May 21, 2008

Where My Soul And Spirit Meet

Fishing Poles in the Sand

The beach......I love the beach. If you know me well....or even slightly at will have heard this statement come out of my mouth.....more than once. There is nowhere that I would rather be than at the beach. It is where my soul and spirit meet and I feel closer to God than anywhere else.

Last week, Sandy and I were blessed to get to go to Panama City Beach for several days. We had a wonderful time. We rented a two bedroom oceanfront condo that was at a resort called Gulf Crest. It was beautiful. It was very large and clean and had everything that we needed. The master bedroom was on the front so every night we got to sleep listening to the roar of the ocean through our balcony screen door. Talk about something that will rock you off to sleep....that will do it. The condo was located on the 9th floor and had a 39 ft balcony across the front of it. We had a beautiful view of the pool, the beach, and the ocean. It also gave you a perfect view of the sunset over the a perfect place to stay.

We love Panama City Beach or PCB as we like to call it. The very first trip Sandy and I ever took together was to Panama City. We used to have friends whose parents had a house there. We went down with them for Memorial Day weekend....1992. We had been dating for 4 1/2 months and we were in heavy "like"....haha. 3 1/2 months later ....we were engaged....A good beach trip will do that to you. At least now days we don't have to sleep in separate rooms like we did back then.....WE REALLY LIKE THAT TOO!!!!! :-)

But I digress. It had been 4 years since we had been to Panama City and it has really changed a lot. There are two main roads that run along the beach. One is Thomas Drive and the other is Front Beach Rd. Thomas Drive used to be the nice end of the beach (nice condos and restaurants) and Front Beach road was a lot of of little rinky dink hotels (the miracle strip amusement park...was here but is now gone) and a few nice resorts. The two roads gave you a good mixture of large and small and you could find something for every age group and income level. One night we drove all the way down the beach and we were amazed to see that most of the small hotels are gone. There are huge condos and restaurants everywhere now. There is not much difference between the two roads now is all a beautiful place on the beach.

We had a really wonderful time being together. We had three pretty days and a couple of cloudy/rainy days. That actually worked out well. We got some sun the first few days (or we both got burnt I should shoulders got fried and still hurt a week later) and the last couple of days it was cloudy and we got to be out on the beach part of the day and in the condo resting part of the day. That was nice. I just love being out in the sun and walking on the beach or sitting by the pool (they had a great pool area) and then going in and taking a nap. That is the best sleep ever!!!

The beach was beautiful. Panama City's beach is so white it sparkles. The travel channel has several times voted it one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The signs going to the beach say...."Welcome to the world's most beautiful beaches" and they really are. This time of year it is not the least bit crowded. I felt like I had my own private beach most of the week. I spent a lot of time walking and praying and picking up shells. I just love to walk and pray and talk to God. It is so easy to talk to God when you are at your most favorite place in the world. If I'm at the beach I have to be outside most of the time. I feel the full force of God and the Holy Spirit when I'm out "there" with them. I need that sometimes more than I realize.

There are several places we always go when we are in Panama City. We always go to Pineapple Willy's and sit on the deck and have ribs. They have a deck that extends way out on the beach. It is probably the most perfect place to watch the sunset on all the beach. They are known for their ribs (their motto is "mo better ribs") and their Pineapple Willy drink....(which when I had it back when I was in high school ....was deadly!) We go here every time....but we go for the ribs!

Another place we always go is Angelo's Steak Pit. They have the best steaks that you will ever get anywhere. Black Angus beef cooked over cedar wood. So tender it falls apart. Yum yum yum!!!

This time we also went to the new Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville restaurant. It is the anchor for a new outdoor shopping center that just opened on the beach called "Pier Park" . This new shopping center is really cute. All of the different shops are painted in all the pretty Florida, pink, red, green....and it has a great outdoor area to sit and enjoy the evening. It also has a new movie theater called "The Grand" which is even nicer inside than "The Rave". We had to make a stop at "The Marble Slab Creamery" for ice cream. But anyway...we went to Jimmy Buffett's place to eat dinner. I have to admit I love Jimmy Buffett music (most of it) just puts me in a happy mellow place. The restaurant is really nice and is right across the street from the beach. We ate dinner on the outdoor deck and listened to the was a fun night to be together. The food was good too.

Sounds like all we did was play and eat doesn't it? I was just thinking of how my mom says, eat ,eat ..... when we go to the beach with her. Seems like every time we turned a round we were eating. We did also manage to play goofy golf (I won but I won't mention that) and we went to the show to see "Prince Caspian" (it's really good) and of course, we had to make a trip to Wally World for groceries (no trip is complete unless you get to go to the local Wal-Mart).
We had a wonderful time going to the beach. It was a quiet time of being together and resting. We needed that and we enjoyed it very much.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from the week. At the bottom of the blog page...there is a slide show of most of the pictures I took. It was to big to fit in the post.



p.s. For my "Hired" friends. When we got there our balcony screen door was torn. We wanted to sleep with the door open at night so we fixed the door ourselves. Check out our "hired" door below. The maintenance man did come fix the door for us the next day... and I'm sure he was not impressed.

Our Gulf Crest Condo

My Private Beach

Pineapple Willy's

On the deck at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

A Chair in the Sand

Fishing Pole in the Surf

Sailboat on the Beach
A Gator in the Sand
Self Portrait
Sunset on the Water
Stormy Afternoon

Angelo's Steak Pit

Our "Hired" balcony door