American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.
Louis Grizzard, a great American
It's choice ~ not chance ~ that determines your destiny.
Jean Nidetch

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Friday, July 25, 2008

~ The Bypass Gate ~

Just a picture of Sam working the bypass last Sunday morning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

~ A few days to visit family ~

We've been gone for a few days up to Chipley to visit our cousin, Marilyn. She has 5+ acres in the country and is about one hour north of where we are currently volunteering. Sam's brother Donald and his wife Ann were also there, so we all had a good long visit. Marilyn is an avid camper and even has a concrete pad with full hook-ups for visitors. We really enjoy spending time with her and hearing about her travel and camping adventures. Here is a picture of our RV and truck when we were there in April of this year. Beyond the motor home is an area where Marilyn puts feed corn out for the deer. Most mornings, we could watch the deer having their breakfast.Here is the latest addition to her family: “Skeeter”, a 3-month old rat terrier. What a cutie!

We're back at the campground now, watching the rain from the outskirts of Hurricane Dolly. Luckily it missed the panhandle area and looks like it didn't do too much damage to the Texas coast so they were very fortunate also.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

~ In search of one fantastic dog ~

We like to find favorite local eateries when we visit a new area. Word of mouth is always a good way to do this. We talked to several locals about where we might find a good hot dog in Panama City. Guess we didn’t ask the right locals. The only answer we got was the new Dairy Queen down off Hwy. 98. Being from Atlanta, we feel like we know good hot dogs, i.e. the Varsity, and DQ is not near the top of our list (although for a chain, not bad). We’re talking about dog dives that would be on Food Network’s "Best of….” series.

Not being ones to give up, we turned to the next best source of info….the internet. It only took one search to find Tom’s Hot Dogs in Panama City. Although they don’t have their own website, they turned up on CitySearch. We checked them out the next day and have been back four times since. It’s a wonderful 20’ x 40’ hole in the wall in the downtown area. They do the cooking behind a counter on one side of the room and stools line a counter on the other side. In between, there is room for a single file line to place your order and pay up. At the back of the room are 4 tables seating 4 customers each and out front, on the sidewalk, are two more tables. They are open from 9:00 to 3:00 and around lunch hour the line is out the door.

The menu lists 11 types of dogs in three sizes. They also serve up half-pound burgers, chicken salad, smoked sausage and a few other delicacies, all topped with Tom’s special sauce. The chili dogs don’t quite match up to The Varsity’s, but do rate very high on our search for one fantastic dog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

~ Entrance Gate "work" day ~

Here at St. Andrews State Park, we have a monthly schedule among the volunteers to keep track of what days we "work" at the front entrance gate. I use "'s on the word work because it is really more fun than actual work. From 2:45 until 8:00 p.m., I sit at the window and collect entrance fees. Sam stands by to answer questions over the phone and check in late arrivals. Occasionally he will go with the evening shift ranger to correct a situation in the campground such as electrical outage at a site. I answer a lot of questions about how clear is the water at the beach or how is the fishing today and a few questions from people looking for directions because they are lost. Depending on the number of hosts in the park at any one time, we work the gate every 5 or 6 shifts. There are 2 shifts on the weekend in the summer when the 2nd entrance gate is open. For instance we worked Tuesday of this week, then next Sunday, then again the next Thursday. We can swap around with the other volunteers any time we need to.

During June, July and Labor Day weekend, there is a Tram from the campground to the beach which the volunteers also drive. There were 7 sets of volunteers here during June & July, so Sam only drove the Tram one day so far. We also walk around the campground, as people check out, and pick up any trash left behind.

Because of the two beautiful beaches, the pier, the wonderful campground, etc., this is the busiest State Park in Florida.....and the biggest money maker. Revenues are split between all the parks based on size and need so St. Andrews shares the wealth with the entire state. Luckily, for us, they share this beautiful park with volunteers.

Monday, July 14, 2008

~ Where to begin ~

OK, I am finally here, getting this blog started. I have been putting it off for far too long. Starting a blog has been on my list of things to do for a long time!

Where to start? First, let me introduce myself to you. I am Susan, the Beach Bum. My husband of 40 years (in Jan.’09) is Sam, the reluctant Beach Bum. We have two children and 5 grandchildren. They all live in Georgia, but about 1 ½ hours apart. My son, Scott and Angelia, have a daughter Mackenzie (6 ½) and a son Ethan (11 weeks). My daughter, Samantha and Nathan, have three boys; Kyle (almost 5), Logan (2 ½), and Tyler (1 ½).

Sam retired in 2006. We purchased the motor home in August of 2007 and took off for our first volunteer position as soon as I retired in October of 2007. That was at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on Cape San Blas, Florida, where we were campground hosts until the end of January, 2008. From there we went to Red Top Mountain State Park in Acworth, Georgia, where we volunteered until the end of March, 2008. We are currently serving as volunteer campground hosts at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City, Florida. All of these positions are strictly volunteer. For compensation for our 20 or so hours a week, we receive a free site for our motor home with water, electric and sewer hookups. There are some other perks like free use of the park's facilities such as water shuttle to Shell Island, lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach, kayaks, laundry, ice machine, and annual passes to other State Parks.

When we leave St. Andrews, just after Labor Day, we will head north to Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge in the north Georgia mountains for the 3-day annual Volunteer Conference and Gathering compliments of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. We are leaving the RV in Florida at our cousin's lovely home (more on this later) and will stay in the lodge for the conference. We are looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones. Here are two of the volunteer couples from Red Top.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

~ Starting slowly ~

Well, I spent time today getting familiar with blogs; settings, layouts and adding pictures. I will try to definitely write something tomorrow!

View from our window of Grand Lagoon at St. Andrews State Park.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

~ Our First Blog ~

How exiting! We are learning how to post in our new blog.

Set up at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.