Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Panama City Beach...Reconnections

I arrived here at the Marriott's Legends Edge on Saturday afternoon and, after picking up some groceries shortly after arrival, I stayed close to the resort, got a nice run in on Sunday, and explored the resort a little on Monday.

Now, the really interesting thing is that I have connected with a long-lost high school friend through Facebook. She and I lived on the same street in Paxton, MA. Before Paxton, my family lived in Milton FL, near Pensacola, where my dad was stationed as a pilot and flight instructor. Last time I saw this friend was in the early 1980's. Flash forward 30 years and here I am in Panama City Beach, just 90 miles east of where I used to live and getting ready to meet up with this high school friend from my years in Massachusetts who now lives in Panama City Beach area. Our paths took us 2,000 miles and 30 years away from each other and here we are in the same place at the same time getting ready to reconnect.

We spoke on the phone and confirmed a dinner together for Monday evening. Her sister, who is 3 years younger than us, wants to join us. I remember her and it will be fun to see her again, too. It has been more like 40 years since I've seen her.

Friend Linda's car arrived at the resort right on time and she and her sister Sandy took me for a little driving tour along the beach, though little of the beach is visible for all of the condo highrises and other buildings that completely cover this strip. It's nothing like it looked when I would come here summers while living in FL in the early 1960's.

We finished our drive at a great restaurant on St. Andrews Bay, called Boat House. It was perfect! It overlooks the bay, is not on the tourist - or spring breaker's - "radar screens." We toasted to long lost friendships and had sumptuous seafood for dinner.

Linda had to work the next day but Sandy didn't so, before they dropped me off back at the resort, we made plans to meet up the next day, Tuesday, for lunch at Pier Park, a newly constructed beachfront complex on the west side of Panama City Beach.

I woke up early Tuesday morning and got a good 6 mile run in before breakfast. This is a perfect spot for getting long runs in! Breakfast was a bagel and lox, cheerios with berries, and decaf coffee. I showered, then headed out the door to uncover the bike and ride toward Pier Park.

The place was easy to find and the spot Sandy recommended for the meet-up was perfect! I brought sandals and wore jeans so, once I got there, all I had to do was lock up my boots, helmet, and jacket in the bike's side- and top-cases and we headed off on foot toward the pier, which is the focal point of Pier Park.

The weather was absolutely perfect...and glorious. And Sandy's company was very enjoyable! We had a great time browsing the shops, stopping for a Starbuck's, then heading out, Starbucks in hand, to the pier. We walked out to the end, chatting up the fishermen along the way. We were curious to know what they were fishing for and if the fish were biting. The answers: "Whiting and Redfish" and "No, the fish are not biting."

We poked into a few shops once back on land and in Pier Park. We shopped for jewelry, looked at sundresses, laughed at the funny stickers and buttons for sale. I bought a few things for grandkids, a couple of postcards, a necklace to wear Friday night at the IBA banquet. The pace was perfect! The shops unique and adorable!

Suddenly it was 2:00 PM and Sandy recommended we eat lunch at Red Brick Pizza which had outdoor seating, so we ordered some kind of sandwich made on pita bread and toasted. I forget its name, but she was right! It was yummy! It was fun to sit there, watch the young spring break kids walk by. I chatted a threesome up, three young men from upstate NY; a young lady with an adorable puppy informed us the puppy was 14 weeks old and totally tired out after walking around the Pier Park complex.

We finished our lunch and started to stroll back toward where her car and my motorcycle were parked. It was just an absolutely perfect day. The right thing to do with the right person and at the right pace. Thank you Sandy!

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