Last March I came to Panama City and spent the week leading up to the IBA party in Jacksonville. It was a great opportunity to meet up with a long-lost high school friend and to reconnect after many, many years (story here: 2011 Panama City Visit).
I decided to take US 98 from US 19 in Perry, and was nicely rewarded by great views and quaint towns along the coast...Carrabelle, Apalachicola, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach. Some of the inspiration to take this route came from Alan Leduc's new book, "Passion in the Wind." I served as his editor for this book and, as I read his description of riding this road, I was struck by how much of Florida I still had not explored despite having lived in this state - two separate times - and having visited the state countless times.
Being in a car this time, rather than on the motorcycle, greatly streamlined the process of stocking up on groceries and getting to the resort. On the bike, I'd had to check in, unload the bike, then suit back up again to head to the grocery store. I was checked in, unpacked, and settled in by 4:00 PM. Nice! The resort is, as always with Marriotts, quite comfortable and luxurious.
While I was on the road, enroute to Cedar Key, Alan had emailed me all of the InDesign files for final edit and review, one for each chapter of the book, with the plan to have all of the editing completed and files to the printers by the end of the week. Therefore, my top priority for Monday and Tuesday was to work my way through all 16 chapters of Alan's book and have the editing complete by Tuesday night. This is a process I enjoy and I appreciated the excuse to relax in comfortable suroundings for a couple of days after being on-the-go quite a bit the last four days.
When I returned to the Marriott, I had an email from Alan, sent to all on his private book-update distribution list, letting us all know that the book was official done and the files had been delivered to the printer's. Excellent news!
Thursday I totally chilled out and did absolutely nothing. Good for me! But on Friday morning, I got up, braved the cold temps, and got a nice 5 mile run in. By the time I'd finished, the sun had warmed things up considerably. That afternoon, I met Sandy and her sister Marcia at a convenient point enroute to the historic district of St. Andrew, and I parked and locked my car and joined them in theirs as we headed for an early dinner.
I've been craving oysters on the half shell ever since I arrived in Florida a week earlier but have had no joy finding any. I have eaten more than my share of fried oysters this week, but nothing beats large, moist, succulent and slightly salty oysters, topped with horseradish and slurped off of their shells.
The Purple Grape (they need to update their website - it still shows their old location). The interior decor was very well-done, with cozy group seating areas, some high tables with stools, low tables that seat two. We sat at the wine bar. The menu was a bit overwhelming with choices. I ordered from the "new arrivals" section of the menu and had a glass of Adelsheim pinot gris from Oregon and it was wonderful! This place used to be down on Panama City Beach but recently moved to this location. The gal working the wine bar told us that business is much better at this new location, getting much more walk-in traffic. I can see why.
On the way back to the car, we poked our heads into one of the funky shops along the main street. I couldn't tell what merchandise was new and what was second-hand. It was truly a bargain-hunter's treasure-trove of unusual women's clothing...definitely not my kind of clothes, nor my kind of shop, but Sandy and Marsha were having fun and the very nice proprietor eventually came over and joined us to chat.
The evening over, they dropped me off at my car and we said our goodbyes, with promises to visit each other in Texas, New Orleans, Panama City...We'll work it out. Somehow.
Saturday I'll watch the Army-Navy football game, start packing, and then I'll hit the road for home on Sunday morning.