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Home > Magazine > Towns > Spring Break Fever!

Spring Break Fever!
March 09, 2005

Jack Saunders lives near old Panama City in the Florida Panhandle---where all the kids are these weeks.

But they're missing all the real fun. Poor things. So blind. So exploited.

Jack is one of the world's best writers. He also took up the palette awhile back. So he's a folk writer and a folk artist. This is his crab art. Check it out in its natural setting: www.thedailybulletin.com/about/rapax.htm.

Man, the food is good down there! I highly recommend a visit to East Port if you're in the Panama City/Apalach region. There are a half dozen good local fresh fish restaurants along in there: An oyster bar in oldtown Panama; nearer Apalach: The Oaks, Julia Mae's, Posie's, Spring Creek, East Port (the one that a chef opened), a corner place in Apalach, one by a harbor in Apalach---the Owl place in Apalach is fine but almost too new for me. The Red Bar in Grayton Beach, if you make it to Seaside. Oh yeah!

(Jack's son's band Dread Clampitt plays The Red Bar for Sunday brunches. Fresh fish and fine music! Go wherever they're playing in that area and meet a lively, eclectic bunch of locals.)

But about those college kids: I can see having too much fun. Why not. But c'mon kids: be people. Go canoeing on the Econfina River when you're down there. It's a gorgeous, luminescent, spring-filled river just a few miles inland from where you're partying. Perfect for a picnic. Watch the lunker bass, turtles and giant tadpoles drift in the spring pool. Go eat some local seafood, why not? Go see the Wakulla Springs and dive off the tall public platform and come up thru the scary depths while watching huge gar circle overhead. Take the $3 amazing wildlife boat trip there.

It's crazy: the "Strip" is the only place in the area NOT worth visiting. Sure, go a little loco there but then see a little reality, too, why not?

Back in 1982 when I was a college kid, I was broke (surprise?) so for Spring Break for $150 I hitched a ride down to Panama with my bike and met up with a bunch of other co-ed college bikers and we did a several hundred mile camping tour for a week, living cheap, having a great time. We wrapped it up with a big beach seafood campfire cookout at the quiet state park in Panama, where I saw a porpoise in the phosphorescent full moon surf. My first real seafood and white wine. Oh yeah! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. A big thunderstorm then rolled in and I recall taking a midnight shower at the beach in open-air stalls in the night with amazing lightning and pretty gal bikers on either side of me.

I'd still take all that any day over puking with the frat boys in Club Vela down the road.

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