Note: I’d like to thank all of our friends (especially Carrie Ann) for taking lots of pictures throughout the weekend that I have gleefully poached and used to bring life to my blog! You guys are the best.
As you’d expect, I did not wake up at 6:00am. However, we were both up by 7:45am and by 8:15am we were out on the beach for another hour-long / 3.5-mile walk along the water’s edge. We even spotted a small school of Manta Rays. What a great way to start the day.
Similar to Friday, the group would be gathering at The Liq between 10:00am and 11:00am before heading off for the traditional “Yuppie, Hippie, Biker-Bar Ride.” This is about a 95-mile round-trip ride with stops at Bud & Ally’s Rooftop Bar in Seaside for a morning cocktail, followed by lunch at The Red Bar in Grayton Beach and then to the Outpost for Bikers in Freeport for the afternoon. Given that we got something of a late start on our walk we sent off a note to let our friends know we’d be arriving around 10:30am.
We arrived in plenty of time and Debbie had her Mudslide which, as always, just makes her so darn happy! We visited with our friends, had a nice and thoughtful group prayer to remember family and friends who had just passed over the last two days and then bid farewell to our new friends, Steve & Kristen, who were planning to head home and unable to join us for the ride.
As for who was on the ride, it was pretty much the same group from Friday: Carrie Ann & Bobby, Ryan & Jeanette + Patti, Jeff & Sharon, Julie & Chuck, Mike & Kim, Cowboy (John), Mike, Steve & Kristen, Early & April, Alan & Erin, Randy, Cricket, Ken?, and of course Debbie and yours truly… plus-plus and once again I’ll be darned if I can recall all of the names but awesome folks to be sure! As before, any is free to clue me in and I’ll make the appropriate updates.
However, our friends David & Deb passed on the ride so that they could hang in PCB and catch up with some other friends who were down for the weekend. We’d be meeting back up at the end of the day.
Speaking of the ride, we had a bit of a bumpy start as the great weather and a strong surge of locals into Panama City Beach for Thunder Beach brought traffic headed west on Front & Middle Beach to a standstill. We consulted with Jeff & Sharon who were our ride leaders for the day and decided to double back on Middle Beach to Alf Coleman and then head north to Back Beach (US98).
Well son-of-a-gun if Back Beach wasn’t slammed all the way to the Harley dealer. Blue was chugging on one-cylinder in no time as her engine temperature skyrocketed into the thigh-cooking zone. However, once we got past the Harley dealer speeds picked-up a bit and after clearing the entrance road to Frank Brown Park (another rally venue) the roads were wide open; ahhhh, free at last!
It was a great ride over to Seaside and amazingly we found just enough parking for all of the bikes on our first pass. Bud & Ally’s was full when we arrived so we simply filled-in the gaps around the other patrons and on the back deck while enjoying cocktails with the locals: yeah, they probably don’t appreciate us all that much. But hey, it wouldn’t be the Yuppie, Hippie, Bike-Bar Ride without the Yuppie stop!
It was a short, 3-mile ride over to the Red Bar and God bless Ryan, he called ahead and let them know he was bringing about 30 people for lunch: they were ready! We had three tables, great servers and great meals: Debbie and I split the blackened tilapia sandwich. My buddy Ryan surprised me with an impromptu visit by Jose, and Carrie Ann shared some ice to help chill my shot… or something like that. Oh, it was a grand time to be sure.
After lunch we all hiked about an 1/8th of a mile out across the sandy dunes to the beach for a group photo. Imagine our surprise when we found Clarisse, a blue & yellow Macaw who we’ve met on previous visits to the Red Bar, and her owner on the beach when we arrived.
Sadly, I can’t remember her owner’s name, but she was kind enough to take our group photo.
Our next stop was the Outpost, a spirited 14-mile ride from Grayton Beach. I have no idea what time we arrived, but I can tell you that we stayed for the duration this time and it was a blast. It was as fun and relaxing as life can be just shooting the breeze and enjoying everyone’s company; nothing better than that! And, perhaps by fate, Debbie had said she wanted some leather hot pants to go with her leather tops before we left home. We really never stopped at any of the vendors while we were in PCB, but son-of-a-gun if they didn’t have a vendor selling fine leather garments at the Outpost who just happened to have a pair of black leather hot pants that were a perfect fit for my sweetie!
We made our way back into Panama City Beach as a group but started to splinter off a bit after Debbie and I stopped at Dusty’s to meet back up with David & Deb and their friends for dinner. Bobby also joined us while the rest of the group from the Outpost headed down to the Salty Goat for some of their Goat Cheese pizza. While pizza wasn’t on my eating plan, in retrospect it may have been a better choice than Dusty’s. While Dusty’s gets rave reviews from lots of friends and critics alike, our first experience wasn’t anything to write home about. We had chargrilled oysters and tuna dip and they were both “just OK” but nowhere near as good as the Raw Bar. We’ll give it another try in the future, but given that first impressions are lasting ones they’ll be fighting an uphill battle from the git-go.
After dinner we circled back up with our friends — or at least a smaller subset of the same group — at the Edgewater Shopping Center’s Thunder Beach venue where an AC/DC tribute band was on the big stage. Imagine our surprise when we found Steve & Kristen had decided to delay their departure for another day and were on hand for the AC/DC band; the more the merrier. Like the Kid Rock band, the AC/DC tribute was really good and knew how to play to the motorcycle rally crowd. It wasn’t a huge crowd by any stretch, but the lead singer from Wales did a great job of keeping the tempo high and engaging his audience. He pulled a few ladies out of the crowd early on who provided a little color and entertainment to the stage and over-achieved a bit later on when he was able to roust 36 ladies onto a very crowded stage, including quite of few of our gals and Miss Debbie. There was one gal who was just too darn happy to be up there and showing her stuff as she tried to outshine a few other attention-loving gals. Again, just stupid fun stuff on a Saturday night when we were beginning to feel a bit of fun-in-the-sun fatigue setting-in.
