Think we forgot about our hunt for an alligator? We haven’t. We are still hoping to see one before we leave the area. The only thing slowing our hunt is the cost. Florida state parks charge an entrance/day use fee. It is inexpensive, and worth the cost; but we aren’t staying put for the winter for nothing! We are saving for our travels ahead, and every dollar counts. This is a first for us. We have always had steady, reliable income. Now, we live with the ebb and flow of independent work. So, we are much more careful about how we spend money, and we were really grateful to find Panama City Conservation Park, a FREE place that we could explore in addition to the many beautiful Florida state parks!
Panama City Conservation Park covers 2,900 acres of land owned by the city and being restored and preserved as natural habitat. It features 25 miles of wilderness trail, and has several facilities including restrooms and parking at the entrance. As I mentioned, it is a free park for public use.
If you plan to check out this park, we recommend that you take bikes…
- …because you will be able to cover more ground and see more wildlife.
- …because your arrival and first attempts at hiking may be thwarted, like ours was, by unabating pests that the locals refer to as mosquitoes, but I would call them blood-sucking bats with insect tendencies. They are BIG, people, mosquitoes of this size do not exist in Pennsylvania.
Were we ill prepared? Well, allow me to explain. Yes, it is Florida, and we were headed to a swamp, and Chris wore shorts. However, it was December, and I make a fantastic natural buzz off spray from ACV and essential oils that is tried and true for us. You be the judge.
Despite our best efforts, we quickly lost our case. Within about 50 yards of hiking, Chris was swarmed, repeatedly bitten, and turning around. We were beaten fair and square.
We were quickly faced with the turning point of our day: Would we allow these incessant wing beaters to ruin our day of hiking? No! In the true spirit of all adventurers and travelers, we knew that we needed a plan. Chris quickly checked his phone and found an outfitters store nearby in Panama City Beach. After finding appropriate pants, he was a happy camper again…
While we still had mosquitoes tagging along with us at different points of our hike, our pants and long-sleeves protected us. Next time, I would take a bike (or rent one, since we don’t have any with us) and enjoy the experience mosquito-free.
After successfully outsmarting our tiny enemies, we enjoyed a long, flat hike through woods and palmettos, alongside wetlands, and on bridges over swampland and waterways.
The alligator continues to allude us, but we did see many birds…
As you can see in the photos, Panama City Conservation Park is a great local option for experiencing Florida’s wilderness, and all the better that it is free!