What a great day!! Well, that is despite the fact that I did not get to sleep until 5am and then had to get up at 6:30am. Once up Randy and I gulped down a cup of coffee, got dressed, packed the bike we actually made it out of the house by 8:10am. Not bad.
Our goal was to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee stopping along the Trace to visit historical sites. The road from our home to the road that would ultimately bring us to our desired destination was fairly simple. We were hoping that our first stop would be Panama City. Now one thing everyone has to keep in mind is that Randy does not like Interstate highways so for the most part we will be traveling back roads and scenic highways.
We left home and went out the back gate to SR25. From there we got onto CR484, north on I75 exit west on Rt. 27 at Ocala, north on19 and finally west on 98 at Perry Florida following the Big Bend Scenic Highway. We followed 98 for the rest of the day. The beginning of our trip on 98 we passed many small towns that were depressing to drive through. Way too many stores and businesses have closed making you wonder what keeps the towns alive. One really funny site I remember seeing along this stretch of the road was an old motel that had been brought back to life turning the individual rooms/units into individual businesses. Small, compact business sites that I am sure do not incur a high overhead. I remember thinking, “Good creative thinking at work”.
The first part of 98 reminded me of Interstate 10. I10 is a long straight road with little on either side of the road but trees. The road is wonderful but not much to look at. After passing through Wakulla the landscape changed and became more upscale and we were now rolling along the water line of the Gulf. There were many times that you could look down and see the briny water of the Gulf lapping up on the shore just feet away from the road. Wonderful. It was a hot day but the wind picked up so as long as you were rolling along you remained cool.
We made it to Apalachicola at around 2pm stopped at a local restaurant for lunch called the Apalachicola Searfood Grill. The restaurant was very quaint looking from the outside and decorated in a nautical and whimsical way inside. This restaurant turned out to be a find! I ordered the fried shrimp basket and Randy ordered the Grouper basket and both were wonderfully delicious. The baskets included the seafood of your choice, French fries and hush puppies. The shrimp was fresh, lightly breaded and so, so tender. I loved it! I asked the waitress where the shrimp came from and she said that it was caught locally. Randy really enjoyed his Grouper too.
While we were eating I noticed several desserts being delivered to other tables and decided that this would be one of those day when I would have dessert for lunch. The dessert that caught my eye was a meringue. I have not had a meringue pie in a long time and just seeing it made my mouth water. So, as soon as we finished our meals we ordered one slice of coconut cream pie and we were both glad we did. The pie was conservatively five inches tall. On the plate and surrounding the slice of pie were whipped cream stars drizzled with chocolate. Randy and I enjoyed sharing this wonderful taste delight and vowed that we would not eat dinner this evening. Sorry to say, but the pie was so deliciously tempting when it arrived at our table our forks were busily working before I could get a picture. The pie was heavenly airy, light, delicately flavored and sprinkled with toasted flakes of delicate coconut. Yummy! We asked the waitress if the pie was cooked on the premises or outside. She said they were prepared at a bakery called Sweet Endings.
We eventually made our way to Panama City and found a Comfort Inn to settle in for the evening. The hotel had an amazingly large, slightly warm but refreshing pool that we floated in for about half and hour. It was just what we needed. Randy went to the lobby to ask about local restaurants and discovered that the management put out a cooler of beer, bottles of wine, a pitcher of lemonade, cheese, crackers, chips, salsa, Chex mix and nuts for the enjoyment of the guests. What Randy found interesting and wonderful is that all these treats were free!! It was just what we needed just a little snack before we settle in for the evening. Again, wonderful!
We are hoping to get to Natchez tomorrow but not really sure. The weather at this point is a little iffy. We’ll see.