Panama City Beach RV Trip – December 2012

David: “My truck is steaming.”

Wendy: “WHAT?!?”

David: “Go see for yourself.”

Wendy: “Oh, that’s so cooool!  Where’s my camera?!?”

Steaming Truck

…and that, folks, marks the beginning of our trip to Panama City, Florida.

Thanks to David, the drive south was a good one, with the exception of dealing with construction traffic in Eufala, Alabama. I was bummed because we had to take a detour away from most of the epic historic homes in Eufala, but luckily, we got to see them on the way back.

After something like 7-ishy hours, we got to Panama City.  David and I realized we both hadn’t been there in over 15 years!  The place is SO touristy and commercialized, which is totally not our thang. HOWEVER, it was the off-season and we found a slice of natural Florida in St. Andrews State Park.  The park was gorgeous. There are lots of trees, dunes, deer and water fowl. The park has a lagoon on one side and 1.5 miles of white sand Gulf beach on the other. We camped right on the lagoon at campsite #20.

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David and I are morning people and we normally get up before the sun. Our first morning greeted us with an outstanding sunrise!

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After breakfast, we got the dogs and went on a walk to explore the park. Here’s some of the neat stuff we saw along the way:

Some kind of hawk on the mast of a sunken sailboat in the lagoon.

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A neat old (restored) turpentine still that we got to explore.

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Big ‘ol blue heron. There were lots of super-cool water birds all over the place!

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The beach! Isn’t the water beautiful?!? I love the color!

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When we got back to the RV, David left to get a small charcoal grill and I got in my lounge chair to read my library books.  I didn’t get much reading done because there were so many interesting things going on around me! Our friendly (Canadian!) neighbor put their gorgeous, handmade wooden canoe in the water to go for a ride. I wish I got a pic of it! I also kept hearing splashing sounds and realized it was fish. They were jumping out of the water constantly!  These aren’t great pics, but you get the idea.

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Come to find out that these are mullet fish. It is a mystery at to why they jump out of the water like they do!

Whilst fish were flying through the air in front of me, F22 Raptor jets from nearby Tyndall Air Force Base were flying above me!  They would come by every once in a while doing their maneuvers, which was pretty neat to see and hear. I didn’t get any photos but here is an AWESOME one that I found showing the jets going over our park (click on the link): Photo courtesy of Panama City Beach CVB

When David got back, he put together the grill and tested it with some rib eye steaks.  It was a very tasty lunch! Afterward, David wanted to show me something.  We went for a ride and I couldn’t believe it when I saw it!  An upside-down building!!!  This is Wonder Works, which is a fun attraction that encourages kids to think, use their imagination and be creative. I love it!

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After our quick drive around town we got back and discovered this guy visiting us at our campsite!  It is so neat to see birds of prey up close.

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A bit later we headed down to the beach so David could go swimming and we could watch the sunset.

Below is David prepping for his swim. Note the surfer in a full wet suit. Most of the surfers had them on, but David thought they were silly!  He had a great swim.  (Brrr)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took too many photos of the sunset but here are a few of my favorites.

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I used PicMonkey to “stitch” together a few photos using their collage feature. It’s not perfect, but not bad either!

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The next day, we went out on the big pier at the park. Did I mention that the weather was warm and sunny the whole time we were on vacay?  It was!  The sun felt wonderful.

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In the afternoon we took our doggies to the only dog-friendly beach, about 10 miles away at Pier Park.  We learned that Sandy (our Labrador) HATES the ocean, which is so odd for a retriever. We had both dogs on leashes and Dexter was pulling me into the water and Sandy was pulling me out!

When we got back at camp, we had another avian visitor that dropped by and hung out for a while!

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Sunset wasn’t as great as it was the previous night, so I took some night shots. Here’s one of our campsite.  You can see the Christmas lights I put on our RV!

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That evening the water in the lagoon was very calm, which made for some excellent reflections. I don’t have a tripod, so I settled my camera on a picnic table and hoped for the best.  This shot came out fairly well!

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The next morning, I had a helper assist me with getting a sunrise photograph. 🙂

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Speaking of critterdom, here’s a friend I found later on our little beach in front of the camper. A hermit crab!

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Later, David and I grabbed all you can eat shrimp for lunch over at Schooners. (…and nooo, the hermit crab didn’t make me hungry!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we left, I wanted to walk down to the ocean. I had a box of lunch leftovers with me and as soon as I got on the beach, a whole flock of seagulls came after me!  …and I raaaaan, I ran so far awaaayyyy.  No, not really, but I couldn’t resist saying that after typing “flock of seagulls!”  Anyway, we laughed, dodged and evaded the funny gulls who chuckled at us the whole time.

(BTW, Schooners has a real-time beach/sunset webcam you can watch 24/7. You can watch them shoot a small cannon every night once the sun has set!)

Back at camp, we decided to walk off our lunch and went down to the Gator Lake nature trail with our dogs.  We didn’t get to see any alligators, but we did see this little gal!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our dogs went insane over the deer, so our walk was, um, spirited, to say the least!

Later, we went to go see our last sunset on our vacation in Florida. Here’s David in the gun turret (yep!) pavilion by the beach.

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Bye-bye sun and bye-bye, Florida! We had fun!

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