Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 10 & 11: Florida Panhandle

Jason and I woke up from our stay in Mobile and headed towards Florida. We drove around Pensacola and then took the 85 towards the beach. We stopped at the Florida visitors center...the rest stops are pretty cool. This one had a Jet and a previous one had a lunar lander. Texas has wifi at every roadside stop, even ones that are just a picnic table. Why doesn't California have this stuff?


Made a pass thru Destin, to see the beach I visited as a child. Very slow and lots of's completely different than I remember...very touristy and built up. I'm pretty sure that the place I stayed as a kid was either paved over or developed around so much as to not be recognizable. Or both.


Panama City was a hole...lots of traffic, crazy drivers and felt a little sketchy...reminded me of Tijuana. Bleck. Mexico Beach was very nice, relaxed. I should look at some property in that area. This is how I remember Destin...

Drove thru Apalachicola...a beautiful part of Florida, on the panhandle. Pretty trees and beach along highway 98...very scenic.

We decided to try to camp somewhere in that area but every state park in the area was full...guess it's that season. So we ended up at an RV park just off the beach. Very nice, but lots of bugs. We cooked up some of our freeze dried camping meals on our camp stoves. It was pretty good...this is Chili Mac:
Jason after setting up camp.

We checked out the beach at night, and found a bunch of crabs running around. They were about 8" long and ran really fast, doing their little crab walk.

Thinks he's camouflaged...
The little tracks...
Found his home.

The next day, after a terrible night's sleep (mosquitos + heat + humidity), Jason took a dip in the Gulf of Mexico while I took pics.
A few early morning joggers.

Driving out of Apalachicola was real nice...similar to what we'd seen between there and Destin. Lots of trees, occasional beach views.

We stopped in Perry, FL for breakfast. I got stuck in the bathroom in the diner, the door lock was jammed and wouldn't open. But I eventually escaped and was able to finish my food. It was good.

As we were leaving the diner, I pulled my cool vest out of the trash bag I had kept it in...all pre-soaked and ready for use. I thought it smelled kind of funny, but I put it on anyway. 2 hours later, we stopped for a little break and I smelled like a dead fish. I took it off and even went into the bathroom and washed my t-shirt in the sink. Bleck.

I had picked out Ocala Natioanl forest as a probable pretty route. Sounds good, driving thru a national forest, right? But it wasn't pretty like a national forest should be...just kinda plain with a few spots of southern pines. Jason and I played around getting pics of each other on the bikes. This is Jason on his 1200GSA.

Riding thru Daytona beach was...strange. Lot of other bikers...but out of about 30 or so I waved at, only 2 waved back. It had a weird vibe. And the car drivers had very little respect for bikers...riding our butts and cutting us off at any opportunity. For a beach town, it wasn't very laid back.

Jason had arranged it for us to stay with his Aunt, who just happens to live in Titusville. Turns out she is a retired electrical engineer and worked for a NASA contractor. She re-arranged her house to set up twin beds for us in her master bedroom and had beer ready for us when we got in...what awesome accommodations. She even bought us tickets to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the IMAX shuttle show. I really enjoyed talking to her that night. She pulled out something pretty cool...the owners manual for the Solid Rocket Motors. So cool!


Jason and I joked that the first page said "Thank you for your purchase of a Solid Rocket Motor. Warranty information is on page 10". Hehe. In reality, it has all the technical diagrams and even how to pack the parachute and what methods the boats should use to recover them after splashdown. Pretty interesting reading.

We slept well in our comfy beds that night.


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