Thursday, July 08, 2010

Panama City Beach

Carol and I had heard differing accounts as to the status of the beach where we spend most of our time. The twins that we take care of on Fridays during the summer were going to be otherwise occupied on July 9Th and 16Th. We decided to take a trip down to see for ourselves. It would also give us an opportunity to check on our home there and to carry some furniture and my collection of crackle glass. It also might be the last time to swim in the water for some time.

We originally had planned to leave on Tuesday the 6Th, but my son pointed out that the traffic would be much lighter on the Monday. So we left early Monday morning. I always prefer to cross the Hudson on the George Washington Bridge. Traffic was light and we approached the bridge at a steady 50 miles per hour. The previous week my son and I traveled this same area at a stop and go pace, happy when we could go 20 mph. The outside temperature was hot. At one point my external temperature display registered 102. Carol and I travel with her chihuahua, Tiny and my Yorkie, Gizmo so we needed to be aware of their needs. At roadside rests we tried for a shady parking spot and while one went to the restroom the other stayed in the truck with the A/C blasting. The first night we stayed in Exmore, VA a favorite spot just 30 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. A new restaurant (much needed in this area) opened recently and we were able to walk across the parking lot to it. It was very good. Carol enjoyed the stuffed peppers and I had the prime rib special.

We were up early and on the road by 7:30 AM. Crossing the bridge is always a highlight and a
U S Navy Destroyer was heading out to sea. We watched it sail over the tunnel that we had just driven through. In a way I envied the sailors as I always liked the crossing of the Atlantic when my aircraft carrier left for the Mediterranean. Compared to the ship I was on, this ship looked so small. I have always been glad I was on a carrier. We spent the second night near Savannah, GA at the intersection of I 95 and state road 204. After dinner, Carol and I went out to Pembroke and visited with BJ a navy buddy and dear friend and his wife. BJ is just about two weeks with his new knee. He is moving with a cane and will start rehab soon. It is always good to see him and Marsha. The conversation flows freely between two old and good friends who shared a few years in the Navy. We made plans to have dinner with them when Carol and I head North . We also talked about a planned gathering of the old line crew in Alabama at the Gulf Shores. in Late September.

We were once again on the road before 7:30 AM. Its not that we are early risers and well organized, its that television is so bad that we were in bed by 10:15 PM each night. Our third day on the road would be broken into two parts. We were stopping in Tallahassee at Carol's daughters home for lunch. Hugh, Carol's son in law came home from work to join us for lunch. It was a good visit and for desert, Joylene made a cake for me as my birthday is later in the month. They all sang "Happy Birthday" to me. I was touched. The children all call me grandpa. Conner who is not yet one year old, let me hold him. Mostly as I am the only person he sees with a beard and he likes to pull it. Hugh went back to work, I went to the recliner and napped while Carol and Joylene enjoyed mom and daughter time together. A short drive later and we were back in Panama City Beach. Its good to be here for a few days. I want to swim in the Gulf.

Yesterday we went to the beach. When I started coming here as a winter "snow bird" I rented at the Dunes of Panama. The good folks in the rental office became friends over the years. I am always welcome to visit and park my vehicle in the gated parking lot and walk down to the water or use the pools on the grounds. I like to do so as there is plenty of parking, and I always stop in the office to see them. Right now the building is full. August does not look so good, but folks call to check on the water oil situation and have been coming at the last moment. So they continue to hope for the best. As we were leaving to go swim, Annette cautioned me that the sting rays were many as they have migrated here ahead of the oil and to be careful. I never did see any and I swam out fairly far as I was hoping the deeper water would be cooler. The gulf water is warm.

We will head North on Sunday the 18Th. I have decided to cut inland and pick up the Skyline Drive in Waynesboro, VA and continue North to Gettysburg and then home to Rhode Island.

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