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2023 - April - Road trip - Day 5

Updated: May 29

This morning’s routine was somewhat disrupted by the water coming through the ceiling of our hotel room. Of all the places for it to have been dripping into, of course it just had to be into Karen’s suitcase. She was not happy. In fact, she was very very unhappy. Her top layers of clothes were though just very damp rather than soaking wet, not that apparently was any consolation.

Examining the ceiling I could see that this was not the first time that the leak had happened – presumably after the torrential rains from yesterday and even more overnight.

Karen left the damp clothes drying on the bed as we went into breakfast before we went back to pack up ready for our move to Panama City on the Florida panhandle.

As we checked out, I was polite but firm as I pointed out our annoyance regarding the leak. The receptionist was very apologetic. She said she was only authorised to give us 500 IHG reward points but she would ensure that a manager got in touch with us within 24 hours. I accepted that the issue was beyond her paygrade in terms of immediate compensation but knew I would be following up if I didn’t hear anything further. Karen initially thought 500 points was a good start until I pointed out that in monetary terms that equated to less than £2.50.

We had a long day of driving ahead. We decided to make it longer by opting to take a scenic route rather than sticking to the much faster interstate. We figured that part of this trip was to see what the area was like rather than just bypass it.

So, we set Waze SatNav to the Tanger outlets which would route us close to the Alabama and Florida coast lines. It would give us a first break after about 1 hour and most importantly I had checked and found it had a Starbucks. Naturally as there was a Colombia shop, we checked it out and just as naturally Karen found some more trousers she just had to have.

Starbucks was busy and we caught up with some messages whilst having our drinks sitting outside. I ate my leftover pizza from the previous night as my lunch.

We then headed to the Gulf State Pier Park. It was another nice break as we walked out on the longest pier on the Gulf Coast. It was nice but not spectacular. It would have looked better in the sun.

The plan was to then continue our journey via Pensacola and have a look around. We got to Pensacola and in the end didn’t bother as it seemed a quite industrial town. Maybe we weren’t in the right part of town but after refuelling we just decided to carry on towards Destin.

This was a much nicer place and we wished that perhaps we had chosen to stay there. It seemed a long-drawn-out town and quite upmarket in places. However apart from Karen nipping into a Target to get herself another coffee from Starbucks we thought we should just keep driving on to Panama City.

At that point we suddenly remembered that somewhere we should cross a timezone. We had no idea where or if we had already done so. Florida is one of those peculiar 13 States that has 2 time zones. They keep trying to change that but the ultimate decision is a Federal one. That legislation keeps getting delayed as it is being caught up with a wider debate over whether the USA should abandon the twice-yearly change for Daylight Saving. For what it’s worth I think they should just like I think the UK should. This is an archaic change that was introduced as part of the war effort in 1915 and never got reversed.

Anyhow for Florida it means that children living in some parts of the state have to go to schools which operate on a different time zone to where they live. Crazy and only in America. In the end it seems we hadn’t yet crossed that time zone.

The outskirts of Panama City were not great. We drove past Panama City Beach which is a separate place and that seemed a bit tacky and run down. Karen also just realised we were not staying in a Holiday Inn Express tonight but a Best Western Plus instead and she started to get the jitters. From 5 miles out she was saying the area had better start getting better soon, but it didn’t. Her tone and annoyance increased the closer we got to the hotel.

Eventually we pulled up outside the hotel and it didn’t seem so bad. I checked us in and then to collect Karen & the luggage (that sounds like a good name for a band). She admitted the lobby was clean and fine and then with a smile declared herself happy with the room as well.

As we found out subsequently the Satnav had directed through the not so nice route. Our hotel was actually surrounded by other branded expensive hotels and if we turned right out of the hotel, then there were all the nice restaurants and shops we could ever possibly need. Phew another disaster averted. If only the Satnav had a setting which said take us via a pretty route that Karen would approve of.

After getting ourselves sorted, we headed out for some dinner. Tonight, Karen decided she did want to go Red Lobster and didn’t change her mind in the 0.5-mile journey to it. The food was very good. I had a Caesar Salad with Salmon whilst Karen had the Linguini with Shrimp. The cheddar bay biscuits were up to their usual high standard.

We tried to go in a couple of shops on the way back but as it was a Sunday they were closed. So, we thought we would watch the last episode of Blue Light. That proved impossible as the Wifi kept buffering too much to make it watchable. Instead, we watched an episode of our old favourite ‘Shark Tank’. Then the almost 5 hours of driving got to me and I was sound asleep by 10.30pm to end another day but this time in Florida.

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