My two adult kids had given me birthday money for a beautiful condo at Panama City Beach for 2 nights. When I opened the card with the money in it, my son said, “Mom, you can’t use this for anything but the beach. Not for groceries. Not for a bill. Not for anything else, just for the beach.”
Jessie, our youngest who has Down syndrome, really doesn’t like the beach so we rarely ever go. Before kids, that was our happy place for sure. When we couldn’t stay overnight we made lots of spontaneous day trips. When our oldest two were little, it was a lot more work, but we still managed to go some and they enjoyed it too. Once Jessie came along, because of her intolerance of heat and how hard it is for her to walk in the sand, we’ve pretty much given it up.
Both my big kids know how much I love the beach. Of all the places I can think of, the beach is the most peaceful and relaxing to me. Hearing the waves seems to almost instantly bring a feeling of peace and calmness.
I always feel close to God when I’m outdoors, and especially at the beach. It is such a magnificent display of His creativity and power.
My husband reminded me that it had been NINE YEARS since we went away without kids. Even though it has been 9 years, I still remember how much we enjoyed that time too. I still remember that we came home feeling so much more connected as a couple. For a long time after that it served as a sweet reminder of , “Yeah, that’s kind of the people we were before kids.” It’s good to remember that and yet sometimes hard when you’re in the trenches every day.
I found it hard to leave any of my kids when they were young, and that feeling has lasted longer with Jessie than the other two. In the 23 years since we’ve been parents, other than when we were at the hospital having a kid, I think this may be only the 3rd time we’ve been away from all of them at the same time. When I had a c-section with Jessie, the last night we spent in the hospital, Jordan (7) and Evan (5) spent the night there with us. Their last living grandparent died when Jessie was 7. We didn’t have grandparents to keep them, and when there are 3 of them, well, there aren’t a lot of takers for that kind of babysitting.
This trip to the beach, Jessie was really excited to spend the weekend with her sister and brother in law, both of whom she completely adores. Jordan took Jessie to a Valentine Dance on Friday, and to church then out to lunch at O’Charley’s on Sunday. This was the first time she had spent the night at Jordan’s since they bought their house, so I know next time (and there will be a next time!) she will feel even more comfortable spending the night.
Jessie really enjoys time with Jordan without me, because without meaning to, Jordan and I tend to monopolize the conversation a lot of the time. When Jordan was giving me the weekend highlights, she said Jessie had expressed to her and Josh how much she appreciated them “being so kind to her”. Where does she get these grown up things?!
Jessie texted and we facetimed (brief each time) throughout the weekend because Jessie just likes to stay in touch and know what we’re doing. We didn’t mind. I could hear in her voice each time that she was enjoying her time too.
We had no explicit plans for what we would do once we arrived at the beach. When we talked about it in advance, since rain was on the forecast for the whole weekend, we thought we might want to find some shopping or something else to do. Maybe even go to a movie. We didn’t do any of that.
The first moment that we stepped out onto the balcony looking at the ocean and listening to the waves, it was like Jay and I let out this huge exhale. We had known we needed a break and some time together, but I don’t think we had realized just how much.
After we got our stuff unloaded we went in search of a late supper. See later in post for details on all the neat places we found over the weekend. When we got back, it was getting late but we had never stayed at this condo before so we just wanted to take a look around. We met the nicest couple while we were out.
As we passed by the hot tub, an older gentleman asked if we would turn the timer on for them another 15 minutes. I don’t know if we ever introduced ourselves or learned their names, but we enjoyed chatting with him and his wife for a good few minutes. We learned that they had raised 4 kids and had 10 grandkids. For the last 4 years since they had retired, they came to this condo at Panama City Beach right after Christmas and stayed for 2 months. Wow. #lifegoals. He made sure we understood that they had only been married to each other. They have friends with a blended family that have 15 grandchildren between them. He was proud to let us know all 10 of those grand babies come from just the 2 of them and their 4 kids. They were here all the way from Manitoba Canada. We noticed several Canadian car tags in the parking lot but most were from Ontario.
All day Saturday and all day Sunday, with the exception of when we went out to eat and get a few groceries, I sat on the balcony, listening to the loud and peaceful roar of the waves. The sound of the waves is medicinal, truly. It was a little cool and windy so I stayed cozy wrapped up in a soft blanket. We were on the 6th floor, just high enough to have a good view without being so high as to feel too far from the beach. When I wasn’t reading or watching the waves I enjoyed people watching.
