A Week of Vacation – Panama City Beach, Florida

I spent the last week vacationing in Panama City Beach, Florida with my lovely and adorable bride Lana and my two wonderful grandchildren Aidan and Maggie (all three inspired characters in The Gemstone Chronicles). Lana and I both grew up visiting PCB (or simply “the beach” in the towns where we lived back then), so it was a nostalgic trip for us, but Aidan and Maggie had never visited the sugary white sands and emerald waters. We had a ball!

We ran through some rain on the way down to PCB, but here is what I woke up to each morning!

Gulf from my balcony 13 June 2013


Being a former US Navy sailor, I also enjoyed the site of this catamaran cruising by the condo!


Catamaran PCB


We did spend some time on the beach, where Aidan rode the waves and Maggie played in the sand. We managed to mostly avoid sunburn, too!

Aidan riding waves


Aidan trying to ride the waves!


Aidan and his boogie board


Aidan and his board!


Building sandcastle


Sandcastle in progress.


Finished sandcastle


The finished sandcastle!


Relaxing at the beach


Lana’s view of the Gulf of Mexico.


Playing in the pool


Aidan and Maggie playing in the pool!

We didn’t just lay on the beach or swim in the pools at the condo. To experience PCB, you have to get out and do things. We visited Gulf World Marine Park, where we got to pet stingrays, watch sea lions, dolphins, penguins, and macaws, among many other things. Maggie even got to help “train” a dolphin to blow bubbles!


Petting stingrays


Petting the stingrays. Maggie said they were slimy!


Sea lion napping


Even the sea lion needs a nap!


Rough toothed dolphin


Rough toothed dolphin during a show.


Maggie training dolphins

Maggie “training” the dolphins!



Bottle-nosed dolphin during the show.


Dolphins waving goodbye


Bottle-nosed dolphins waving goodbye to the audience after their show. They were pretty amazing!

We finished our last day at the beach by riding the Sea Dragon Pirate ship. Maggie became a pirate and took the pirate’s oath!

Sea Dragon Pirate Ship


Aidan didn’t take part in the pirate festivities, but he enjoyed the trip anyway.


Aidan on the Sea Dragon


Maggie, though, went all out and became a pirate!!


Maggie the Pirate


We enjoyed great food, visited the new Pier Park, and rode go-karts. I don’t have pictures of that, since we were all riding at the same time, but it was one of the best experiences we had at the beach. It was Maggie and Lana’s first time on go-karts and they did great!!

There were changes since Lana and I had last been at PCB. For instance, The Breakers, an iconic restaurant from our time, is now closed and for sale. There are a lot of high rise condos that block the view of the beach from Front Beach Road. Many of the Mom and Pop stores are gone. But, the spirit of the beach that we so loved growing up still exists and we were very happy to be able to share it with our grandchildren!

Lana and I decided that we need to retire at the beach, so I have to get busy selling a lot of books so we can make that decision occur. Any help with the dream will be greatly appreciated!! 🙂

If you have been to PCB, leave me a comment on your memories. If not, maybe plan to visit The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches in the near future!!



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About Bill Stuart

William Stuart is a ten-year veteran of the US Navy Submarine Force, works in the animal health field, and is the proud father of his daughter Laura and grandfather of two wonderful grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie. When he isn’t working, he enjoys rock-hunting, gold prospecting, playing softball, playing golf, and dabbling in woodworking. He lives in the Greater Atlanta area with Lana, his lovely and adorable wife of more than twenty-five years.

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