Toward the end of October 2007, Omar and I observed the weather was not too hot, not too cold and mostly clear, perfect conditions for a road trip. Not wanting to miss our opportunity, we planned a drive to a nearby city to cruise around, find a place for lunch and head back before sunset.
When we took off on Saturday, 03 November 2007, the weather cooperated with our desires. Windows rolled down and sunroof open, we headed west on SR 20 toward our destination cities Panama City and Panama City Beach, Florida, crossing the Ochlockonee River near the C. H. Corn Hydroelectric Power Plant at 1328 EDT.
The estimated one-way drive time is two hours, thirty minutes, but we were in no hurry, for the roundtrip itself was part of the desired experience. In fact, I brought my camera with the intention of taking many pictures but captured only four images the entire day.
There were very few clouds in the sky as we approached Panama City on US 231. I had plotted our course to cover the most ground without the need for much backtracking. We drove through Cedar Grove, Callaway, Springfield and then through Panama City.
At this point we were ready for lunch and kept restaurants on our radar. As we continued to wind through the streets, one eatery after another met one or more of the following criteria: chain, fast food, closed for business, out of business and Mexican. I mention the last attribute only because based on our observations, Mexican restaurants are extremely popular in Panama City.
Unimpressed with the options thus far, we continued west on US 98, over the Hathaway Bridge and into Panama City Beach. My last time through the area several months ago, I passed a steakhouse pumping out a deliciously redolent aroma. Unfortunately, we discovered Angelo's Steak Pit was closed as well, probably for the season.
Forty-five minutes earlier on the drive in, part of the road was closed for the biking leg of the Ford Ironman Florida Triathlon. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we would intersect with the bikers again along West Front Beach Road running parallel to the Gulf of Mexico. Driving with part of the lane coned off and filled with tri-athletes peddling alone and in groups was at times an arduous task, but Omar managed excellently. Having noticed only one viable candidate for food, we turned around in Laguna Beach and made our way to Sharky's Beachfront Restaurant.
There were a few occupied seats and a handful of people at the tiki bar as we made our way to a beach-side table and ordered a cocktail. It was a little breezy on the water, but the cool air was diminished by the warm sunlight. I ordered the Mahi-Mahi, Cajun blackened on a bed of rice with steamed vegetables. The service was good, the food exceeded expectations and the locale was perfect.
We continued to drive around after lunch, stopping at a few local shops for some knickknacks before heading back to Tallahassee. The return trip was enjoyable and in no time we found ourselves back on my couch talking about the day and speculating about future trips.
Photo Credit: David July