Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Journey: Tampa, FL to Panama City Beach, FL


The Journey
 
Back Roads Road Trip: Tampa to Panama City Beach, Florida

Another long drive.  Start Early.

The Route 
Hwy 60 to Clearwater, FL
Hwy 19/98 to Otter Creek
FL 24 to County Rd. 347 to FL 345 
Hwy 19/98 to Perry, FL
Hwy 98 to Panama City Beach, FL


Hwy 60 from Tampa takes you over Old Tampa Bay, past the New York Yankees' spring training facility, to Clearwater, FL.

Tampa, Florida - New York Yankees practice

Tampa, Florida - New York Yankees practice
* Above, some faceless Yankees practicing*

From Clearwater, traveling north on Hwy 19 you will pass though beach towns, then through the elongated central western portion of Florida.  As you will learn from road signs along the way, you are crossing through Florida bear country.


Florida Highway 19

We stopped for the first of many roadside picnics at Crystal River and ate the standard road trip lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Pringles, and some fruit under a covered picnic area while families splashed and sunned in the river nearby.


picnic at Crystal River, Florida

If you have an hour or so to spare, turn off of Hwy 19 in Otter Creek, FL and follow Hwy 24 to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. Hwy 347 then takes you through the Refuge, with many places to turn off and ride in deeper.  One highlight is Shell Mound, built from discarded oyster and clam shells over millenea by Eastern Woodland Indians.  The mound provides great views of the serene Suwannee Sound.
s
Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

dirt road, Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
We found the first dirt road of our trip today, too.

 Hwy 98 west from Perry, FL takes you to the beach towns that saddle the Gulf of Mexico along Florida's panhandle.  There are seafood shacks and oyster houses aplenty along the way, in small beach towns like Carabelle, Eastpoint, & Apalachicola.  

  Here on Hwy 98, as it passed through Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach, we drove straight into a spectacular sunset.


driving into the sunset, Highway 98, Florida

driving into the sunset, Highway 98, Florida
 driving into the sunset, Highway 98, Florida



driving into the sunset, Highway 98, Florida

driving into the sunset, Highway 98, Florida

After a long day of driving, we got a good night's rest in Panama City Beach.  Stay tuned for our next journey from Panama City, FL to New Orleans, LA!

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