The Florida Panhandle Beaches


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September 19th 2021
Published: September 19th 2021
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9/17/21

This morning, at 9:30 AM and 83 degrees (and it seemed like 100% humidity), we put Satellite Beach in our rear view mirror and headed for the panhandle of Florida. For anyone who has made this trip, you know well that it is less than interesting and largely boring. We crossed the state to I-75 and drove up to I-10 and west to Panama City Beach. We had expected to hit a lot of rain, remnants of Nicholas, but the rain was sparce and the trip was uneventful. The only thing we saw that was of interest was the banner across the road in Blountstown that read “Goat Day Oct 16”. I wonder what that is all about. No worry, we were not inclined to stick around and find out. We checked into our hotel an hour later than we had anticipated. We did not realize when we planned this day that Panama City Beach is in the central time zone. We should have known. If I recall, we got bitten by the same bug last time we went through here.

9/18/21

After a good night’s sleep in a very bad hotel (making a note never to
stay in the La Quinta PCB again) we got an early start and were back on the road at 8:30 AM and 80 degrees. The plan was to drive along the coastline and visit the beach towns between PCB and Pensacola. We anticipated rain and we did get some, but it was spotty and usually not a real nuisance.

PCB is a beach town of high rises…from a quick count, about 25 stories. The ones that had fewer stories look to have been built some time ago. As we drove along the shoreline, we saw a mixture of builds, from high rise condos, to rows of villas and town houses, old and new. Some were painted in Key West style colors, others bland grays and tans. Many were on stilts made of sections of telephone poles. We actually saw an empty lot with a store of poles waiting to be cut and installed. At first I thought they WERE telephone poles. But no, they were waiting to serve as protective foundations for houses. People were out about and about, jogging and walking along the roadside, some with dogs. These were the health conscience. And the line to get donuts and bagels was long and winding through the parking lot. Presumably, these were not. We drove through PCB, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica (yes we are in FL not in CA).

As we crossed town lines, the configuration of the buildings changed. Santa Rosa Beach had no high rises. Nothing was taller than four stories. And I have to say, this town is the one I would choose if I had to choose one. It was charming and understated, but elegant in many ways. Many of the residences were private homes on the beach and across the street from the beach. And the area just smelled of money.

We stopped at South Walton Beach and took in the view of the shoreline. The sand here is white, unlike what we have on the Atlantic side of FL. It is beautiful. And where Eglin AFB is located along this stretch, the land is unoccupied on both sides of the road with grassy dunes of white sand. I suppose it all looked like this before the cranes, cement trucks and steel beams came to town.

After returning to I-10 and crossing over Mobile Bay on one of the longest bridges we have ever crossed, probably 3 miles or more, we drove through the city of Mobile and recalled having been there a few times in the past. It is a very eclectic city with a working harbor, boat building facilities, a convention center and a number of tall buildings looming over the waterfront. We saw a gray military ship. It looked like a battle ship to me, but I am certainly no expert on military ships. Also, I believe I saw a submarine above the water. Again, not sure that is what it was. It was a strange looking thing and we didn’t have time to stop and study them, so it was a passing impression at best.

We moved on north in Alabama and this is when we hit a few spots of heavy rain, but after we crossed the line into Mississippi, we were clear of the storm and the sun was shining brightly. I have to say this, though. All of the ponds rivers and lakes surely looked like they were, or were about to, overflow their banks. Two hurricanes have soaked this area to the max. Too bad they can’t send some of it to California.

Lastly, I want to mention that, we are now enough north to be seeing the dreaded signs “Bridge ices before roadway”. The palm trees are gone and the cooler weather is coming.

We arrived at our hotel at 4:30 PM and got settled for the night. Tomorrow, we meet up with the Mississippi River and plan to make friends with it for many miles to come.


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Battle ship?Battle ship?
Battle ship?

Mobile Bay
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Convention Center


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