Monday, November 17, 2008

A Few Days on the Beach

As you can see from the picture below, Bruce and I exchanged the wind in the trees for the surf on the sand.

We spent last week in Panama City Beach attending a convention of outfitters from all over the country. It is a group that we have belonged to for over 20 years. I really can’t remember not belonging to this association. Our days were filled with seminars, speeches and meals. We caught up with what others had experienced during the summer. Most of them had a pretty good year. Since they are all on rivers, the rainfall and water depth have a lot more affect on their business than on ours in the Boundary Waters.

Of course, with any convention there were some recreational activities planned. Here is a picture of Doug and Patty Shannon on our canoe trip.

It was down a creek that turns into a river and only about 6-7 miles long. Bruce and I always seem to be in the front of the group. We are so happy to have any current at all and no wind in our face. Even our slow paddling keeps us moving along quickly. There are not rapids because Florida is flat. We did see fish in the water, several springs where water comes up from underground, and turtles. There were very few birds for reasons we don’t understand.

On Wednesday we played golf with Doug and Patty and our other friends, Tony and Diane. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from that day. Just believe me when I say that Bruce and I are both horrible golfers. We did play golf with this group two years ago but that has been our only other golfing experience in 40 years. The women played together and the men were in front of us. We played a game called “Best Ball.” Everyone played from the position of the best shot in the group. The women’s group was not into keeping any kind of score. It was fun to be outside (not in air conditioning) and walking around.

Speaking of walking around, Bruce and I actually got to walk on that beach in the picture. I was out three times and he went with me twice. There is really something wonderful about walking on the beach. We didn’t see anything particular. Our feet were in the water and our clothes got wet. The sun was in our eyes for half the walk. We didn’t talk too much because the surf was loud. There were no rocks and just a few men fishing in the surf. Maybe we liked it so much because it is entirely different from our water experiences here at Gunflint.

One day ten of us rented a pontoon boat. We slowly went out to a place called Shell Island. The beach there was very wide and flat. It also had a fair number of shells. Bruce and I are great shell collectors. We don’t get anything special but it gives us a purpose for walking. This time we brought home about 4 dozen shells that I am washing. Eventually, they will be used to hold appetizers for dinner one night. Not only will we enjoy the appetizers but it will remind us of walking on the beach. That would be a great memory in January when it is 40 below here.

After lunch on the boat, we had some sandwiches left. Here is Bruce feeding the seagulls.

They would take it right out of his hand. My camera skills are not good enough to catch the moment when the seagull plucks the bread but you get the idea.

On the way back to the marina we were exceptionally lucky. A pod of dolphins came swimming up around us. They jumped and rolled under and around the boat. We just stopped and watched. Again my camera skills were not up to capturing the moment. We used to see dolphins on a regular basis when we had a home in the Keys. It is one of my favorite sights on the water.

Another jumper we saw were several manta rays. These rays were about 2-3 feet across in size. Down in the Keys they would be 5-6 feet across. They are just wonderful to see popping out of the water.

As with any Kerfoot trip, we managed to find several good restaurants. The oyster season has just opened in Florida. One night the four guys in our group ate eight dozen raw oysters. None of the women were really interested. We concentrated on shrimp and grouper. Now I am concentrating on the bathroom scale.

It is good to be home. Today is overcast with temperatures in the low twenties.

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