Panama City Beach is our favorite vacation spot. I’m happy to report that I saw only minimal evidence of the Deep Horizon oil spill: a few black stones (of unknown origin—ha ha!), the tiniest taints that wiggled like black ribbons dropped and buried in the sand and a medium clutch of tourist—business still sub par after DH.
PCB sits, more or less, mid-stride on the Florida Panhandle and for decades it was the secret place to go for the middle class and poor. I’ve been both. (Back in the day, I even managed to squeak out a few trips as a single mom, living on a dime and some low-rent largess from my grandma.)
Words like quaint, picturesque and southern charm could be attached to the city back then. Spring Break flooded the strip with teenagers, while families arrived in loaded vehicles anytime, except party-down days. I’ve done both.
Then developers got wise (or stupid) and started buying up the mom & pop operations to build giant skyscrapers. Short, dark illegals were everywhere for awhile. (All politics aside, I got to say: Mexicans are impressive workers. I watch them. Well… I watch everybody, ‘cause I’m a writer, you know… They’ll be just working their asses off and then turn around a smile at you. Americans, you know…well, as much as they say they want a job, when they get there, they’re miserable people. I don’t know, maybe, everyone chooses the wrong career. DUH-HUH.)
But the Herculean effort in PCB to drive away the shallow pockets of the middle class and replace them with big- rollers didn’t work out too well for the dreamers and the bankers.
The rich never came.
The economy busted, Deep Horizon popped a cork and finally the shovels stopped moving the sand. Now, the twenty-story monsters that they erected stand like prematurely aged dinosaurs, with tier after tier of empty windows. While faithful old-timers, like me, fill the old motels that are neither too new nor too tall to offend the wallet or the eye.
The Gulf was surprisingly cold (80 degrees) for August. Seaweed dominated the shore, repelling most swimmers and floaters. The full moon exerted its force on the tide. But, hey, such things are a roll of the dice in FLA.
Saw the usual number of sunburn yanks, which the locals call Pink Flamingoes, and it’s always a treat to see the hardcore Rawhide Babes with their toasted scleroderma. Personally, I do my best to hug the shade. (Hey, I’m old enough to be looking up the meaning, definition and/or cure for words like collagen, turgor and discoloration.)
My favorite people watching are the really big gals, who sink into the sand, take 20 minutes to get from motel to shoreline and are brave enough to wear a bikini anyways. I also love to watch the tiny children who fly effortlessly across the beach as if they’re tied to invisible kites.
Going on vacation is wonderful, but there are some things that creep me out. First thing I do when I get to my room is fumigate the bathroom with Lysol. I still wonder:
- When’s the last time the maids washed the bedspread and how many herpes infested butts have sat on it?
- Why are the washrags made of hemp and gristle?
- Why won’t the free soap get me clean and sweet?
- Who paid a quarter-mil for this condo and then installed a $2.00 showerhead?
- Why do all the light switches flip the wrong way?
- Why do half the water taps turn left?
- Why are the people above me doing the hokey-pokey?
- Where are the parents of the orphaned kids running amok in the breezeway like crazed stoners?
- Why won’t the deadbolt slip into its slot?
Couldn’t find a T-shirt to suit me. I wear this really weird size, called medium. Hubby wanted to see Captain America, but all they had was 3D. Yuck.
On a rainy day, we went to prowl the antique shop downtown and met a couple fromTennesseewho were totally lost in the business section. The more my hubby gave directions, the more confused the other man became. But, hey, there’s an unwritten law that a woman should not interfere when two men are directing each other, no matter how erroneous.
Saw an unusual number of Japanese tourists. Understandable, I guess. I wouldn’t get into the water in Japan, either. Have you had your RADS today? Oui.
On the plus side, I didn’t bang my diet too hard. Hubby totally lost it: double helpings and extra sides, then the usual complaint about the bill. Ala Carte, baby.
On the whole, I’m going to rank this vacation third from the bottom, but that may have more to do with my attitude than the venue. I’m not over mourning the lost of my wa-wa buddy, I’m still skeptical about the water and the seafood after DH, and the warnings from my dermatologist keep echoing in my ears. According to him, I’ve already exceeded my lifetime allotment of Sol. I ‘m going for that Morticia Addams look.
Note to Self: Next time take fewer shorts, less shampoo and more hair conditioner and tops. Double the amount of panties that I think I’ll need. Kidding. Not. Some trips it seems like there’s more turnaround from bathing suit to street clothes and back again. Even though the original pair is not that dirty, I still want a fresh pair, and panties don’t take up that much room in the suitcase anyway, so why not have plenty?
If you go, check out the State Park for $8.00 and take a bathing suit. Eat one meal at Pineapple Willies and buy a Tee, then people who know will know that you know. Window shop at the new mall, west-end of the strip, but don’t spend too much money. And stay away from the skyscrapers, all the action happens with the regular folks.
And how was your week???