Ahhh… the sweet smell of the RV in the morning, awesome! Off to another day of fun and sun.
Today our plan includes a visit to the “world famous” Shell Island off the coast of Panama City Florida. We load up the mini rolling turd (aka mini-van rental), get on board, hit the road (again) and head east on the Emerald Coast Highway.
Now I mentioned yesterday that we contributed our nation’s economy by placing an economic stimulus payment with Wal-Mart in exchange for commercial goods (or crap). Today, I find the out the true significance of the word “obey” as stated in the wedding vows. Meaning? Namely that as the man in this family, I must bundle all this crap on my back and haul it like a pack camel to whatever destination we head for. So there I am, getting out of the car with: Four beach chairs, a basket full of beach toys and the four-year old man-child who at this point, thank be go God, is choosing to walk rather than be carried. Reader, take a moment of pause to get this mental picture…got it? Now stop laughing and read on. My tribe enters, the wife stands in line with the girls to pay for our tickets and fees for snorkeling gear and I stand in the corner of this place straining to stand up with all this crap while our little guy informs me (and the rest of the patrons) that he WANTS a toy!! I ponder the scene and suddenly become convinced of two things at this juncture: (1) That all of these places our tourist traps that intentionally place hokey souvenirs in strategic places while employees behind hidden cameras in the back room laugh hysterically at Mom’s and Dad’s dealing with the kids reactions to the response “NO we are not buying anything!!”. Damn them!!! Damn them all to hell!!! (2) I need to exit this facility, find shade and drop my load before I pass out. As I contemplate the one I do the other.
With snorkel gear in hand, we board a bus, which will take us to a pier that will in turn provide a boat that will take us to one Shell Island. As we board the bus, I am reminded of the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring the late John Candy and Steve Martin. I won’t describe here, just rent the movie and you will get a laugh. The wife mentioned already, as we pull out of the bus stop, the man-child goes flying onto the floor! He is fine, but I take this moment to yell to my oldest daughter sitting with him, “Awesome, now your brother can break your fall should you fall out of the seat!” I think there was a cute boy in the seat next to her, because I am pretty sure the shade of red that materialized on her face was not due to sunburn. Good Times! Finally, we arrive at the pier and again we wait in line… for the boat. Whilst waiting for our vessel to arrive, we are entertained by some activist in the water with what appears to be a large tarp floating on top of the water and held in place by large trash bags filled with air. I think this is the hillbilly version of a simulated Oil Spill? I really don’t pay much attention, but he is shouting something about the Oil Spill, how bad it is in Louisiana and the impending doom of Florida Beaches. He keeps ranting about BP Oil and the lack of Government response until the boat arrives. Now listen, I like the beach as much as the next guy. I also agree that this crisis in the Gulf is just that, a crisis the likes of which this nation has not seen. However, while I can appreciate this gentleman’s zeal, I really wonder what good it is doing or if this yahoo has any idea on how to fix this problem. Yeah dude, the government sucks. Yeah dude, BP is the devil. Oh hey, how did you get all that crap here? With your 2-ton, Ford F350 pulling a flat bed that gets like 4 MPG? Hmmmm. Maybe we should think about our need and desire for Oil that facilitates the urgency and rationale for drilling in risky offshore environments? Just a thought? Ok, enough of that.
The boat pulls on to the Island, we get off, we find a spot right next to the dock to make base camp and then the wife goes and “checks out” another spot. Keep smiling… just keep smiling. One of the children comes back and informs me that we have found better ground around the corner. I load up the crap, and start walking. OMG! As I turn the corner, there is desert of Sand to cross and two thoughts come to mind. First, I now have mental picture of what Moses saw when he crossed the desert into Median. Second, the walk back is going to be a B-tch!
We all had a great time of course. The girls found sea-shells, Ethan got buried in the sand all the way up to his head, we built sand castles and the ladies went snorkeling. Ironically, the best snorkeling was back at our original location right next to the freaking dock! This is a fact that swam through my head has I walked back to the dock, across the Sahara, with all this crap and Ethan in my arms! AHHHHH!!! On the bright side, I got a good work-out in on the way back to the boat.
More to follow…. One more day, then we head back to Dallas!