Beach Road 98 on a Torrential Fourth of July Weekend
A two and a half hour drive took us six hours. We also stopped for lunch, and we stopped to pick up the Qatari Cat. The rest of the time, we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic most of the 100 something miles of the drive home; stuck in one lane even on four lane highways as the drains failed when there was so much rain and runoff that there was no where for it to go.
Leaving Panama City, the surf was high, and full of undertow.
We were able to get through the Watercolors/Seaside area quickly, and then the deluge:
When we had to go single file, most of the time everyone cooperated, letting people in from gas stations and side roads, taking turns, etc. Then, there are always those @$$&*!>$ who think everyone is being too cautious and polite, who break the line, go thundering up through the lake, discover no, no they really can’t make it and barge back into the line. Karma catches up with the arrogant.
The worst part, the very worst, was going past the SanDestin outlet malls; when the skies break forth and there is no possible point to being on the beach, the tourists head for the malls and the restaurants. The malls were booming! Traffic crawled by. Even the poorest restaurant was also full; thank God we were still full from breakfast.
This is the bridge leaving Destin; on the right side of the road in front of that stalled truck is about a huge puddle a foot deep:
Outside Navarre, both rain and traffic began to lighten up. We stopped at a little roadside place I’d always wanted to try for something that might have been our late lunch or our early dinner – TC’s Front Porch, it’s across from the Navarre Butterfly House.
There was a small crowd inside, guys hanging out at the bar, looked like fishermen waiting for it to clear up enough to go back out and catch some fish, some tables with college kids down on the beaches for summer break, maybe lifeguards – swimming not allowed with the heavy surf and heavy rip tides running.
Everyone pretty much just waiting out the storm, tossing back a few brews, just hanging out. I had some pretty good crab cakes and AdventureMan had the chili. It was all OK. Beach food.
The Qatari Cat was delighted to see us, and slept as close as he could to me all night (not such a great thing; I appreciate that he thinks I am special, but he is hot, and I can’t turn over without disturbing him . . . aarrgh) This morning, however, he ran and hid under the bed when he saw us getting ready to go out; we think he was afraid we were taking him back to Wee Tuck’Em Inn, LOL.
Here’s the thing. For us, we were just inconvenienced, and it was just minor inconvenience. We had the time, we knew beach traffic would be heavy, it was a little adventure.
For people who earn a living from tourism, for some of these people, this weekend was probably a disaster. The hotels are packed for the Fourth of July weekend, and lots of fireworks displays are planned, big entertainment – it’s a big money making time of the year. With the four day storm, some people probably cancelled hotel reservations, and when the rain didn’t stop, others left. Many of the July Fourth fireworks displays were cancelled. Local fests were rained out. I am guessing most of the malls and restaurants did OK; not much else to do, but it rained SO much that there is a lot of flooding and a lot of damage. This, for many people, was not a good weekend.
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