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Posts from the ‘USA’ Category


Panama City Beach, Florida – Sugar white sand & emerald water

Spring Break or early summer is when we like to pack up the family and take a trip to the beach … before it gets too hot, or too crowded. This April we went to Panama City Beach (PCB), a six hour car ride from Atlanta (or one hour flight).  We stayed in Laguna Beach – one of the numerous areas adjacent to PCB and which lays claim to some portion of the beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico.  We have driven to several beaches from our home – but this has been our favorite!


My kids on Spring Break at PCB

The 27 miles of pure sugary white sand beach was easily accessible from a number of well posted boardwalks.  While the modest emerald green waves could easily lull you to sleep, be watchful of your children who might try to bury you in sand (ours probably would given the chance).  The beach has plenty of space to swim, splash and relax, although the riptide can be quite strong at certain times of the year – so please observe the flags and any warning signs prior to entering the water.

Restaurants and shopping options are diverse, as are options for outdoor activity and attractions.  We found the Spring Break crowd kept the central shops and restaurants too crowded for our liking, but we were able to find quieter options nearby. Rather than fill our days with too much activity, this trip was about looking for some quiet relaxation … and ‘accidentally’ found some sub-tropical paradise on a gorgeous beach.

This was our Spring Break beach-on-a-budget trip because we were saving up for our big summer trip to New Zealand.  We saved money by staying across the street from the beach instead of directly on the beach; and we prepared many of our meals in the comfortable 2 bedroom cabin instead of dining out all the time.  We stayed at the family friendly Laguna Beach Christian Retreat, which had multiple swimming pools to provide a great diversion from spending endless days on the sand.  We left the PCB area with the distinct feeling that we need to go back and explore some of the many things we discovered – we got a taste, and want some more.

Dad’s Recommendation:
The sunsets can be truly captivating, so take time to walk down to the beach and enjoy the sensation … make sure you take your shoes off. Consider renting a place with a kitchen and with a view of the beach … it makes for lovely mealtimes together as a family.


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Remembering the events of 9-11

What were you doing ten years ago when first hearing the news about an airplane hitting the World Trade Center?  It’s a question that we ask as adults, and provides anecdotal evidence that adrenaline highlights our senses to remember certain details from those extraordinary moments, which unfolded in something akin to a terrible dream.  I was driving down Preston Road (TX-289) in Frisco, TX on my way to work, driving my old Black Saab on a clear and sunny morning.  Arriving a few minutes later, I told disbelieving colleagues and our stunned our office watched on TV with unified concern until the first tower fell … nobody spoke as the shock and horror reached like ice into our marrow.  None of us could watch any more as we all felt compelled to get home to our families, and I clearly remember driving home on emptied roads under a blue sky devoid of the vapor trails which usually point the way to DFW. 

We were living in Denton, Texas with our two boys, and Colette was pregnant with Anna-Kate. I had been traveling a lot and had actually been scheduled to fly to California that week.  For some reason my plans changed at the last minute and hence I was on the road to work instead of at an airport – or on a plane as Colette was quick to point out.  Colette had the TV on that morning and immediately became alarmed when the first news reports came out about the first plane hitting the twin towers.  We were grateful that we were able to watch the grim news reports together as a family, while all humanity struggled to comprehend this tragic milestone in history.

If my comment thread is working correctly, you are welcome to comment with your story from that fateful day.


Old Mill Park

Sometimes we miss the hidden gems that are right in our own backyard.  Old Mill Park in Roswell, Georgia is an example of this, nestled just outside earshot of the busy intersection of Marietta Hwy (GA-120) and Atlanta St (GA-9) near the Old Roswell Square.

Vickery Creek Covered Bridge

Old Mill Park can be found at the bottom of the Roswell Mill development, featuring the Vickery Creek covered bridge and the Mill Dam.  Our family simply went to visit for a couple of hours, but we bumped into some young people who had brought along the makings for dinner, and it looked like they were planning to stay for a good while longer.  After the obligatory photo at the park entrance, the kids couldn’t help themselves but race to the covered bridge.

The covered bridge was rebuilt in 2004, and provides a comfortable and relaxing walkway over the bright and bubbly creek.  We stopped on the bridge to enjoy the soothing colours and sound of this convenient get-away, before scrambling down to the colourful creek bed for the kids to play.  While we were not the only family with pants rolled up and wet feet, it didn’t feel crowded at all – and enjoyed 20-30 min with nobody else around at all.

Although the creek has been renamed to Big Creek, skeletal remnants of the old mill still stand unyielding to time.  To be fair there were more than one mill on the creek, and Sherman’s forces destroyed this mill in 1864, lightning then destroyed the replacement in 1929, and the remains are from the last edition of the mill which was operational until 1975. 

Old Roswell Mill Dam

The Mill Dam provides a wall from which myriad water courses cascade like a veil.  While we didn’t walk right up to the base, we could clearly see a young lady who appeared to be getting portfolio type photos taken with the dam as a backdrop. The dam site was more popular than the covered bridge site, all taking time to enjoy the peaceful outdoors and attractive beauty of falling water. A walkway provided easy access and informational signs provided a brief history of the various sites along the way.

Overall, the area begged us to come back and visit another time and to stay a little longer.  However, often the best time to depart an attraction is shortly before you run out of things to do, for then it leaves you wanting to go back and minimizes the chance of children complaining about having “nothing to do”.  That said, creeks and lakes seem to provide limitless attraction to our boys who never seem to tire of tossing rocks into water.  The portable toilet near the park entrance was the only item that seemed out-of-place, and one wonders why something more permanent hasn’t been added yet.

Dad’s recommendation:
Go ahead and take the family for 2-3 hours, but plan on getting your feet wet and take a towel for drying off.