WHAT AN AWESOME DAY, THE BEST OF THE TRIP SO FAR! So much to cover, where to start? How about sunrise?
After a second day with Rich and Mary, we departed their home and dock at 5:52 AM to get out before low tide. Sunrise was at 6:22 AM.
Shipbuilding and shipping activity outside of Panama City. Home port for this one, Limassol, Cyprus. Never heard of it.
Remember the sailboat anchored with us at Ft. McRee? Here she is again, nice pic I think -The "Pacific Quest" out of Seattle, WA.
After that, a dolphin joined us on the port side riding along just ahead of our wake for at least a couple of miles. I took about 20 pics trying to catch it above the water but never was able to get the timing right. Every now and then he/she would tilt his/her head to the right as if looking right at us. Pretty cool. Soon after the dolphin, we saw a bald eagle up high in the trees (sorry no pics). And then, this heron followed us in the canal area (coming up) and would fly ahead of us a few feet or a few hundred feet, then perch somewhere and wait on us along the shoreline and take off again as we approached. That went on for at least 5 miles.
We decided to get our Christmas decorations out, consisting of a Little Debbie chocolate Christmas tree cake. Not long after this pic, Rhonda ate it (but we have more!). It's a silly tradition for us from 2 years ago on the trip from Muskogee, OK to Galveston.
We ran a narrow canal for about 20 miles similar to a couple of days ago but this was a bit more scenic with the waterway winding through lots of marshland and some nice waterfront homes.
Looks like this fishing boat may be due a refurbish job or a trade-in!
What a cool town we found at Port St. Joe. The whole town is neat (as in very clean and organized), quaint, and inviting. Definitely in contention for "I could live here" cities. Here's the marina office and a small cafe'.
Here's "Help Me Rhonda" docked with 2 other "Looper" boats. "Prime Time" is from Wisconsin and "Bucket List" is from St. Louis, MO. By the way, if I haven't mentioned "Loopers" prior to now, check out www.greatloop.org - they can do a better job of explaining it with lots of details. Here's the short version: one year trip, about 6500 miles, FL and Bahamas in the winter, up the Atlantic coast in the spring, Great Lakes and Canada in the summer, leave the Great Lakes in early fall via Lake Michigan through Chicago, down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, hang a left on the Ohio River, turn right on the TN River, another right on the Tenn-Tom waterway to Mobile, then left along the Gulf to Florida. Our completion of the trip will be official when we hang the left on the Ohio on the way back to our home on the TN River. If you happen to have noticed the white flag (burgee) we are flying, it's the America's Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) flag. Those who have completed the entire route get the honor and recognition of flying the gold burgee.
An overall view of the Port St. Joe Marina.
It is positioned right on the Gulf.
We started the day with a beautiful sunrise. How about we end with a huge sunset.
But not just yet. We have a Christmas parade to go to! The city has a small population of about 4000 people. All 4000 were there. The parade opened with all of the police, fire, and other emergency vehicles making quite a racket and flashing lots of lights.
Then the sequence included local businesses, ROTC and the high school band, classic cars, churches, dignitaries, horses, etc. I took about 25 pics but this was one of my favorites.
Lots of others with bright lights.
And of course it ended with horses and then Santa himself.
We struck up a conversation with a couple next to us at the parade. They spent most of their life in Kentucky, then decided to move to Destin, finally decided to get away from the rat race and settled on Port St. Joe. They said they like it here for all the reasons and pics already noted, but also because they were looking for a quiet life and "there's nothing to do here" but enjoy the laid back atmosphere, the Gulf, and nice beaches. Rhonda just got back from doing laundry and had a long discussion with the cleaning guy. He grew up here and later moved to Lubbock, TX but came back after getting in the business of flipping houses. (Didn't say if he did well, went bust, or somewhere in between). He also likes the quiet life, now has a cleaning service for 250 houses and 4 businesses. He also noted that Port St. Joe has a strong Christian history that is still evident today. Everyone we met today was pleasant, courteous, helpful, and just seemed to be enjoying life.
NEW "I COULD LIVE HERE" LIST - TOP FOUR
1. Port St. Joe, FL
2. Panama City, FL
3. Ft. Walton Beach, FL
4. Morgan City, LA
We're going to spend an extra day here, church in the morning at First Baptist just a few blocks away, then on to Appalachicola and Carrabelle.