New Orleans to Kissimmee via Panama City Beach

IMG_156328 October

An early start to take Phillip & Sylvia to New Orleans airport as they are off to Miami and Key West for a couple of weeks whilst we head off with the car to Kissimmee.

Beignets
Beignets

First though we head off for the Apple Store to try and fix my photograph problem on my iPad. 45 minute wait is too long so we have our last Beignet and after petrol fill up head eastwards, past the turn off to Read Boulevard – how come my name is over in E Louisiana?

A Boulevard named after me!
A Boulevard named after me!

After that, a very boring I-10 for many miles with mostly trees at the side of the road.

Cotton bales
Cotton bales

We head off inland and stop at a Panera Bread for lunch after seeing cotton growing in a field, we couldn’t safely stop, and a field with a few bales of cotton, picked and awaiting moving.

Into Florida and we remain on New Orleans time, it must be so confusing having two time zones for one state.

Arrive at our hotel, right on beach in time for sunset, Holiday Inn Resort, Panama City Beach for the next two nights.

Sunset from our balcony
Sunset from our balcony

Our earlier lunch at Panera Bread was filling enough so we make do with the remnants of that and some chocolate bought in the resort shop for our dinner especially as we have had a couple of weeks of eating out each evening.

Room is large overlooking the sea and after our long drive, we are hoping for an early night.

Not a bit of it as our next door neighbours, young lads, decided to talk loudly and play music loudly.

We complain at about 11:30 and again at about 11:50 and they finally were quiet by about midnight only to start up again before 7am the following day!

29 October

Phone security at about 6:50 to complain about the music and say we will speak to front desk at a more reasonable time. Noisy youths seem to have left room just after 7am but we still go to complain and see if we can go somewhere else.

Front desk were excellent, we got a new room, they blocked off the two rooms either side, gave us a free breakfast ( we were going to Panera or Starbucks ), a free lunch – we didn’t take them up on this – and free drinks.

Panama City Beach being set up
Panama City Beach being set up

Suitably refreshed, we walked a bit on the lovely Florida beach trying to avoid the sea slugs which are harmless but do give off a purple liquid if trodden on/ squeezed, before heading to Publix and a couple of other shops to check out food for Harry.

Sea Slugs washed up by a recent storm
Sea Slugs washed up by a recent storm

Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing?

Through Facebook I learn that a US resident who is a Manx Exile has managed to buy some Manx Cheddar in a Branch of Publix back in Asheville (so many blogs ago!) so whilst checking out the dairy free food for Harry, manage to locate some – so it is still on sale.

Manx Cheddar cheese
Manx Cheddar cheese

I will do my bit for the export business of the island and buy some when we get to Kissimmee and have a fridge.

Lunch from Panera Bread (did you gather we like the chain?), Skype Flic & Gary, watch sunset with free drinks in the hotel and eat dinner at Olive Garden.

Olive Garden hasn’t changed much since I last eat there, probably when we did a road trip in the States 2 years ago ( see http://www.thereadrovers.wordpress.com ).

It is still, to my mind, a good restaurant serving good food at reasonable prices with staff who appear to be happy in what they do.

What has changed is that they have an electronic device (tablet) at each table that gives the menu, provides games for kids (@$1.99) and lots of info on allergens.

Harry will be joining us on Sunday, we can’t wait, and is allergic to all dairy including eggs so this tablet is going to be a real benefit if we eat out there.

Anyway, I digress, as the meal was wonderful, much too much and a desert to die for. Small walk afterwards around the nearby Target, we didn’t buy anything, and off to bed for what will hopefully be a comfortable quiet night.

30 October

Cotton Field in Florida
Cotton Field in Florida

Yes, a comfortable and quiet night which is just as well as we have a long drive today after a last walk on the white sandy Florida beach.

The route chosen by Sat Nav lady takes us up country on small roads as we head for the boring Interstate.

Pass an unpicked cotton field in Northern Florida, didn’t know they grew cotton in Florida, after stopping for fuel at a small community, Clarksville.

A very tiring day, driving 375 miles that should have taken just under 6 hours but in reality took about 8 hours with small stops.

Arrive late on Friday and check-in to Phillip & Sylvia’s house in Kissimmee after a stop at a Publix for food supplies including some Isle of Man cheese. A few insects around but hopefully they will go soon.

Not sure about the BBQ as there are no markings on the dials to say what is the high temperature and what is the low temperature, the instructions are inside the door but the lighting is poor.

Watch this space for our adventures with our family in and around Kissimmee.

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