The final destination on our recent road trip back in October was Panama City Beach, Florida. As I mentioned in my post on our visit to Orange Beach, Alabama (see post here) we headed out under rainy skies, enjoying the sites along the road leading to Panama City Beach.
As Orange Beach and surrounding areas were rebounding from the recent effects of Hurricane Sally that hit Gulf Shores, Alabama, we did not expect that our last day at Panama City Beach would be effected by Hurricane Zeta. Ironically our plan was to stop in New Orleans on our way home the very day Zeta hit landfall in New Orleans.
Instead we headed NW and drove through three states that day in our successful attempt to outrun Zeta. We hit rain a few times on the otherwise calm and uneventful drive to the northeast side of Texas.
However, we did enjoy Panama City Beach with good food, a lovely hotel, and gorgeous views of the sunset over the ocean from our balcony! (yes, I was in beach heaven)
COVID had minimal effect on our stay, as we spent time out on the beach, walking a nearby pier, and exploring a couple of outdoor park areas.
One area we explored was St. Andrews State Park. Although I didn’t get as many bird photo ops as I had hoped, we enjoyed visiting the area and walking on some of the paths and trails. It was very beautiful and I did capture a few nice bird photos. However, it was warm enough that we didn’t stay all day and instead headed back to the hotel to enjoy the pool. The beach, the warmth of the sun, and crazy life all made for a most relaxing afternoon by the pool.
One of our favorite meals was at Pineapple Willy’s. We had to wait a while outdoors watching the sunset until a seat was available. At dinner we got a great view from the outdoor seating area on the short pier, and the food was delicious!
Unfortunately we encountered some rain on our last day. Honestly, it was a beautiful morning hanging out in our room with a lovely view out over the stormy ocean. Stormy or sunny, the beach is beautiful.
That afternoon we decided to go out and explore regardless of the threat of more rain. Utilizing the map app we discovered a hidden gem we wish we had more time to explore. Not far from where we were staying was Panama City Beach Conservation Park. We enjoyed a short walk around a few of the paths before turning around and making a quick get-a-way to the car to avoid the rain. It was quite beautiful in the misty rain with the green and shimmery raindrops on the leafy plants. We had hoped to discover an alligator in one of the water areas, but no such luck. We were pretty much on the hunt for alligators the entire time we were in Florida. 🐊
On our way back to the hotel we stopped briefly at a sports park and walked around another water marsh area. I snagged a couple of photos before getting drenched in a sudden downpour!
We thought this was funny because we saw several signs for Mosquito Commissioner posted around town 😄
We constantly monitored Hurricane Zeta’s progress during our time in Panama City. It was a bit exciting our last day there, as we watched them clear away the beach chairs and garbage cans in case of high winds. We decided to leave the day we had planned, however we got up and headed out early. We crossed Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and made it into Texas ahead of the storm. Although the map app did take us through some very back country roads in order to miss a possible freeway delay, we made safe and swift progress, with a bit of a story to share with our friends back home.
As I reflect back on our time in Florida I am so happy for the days we had away from normal routine and the opportunity to explore new areas. I did not have enough time. I am sad we didn’t have more time at Conservation Park. That park was very beautiful. And I would love to visit St. Andrews State Park again.
Our last night provided a beautiful sunset after the rain as we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Sharky’s with a great view out at the ocean.
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Below are a few additional photos that show the beauty of the beach, sea and sun.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson