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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 752: Panama City Beach, St. Andrews State Park - G. C. Tiller Memorial Pier

Panama City Beach from the G.C. Tiller Memorial Pier

Day #752 * Hike #943* New Track #749
Friday December 7, 2012
St. Andrews State Park - Panama City Beach, Florida
My Tripometer: 1.5 Hours * 1.75 Miles * +25 Feet

 Driving through St. Andrews heading toward Panama City Beach.

 We ate at the Waffle House next door


The entrance fee was something like $8.00.  I think not.  We turned around and found another way to access the World's Most Popular Beach!

 From the corner of Hispanola and Lookout

 The sand was soft like snow (made it hard to hike through)

Panama City: My childhood memories recall Downtown Julie Brown from MTV broadcasting from this beach.  Today, no one was around.  This is a peacful retirement community, except during Spring Break time when the old people head north to Cleveland...

 Heading to the pier...

 Free Entrance; No Ranger!

 The G. C. Tiller Memorial Pier

 No Comment

 Shark Egg

It was far too windy and cold to enter the water.  If it were summertime, maybe this place would have been more exciting.  Don't get me wrong, I liked it but as a family we decided that Clearwater, Florida has a nicer beach.  I posted that on Facebook and a received a comment that Siesta Key has a nicer beach.  I guess it's near Sarasota. 


Day #752 * Hike #944* New Track #750F
riday December 7, 2012
Panama City Beach, Florida

My Tripometer: 45 Minutes * 1 Mile * +0 Feet

After nearly two hours by St. Andrews, we drove to the city, parked and hiked...


We walked around the main strip of the small city.  Nothing was really opened, no one was around, but we did buy some cheap shirts...



The beach entrance by the pier was marked #35.  Why is this significant?  35 is my football number, that's why!

It was a long drive to Panama City.  Rather than heading North on I-75 to Atlanta, we chose to travel through the Pan Handle.  Fortunately, we had other endeavors on our agenda.  More to come...

Day 752: Panhandle Pioneer Settlement - Sam Atkins Park - Florida Trail - Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail Boardwalk

Day #752 * Hike #942* New Track #748
Friday December 7, 2012
Panhandle Pioneer Settlement - Blountstown, Florida
Sam Atkins Park -
Florida Trail - Heritage Trail
My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 1.5 Miles * +0 Feet


Heading west on State Route 20, I saw a sign and followed it to the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement.  This hidden hideaway was closed, but that did not stop me from exploring...


I walked through the leaves, caught this pic, and then discovered a trail...


Jess and the kids remained in the car and I did not expect to find this.  Hmm, let's go for a run...


I ran hard and fast off the bouncy boardwalk surface.  It was actually a bit creepy because it sounded like someone was following me.  The dirt from the walkway was shifting with my hard pouncing and in between the cracks which created a rustling sound.  I stopped, dead silence, and then continued.  The boardwalk was at least a quarter of a mile long and it lead out to this park...

 The kids, I better get back...

 The FLORIDA TRAIL

There are nearly a dozen well known National Scenic Trails across the United States.  I remember researching them before starting my adventure.  The one closest to me is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  Probably the most popular trail is the Appalachian Trail.  If I recall, there is a Great Lakes Trail, Discovery Trail, Rocky Mountain Trail and, the Florida Trail.  Here I am, I did it.  We intercepted this trail in Calhoun County.  It was a creepy area with jail workers picking up trash.  Meanwhile, my family remained in the car while I explored...


I ran around the paved trail beyond the trees seen in the pic above.  Knowing this route would go on for 1400 miles, I turned around to make sure my family was safe.  I just Googled this trail and it states that the trail begins at Big Cypress National Preserve.  Well heck, I was just there a couple of days before ago...

It was just a random pit-stop
Next stop; Panama City...

Day 751: Manatee Viewing Center Apollo Beach - Lettuce Lake Park

Manatee

Day #751 * Hike #941* New Track #747
Thursday December 6, 2012 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
Manatee Viewing Center - Apollo Beach, Florida

Lettuce Lake Park
My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 1 Mile * +0 Feet

 From St. Petersburg/Clearwater we drove east toward Tampa Bay...

 We passed this area...

And ended up here, a planned visit in nowhere land?

 We made it just before dusk

 There's going to be manatees here???



 

There were at least a dozen manatees around.  Due to the murky waters it was hard to snap photos.  Not only were there manatees, there were all kinds of fish and even ghost sharks...








We were being kicked out because the sun had set.  I still explored the area while the ranger guy was looking the other way...



The Tidal Walkway was closed!  I bet there are some amazing birds back there...

 
All trip we had been coming close to manatees without actually seeing them.  In Daytona we walked on Manatee Island and in the Everglades we passed through the Manatee Zone.  Finally, in the boondocks, we discovered Manatees!
 
 
North of Tampa is Lettuce Lake Park.  In our original agenda my plan was to hike through here.  However, our stay in Clearwater was longer than anticipated so by the time we reached Lettuce, it was pitch black and closed.  We continued our night drive all the way up to Tallahassee that night.

-Happy Birthday Dad.  I hiked on many adventures as you were turning 66.  Geesh Dad, you're getting old :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 751: Clearwater Beach - Cleveland Street - Sand Key Park - Winter from Dolphin Tale

Clearwater Beach
 
Day #751 * Hike #938* New Track #744
Thursday December 6, 2012 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
Cleveland Street -  Clearwater, Florida
My Tripometer: 45 Minutes * 1 Mile * +0 Feet
 

We were in route to our next destination and then we saw a sign; "Cleveland Street District".  I had heard of this area before and since I was on a Cleveland themed vacation, why not!  We parked the car, got out and walked along Cleveland Street.  It was Thursday morning and the place was dead...



At the end of the district the road headed down hill toward the water.  Since my next destination had to do with water, this was our turn around point, thus eliminated any possibility of gaining elevation gain for this hike.  Man, how many hikes have I done recently with a +0 elevation.  When I finally get back to Cali, the mountains will feel like Mt. Everest!!!


Our drive over to Clearwater Beach took us past the home of Winter, the dolphin with the robotic tail from the movie, Dolphin Tale.  I never saw the movie but the kids say it was fantastic.  This place was busy from kids on a field trip and since it cost money and wasn't in my agenda, we continued forward to my next hike...


Day #751 * Hike #939* New Track #745
Thursday December 6, 2012 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
Clearwater Beach - Pier 60 - Clearwater, Florida

My Tripometer: 2.5 Hours * 1.5 Miles * +0 Feet

Pier 60 (West)

State Route 60 spans across the state of Florida from Pier 60 West on the Gulf Coast to Pier 60 East.  We parked our car here to begin our next hike.

 Before we began our Beach Walk, we crossed the street...

 Our Lunch Cruise

We had an hour before the ship sailed off so after glancing through the shops at the harbor, we walked back across the street to hike out into the Gulf of Mexico...

 Beautiful Water

 Now I see why they call it Clearwater


IMHO, this is the nicest beach I've ever been to... (aside from Green Sand Beach in Hawaii and Bethells Beach in New Zealand... okay, so it's the nicest beach in Florida.  Panama City is said to be voted the nicest beach in the United States.  Error.  I can tell you that we headed up there on Friday and no way was it nicer that Clearwater.  The sand is equally as white and yes, Panama City Beach has fluffy snow sand, but the water is warmer in Clearwater, the waves are calmer and the water is clearer...


 We circled back to the boat, ended our hike and began our lunch cruise...


 Yes, I am the Captain; No...


 Tom Cruise owns this house.  Really, he does... So what!

 a controlled burn

 Alyssa was the bartender


It was such a pleasant ride and the buffet food was good too.  There were only 10 people on board this ship, and we made up 4 of them.  Free Rum Punch, man, all day baby.  Alyssa and Ayden helped entertain the other guests and I spoke to an older woman from Sanibel Island, where we just were.  Come to find out, she was originally from Cleveland.  Small world, eh?


Day #751 * Hike #940* New Track #746
Thursday December 6, 2012 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
Sand Key Park - Clearwater, Florida

My Tripometer: 0.5 Hours * 1 Mile * +0 Feet


What a waste of time and money.  My bad!  After the cruise we drove off the peninsula and made our way to Sand Key Park.  I was forewarned by another Big 10 native, a family guy from Wisconsin, who advised me that he was warned to feed the self pay parking machine because the rangers are ruthless.  Really, there is like 5 cars in this huge parking lot.  So okay, I paid the fee and began our hike...




Lots of Open Space, and I do mean open.  But, the sun wasn't shinning right here?  It was cooler, windy and the waves were choppy (no good for Alyssa's broken arm).  No one was around, I ran around and the wife and kids headed back to the car.  After my 1 mile tour, I joined them...


Day #751 * Hike #940* New Track #746
Thursday December 6, 2012 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
Clearwater Beach - Clearwater, Florida

My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 1 Mile * +0 Feet


We came back, but this time to the North side of the beach; the area that we did not conquer earlier.  I toured the off routes before rejoining up with the family.  Apparently, we were on a hunt for shells and...




 Clearwater Beach Wins!  The area as a whole is a must visit.  Good Times...

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