Easing Along

Having a (S)helluva Good Time in Panama City

St. Andrews State Park, FL

We decided to take Gracey, our travel trailer on a road trip to Florida to escape the snow and cold weather that was due in Eastern Tennessee. We reserved a campsite at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL for the first night on the road and, guess what…three inches of snow fell before the temperatures plunged to 8 degrees.  We were unable to leave the next day due to road conditions and stayed a second night. It was not a problem as Gracey proved to be very comfortable and the facilities at Maxwell (including the showers) are excellent. Helen (adorable wife) used the downtime to get Gracey organized.

Getting Organized

We finally were able to escape the snow and cold and Drive to the second stop on our trip, St. Andrews State Park in Panama City. We visited the park last year while staying at the Naval Support Base near here. At that time we had no idea that traveling by RV would soon become a part of our retired lifestyle, but that visit to the campground certainly piqued our interest.

We arrived late in the afternoon after a harrowing experience on a sheet of ice on an Alabama back road. Our GPS led us to that dilemma. Nevertheless, the weather we met on our arrival made the trip very worthwhile. Temperatures approached the 60’s and the wind was almost nonexistent. 

The campground at St. Andrews is large and very well laid out.  There are four large bathhouses and laundry facilities. We consider ourselves fortunate to have secured reservations since this is a very popular destination for snowbirds from colder climates.  Four days were all that was available at the time we made them. Our campsite was on the outer edge and Gracey was backed right up to the Bay.  We had a lovely view and were within 50 feet of the water’s edge.

View From Campsite

Helen was up early the next morning and captured a picture of a brilliant sunrise as it progressed above the horizon over the bay. After breakfast, we did what we usually do when we are near a beach…we go look for shells. The wind had picked up, but we were not deterred. The beach access nearest the campground was deserted as was the beach itself except for three ladies taking a walk. The water in the Gulf was bluebird blue.

St. Andrews Beach

It did not take long for Helen to find a scallop shell which and declare the entire search a success as a result.  I’m more into shark’s teeth but did not spot a single one. I resolved to return at another time. As we were leaving I noticed that a couple had placed chairs adjacent to the beach access. The lady was reclined in her chair and reading a book.  The gentleman was thoroughly engrossed in a crossword puzzle. I suspect that they are retired…

A day at the beach

During most of our stay in Panama City, we ate meals in our campsite.  Prior to the trip, Helen had prepared some casseroles and that worked out very well during the early days of the trip. The exceptions were one early visit to the Waffle House when I grew tired of cereal. I love the Waffle House and have never been disappointed with either the food or the service at a single one.  I admit that I was a little leery about this visit because there were no guests when we arrived.  A very friendly waitress took our order and when she returned with the food, I asked her if the business was always this slow.  

“At this time of the year, it is,”, came the quick reply.  She then gave us a detailed summary of how she manages her finances to survive until Spring Break arrives and business improves.  I think she was just happy to have someone other than the cook to talk to, but I sort of admired her for her drive and made sure I left her a nice tip.

The other dining experience came after we made a trip through a flea market (another favorite thing to do) where I found a couple of good movie DVD’s to buy for two dollars each. After such a saving, I figured that we could afford to splurge and have dinner at one of the top spots in Trip Advisor. We drove to Bayou Joe’s.  

Bayou Joe’s Marina

This popular eatery is tucked into the corner of a marina near downtown Panama City.  The evening was somewhat chilly but otherwise pleasant. We arrived at sundown.  The winds were calm and I took a picture of two boats moored in the harbor that captured the calm setting.

Bayou Joe’s was nearly empty and we were given swift service. Helen wanted to have the fried green beans as an appetizer.  We followed up with a grouper basket.  Both servings were well prepared and delicious. The restaurant filled up quickly as we ate and soon the place was full. The experience was delightful and we would consider it as a must visit for anyone coming to the area.

Found one!

The remainder of our stay was just as we wanted it…slow and uneventful.  We had much to do to get our new trailer organized and managed to make great progress. Combine that effort with a few relaxing walks on the beach and we soon found ourselves fully decompressed and ready to take on the rest of our retirement road trip.  Slow and uneventful may sound boring to some but to us, it’s just another wonderful day of Easin’ Along.







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