We bid farewell to our friends around 11:00pm and went in search of food, as our dinner at Dusty’s wasn’t all that filling. We ended up at the All American Diner just up the street from Sharky’s, a new place for us. I think our timing may have been off a bit as we must have arrived right on the heels of three or four larger groups of patrons who all put in large food orders. It was about 30 minutes before our food hit the table by which time mine was cold as it was likely waiting on Debbie’s. It’s like we had a little dark cloud hanging over our evening meals after having near-perfect meals up and until lunch at the Red Bar. Oh well, life’s like that.
About the time we were finishing up who walks in…?? None other than Steve & Kristen, proving that it truly is a small world. Their dining experience was completely different from ours in that there were no large groups ahead of them in the order queue so they had piping-hot food – and really good-looking food at that – sitting on their table in what seemed like 5-10 minutes, tops. So, timing really can be everything when it comes to dining. It was nice to get one last time to chat with them before we all headed back to our real lives and true identities. However, rest assured that we’ll all be staying in touch and are already looking forward to the next gathering.
We wandered into our condo shortly after midnight thinking that we’d need to be up and ready to hit the road by 9:30am the following morning, or at least that was the last plan we’d heard. In the past when we were travelling by ourselves we’d normally make an early night of it on Saturday and be on the road by 7:00am – 8:00am so it would be nice to sleep-in a bit.
We were up around 7:45am and shortly thereafter received a text with a new departure time of 9:00am. Hmmm, that might be doable for us but I wasn’t sure if David & Deb would be up and ready to go in time. I sent them the text rather than knocking on their door as I knew they needed their sleep. Better to be well-rested for a long ride home in a smaller group of two than rush to be in the bigger group.
We let our other friends know that we would “try” to join them, but would be playing it by ear. By the time all was said and done, we told our friends to go ahead and leave when they were ready and perhaps our paths would cross up the road. We were all packed and rolled out of the condo parking lot at 9:40am on what was another beautiful day.
As we headed out-of-town our expectation was that we’d run into our friends at a gas stop in Chipley. As we passed one of the nicer, large gas stations just outside of Panama City Beach I looked to see if they happened to be there but didn’t see anyone or any bikes that looked familiar. However, about five minutes and five miles down the road our friend Chuck came flying up alongside us to let us know that we had, in fact, passed the group back at that gas station and they’d be coming along to collect us in a few minutes. They had apparently seen us headed north and Chuck was doing his best to get our attention as we drove by, but their mostly black motorcycles just didn’t catch my eye like the red, white and silver ones in the parking lot: it says a lot about how we see or don’t see colors!
Our group now included Bobby & Carrie Ann, David & Deb, Cowboy, Mike, Mike, Chuck, Debbie and Me and then Julie & Kim following in an SUV.
It was nice having the larger group for the ride back to Atlanta. We did a gas stop in Chipley as originally planned and stopped for lunch in Eufaula. Instead of staying the course and heading to Columbus via Phenix City, we opted to head east across the Chattahoochee in Eufaula and take the road less traveled which was definitely the right call. We’d have been sitting in Phenix City traffic for at least 10-15 minutes, if not longer whereas the slightly longer ‘end run’ through Fort McPherson added perhaps 9 miles on nearly empty, rolling roads. That will probably become our default for the ride home in the future, but we’ll still likely go through Phenix City and hit the Marathon station on the way down as our initial stop.
The ride went pretty well, although there were a few ass-clowns on the road who gave us few unneeded moments of stress and anxiety. However, the fun and games came to a dead stop shortly after the Palmetto, Georgia exit off I75 where a couple of cars had come together shutting down two of the four lanes headed north. We navigated our way through that mess and mostly re-grouped on the other side only to hit another log-jam at the I-20 interchange due to back-ups on I-20 and construction on I-75. We bid farewell to our friends and jumped off I-75 since we’d be heading to Loco Willy’s for a post ride meal while the others headed up to Brewsters to meet with other friends who didn’t make the PCB trip. Our little detour put us back on I-75 just north of the construction back-up (although that wasn’t the original plan) and that worked well. We were thankful we weren’t headed south through Marietta on I-75 as those lanes were blocked by yet another wreck that had traffic stacked for several miles.
We arrived at Loco Willy’s around 5:45 and were, of course, happy to see familiar, friendly faces at and behind the bar; it’s that and great food that keeps bringing us back. Our friends David & Deb were on the fence about joining us at Loco’s when they jumped off I-75 to head home. After seeing that we checked-in at Loco’s they headed on over to join us for a final dinner before getting back to reality. The frozen margaritas and hot wings were wonderful and exactly what we needed. It was also good to have a little time to decompress after the ride and before we hit the house where we’d be faced with the work that comes after a mini-vacation. It was a nice way to close-out the trip.
It didn’t take us too long to unpack our bags, throw in a few loads of laundry, etc. as we turned our attention to getting ready for work on Monday. It’s amazing how fast reality sets back in after a fun-filled mini-vacation.
Blue didn’t get washed until Monday night and the blog didn’t really start until Tuesday. Just sorting through all of the photos – ours, stills from video and the ones from friends that we’ve poached to add more ‘color’ to the blog — was also a pretty time-consuming process.
Already looking forward to the next trips to Florida or elsewhere with our friends!!