Panama City Beach, Florida.
Party town, USA.
Or as my sister likes to call it, The Redneck Riviera.
College kids from all over flock to the white sandy beaches every year for spring break. Front Beach Drive becomes a parking lot with kids cruising up and down, piled in the back of trucks, hanging out of cars, yelling, blasting their music and honking their horns. It’s a sight to be seen. Or not.
True Story: I went to PCB for spring break one year and was sitting in the said parking lot that is FBD, trying to get back to my condo with five other people in the car before the ice cream we had just purchased melted (we were such good kids!). As we sat there, a kid was walking down the street by himself when suddenly, a guy in the truck in front of him decided to throw an empty beer can at him for no apparent reason. The kid on the receiving end of the beer can flipped him off, naturally! So what did the guy in the truck do? He jumped out and proceeded to plow towards the kid until he reached him and started throwing punches. Seriously. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. It also happened to be the same trip that my car window was busted out. Shocking, huh?
That is Panama City. Its beaches may be beautiful, but it is crowded. There are people everywhere and usually they are of the obnoxious, country, UGA loving skill. This is why it’s not my favorite place to vacation.
My parents however love it. If you know my parents at all, you probably find this as shocking as I do. My parents don’t party. They don’t drink. They don’t deviate from what they know (maybe that’s why they won’t try someplace new?). They are the most conservative people on the planet. I am convinced of this. And this is why I find it so shocking that they’ve been vacationing in PC every summer since I was in high school. Back in those days, I chose not to go with them. They always went with their couple friends and at that point my sister was away at college and I didn’t want to be the only kid. Plus, the thought of being seen at the beach with my parents in high school *shudders* Haha, only kidding. But really, I never went with them, choosing to do my own thing with my friends. Meaning, I had to pay my own way to whatever I did. This was especially true when I got into college. And then a light bulb went off! If I went to the beach with them, they’d pay for everything! Like, duh!!! So for the past four years, I’ve gone on a week long beach vacation with the family.
This is last year.
Again with the cleaning my nicely.
It’s become routine that we head down for Memorial Day weekend. Seriously, could they pick a busier time? My parents actually left Thursday before MD and I had every intention of riding down with them to give me two extra days on the beach, but my plans changed and I ended up riding down with Alison and Cassie instead Saturday. Really, it was better this way. So the three of us arrived around dinner time Saturday night and as soon as we got unpacked and ate dinner, we pretty much went to bed immediately. The next morning we were up bright and early, like always, to hit the beach. And that’s what we did the entire week; up early in the morning, breakfast, beach, lunch, beach, nap on the beach, shower, dinner, sleep. Repeat. For six days. It was glorious. The weather could not have been better. The beaches couldn’t have been more beautiful. And the company could not have been more entertaining. And I brought back with me a nice bronze tan. You can’t beat that! Everything is better at the beach. You sleep better. The food tastes better. And there is nothing better than a nice hot shower after being on the beach all day. Nothing in this world.
What's better than three 24-year-olds hanging out on one full size bed together?
Three 24-year-old girls laying on a full size bed like this and Facebook-ing. Love it.
And the highlight of this year’s trip? Lt. Dan.
You see, each year we rent chairs. The ones with the cushions and the umbrellas. And each year there is someone different working the beach while we’re there. And each year, we (mainly my dad) assign him a nickname. Last year it was Split Lip Will. This year it was Lt. Dan. And boy was he yummy. He walked up and down that beach and I swear between my, Cassie and Alison’s heads, you’d think we were watching a tennis match.
All day. Everyday.
He’d come up and talk to my dad (b/c my dad, he can make friends with anyone) and as soon as he walked away, we’d giggle like little high school girls. And every night when we went to bed, we’d fight over who got him. He was our little beach fling, if you will. On the second to last day there, he had some money stolen from his little hut. Cassie and I had seen three girls hanging out in/around it so he asked of we’d give a statement to the police on his behalf. Of, course we will, Danny Boy! He thanked us and we went on with our day. Then the last day there as we were walking back down to the beach after lunch, I hear my name being called. I look over and Dan and Hatch (his sidekick) were looking in our direction but I thought nothing of it and we kept walking. Then I heard my name again so I looked over at them and pointed at myself and they motioned, “yeah…come here!” Of course we were all, “Oh. Em. Gee. Whatever could they want?!” We walked over and proceeded to talk to them for about 45 minutes about random stuff. That's when I took that super sly picture of him on the phone. Then Hatch said, “Hey, wanna have your picture taken?” We were like, “ummm…no?” And he said, “Yeah, yeah! Do it. It helps us out too!” Um, alright? So they called one of the beach photographers over and he was like, “Ok, ladies, come with me! Let’s go down to the water!” At this point we were already a little apprehensive, but we followed him. And then what we thought would be one snap of us standing by the water turned into a freaking photo shoot. He was positioning us, telling us what to do with our hips and our hands and our heads. Then he made us lay in the sand as he rolled around in the sand himself getting different angles. At one point I said, “Is this real life??” and he said, “Yeah! Absolutely.”
And this isn't the most offensive of them.
Then came the last pose. He wanted us to lie on top of each other…..Um, no! Cassie jumped up off the ground and said, “Absolutely not!!” He tried to get us to change our minds but he weren’t having any of it. Most surreal moment of my life.
He did get a few good ones though.
So after we got out of the sand, and jumped in the ocean to rinse all of the sand off, we headed back to the hut and told Dan and Hatch we’d see them around. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Thank God. We did stay on the beach until they kicked us out of our chairs and took our umbrellas and then the three of us got ready for dinner. And that was an experience in and of itself!
We decided to go to Boatyard for dinner. But really for their dessert. I'll get to that shortly. But somehow we ended up in the wrong place. Like literally in a boatyard. Where they work on boats. Not serve food. And bonus, it was in the middle of a crazy storm. Great.
This is where we were supposed to be.
So when we finally arrive at the real Boatyard, we were starving. And in desperate need of drinks. Of course there was a wait so we decided to sit down at one of the three bars and order drinks. Good choice. After we'd be there for a few minutes and one of the chefs working at the bar had given us some free edamame (so good!) they told us we could just eat there instead of waiting on a table. Sold!! The two chefs were incredibly friendly and talked to us the whole time we were there and Jason pretty much told us his whole life story. Turns out he came down for a Coolio concert in '95 and never left. Ha! Anyway, I warned him of Cassie's disgust of seafood and in return he put on a little show for us. Hilarious!!
Biggest. Crab. Legs. Ever.
And the real reason we went to Boatyard in the first place. The dessert. Have you ever been to Key West? If so, have you ever been to Blond Giraffe and had their key lime pie on a stick? Frozen key lime pie, on a stick, dipped in chocolate, and frozen. They best idea ever. And so delicious. Well, Boatyard, they have their own take on this. And that's why we went.
Was it better than the Blond Giraffe's? Um, I don't think so. The pie could've been a little more tart. Just my opinion. But it was still heavenly. And so worth how disgusting I felt after eating it.
After we were stuffed to the max, we headed back to the condo where we packed up and watched the episode of Friday Night Lights we had recorded before we crashed. The next morning it was up bright and early to head back home.
Panama City, it was real. I had such a great time and it was awesome to just get away for a week and do nothing but be a complete beach bum. See you again next year.