an osprey. We got out where there was a boat ramp, and saw some deer there.. 100_1518.jpgDeer

Deer


We drove out to the very end of where cars are allowed.
Reflections

Reflections

Egret

Egret

Stop

Stop


The last bit of road was two way, but only room for one car, so you had to pull off onto a pull out to let someone coming the other way past. On the way back I saw a kingfisher
Kingfisher

Kingfisher


and also an osprey.
Lakes

Lakes


We drove back to Panama City Beach, and now that we know where it is - we went directly to Bonefish for dinner.
Bob walking in

Bob walking in


Got there a little before 1700.
Bar area inside (it's dark)

Bar area inside (it's dark)


They had happy hour specials on drinks, but not early bird specials for dinner. I had a cup of chowder , andTilapia with potatoes au gratin and green beans

Tilapia with potatoes au gratin and green beans


Bob's Mahi Mahi with mashed potatoes and green beans

Bob's Mahi Mahi with mashed potatoes and green beans


Total was $36.23 before tip, and it was all VERY good.

I was too sleepy to do much on the internet, and we were both asleep by midnight.

Tuesday 1 January 2007

Today it was cold and windy, so we stayed in the unit and I did the internet things, and watched football and parades. We watched the Mummer's parade on WGN, but they cut off coverage before they got to the string bands, which was what I really wanted to see
large_3832212-same_as_above_Panama_City_Beach.jpg

For dinner we went to
Dirty Dick's Crab House

Dirty Dick's Crab House


This was (as you might expect) a seafood place with red and white check oilcloth on the tables.
Oilcloth covered tables

Oilcloth covered tables


We both had the Snow Crab special
Snow crab special

Snow crab special


which came with 8 legs, and boiled potatoes and a small piece of corn on the cob. Sort of like a New England clambake, except with snow crab instead of lobster and clams. Then I asked for a dessert. I can't remember what I asked for, but Bob asked for pecan pie. All there was was a King Cake (like they have in New Orleans at Mardi Gras), and a brownie sundae. Bob had the
Brownie sundae

Brownie sundae

Stale king cake

Stale king cake


I took the King Cake, which was stale.

Wednesday 2 January 2007

Another lazy day - cold outside and the wind picked up. Bob did some laundry.

Condom Knowledge: Safe Sex
Condom Knowledge 2

Condom Knowledge 2


I have not been in this store, but I could not resist taking a picture of it. The owner's website says that this is a store for safe sex. This is the second store by this name in the Panama City area, so it is known as CK2.

We went to the Salt Water Grill for dinner. The big attraction here was an enormous salt water tank in the center of the restaurant. It had what I presumed was fake coral that was very pretty. But there were only tiny fish in there.
910897713845532-Fishtank_at_..City_Beach.jpgCoral and fish

Coral and fish


Our server said that they were restocking the tank and the little fish were put in first so that they would find there way around the tank before the big fish were put in.
Fish tank

Fish tank


He said that they had a diver clean the inside of the tank once a month, and it was an event which all the local parents would bring their children to watch. Of course, they also had lobster tanks for you to pick your own lobsters.
Lobster tank

Lobster tank


They served lobster seven ways, but it was too expensive for us.

They had an early bird menu from 4 to 5:30, and we got there at 2 minutes after 5:30, but she said we could do the Early Bird anyway. I did the Roast chicken with blue crab stuffing from the early bird for $12.99

Roast chicken with blue crab stuffing from the early bird for $12.99


It came with a salad and a potato. Bob had the
2 "Maryland" crab cakes appetizer for $8.99

2 "Maryland" crab cakes appetizer for $8.99


and a cup of lobster bisque ($5.50).

Thursday 3 January 2007

Bob was starting to ask again - what we were going to do, or whether we were going to do anything, so today, I lined up two more Florida State Parks to go to.

One was Eden Gardens.

Entrance to the Eden Gardens

Entrance to the Eden Gardens


This was two-story Wesley house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch.
100_1628.jpgEden house

Eden house


There were moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens.
100_1610.jpg100_1612.jpg100_1613.jpgPink roses

Pink roses

Cherub fountain

Cherub fountain

Fishing statue

Fishing statue

Camilia buds

Camilia buds

Sculpture of young boys

Sculpture of young boys


This was formerly the home of a sawmill owner named Eden. Then in 1963, Lois Maxon came in and fixed it up and bought antiques from Europe to furnish it with.

Tours were on the hour, and we got there about five after the hour. So we walked around the grounds - they had roses and camellias still in bloom even in January and a big reflecting pond.
Eden Gardens house reflected

Eden Gardens house reflected


Then we did the 1300 tour. There were no prohibitions against photography

Quail Christmas tree ornament

Quail Christmas tree ornament

100_1631.jpgSelfie

Selfie


100_1636.jpgStudy

Study

Bedroom deocrated for Christmas

Bedroom deocrated for Christmas


13054623845534-Red_Bedroom_..City_Beach.jpgBedroom

Bedroom


Gardens as we left

Gardens as we left


After that we drove back toward Panama City and on the way stopped at Camp Helen.
Coontie Zamil pumila

Coontie Zamil pumila


From 1945 until 1987 Camp Helen was a company resort for the employees of an Alabama textile mill. Some of those buildings have now been restored. There was a lodge and little cabins, a camp kitchen and stables.
Shelter c1933 - this originally overlooked boathouse

Shelter c1933 - this originally overlooked boathouse


The Lodge c 1932

The Lodge c 1932

Restored cabins

Restored cabins


Stable

Stable

Maid's House c 1936

Maid's House c 1936


Old stable

Old stable

Observation tower

Observation tower


Dining hall and kitchen c 1940

Dining hall and kitchen c 1940


But the main reason for this to be a state park was that it is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, and by Lake Powell, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida on three sides. In addition to the ecological stuff, there are prehistoric middens.
From Camp Helen

From Camp Helen


Day use only. Activities include swimming, beachcombing, nature study, hiking and both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

For dinner we went to Linda's Bella Cucina which was an all you can eat Italian buffet that we had seen when driving around.
Restaurant from the car

Restaurant from the car


It was OK, but not anything special.
Restaurant from the parking lot

Restaurant from the parking lot


They had been open less than a month when we were there. There was a myspace blog where you could get 10% off for mentioning it. It is an all-you-can-eat buffet for $8.95 lunch and $11.95 dinner. In addition to soft drinks, they also have beer and wine, although the sign at the front admonishes "We Proof. Don't even try Getting Servied if you are Under 21"
Board inside the restaurant

Board inside the restaurant


Some people who had been there for several nights asked them to make pizza (which wasn't on the menu that day) and they were accommodated.
Inside restaurant

Inside restaurant


n addition to the hot buffet, the cold buffet and the dessert buffet (photo 4) there is now a pizza buffet included with pizza made fresh by Linda's husband every day.
Desserts

Desserts

Friday 4 January 2007

I decided to visit some cemeteries to take photos for some people that wanted pictures of their relatives' stones. So I called the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery where some of them were and got directions.
Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery

Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery


This was a big huge cemetery and a lot of the stones were flat so you had to walk up to them to see them. But with the locations, it wasn't hard to find them. When I told the person that I had the pictures, he said that many other people had tried to find them and failed. I guess they didn't think to ask the location.
Forest Lawn gravestone

Forest Lawn gravestone


We ate lunch at PoFolks. Haven't eaten there in a long time. Bob got chicken livers, and I got the four vegetable entree.
At  lunch

At lunch


We went to Oakland Cemetery which is an older historic cemetery
73681963845535-Cemetery_wit..City_Beach.jpgOakland Cemetery

Oakland Cemetery


and happened to drive by a grave which said it was the grave of the founder of Panama City.
Founder of Panama City

Founder of Panama City


When I looked him up, I found that not only did he found Panama City (bought the land, platted it up and sold lots), but he was also in railroads, and had started the Panama City paper. Panama City was named because it was almost the same longitude as the Panama Canal, which was being built at that time.

We went to eat at
Sharky's Beachfront Restaurant and Tiki Bar

Sharky's Beachfront Restaurant and Tiki Bar


and this was the most mediocre meal and service that we had for the whole week.
bdae0190-a60b-11ea-8d88-876200affc1d.JPGHostess stand outside Sharky's

Hostess stand outside Sharky's


Bob had a
A Dozen Raw Oysters

A Dozen Raw Oysters

.Half pound of peel and eat shrimp

Half pound of peel and eat shrimp


But of course the shrimp were cold and had no seasoning because that's the way they do therm here. I had the Grecian grilled tuna steak special for $13.99. I couldn't eat it all. It came with a salad.