Some of the time I was reading The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. (This is an affiliate link) It was the perfect location for reading this book. I didn’t finish it yet, but it’s good!
For supper Saturday night, I marinated and pan fried a steak (it was raining so we couldn’t grill) and baked sweet potatoes to go with salad I had brought from home. We ate and went right back to the waves.
Only when it stormed did I come inside and then we watched tv together. While it stormed, Jay and I watched Golden Girls and then a show about building log cabins that was really quite hilarious. How is a show about building log cabins hilarious, you ask? The owner of the company and several of the workers kept talking about how lazy one of the workers was until he quit. His laziness, they speculated, had something to do with his recreational activities that had also cost him his driver’s license. Then, they decided that although he was lazy they still needed him so they apologized and took him back. And, oh yeah, the bosses ex-wife was now married to one of his best employees.
Think, As the World Turns meets Log Cabin Builders. They were acting like a bunch of catty high school girls talking behind each others back and then making up. They did amazing work as log cabin builders and the combination of that with the soap opera work environment made for good entertainment. It really was quite entertaining on multiple levels.
Sunday morning it was so foggy you couldn’t see very far out into the ocean. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the beach quite so foggy as that. A little while later it was back to normal. I enjoy an ocean view though no matter what the weather is.
We got in a short walk Sunday morning before it rained and then it rained the rest of the all day. Even though it rained most of the time we were at the beach, I don’t think there was one thing that could have made our beach trip a bit better. It made us rest and rest was what we needed most.
I remember when our oldest kids were young and we would go to the beach with my mother in law. She would sit on the balcony and we would always encourage her to come down with us to the beach or pool, feeling like she was missing the beach by being on the balcony. But this trip I got it; I really enjoyed sitting, just resting, a lot of that time alone.
Some of the time Jay was inside watching tv. That’s more restful to him than it is for me. We enjoyed our time together tremendously, but we also felt comfortable to do what we each wanted to separately some of the time.
Other than when I made us a quick breakfast, I stayed outside on the balcony again till we were starving. We went to a place practically across the street from the condo, Hammerhead Fred’s. We might not enjoy this place during peak season, but on this off season day it was quiet and not very busy and the food was delicious.
When I’m at home, I always feel the call of undone things. Even if I don’t answer the call, I feel the weight of them. While we were at the beach there were no undone things. Nothing else I needed to be doing, rest was the plan. I can only rest this completely when I’m away from home.
I love being at home, and I mostly don’t mind that we can’t afford to travel often. But this trip reminded me just how good it is to get away. Away from our responsibilities of home and together just as a couple.
I knew it would be good to get a break but it wasn’t really until we were there and I relaxed so completely that I realized just how much we both had needed it. We operated solely on our own agenda. We ate when we wanted to. Slept when we wanted to. Drank extra coffee. Read, prayed, sat completely still for hours at a time. Nobody called my name, interrupting my reading or prayer. I wiped no-one’s butt but my own. Sorry if that’s TMI, but that was one of the highlights of my weekend.
Jay said when we got home that it was good to be home. He read my face and could see I hadn’t been as ready to come back yet. I hope we won’t wait nearly so long to do this again. It was good for us in every way.
When I think back on it, I can picture in my mind the exact view and the way the waves sounded. I’m going to hold onto those sweet memories we made, both as a reminder of a good time and incentive to not let so much time go by before we go away together again.
I came back feeling the most rested I can remember being in a very long time. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.
We’ve had a good week since we’ve been back and it was so good to start the week feeling so rested. I’ve prepared Jay though, that since we’re nicely rested, this upcoming long weekend I have plans for us to accomplish a lot of things around the house. Real life 🙂
Till next week,
For Those of You That Visit Panama City Beach: The Places We Ate and the Stories that Go With Them
Surfside Shrimp Co. (on Thomas Drive)
Friday night as we tossed around options for eating a late supper, I really wanted some raw oysters. When I think of the beach, I think fresh seafood. Not too far from our condo on Thomas Drive, we came across Surfside Shrimp Co., a market where they sell seafood, serve steamed seafood, and have an oyster bar.
