Florida’s Panhandle

After two days of hunkering down under our church pavilion shelter we finally emerged from the monsoon like rains into the clear blue sky. Riding through Newport we stopped at one of the first signs of civilization a farm stand! Unfortunately for both us and the farm stand it was winter, meaning no local produce. Their main profit maker, Tupelo Honey, was also not in stock due to a frost that hit the blooms before the hives could be floated out to the Tupelo trees.

The aftermath of two days of torrent rain.
The aftermath of two days of torrent rain.
A great looking farm stand, however our out of season arrival meant no produce.
An impulsive decision to follow US-319 instead of the longer and busier US-98 led us to Snochoppy and George Griffin Pottery.  George was once a nomadic hitch-hiker and fate landed him on his current property where he creates art for us to enjoy.
After nearly an entire day’s ride we finally turned onto US-319/98 and arrived at the Gulf Coast once again.

After an unsuccessful stop at a the only grocery store in town we gave up on the notion of cooking and stopped in a BBQ joint. Unimpressive meat offerings with an excessive and impressive salad bar were the feast du jour.

Conversations are the gateway to a million opportunities as we have learned time and time again. Speaking with the owners proprietor we were offered a space to pitch our tent behind the restaurant.


The following day we pushed further along the coast wanting to get to Apalachicola, a town we have heard about since North Carolina & Key West, and with the goal of ending at our warm shower host Jeff’s house in Panama City Beach.

Cruising along the Gulf Coast on US-98.
Amanda's "eagle eye" spotted a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. We got to enjoy watching it resting in a tree.
Amanda’s “eagle eye” spotted a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. We got to enjoy watching it resting in a tree.
Eastpoint Oyster, shucked fresh and served raw!

Across the bridge we pulled into the small town of Apalachicola.  We arrived about an hour before a Puppy Parade, which would explain the rather large crowds of people.  We shared a sandwhich and some beers, wandered for a bit, and people watched before it was time to go.

Blue skies and historic buildings in Apalachicola.

From Apalachicola we rode through stretches of deserted pristine gulf coast beach front headed Panama City Beach.  After crossing the time zone in Mexico Beach, we not only gained an hour and were back on schedule arriving on time but also found ourselves in the middle of Tyndall Air Force Base, an even more deserted stretch of this time without a water view.

Beware of bear with responsibilities
Beware of bear with responsibilities
Our own private road, US-98.
Welcome to Central Time Zone. Our first time zone change.
Welcome to Central Time Zone. Our first time zone change.

With the change in time zone we went from being an expected hour late to arriving perfectly on time.  These types of miracles happen very rarely.  Jeff invited us into his home and fed us coppious amounts of food while we talked about our Collingswood commonality, his long distance hiking and previous migrant work experience.  We shared a few mixed drinks before setting off to be tired from our 93 mile day.

Thanks Jeff!
Thanks Jeff!

Amanda had a deadline and a destination for us to reach.  We would need to put in another 80-ish mile day to reach her goal.  All while fighting a constant wind, enjoying endless white sand beach views, and keeping the happy spirit of the bike trip up.

White sand frame the beautiful ocean
White sands frame the beautiful Gulf Coast
Vivid blues contrast the snow white beaches; smiles worn from ear to ear.
Quirky food trucks in the affluent Watercolor community.
Sunset ride fighting the wind
Sunset ride fighting the wind over the bridge

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