Where We Be
Panama City Beach, Florida
The wonderfully white sand of the Emerald Coast is a definite draw (Sandpiper Beach Resort)
We saw more than a dozen osprey during our hike at Honeymoon Island
My opinion of Clearwater shot up after discovering this Chipotle's!
View from our balcony at the Sandpiper Beach Resort
Sunset from the balcony -- the best part of each day
Robin with Cousin Kathy at Mexico Beach
Dunedin & Honeymoon Island (Jan 2008)
We both liked Dunedin with its biking paths, nearby nature preserves, and small-town feel
A small section of the sprawling Sandpiper Beach Resort
Sandpiper's Lazy River is just the ticket when it's too cool to swim outside
Cousin Kathy took us to "local's secret" Crooked Island Beach for seashelling
Robin found this intact sand dollar at Crooked Island Beach
Crooked Island Beach is right next to Tyndall AFB and utterly, wonderfully undeveloped
Random sampling of seashells at Crooked Island Beach
We had such a fun day!
Our group shot at Kathy's home (minus her two cats)
This armadillo nearly ran into me at Honeymoon Island Nature Preserve
Robin in Dunedin -- that rare Florida town with a quaint downtown area
We enjoyed our hike at Honeymoon Island State Park -- one of the few barrier islands to escape "condo mania" in Florida
We just keep having one good experience after another
with Robin's cousins. This time it was Cousin Kathy
(Jackie's sister) who made our stay in Panama City Beach
fun and memorable. She treated us to a tasty lunch at the
Captain's Table (where we had cheesy grits for the first
time, yum!) then drove us to Mexico Beach and nearby
Crooked Island Beach (a "local's secret") for some
awesome seashelling. Robin found an intact sand dollar,
and we both enjoyed the untouched beauty of this long
stretch of powder-white sand. At Kathy's home, we had a
pleasant chat and discovered we had much in common,
including a love of nature and animals, kayaking, and
African safaris.

We lucked out and got a room with a balcony view of the
ocean at the Sandpiper Beach Resort. It's off-season
here, so rates were low and we got four nights for the
price of three. It was too cool this time of year to
sunbathe or swim in the ocean, but walks on the beach
were nice,  and I did take the opportunity to swim in the
resort's indoor Lazy River and relax in the outdoor hot
tub. The Emerald Coast is justifiably famous for its
brilliantly white sand, which can be so white it's almost
blinding without sunglasses.
Before heading up to Florida's Panhandle, we
spent two days in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater
area. This area was too citified and condo-fied for
us, but we did enjoy the nearby town of Dunedin,
a relatively small town with waterfront views, a
quaint downtown, and plenty of trees and walking
paths, including Pinellas Trail, a 34-mile paved
trail for hiking/biking.

Honeymoon Island (billed as “The Real Florida”) is
one of the few barrier islands that has been kept
(mostly) in its natural state. It offers a peaceful
respite from the condo mania that plagues so
much of Florida. We went for a two-mile hike
along Osprey Trail -- well-named since we saw
more than a dozen osprey in flight or sitting on
dead tree branches. The highlight of the hike was
encountering an armadillo rooting around in the
sandy undergrowth. He ambled right up to me as I
took pictures of him and didn’t seem fazed at all
by our presence. Robin says she wants one!