Florida’s “Emerald Coast” – Day 1, Thursday

Well we departed LAX at 1am and had a 2.5 hour flight toDallas.  I was hoping to get some sleep but no such luck for me. Joey however was out like a light. How is it that men can fall asleep ANYWHERE?! So we arrive in Dallas in desperate need of some sleep and what do we find down in terminal B??  Some nice reclining armless lounge chairs!!  Okay, they weren’t nice, a bit tattered but we didn’t care.  We hit the two that were put together against the wall and we curl up and try to sleep during our two hour layover.  Again, Joey is deep breathing while I am tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.  Of course I couldn’t hear anything but each and every little noise around me, certain that someone is gonna take off with our luggage while we sleep.  And of course my stomach rumbling from hunger…and from the wine I had at Debbie’s before we left LA. I think I finally dozed for 15-20 minutes before our alarm on the phone went off. So we’re finally out of this place and onto Fort Walton Beach airport!  This was a pretty small plane, 2 on one side, 1 on the other. Since we got these flights last minute, we were in the singles with Joey behind me.  But this time I think I got an hours worth of sleep!  Anyway, we arrived in Florida raring to go so we head over to the rental cars and picked up our car and were quickly on our way.

We drove out through small towns, feeling like we were certainly in Florida.  Everything was so green, lots and lots of forests of trees. There are churches everywhere!  We stopped at McDonalds for some coffee and they even had Christian music playing in there! So we pass on through the town of Niceville (perfectly named) and over the bay and onto the small strip of land called Destin.  From there we head for the scenic road that runs along the shoreline. We quickly pass our beach house rental without even knowing it.  Although we aren’t schedule to check in for another day, we decide to double back about 10 minutes to go check it out.  Joey ventures off to the beach side and talks a little to the two ladies who are keeping us from checking in on this day.  They were nice and informed him that the place was nice, the internet works, as does the A/C! Important stuff! We notice that all around there are oyster shells…hmm.

So we are back in the car continuing on to Panama Cityfor the first night. We are amazed along the way how many ‘swamps’ there are on the opposite side of the road, with the beaches to our right. I guess they are called lakes, but they looked pretty swampy to us, with the big forest of trees all around them and the lily pads and other water plants floating around. I could swear we could hear banjos playing. We make a few stops along the way, lots of little beach towns that run from one to the other. We stopped for a ‘snow ball’ once, it was a cute little truck selling snowcones but they were made from real soft snow ice.  Just what we needed in this humidity too, it really cooled us off! We’re thinking its the perfect retirement business along the California shores! The clouds were starting to cover and at one point we got a little tropical rain coming down.  Well, at one point the wind shield wipers were barely making a dent in the down pour. But that quickly stopped.

As we approached Panama Citywe started to see why its a typical spring break place. It reminded us just a bit of Rosarito,Mexico.  Not bad, just an obvious party town. Lots of inexpensive motels and lots of fun looking bars and restaurants. Stores called ‘Purple Haze’ selling tye-dyed shirts…you figure it out 😉 We finally find our hotel, Hampton Inn, that we got using hotel points. (The blessings of Joey’s business travels!)  We come into our room and we have a jacuzzi right in the bedroom! JUSTwhat we needed after 24 hours of essentially no sleep!  We quickly make use of the jacuzzi before going to dinner, determined to use it again AFTER dinner!  Oh my gosh, it felt soooo good! I decided when we remodel our master bedroom, we MUST put one of these in!

We dress for dinner and head off to find some seafood to eat.  We decide NOT to do an online search of reviews, but instead opt for looking for the place with the most cars already there!  We happened upon a touristy looking place because of the sign saying “Dusty’s Oyster Bar”.  Joey LOVES raw oysters.  Although I am an adventurous eater, I haven’t found a liking for raw oysters so I opt for the baked ones instead, still very yummy. We walk in this crazy packed place and realize we have no places with such character (or charcters) in Corona! What a fun place, and Joey was estatic with the $.75 draft beers! We had the oysters, some buffalo wings and a platter of various fish…grouper, little crap claws, shrimp, crab cake, and of course cole slaw. It was good, but my only suggestion to the chef is to back off on the salt! The grouper was amazing, and of course Joey is now determined to find the fishermen at the docks to buy us some of our own to grill at the beach house.  I trust that this will actually happen too.

We finally get back to our hotel and AGAIN do get into the jacuzzi.  Kinda nice being able to have fresh water each and every time. At one point we even emptied out the hot and just put cool water in it, lol. And of course, you’ve probably seen the pictures of Joey by now…him and his bubbles! He is a man who loves his bubble baths!

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