Tuesday – December 1, 2015
St. Andrews State Park
Panama City Beach, Florida
We spent a quiet, restful night at the Wright Lake Campground in the Apalachicola National Forest near Sumatra, Florida. Once again it is time to move on to continue our winter adventure for 2015-2016.
As we were preparing to break camp, we were entertained by several Air Force F-22 Raptor jet fighters, performing what appeared to be aerial combat maneuvers, at very high altitude. The heat from their jet engines left a signature, vapor-trail outline of their maneuvers against the backdrop of the clear blue sky. The roar from their jet engines screaming through the air space was deafening. After a few minutes had passed, they apparently had completed their mission, and disappeared from sight within seconds.
We decided we would take U.S. Highway 98 west to Panama City Beach, Florida. This is the scenic coastal route that takes the traveler through several quaint towns, bordered on one side by the Gulf of Mexico, lined with pure white sandy beaches.
A few miles east of Panama City, Florida is the home of the F-22 Raptor: Tyndall Air Force Base. As we pass by the base we look for any F-22 Raptors taking off or landing, but do not see any on this trip. In the spring of 2014 we were fortunate to see a few taking off.
We continued on our journey to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida. A deer, grazing in the adjacent campsite, observed our flurry of activity as we set up our campsite.
We had prearranged with my daughter-in-law to surprise my son with our visit on his birthday today. He thought we were somewhere in southern Florida. The plan was to meet them at the Bonefish Grill in Panama City Beach.
My daughter-in-law sent me a text when they had arrived and were seated in the restaurant. My son was seated in a booth with his back to me. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if I could join him. The surprised expression on his face was priceless. He just starred in amazement for the longest time, at a loss for words. We hugged each other and wiped away tears of joy. It was a memorable moment I will cherish for a lifetime.
The Bonefish Grill provided the perfect ambiance for my son’s surprise birthday party. The service was excellent, as well as the food preparation. We will definitely dine here again on our future visits to Panama City Beach.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.
Departed: Sumatra, Florida
Departure Time: 10:15 A.M.
Arrived: Panama City Beach, Florida
Arrival Time: 1:05 P.M.
Campground: St. Andrews
Type: State Park
GPS Coordinates: Latitude: N30.13687 Longitude: W085.73644
Camping Fee: $28.00 per night (excluding taxes and service fees)
Campsite Hookups: Electric, Water
Campground Amenities: Flush Toilets, Free Hot Showers, Dump Station
Cellular Service: Verizon - 4G, 5 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack, 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: No signal – too many trees blocking view of southern sky.
Total miles traveled today: 105
South on Florida Highway 65
West on Florida Highway 98
South on Thomas Dr. to State Park