My vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida ended up being a very rewarding and enriching life experience for me. This past October, I traveled there by car, with my boyfriend and his parents. I remember talking to my mother about the trip shortly before we left. “I can’t wait to spend some time in the warm, Florida weather,” I told her with excitement in my voice. “You will have a great time and probably feel relaxed and refreshed afterwards,” I remember my mother responding. My mother was very much correct as I came away from this vacation journey with having learned very valuable life lessons regarding the importance of taking time out to relax and unwind so that I am able to decrease the effects of the daily stresses of life.
Moreover, I now fully understand how meaningful it is to try new things and push myself to get out of my comfort zone so that I can add diverse experiences to my background. Being able to see all the beauty that this world has to offer is one of the most valuable benefits associated with traveling. I feel very grateful and fulfilled to be able to express how much I have learned from my trip to Florida, but most importantly, to have come away with a breadth of new experiences that I was fortunate enough to take part in.
The stunning beach, coastline, and waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which were right outside of our hotel, were some of the most beautiful and picturesque places I had ever seen. The beach outside of our hotel was crowded with people sunbathing, relaxing under large beach umbrellas, and building sand castles on this hot Florida day. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the nice, warm weather and taking full advantage of the beach. The water was a brilliant, bright blue-green shade and looked gorgeous as it sparkled like diamonds in the glow of the sun. At first, I relaxed with my boyfriend on the long chaise lounge chairs with beach umbrellas. The feel of the hot sand as I stuck my feet in it, and the warm sensation of the glowing sun on my shoulders and arms, made me marvel even more at the remarkable scenery I was in the midst of.
Even though I am not used to, or completely comfortable with, swimming in the ocean, I decided that since I was on vacation I would give it a full chance. I wanted to try something exciting, so despite being unsure about how treacherous the waves would be, or how high the tide may be, I went out on the beach and swam with my boyfriend in the ocean. “The tide is low and the ocean is safe to swim in as long as we don’t go out past the buoys,” my boyfriend said. “Don’t worry I will keep you close to me while we swim.”
Putting all my fear aside and trusting my boyfriend, I slowly waded into the ocean, and as I got familiar with the water, I began jumping over the waves as they rolled in and having a great time. I could see sailboats on the horizon, where the ocean appears to meet the sky, and jet skis roared past further out in the distance. Looking out at the beach and the view of our hotel from the water, I felt remarkably content and happy at being in the water and taking in all this beauty and splendor. There were little fish below us, and they seemed to bite at our toes as we swam and moved around amongst the tossing waves. It was great being out there and being at one with nature, the ocean, and its creatures.
After swimming out there in the ocean, I ultimately realized the amazingly positive things that can happen when you push yourself to try new things and really live life to the fullest. I was able to experience an array of new things while out there in the beautiful water. Jumping over the oncoming and tossing waves, looking at the view of the crowded beach as well as the ocean ahead, and swimming along with the little fish, all showed me just how much this world has to offer.
There is so much to see and do, and a tremendous amount of experiences to take advantage of while we have time on this earth. Had I chosen not to get outside of my comfort zone and really engage myself in the full experience of swimming in the ocean, I would not have come away with the same feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment from having built an even greater appreciation for nature and all the glory and brilliance that it provides.
Another leg of our journey in Florida included the day when I went out on a pontoon boat with my boyfriend and his parents. Traveling along the Intracoastal Waterway along the Gulf coast, we explored the waters and enjoyed the spray of the water against our skin as the boat coasted along. At one point, I was able to drive the boat, navigating us further out to where we eventually stopped at Shell Island and got out to search for seashells along the beach there. The roar of the boat’s motor, the splashing of the water, and the excitement of the prospect of finding seashells, kept me focused as I forged ahead and drove us safely to our destination. Once there, I found many colorful shades of seashells: ivory, coral, and pale pink, to name a few. I even found a portion of what looked to be a crab claw that had washed up and was buried underneath the sand.
Once back on the boat, we all decided to relax awhile longer and enjoy more of the scenery of the Intracoastal Waterway. My boyfriend had several small fish come right up to him, and he then gave them some food right out of his hand. As he was doing this, I fed some potato chips to seagulls that had flocked to the section where we had docked our boat. I had such a blast being at one with nature and its animals, once again. The squawking of the cute birds as they happily ate their food, the soft blowing breeze as our boat swayed gently in the water, and the view of the tall grass and reeds with the sandy beach beyond them, contributed to the overall feeling of delight that I had. All was right with the world, and as we drove away on the boat, back to its original docking place, I remember being even more grateful that I had the opportunity to see another beach and ride along a section of waterway to view more of the coast.
Late one night for dinner, I went to a local seafood restaurant and bar with my boyfriend and his parents. The bar area was packed; we finally sat at a section of the restaurant that had seats, with open views, looking out on the ocean. At sunset, the restaurant staff would fire off a cannon blast out on the beach. “Get ready for the cannon blast,” my boyfriend said. “But we might need to cover our ears since it will be very loud.” Sure enough as I covered my ears, what felt like a huge boom shook the earth with a deafening blow. The crowd of patrons in the restaurant cheered and clapped as the cannon blast went off, everyone enjoyed the loud cannon show and the glorious sunset view as that evening’s nightlife got underway. The firing off of the cannon is a unique show that this restaurant is known for putting on, and it was exciting to be able to experience it. It was also great to see the gorgeous pinkish-purple of the night sky at sunset as the sky appeared to meet the vast ocean along the horizon.
When it came time to order, not knowing what type of food was good to eat, but still wanting to continue my quest and resolution to try new things, I decided to order the lobster macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite meals, however, I had never tried lobster before. After trying it, I found out that the lobster mixed very well with the macaroni and is a very appetizing dish. I feel that trying new things applies to food as well; and I have now experienced, and found, a new food that I like and this just goes to show that trying new cuisines can help to expand your tastes and diversify your experiences even further.
Overall, my vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life. Swimming in the ocean, driving a pontoon boat, and trying new food, all got me thinking about how much this world has to offer and how I would like to see more of it. I walked away with an array of new experiences to my credit, that I feel contribute to making me more well-rounded, cultured, and worldly. It is so important to take a break from the daily grind to regroup and recharge, and it just may lead you to discover more opportunities that teach you a lot about yourself and what you want out of life. One of the best times I have had by a long-shot, my vacation to Florida has led me to realize the importance of living and letting go of fears, and pushing past doubt, to fully be open to the amazing things the world has waiting for us to discover.