Thursday, June 24, 2010


Day Map Tue 22 June 2010

We didn't have time to rent a charter and go diving to possibly, but probably not, see manatees, so we headed north into the pan handle of Florida after eating at a mom and pop restaurant...
We opted to stay away from the boring, stressful, usually jammed up highway like the garmin wanted us to take, and instead hugged the seashore as best we could...
We passed many summer cottages and nice beaches.  We wondered often how this area would do during a serious hurricane.  We came to Panama City in need of fuel for Betsy.  We explored the city and the beach front.  We had to try to gas stations as the service was so unfriendly at one that we opted for another.  We then stopped to eat at a bay front open porched seafood place -- finally.
Suyen kept reading online about a place called Panama City Beach, Florida, not to be confused with town of Panama City Florida.  There are a lot of little municipalities stuck together out here, so it gets confusing.  We found Panama City Beach, Florida, after searching, and found a long party beach with many resort hotels and tourist traps.  We found a neat 1950's mid century modern googie place to stay called the Plaza Motel, which bills itself as the "last of the past."  
You could imagine that at one time this strip was lined with motels like this one.  We actually loved this motel.  It was cheap, cozy, centrally located, and quiet.  It had a lot of the charm of the past too.  The room we were in had been redone, and showed a few signs of being threadbare, but that added to the charm.  I love the check in lobby, with the old coke machines and juke box plus a photo album they had of former guests.   We checked in, rested up a little, and went walking on the strip.  You could tell this was a pary beach by all the drunk college aged kids, or younger driving up and down the strip woo wooing, flashing, peeling out and generally showing off.  There are a lot of not so cheap resort hotels and condo's in this area, and they often blot out the view of the beach.  We went shopping for souvenirs and a bikini for Suyen for the next day.  One big souvenir shop was a place called Alvin's Island.
The next day we got up fairly early for a morning stroll and dip in the beach.  We had to leave poor Tima in the room as the beaches here don't allow dogs.  The waves were quite strong.  I have a paranoia about sea creatures and beaches, and sure enough, I saw a huge stingray swimming near us.  However, I got over it.

We checked out, and headed for the dog beach with Tima.  We et at a buttfey place first, which was so so.  Then we headed to the dog beach.

We didn't  have any time for the big mall by where we were (thank Ghod) er, I mean, Suyen was really disappointed.  

We headed up the coast to Alabama, and Mississippi after stocking up on groceries for the ride...

Day Map Wed 23 June 2010
I took the long way via the beach roads, as much as I could.

We drove through Pensacola, we didn't stop, but someday I'd like to.  We found out later that oil had come ashore at Pensacola on the day we drove through, and the beaches were closed to the public.

We only stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break.  We then headed into Alabama.  Suyen was harping that we didn't have any Florida pictures of us, so I stopped on the state line.  She didn't want to get out though for fear of alligators.
The pan handle of Alabama was a much longer drive than I thought it would be.  We passed through some small towns, and each seemed to have thriving art communities by the looks of the galleries we passed...

We then came to Mobile bay, and Mobile Alabama.  I have memories of this place from the 1970's.  We would rarely visit this area, but when we did, it was usually to visit the USS Alabama.

We then got on I-10 -- it was inevitable.  We took it to Ocean Springs, where I hoped to eat at a BBQ place featured on the food network.  However, unfortunately, we arrived 10 minutes after closing.

We drove through Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and on into Biloxi to look for a motel.  We found one that had been relocated by Hurricane Katrina.  Actually, the old Broadway Inn Express had been destroyed, and the replacement was pretty much brand new.
We settled in for the night, save for me driving up HWY 90 with Tima to take care of bidness.  We went to the lighthouse, and I was going to try some night photography, but I forgot the media card.   It was just a well, because it seemed like a lot of scary lowlifes hang out on this part of the beach at night.

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