Monday, January 9, 2017

The beach resort the movies told you existed.

After I left Fernandina Beach, I had only a very tentative idea of where the heck I wanted to go next.   Making it to the beach was kind of my goal.   I did initially toy with the idea of plunging further south to cocoa beach and maybe the keys as well.  But i started to think this might be better saved for another trip where I have more time and resources to dedicate to going down there.

So I just started heading west on I-10.   I starting thinking that I wanted to see a few more cool things, so at a Pilot pit stop, I searched roadside america for oddities to visit.  Well one place came up a lot, and it was Panama City Beach.   Sounded really cool, so i diverted there to my second florida beach.

Freecampsites wasn't coming up with much in that area.  So i tried my second avenue, walmart.   But I actually found some news stories about how aggressive the tow companies at those walmarts are, so despite some people caliming it was cool, I vowed to avoid them.

There was a listing for some mysterious unnamed parking lot.   OK, I'm down to check that out later.   But for the day I wanted to hit the beach.   Christmas was coming up and I got it in my head to build a sand 'snowman' for my family.

I did a little research and found free parking with restrooms and cold showers at a city park, with beach access.   It was an ok park, basically just the parking lot, you walk through the bath house and then to the beach.

But what a beautiful beach it was.   The area was like some place out of a beach set movie.  Palm trees down the boulevard, neat garishly colored houses, but not in the run down crappy way it was in myrtle beach.   People lived and worked here all year, it wasn't only about getting that tourist dollar.   Everything was open, not closed for the season, which I felt was a good sign.  It was thriving and energenic.

So I eventually did get to make my sand man, well, about ten versions of him before settling for this one.   It is a lot harder than you think to build one!   Especially when all you have is a regular plastic bowl and a kiddie shovel someone left on the beach :D

Mission accomplished, I resisted the urge to enter those glistening, refreshing looking clear green waves, and went to look for my overnight spot in the mysterious lot.

Turns out the lot is near a dave & busters which is apart of this huge outdoor mall called Pier Park.   Its a neat little place with shops, an overpriced I-max theatre, a little choo choo train and amusement rides for kids.   I went to the starbucks here for some uploading, and then crashed in the lot about 6.   By about 12:45, 45 minutes after dave and busters closed, I got a knock from the security guard.

I expected this to some degree, hence my early bed time.   He told me to try the walmart and was very nice about it, but no staying in the mall.   As I left, I noticed at the actual fishing pier, cars parked in the public spaces for beach access.   I triple checked and there were no signs forbidding over night parking.   I even checked ordinances, which only prohibit it in restricted areas.  So I spent the rest of the night there until before sunset, where I hit the beach again to catch it (pic at the top).

The tear in the side is drawn on!
On the way out, I wanted to check out a couple of those oddities.   Right near the park was some of the 'giant' stuff, like giant shark mouth you can stand in etc.   What really got my attention, and made me want to get a closer look was Ripley's and Wonderworks buildings.   Not what was inside (tho i'd like to visit one day and go inside) but the unique..architecture?  Artistry?  Someone was awesome, thats for sure.

Note the upside down trees and phone poles!
After that I hit the backyard burgers (i think its called) across the street, and they were amazing.  Why isn't this a huge chain?? And took off heading toward Pensacola, and probably my favorite camping spot so far on my trip. 

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