There was only 1 table to sit at other than the bar. We were surprised by that initially, and pondered going somewhere else, but decided to stay. Then when we realized they only had oysters and steamed seafood and no burgers, etc, Jay and I had to negotiate. He doesn’t love oysters the way I do; he can take ’em or leave ’em most of the time. Not much negotiating really, he was super sweet to do anything I wanted to do all weekend. It ended up being such an enjoyable time and the oysters were SO delicious I’m glad we decided to stay.
Since Jay doesn’t love oysters, so we thought he could have a beer while I ate oysters then we would go to Waffle House for him and I would drink coffee while he ate. He actually ended up enjoying a few oysters too and then we drove through Wendy’s to get him a burger on the way back to the condo. We were telling our waitress how the oysters were so much better than some we had a few weeks ago in our hometown. We couldn’t believe how much difference there was, how good they were.
The owner came over and and explained that the oysters from Apalachicola (the place we usually hear most oysters come from) didn’t have good oysters right now because of storms. These were from Cedar Key FL. They were THE best oysters we’d had in a very long time. “Clean” and “fresh” tasting were 2 words Jay used to describe them. They were also huge and good and salty. Perfection.
When we’re out of town and not feeling in any hurry we enjoy talking to people we meet along the way. Y’all know I like to know everyone’s story.
We enjoyed a conversation with Frank, that owns Surfside. As we talked we learned he was from New York. I asked him how he ended up so far south from New York. He told us a little of the history getting from NY to FL and said the main reason was…he hated New Yorker’s! We busted out laughing. I don’t know why, but that just struck our funny bone. A New Yorker that hates New Yorkers. He told us that he had worked in a lot of hotels before he ended up in Panama City. Evidently, a lot of New Yorkers worked in this one hotel, because he said the hotel put up a sign that said, “We don’t care how you did it in New York.”
We very much enjoyed our meal and visit at Surfside Shrimp. Co. From the sweet high school aged girl who took our order, the great oysters and our enjoyable chat with Frank, this is a place we will want to visit again.
FYI, they have beer and soft drinks but no tea or diet drinks. We were ok with that on this visit but good to know.
On Saturday, we ventured out to eat and then a trip to Walmart. We were in search of some place locally owned again, preferring not to eat at a chain restaurant. Well, we ended up at a chain, but we didn’t know it at the time. Even so, Shane’s was a great choice, we were glad we ended up there.
The pictures we saw of their hamburgers on the windows looked pretty amazing. The pictures always get us, don’t they? We asked the sweet young lady at the counter if she had any recommendations and asked about the burgers. She said the burgers were made fresh when you order so they take about 20 minutes. We each ordered their Cowboy burger which comes with little fried onion rings on it. I had mine all the way. Ya’ll, when you order a burger, they rarely ever look the picture. These actually did! Right down to the pretty and curly edged leaf lettuce. The burgers were amazing. Best burger we’ve had in a good while.
While we were in Shane’s there was a young family across from us with 3 little ones. An infant, a toddler and the oldest was a little boy no older than 5, my guess would be 4. I enjoyed watching him; he was so cute. He was holding a fork straight upright in front of his face eating what appeared to be a chicken nugget. I heard him ask, “Why Mommy?” a couple of different times. For some reason, ever since Evan has made it through those young years I have enjoyed watching little boys. Little boys are a mess and I find them so fascinating….as long as they go home with their mamas 🙂
A few days later when I ate at Shane’s Rib Shack in Enterprise, AL, the ribs were equally delicious, flavorful and very tender, the meat pulled easily off the bone with a fork. I might have a little crush on Shane’s Rib Shack. We will definitely be going back.
We went to Hammerhead Fred’s for a late lunch on Sunday. If it were peak season I don’t know that this would have been a place we would choose. With the outdoor bar, the environment might have been louder and a different vibe during the summer, but on this day it was very enjoyable. We shared a wings appetizer first that came with celery and carrots. Then we shared a fried shrimp platter that came with a salad and we had a side of sweet potato tots with it. For this type of place we were surprised at how fresh and good the salad was with a variety of lettuces in it. The meal was delicious. The graffiti everywhere (purposeful) made me feel a little bit like if I stayed too long I would want to clea
We really enjoyed our weekend so much and all of the places we ate while in PCB were very good. I wanted to give you a description in case you’re visiting Panama City Beach soon you might give one of them a try.