Thursday, June 3, 2010

Panhandle on the brain: Panama City, FL

I just read that the oil spill is just seven miles from the beaches of Florida's panhandle. Another article on the Sentinel website lists lists the top ten beaches in the US and the authority who created the list would not add a beach from the panhandle because of the threat of the oil spill. Past panhandle best beach winners include St. Joseph Peninsula in Port St. Joe in 2002, St. Andrews State Park in Panama City in 1995, and Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach in 1994.

I went into the Visual Ephemera archives and found these images from a late summer trip to the panhandle I took with Mrs. Ephemera in 2006. We stayed in Appalachicola and Panama City and despite it being the hottest time of the year, we had a wonderful time exploring what has now been re-branded as "Florida's Great Northwest." Here are a few memories of that brief excursion.

Much of the beachfront of the "Redneck Riviera" has been lost to giant condo towers, but we found a nice little motel that had been slightly "boutique-ified" located a block off the beach. As we are not sun worshipers, (just yesterday the dermatologist warned me to "stay out of the sun"), we mostly visited the beach in the morning or in the early evening. The beaches of the panhandle are known for their sugar like color and consistency and Panama City's beaches were, at that time, pretty gorgeous.

We explored the great little downtown area and found lots of antique stores and the wonderful Martin Theatre built in 1936 (originally as the Ritz Theatre.)

The strip along the beach has some of my all time favorite kitschy Florida roadside icons, which will be explored further in future posts. My heart is with all the folks in the panhandle whose lively hood depends on those beautiful beaches, the turquoise waters and the critters living beneath the waters. After being battered by hurricanes and the collapse of the real estate market, I'm guessing things are already pretty tough up there. I wish them the strength to endure this next challenge to their local economy.


  1. Rick, I'm headed there on Saturday morning. Thanks for these wonderful pictures. Unfortunately, I think I am going to be doing a contrast post (and article) very shortly.

  2. Truly heartbreaking to know what is coming ashore and we can't do anything about it. Frustration!
    Beautiful shots, glad you and Mrs. Ephemera got to enjoy it.