As the kids grew, we made regular excursions to St. Andrews State Park, exploring the nature trails, admiring the lakes, camping, biking, snorkeling, fishing. The annual pass was a must.
Now, walking the shoreline and jumping into the waves remain favorite activities. It’s no surprise that so many of the people I talked to and emailed about their lives in this area mentioned some combination of the park and the beaches among their most cherished places.
For instance: From the age of 6, Angela Hood’s parents took the family camping at St. Andrews St. Park every year. She was always excited to go — biking, walking nature trails, fishing, kayaking, and of course going to the beach, she said.
“We would leave the park just once to go get a delicious treat from Dippin’ Dots,” she said. “Now that I am married, I will enjoy camping out there with my husband and friends. When we decide to have kids of our own, camping at St. Andrews will be one tradition I will be sure to carry on.”
Angela now works in Events and Social Media for the Panama City Downtown Improvement Board.
“What I like most about living on the Gulf Coast is the easy access to both the beach life and the country life,” she said. “There are some days that I long to be lying on the beach soaking up the sun and swimming in the salt water. Then, there are some days that I crave to be out in the country, swimming in the cold water of Bear Creek followed by sitting around a bonfire at night.”
Life on the northern Gulf Coast has allowed just that. She can have the beach life on Saturday, she said, and the country life on Sunday.
“I also look forward to canoeing down Econfina Creek” this summer, she said. “It’s a great way to spend a relaxing day with family and friends enjoying the beauty of nature. If you get too hot, no worries because the creek is always super cold. I like going to all the different springs that the public can’t necessarily get to by foot or car.”
Canoe trips always turn into an adventure if there has been a recent storm, she said, as fallen trees invariably cross the creek. Some people can always navigate them fairly easily, but there is always that one person in the group that gets hung up or flips the boat.
“That’s when it becomes entertaining,” she said, adding, “as long as they are okay.”
From experience, though, beware the spiders in the overhanging limbs and bluffs. They are most definitely not among my favorite things.
(This is my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald this week.)