Heading to the Panhandle: An uninspiring title for an uninspiring trip

As Angie mentioned in a previous blog, we decided to rent a place on the Panhandle coast for a few days so we could regroup and figure out next moves after realizing the logistical limitations of our wish to bike all the way from Fort Lauderdale to Maine at this time. Another attraction was that neither of us had been to the Panhandle before. 

We left Palm Harbor with sad goodbyes to Aunt Doris, Uncle Bill, and Angie’s dad Henry, though we expect to see them all again in a few weeks or months.

We had decided we didn’t want to drive from Palm Harbor to Miramar Beach in one day on Friday because it’s a lot of sitting-in-the-car time for us and Rebbe, which Rebbe may dislike almost as much as being in the trailer (we’re working on it). Doris had recommended the town of Perry as a possible halfway point, so we booked into a hotel there. Perry has a cute but somewhat depressed-looking downtown, of which we did a quick circuit after our arrival, also stopping to take Rebbe for a short walk. We would have walked longer but we couldn’t find a big enough park to walk in for more than 10 minutes, being strangers there and all.

Part of our motivation for this outing after our check-in was our unwillingness to spend too much time in our rather dingy hotel room. I think I’d have to conclude this was one of the lesser hotels we’ve stayed in during our year of travel. On the upside, we had several positive interactions with the man in the room next to ours. He was some sort of forester working for a commercial concern planting trees and addressing groundcover issues (fire and alien species mitigation). He was traveling with his old dog, who was very docile and friendly, and not particularly interested in Rebbe.

Out of the blue, when I took Rebbe out in the evening, the man gave me a walking pole he had made from a tree branch. He said he made one of these on every job. I didn’t really have need for it since we are not doing too much hiking currently, but they are great for stability on uneven ground, and the gesture was so kind. The man, whose name I neglected to acquire, was going to be leaving at 4:00am so I felt bad for him that he got into a shouting match with another of the hotel patrons who was playing music too loud later that night. Based on what we could hear from inside our room, she got very belligerent with him. He stood up for himself but wasn’t getting much support from the hotel proprietor, who seemed uninterested in the welfare of his clientele in general, based on this incident and our dealings with him. Like I said, not the best hotel we’ve stayed in on our travels. We were not surprised that the breakfast offering did not include yoghurt or fresh fruit. We ate our standard-issue waffles and moved on, knowing that we should at worst find a McDonald’s somewhere down the road, and hopefully something better. 

Angie and I had decided that the second leg of our drive to Miramar Beach would be via Tallahassee, which would enable us to possibly check out a place there called the Bicycle House. This also enabled us to locate a Starbucks in the city, where we were able to purchase muffin breakfast sandwiches (they now do a light version with turkey bacon and egg white). Several of the fast-casual and fast-food places we’ve stopped at in Florida seem to have a dearth of outside seating, so we were pleased to find a Starbucks near the university that did have it. Though the weather wasn’t super warm, the sun was shining and it was nice not to have to leave Rebbe in the car, especially since we’ve been told Floridians don’t take kindly to dogs left in cars, even if it’s not hot out. 

After enjoying some protein and driving through part of the campus area, we wended our way to the location of the Bicycle House, though sadly it was closed, with no hours posted on the building, just like their website!

While not a formal hostel, the Bicycle House is something like a cross between the Whitefish Bike Retreat and the Bike Depot of Denver, though more to the latter end! We wanted to check it out just to get a sense of how it was set up, but it was not to be.

Quick side note on Tallahassee: it seems like a pretty town in terms of the downtown buildings and the Florida State campus. The city is the state capital, so you’d expect some grandeur.

The football stadium included of course:

We were not able to check into the condo in Miramar Beach until 4:00pm, so our diversion to Tallahassee worked out perfectly. With a stop at the grocery store to pick up provisions, we actually rolled into the condo parking lot practically on the dot! Details about the condo and the first part of our stay there in another post. 

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