Spring Break had washed up on the Florida Panhandle. Thousands of college kids covered the beaches like migratory seals beached during mating season, surrounded by millions of discarded beer cans. I was heading toward Panama City Beach – the epicenter of all the madness – on my way to California.
I called ahead for a place to camp on the beach. When I asked the guy if his campground was quiet he laughed – “Quiet, are you kidding? It’s Spring Break. It’s all day and all night.” I imagined loud throbbing sounds and screaming drunks throughout the night. I hesitated and told him I’d call back.
As I drove on down the road it dawned on me that I was turning into an old man – more worried about a night’s sleep and a good bowel movement than leaping into an outrageous all night party. I couldn’t let such rigamordous set in yet. I called back and booked a campsite. I wasn’t dead yet.
As I got closer to Panama City Beach the traffic crawled to a stop and became a giant tailgating party. Trucks, cars and motorcycles revved and honked as the college kids screamed and howled with high octane testosterone.
I got to the beach just in time to see the sun setting over the beer can littered beach. The scene screamed reckless party. Tomorrow I’d get an earlier start.
The sun went down and I got set for the nighttime party scene. Sleeping would be futile. I sucked down an energy drink and dove into the clubs on the beach. At my age I was a crasher. But in the dark and with the right clothes, I could almost pass for youngish to those who were drunk. With hard liquor I might even be mistaken for young – or so I hoped.
I moved through the nightclubs snapping photos. Vanity is a powerful force and merely smiling and pointing the camera at them was all it took to get most partiers to strike a pose. Â Only one drunk redneck got angry and said he didn’t want to end up on a gay website. I told him he’d have to loose the beer belly to live that dream.
Like you, I ended up only getting to look (ok, some touching). I went to bed to the sound of trucks, cars and motorcycles revving and honking as the children of the night screamed and howled. What sounds they make.
The next morning I stumbled back on to the beach. I think the photos tell the story so I’ll shut up and let you gawk.
Next Stop – The Redneck Riviera