We were happy we weren't camping.
When the rain finally dwindled and stopped, we rolled the bikes out and rode around Apalachicola for a bit. It was a nice way to end a day that had us mostly in our car.
Since we couldn't bike in the pouring rain, we drove west along the coast in our car. We were curious if the positive changes we found in Apalachicola extended farther west. Port St. Joe looked good. And things were OK as we rolled into the eastern beach towns.
Then we passed Tyndall Air Force Base. Ahead of us was the bridge across Bonita Bay and the towns that formed the fringes of Panama City and Panama City Beach. And that's where it happened. The paved shoulder on the highway disappeared. Time had stood still in the Panama City area, the Black Hole of the Florida Panhandle. It was still shabby. (And not in the "shabby chic" way.) It was still the least bike friendly place in the entire state of Florida.
It was hopeless to think riding through this area would be worth our time. The roads were dangerous. The towns were butt ugly. We drove around. How can I describe it? It's Okeechobee on the beach. It's like someone scooped the worst of Alabama and moved it to the center of the Panhandle. Al suggested that it must be city code that buildings have flaking paint. We saw a group of guys hanging out on a corner in downtown Panama City. They looked like they had come down for spring break in the 70s or 80s, partied too much, and forgot their way home. So now they just hang out in PC. And then there was the cutesy tackiness. (We saw a specialty cake bakery called "Sugar Boogers." Really? Who would shop there?)
We headed back to our hotel, promising ourselves that we would give the entire Panama City area of the Panhandle a very wide berth.
And we rolled out our bikes and rode around Apalachicola. A good way to end the day.