Florida at Last


After departing Huntsville, AL. on Thursday, March 6th, we headed south towards the Gulf of Mexico.  Our destination was St Andrew’s State Park at Panama City Beach.  It took us about 45 minutes to get through Dothan AL on the bypass route!  I counted 22 stop lights and we caught almost every one.  There was enough traffic that frequently we had to sit through two cycles.  And it was raining.  The closer we got to Florida the more it rained.  Once we crossed into Florida it was about 60 miles to go.  

Somehow I had imagined a state park like we have in MInnesota.  Not quite what they have here, at least this one.  We drove through Panama City and then across a high causeway (bridge) to Panama City Beach (known by all but us as the Spring Break Party Capital of the World) then over another shorter causeway (if you listen to them down here they will tell you that’s what it is cause you need it to get that-a-way … my theory anyway) and then on down the road right through the middle of town.  At the end of the road starts the park.  We registered, we were a day late, our loss, and drove in to find the first of our two sites.  It had been raining nearly every day for a week of more and some sites were flooded and in general it was very wet.
We were right on the Grand Lagoon.  Cloudy, raining on and off, got stuff set up and hooked up, no power.
I checked the 20 amp line and it was correctly wired based on the output of my tester nd checked voltage on the 20 and 30 lines.  Good enough.  Checked in the coach which is full of smart stuff and my power line manager said the hot and neutral on the 30 amp line were reversed.  I called the park office and told them.  They were surprised that there was a problem since someone had just been there.  The service guy showed up much quicker than I expected and indeed the hot and neutral were reversed.  He was pretty surprised that I was able to detect it.  He swapped the wires and we were good to go.
My cousin, Sue and her husband Lloyd were staying just down the road.  They were leaving in the morning so we called them up and arranged to have dinner with them and then back at their place for a visit and Key Lime pie.  Very tasty fish and shrimp dinners. We got a bit of a tour through historic St Andrews and Panama City.  Hard to figure out what is what at night.  It was nice to visit with them.  They had been here for two months and were not eager to go home but then the weather here had been not so great either.
Friday was cloudy and 47 in the morning.  It was nice and warm in the coach.  We had a nice breakfast and did some chores (house cleaning, inside and out).  I spent way too much time looking for  a nut that had come off and fallen into a never to be found place.  That made two nuts I needed. Time for a hardware store trip.  By mid-afternoon the sun was coming out as well as campers.  We went a long walk around all of the campground.  There are more than 200 sites so it is big.  At the far end we found were our next site was going to be, a nice site. Beyond that was the boat launch and a fishing pier.  Further on was a camp store. And then we came to Alligator Lake.
Lots of birds and turtles.  I did see a smaller alligator.

I guess I will leave then alone.  There were some other roads to follow but we figured they would wait.

I went for another fairly long walk about 6.  It was cooling off.  I went through the parts of the campground we had not seen.  There are campers of every imaginable description and age here from everywhere.  Several from Ontario and Minnesota, one guy from Oregon, some from California, Colorado, everywhere..  The folks next to us were from North Carolina.  They made reservations for this place last June.  Most parks in FL are very busy.
I put up the TV antenna to see what we could get… 25 digital channels. Not bad but then we’re right next to town.
Moving day. Groceries.  And the hardware store.  Susan located hardware store on the way to the grocery. It was an old, old hardware store.  The owner and a couple of his good old boy buddies were there and if not for him we would have never found the two nuts I needed.  It was pretty much disorganized chaos. I needed two different sizes of locking nuts.  It took about 15 minutes for him to find them and he knew right where to look.  It totaled up to a whopping 42¢ including tax.  I don’t even know if they have sales tax here.  
Then groceries.  It is always an adventure going into a new grocery store.  This one was no different.  Prices were about 50% more than we were used to.  Didn’t get too much.
Then we came back and moved about 1/2 mile to a nice big site with 50 amp power that was OK.
We sat in the sun at 70ish temps and had a nice lunch.  I fixed the things that needed nuts.  We got the bikes off the bike rack, cleaned them up, added air to the tires and went for a 3 or 4 mile bike ride to places in the park not yet visited.  
Beyond the boat launch there is beach access near the jetty at the entrance to St Andrews Bay and the Grand Lagoon.  The campground is on the Grand Lagoon.  On the other side of the Bay is St Andrews.
All of the sand is white(ish) and there are lots of dunes.  More down the road end we came to the Pier. Lots of fishing people there and to the west Panama City Beach stretches for several miles.

At the far end it is much like carnival/frat party for the spring breakers.  There are amusement rides like they have at the State Fair that appeal to this crowd (bungee jumping for example). They have fenced in areas where the cops take those who have been arrested for who knows what to be detained.  They are held over night in the “dog pound” and processed, taken before a judge in the morning, fined or jailed if found guilty and if they can pay the fines they are released.  If not, who knows what.
Having never experienced a spring break excess before, it is outside my imagination.   It is all about drinking and misbehvior.  My friend Mike and I usually spent spring break at the library or at choir practice.  😉
That’s it for now.  Time to get started on dinner.   A Foyle’s War for desert.
Roger and Susan

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