"Freezing in the New Year" Top 5 Page for this destination Panama City Beach Travelogue by grandmaR
Panama City Beach Travel Guide: 199 reviews and 311 photos
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.
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. 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, and we were on the third floor. The guy that checked us in gave us a Panama City Beach map and some restaurant recommendations.
After we carried everything up to the third floor, we unpacked 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 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. The prices were quite reasonable. Bob had the house special which included a cup of clam chowder which had more clams than soup, a dozen oysters, steamed shrimp, hushpuppies, and fries for $16.95. I had an Oyster PoBoy for $13.95, and a cup of seafood gumbo for $4.95. My gumbo had sausage in it in addition to the seafood. 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.
The next day , 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) 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.
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. Bob got a rack of ribs and I got 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.
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 Cozumel, and we went to the information center and got a map of the county and also a lot of travel information. 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 actually found it this time.
So first we went to St. Andrews State Park ($5/car), which is in Panama City Beach. We 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 great blue heron and some coots. We went to the information center behind the store but it was closed 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.
We drove out past the Ripley's Believe It or Not (which has the shape of a sailing ship) 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 at Sharon's Cafe about 1300. It was getting ready to close, but I got chicken salad and Bob got a chicken salad sandwich. We read pieces of the paper that were there. Lunch was $10.96 plus tip.
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. There are some unmanned stations from Eglin AFB out there. This was $4.00 entrance fee. There is a sign at the entrance saying that the sand off the road won't support a vehicle. THere was also a burned over area, with a sign about that. They not only have cabins, and camping sites (trailer or tent), but also boat ramps, swimming, bike riding etc. We got out where there was a boat ramp, and saw some deer there. We drove out to the very end of where cars are allowed. 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 and also an osprey.
We drove back to Panama City Beach, and went directly to Bonefish for dinner. Got there a little before 1700. They had happy hour specials on drinks, but not early bird specials for dinner. I had a cup of chowder , and the Tilapia with potatoes au gratin and green beans. Bob had the 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.
Today it was cold and windy, so we stayed in the unit and I worked on VT and 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.
For dinner we went to Dirty Dick's Crab House. This was (as you might expect) a seafood place with red and white check oilcloth on the tables. We both had the 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, and I took the King Cake, which was stale.
One of the main reasons for going to this condo was to shelter somewhere for New Years, and also it advertised a free wi-fi. 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.
Another lazy day - cold outside and the wind picked up. Bob did some laundry. We went to the Salt Water Grill for dinner. The attraction was that 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. It came with a salad and a potato. Bob had the 2 "Maryland" crab cakes appetizer for $8.99 and a cup of lobster bisque ($5.50).
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. 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. 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.
Bob was starting to ask 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. This was an old house which was formerly the home of a sawmill owner. Then in the 60s a rich lady 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 camelias still in bloom and a big reflecting pond.
Then we did the 1300 tour. There were no prohibitions against photography.
After that we drove back toward Panama City and on the way stopped at Camp Helen, which was formerly an operation run by a company for their employees to go for R&R. There was a lodge and little cabins, a camp kitchen and stables. The main theme for this park was that it was surrounded by water on three sides, and was a coastal dune park.
For dinner we went to an all you can eat Italian buffet. It was OK, but not anything special.
I decided to visit some cemeteries to take photos for some people that wanted pictures of their relatives' stones. So I called the main cemetery where some of them were and got directions. 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.
We ate lunch at PoFolks. Haven't eaten there in a long time. Bob got chicken livers, and I got the four vegetable entre.
We went to another cemetery and happened to drive by a grave which said it was the grave of the 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, and this was the most mediocre meal and service that we had for the whole week. Bob had a dozen raw oysters and half pound of peel and eat shrimp. But of course the shrimp were cold and had no seasoning. 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.
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