Well, the purpose of this trip was to watch the Oklahoma University vs. Florida State University football game, and watch we did!The FSU campus is very pretty, as are most college campuses, and we were treated with respect and hospitality. The FSU “tomahawk” antics were in force throughout the evening, of course – you have to wonder if all FSU fans have a right bicep that is notably more muscular than the left!!
This was a REALLY BIG SHOW for Florida State. With #5 playing #1, it was bound to be the talk of sportscasters and fans alike leading up to the game and after the outcome was known. Many felt this was the only game OU would lose during the season, and FSU fans were very vocal about the plan to do just that.
Oklahoma brought a contingent of fans – it was reported that there were as many as 10,000 Sooner fans in attendance. That’s quite possible, because “BOOMER SOONER” was definitely heard over the roar of the “tomahawk chop” of the Seminoles. It was the largest crowd ever to attend a football game at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, which holds 83,000.I’m not a sports reporter and couldn’t begin to give athletic details about a football game. I just know that I am a Sooner fan, love to watch OU sports, and didn’t want to miss a minute of the game! I did, however, finally give up and head to the ladies’ room when OU was ahead. Of course, one can imagine my dismay as I heard the roar when FSU tied it up 13-13!! I didn’t know whether to go back to my seat or hide in the bathroom!!
Being a true fan, I trekked back to my row 67 seat and truly enjoyed the outstanding 23-13 win by the Sooners. To quote Billy Sims (who was with our tour group, by the way), “Never bring a hatchet to a gunfight!”
While in Panama City Beach, we enjoyed dinner one evening at The Breakers restaurant, where we observed an event so notable I had to mention it.
The Breakers is a lovely fine-dining establishment complete with two-story windows overlooking the Gulf. The food was delicious and the service was excellent. While we were enjoying our dinner seated at a table on a level overlooking the dance floor, a large group entered and took tables that had been arranged to one side of the dance floor. As we observed them, we realized that some of them were being wheeled in, while others were obviously handicapped in other ways.
The instrumentalist who had been entertaining us on his keyboard turned the microphone over to one of the group and we began to understand the significance of these diners.
This was a group of Wounded Warriors and their spouses or caregivers who were being treated to a few days at the beach by the Warrior Beach Retreat, Inc. (http://www.warriorbeachretreat.com) This non-profit was founded by Linda Cope after her son Joshua was severely wounded by an IED blast in 2006.
Twice a year a group of twenty-five Wounded Warriors and their families spends four to five days at Panama City Beach for a cost-free retreat. They enjoy an extended R&R during that time, along with a chance to hear speakers and receive recognition for their service.
We were thankful to have been witness to this example of a community that comes together to honor combat-wounded soldiers through the donations of lodging, meals, gifts, fishing trips, movies, tours, and much more.
May Panama City Beach be a role model for communities across this great Nation.
It seems that most any city we visit has at least one mall. The only problem is that there are rarely major differences in the malls – some have standard department stores, like Dillards, Macy’s, JC Penney and smaller chain stores, while a few have upscale shopping, including such names as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
Panama City Beach has combined a large standard mall area (Town Center) with The Grand Theatre and the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is situated across Front Beach Road from a pier; and the entire area of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment is named Pier Park.
The Boardwalk has many boutique shops, offering accessories, T-shirts, artwork, and the like. Plus it offers restaurants and specialty food shops. We enjoyed a huge order of nachos (one order easily served four) at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, where margaritas of all imaginable varieties reign.
Our final stop along the Boardwalk was Kilwin’s Chocolates & Ice Cream, where the many varieties of fudge permeated the air with their sweet aromas. It was just not possible to pass it by without a sample.
Most people go to the mall to shop. At Pier Park, shopping is not mandatory, but enjoying food and drink must be, and it is a great area for entertainment, even something as mundane as people-watching!
We really enjoy taking a “road trip” and seeing the scenery as we go, and that is what we planned when we decided to go to the OU vs. Florida State football game this September. Using Google maps, we easily plotted our route to Tallahassee, and I began researching lodging.
Well, that was a different story! Tallahassee was ready and waiting for the Sooner fans, with the cost for a motel room tripled on September 16-17. My Rabid Red looked for recommendations on some of the Sooner chat rooms and was directed to look at Thomasville, Georgia (yes, as in Thomasville Furniture). Sure enough, we found a reasonable room at the Holiday Inn Express there.As we talked about it with the other couple that was going to make the trip with us, however, the two-day drive with four people (and accompanying luggage) began to sound a bit cramped. So we began to look at other possibilities. Flying would still necessitate renting a car and driving from Tallahassee to Thomasville, then back to Tallahassee for Saturday’s game, and a return trip to Thomasville. But then we found the perfect solution: University VIP Sports Tours !! And what a perfect vacation/Sooner trip was planned for us! We flew out of Oklahoma City on Thursday to Panama City, Florida, and stayed in condos at the Grand Panama on the Gulf; were bused to Tallahassee for a Tailgate Extravaganza and the OU-FSU game; were bused back to Panama City Beach; and flew home to Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon.
Yes, we’ll be happy to “leave the driving to others” and save a road trip for another day!