Travel: At the Seashore

We open the door to our unit, turn off the A/C, slide open the glass doors and take in a deep breath of the fresh sea air. For the next four days, we're residents of Panama City Beach and owners of a condo. (Fantasizing relieves tension, you know.) 

 Panama City Beach, FLorida

Panama City Beach, FLorida

This familiar vacation destination, an easy day's drive from Middle Tennessee, has lots of tourist attractions and eateries that are hard to beat, but with all nature has to offer you don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy yourself. 

Tired we make it an early evening. With the Gulf breeze filtering through the condo and the sound of waves splashing onto the shore below, we're lulled into a peaceful sleep, certain our next few days will be delightful.  

It's still dark when I rise the next morning. The Gulf speaks and I listen to its soothing message. Soon the first beams of sunlight come over the horizon and I see splashes of pink reflecting from the sky onto the water, God's own unique design. I am spellbound.

 Early morning on the beach.

Early morning on the beach.

Before long, sea gulls arrive from who knows where. The sun glints off their white feathers as they soar along the shoreline, squawking. Some congregate at the water's edge, searching for food.

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As I stand taking it all in, a few other early risers make their way to the beach. A man and a little boy appear. The child runs ahead, dipping his toes in the water before hurrying back from it. He squats in the sand searching for treasure while his dad clicks pictures of him.

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A young man and woman hurry to set up the chairs and fit the cushions in them. A man cleans the pools. There's work to be done to ready the beach for it's guests. 

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As the rest of the family awakens, we're relaxed, enjoying each other and the fresh air. After lunch, Wendy and Rachel suit up and head to the lazy river and hot tub.

 Wendy and Rachel on the lazy river.

Wendy and Rachel on the lazy river.

I stay in the unit, doors open, inspired by the Gulf as I work on my novel. Children play in the Gulf or jump in the pool, their squeals carried on the gentle breeze. James sits on the balcony sipping coffee and taking in the view, his stress evaporating.

The beach comes alive with kites flying, motor boats hurrying past and folks finding their spot in the sun. One girl buries two adults with sand up to their necks. Must be her parents. Who else would be patient enough to lie still for that?   

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During the week we spend time at Pier Park, a retail area. 

We eat.

 Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

We shop.

 I know, it's ridiculous. We go to the beach and buy skillets and a flashlight.

I know, it's ridiculous. We go to the beach and buy skillets and a flashlight.

We play.

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 And eat again.

 Marble Slab Creamery

Marble Slab Creamery

That evening we walk out on the county pier to watch the sun setting. The cost is only $3 per person. People are fishing from the pier, pulling in their supper and tossing the fish into buckets. Birds flit about hoping for a quick steal. We stand amazed as the sun lowers and finally dips beneath the horizon.  

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One day we head to Zooworld where Rachel has an encounter with a sloth.

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And Wendy gets kissed by a giraffe.

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We pet rabbits, feed the barnyard animals and interact with the birds.

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It isn't necessary to eat out every meal as the condo's kitchens are well-equipped, but we do visit a few of our favorite places. At Salty Sue's James and I share a scrumptious coconut shrimp dinner.

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At Dee's Hangout, Wendy has a massive shrimp po-boy and at Pineapple Willy's we loved the bucket of barbecue. The food at these three places is delicious and they don't hesitate to give a heaping plate full. Of course when we're at the beach, a slice of key lime pie with every meal is a must. 

 Taken at Dee's Hangout

Taken at Dee's Hangout

On our last morning as owners of a condo and residents of Panama City Beach, the maid knocks on the door a full half hour before we're expected out. She stands waiting as we load up. Of course we never were truly owners of it although in our minds Wendy and I had the place bought and our furniture arranged. It's fun to pretend. We aren't leaving without a few last pictures though. If we can't truly own beachfront property, we'll savor our memories and look forward to our next visit.

 Taken at Splash Resort where we stayed. A very family-friendly place. 

Taken at Splash Resort where we stayed. A very family-friendly place. 

What is your favorite beach?