Beach Story
Brenda S. Brown

When my life-long friends Marcia and Melba began discussing ideas for a retirement gift, of course my first thought was a girl-friends trip to the beach.  After due consideration and lots of tenacity on their part, they finally secured reservations.  What they did not tell me about until later was the various complications they encountered, but they persisted and finally we had a destination; not at Hilton Head as I had imagined but at another longstanding favorite vacation spot, Panama City Beach.

The water has never been prettier in PCB and the sky has never been clearer than the days that we spent enjoying the salty air on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.  Because the water was crystal blue and so calm, it was nearly impossible to detect the difference in high and low tides; the waves were practically non-existent.  The atmosphere was tranquil and the sunsets were spectacular; the pictures we made and shared on Facebook could not capture the vast displays of color we witnessed but the photos will help us remember our extraordinary time together.  

The establishments at Pier Park offer hours of entertainment; and when we got weary of searching through the apparel we returned to the condo for more lazy fun in the sunshine.   Our first evening I enjoyed some of the best scallops ever served at Boon Docks, funny, I remember when this place was no more than a bait shop, in the shadow of the old West Bay bridge, that also sold fresh seafood, and where my family stopped and made purchases for years.

We enjoyed our excursion to the Red Bar at Grayton Beach and recalled the numerous times that our travels have included those exclusive shops and then a delightful meal in what was for years known as Piccolos.  The billboard menu continues to be delightful and we enjoyed some delicious vegetables.  Yes, that is a joke!    

The Silver Sands Premium Outlet Mall at Sandestin is a mecca for shoppers and it is where we spent considerable time exploring the shops; the jasmine that adorns the entire area was in full bloom and the aroma it produces was incredible.  The mall advertises that it is visited by millions of shoppers yearly and was full to capacity the day we perused the offerings. 

After cruising the Emerald Coast highway we stopped for yet another seafood dinner where we were joined by newlyweds Tori and Bruce Oglesby, of Tallahassee, daughter of Marcia, whom we have watched mature from a precious infant to a beautiful adult.  We, and our family members, attended and participated last year, when Tori married Bruce in an exquisite wedding.    

We listened to good music, lounged by the pool, enjoyed the surf and relaxed in the hot-tub.  One would think that because we have always been friends that there was little to talk about but we never had a time that we were not engaged in deep conversation.  We laughed a lot and even shed some tears and if possible, left the beach being more devoted friends than ever. 

So to Melba Jamieson Burrell and Marcia Murrah Payne, I say thank you for the trip and all the unexpected surprises, I could not ask for better friends, but I have known that fact my entire life.       
 

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