30 December 2012

2012-13 SOUTH & EAST COAST Tarpon Springs FL 5 - NW FL, Ho, Hum

Woke up in the Sunshine State to sunshine. Yahoo! But once outside, found the temp was 33 with a wind chill of 25. Oooooh, joke's on us! Drove 401 miles (57 of them headed the wrong way and back) with almost 8 hours of driving time. We wanted a leisurely drive along the coast, but the Garmin kept heading us to a freeway. With several hiccups, it took a while to figure this out. You really have to keep tabs on these new-fangled devices.

Don't know why we have such a fascination with the elevation feature on the Garmin, but from here until near Providence RI it continuously showed less than 100' above sea level. It's been fun to watch, but I'll try not to mention this stat for a while.

Battery went dead on the mouse, so too hard to update the blog. I never did get used to the track pad. Anyway, got behind in our info for yesterday and today. Hope I can remember it all, especially as I did not take notes in the museum.


The day started off being a boring, viewing day. We had no expectations other than to get from from point A (Panama City) to point B (Tarpon Springs).

For the most part views out the right side window were the gorgeous and colorful ocean. Yay! Views out the left side were lots of Bible Belt ad boards, our first Piggly Wiggly grocery store sighting (with hog jowls on sale!), and P-nuts and P-cans for sale at roadside stands along the way.

Back into the Eastern time zone about 12:44p, so lost an hour today. Temp was 50 degrees at that point. Vegetation looking more tropical--palmettos, a LOT of Spanish moss, and tall tall pines. Crossed over the Suwanee River. This is the original bridge and it has a sign that reads "Way down upon the Suwanee River" above the entry.

Along the way we say a herd of goats grazing along the road, another herd of wild turkeys doing the same, and a fenced herd of bison. Hmm. Did not fit the area, but happy to see them anywhere. Then, around Carrabelle FL, we saw warning signs reading "Bear X-ing" and "Watch for bears." Found out later they have a Black Bear Festival here in October.

It turns out this town borders on the Mud Swamp / New River Wilderness area and shares its land with Florida Black Bear. Wikipedia says they are a subspecies of the American Black bear and just as big. Strange they would hang around a thriving town (population 2,785) with many thriving businesses on one side of the road and stilted homes (for bear as well as for bad weather, I guess) on the ocean side. Just who is the invasive species here? Pretty tight quarters seems to me and glad we do not have them that close in our current home of Kalamazoo MI.

The one highlight was lunch at Mama's Italian Restaurant in Perry FL. We snuck in just under the deadline of them closing for their private employee Christmas party. It was a family owned place and they treated us just like family. Daughter, Dad, Nona (Gramma) all came out to make sure we were OK, ask where we were from, did we like the food, etc. Mike had pasta and I had a meatball sandwich. Both big helpings and very good. The Dad came over and really chatted. He said he had retired once and was now helping his daughter get going in this business, a second career for him. Still getting up very early, seven days a week to prep. Made us feel very happy to have worked and retired just once.


Last night at the Panama City FL Best Western was the worst bed, worst free breakfast, but best price so far. As Mike says, "Ya gets what ya pay for!" One thing we really liked was in their lobby. They had three bins for recycle--metal, glass, and paper. Haven't ever seen that before and gave us faith they really do recycle, not just say they do, but don't.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.