Bob did another load of wash.

I was looking around on the internet and found my cousin's family tree information which he had hooked up with my information. That gave me his father's death date, which I had been unable to find. I sent him an email, and he has responded.
Sunset

Sunset


We are checking out tomorrow

Saturday 5 January 2008 - A Flying Visit to Pensacola

It has warmed up some. We checked out of the condo to drive to Pensacola.
Navare Beach

Navare Beach


I tried to take the beach road from Navarre Beach, but it is still closed.
Still no through street

Still no through street


We stopped just outside Pensacola at Barnhills Buffet for lunch.
Barnhills

Barnhills


We were not supposed to check in to the Pensacola Lodge until 3. We went to Barnhills for dinner when we were here last year. Barnhills is a buffet All-You-Can-Eat place which is economically feasible for us. There are no big beef entrees here. so the prices are more reasonable.
100_1835.jpgBuffet plate

Buffet plate

100_1840.jpgDessert buffet and Gumbo

Dessert buffet and Gumbo


Prequel:
In July 1959, when Bob and I arrived in Pensacola with a station wagon full of our household goods, our first stop was the Naval Air Station. As we were driving out, a grey haired man stopped us and asked if Bob was entering the pilot training program.
Our landlord at the neighbor's house

Our landlord at the neighbor's house


When we said that he was, he said that he rented unfurnished apartments to the student pilots for the BAQ (Basic Allowance for Quarters).

The apartments were in Beach Haven right under the flight path for the base. When they were doing touch and goes, we couldn't hear the radio or stereo (we didn't have a TV). That was where we lived when we were first married.
End Prequel

One reason we were going back to Pensacola was that I had found some letters I wrote to mother which had my street address for when we lived in Pensacola (or actually Beach Haven). When we looked last year, we couldn't find the place. So we decided to look for that before we checked in. I remembered (correctly) that the street was a dead end, so when we first tried it, we were on the other side of the dead end, and we had to go around to the other side.
Dead end

Dead end


We had wondered whether the apartments had been wiped out or flooded out by the hurricanes. But they were right there just as I remembered.
Beach Haven duplexes

Beach Haven duplexes


They were no longer painted blinding white, and the sidewalk was broken and incomplete, but there were there
Door of one of the duplexes - left 1959 - right 2008

Door of one of the duplexes - left 1959 - right 2008


They had replaced the jalousie windows with regular windows
Bob by our car on the left, current occupant's car on the right

Bob by our car on the left, current occupant's car on the right


I considered knocking on the door, but decided against it.

We headed for the Navy Lodge on the base.
U.S.Navy

U.S.Navy


Navy Lodge

Navy Lodge


The Navy Lodge system is intended for military families who are being transferred from assignment to assignment. The rates are based on the military member's rank. These facilities are not available to civilians, only to Military/DoD Civilians with current ID cards and DoD decals on their vehicle who are allowed base access. We were an hour early for check-in, but they found a room that was ready and we checked in. This room had a balcony,
Balcony door

Balcony door


There was a playground out back for the children.
Playground

Playground


and there was internet, but I had to pay $8/day for the it.

They recommended the Fish House for dinner. I wasn't too thrilled with that suggestion because we had eaten lunch at Atlas Oyster and thought it was kind of yuppie and expensive.
100_1881.jpg Acme Oyster and Fish House

Acme Oyster and Fish House


In fact the Fish House and Atlas Oyster are owned by the same people and have virtually identical menus. The Fish House had a 20 minute wait, but Atlas Oyster had free tables. So we ate at Atlas.

Atlas Oyster was just as I remembered. Expensive. They had sushi - not exactly down home cooking. They served things in big square plates. Bob had the
Soup of the day

Soup of the day

Raw Oysters

Raw Oysters


which he said were good, although a lot more expensive. I had the special, which included a Salad

Salad

Fish served on top of mashed potatoes with a piece of chicken on top

Fish served on top of mashed potatoes with a piece of chicken on top

For dessert, I had
Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Pensacola Lighthouse

Pensacola Lighthouse


Tomorrow we drive to Baton Rouge - or at least Denham Springs which will be our base for two days while we visit Baton Rouge. Last year when we did this trip we went along the coast. This year we are going through northern Louisiana

Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:00 Archived in USA Tagged sand seafood panama_city pensacola panama_city_beach state_parks Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 9) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 »