If you live in Florida’s Big Bend like we do, you know there are times where a relatively quiet weekend in Panama City Beach is out of the question. And that particular time of year is right around the corner (I think the first round of Spring Breakers will roll in this week), so we decided to take advantage of the relative quiet and had ourselves a nice weekend in Panama City Beach this past weekend.
As is our general way of doing things, we looked for a reason to do something special for Kaitlyn. Truth be told, we are constantly plotting and planning things to do for her that will stay with her as she gets older. Since she had a field trip last Friday, we thought it would be a great idea to piggyback on that trip and make a weekend of it, so that is what we did. And no, we are not geographically-challenged, we are well-aware that about 300 miles separate Jacksonville and Panama City Beach.
We got to our hotel in Panama City Beach in the evening on Friday (always nice to gain an hour by heading into the Central Time Zone). The plan for the evening was just to grab a bite to eat and head back to the hotel, and that is exactly what we did.
The sole purpose of our trip was to go to Gulf World Marine Park on Saturday, specifically to see the bottlenose dolphin show. Since the show started at 12:30pm, Amber and I were in no rush Saturday morning to get ready and head out, especially once we saw what the weather was outside (cold, overcast, and windy). Kaitlyn, on the other hand, had different plans. At around 9:30 Saturday morning, she asked “are we just going to sit around the hotel all day?” That was our signal to start getting ready.
As expected, the weather was not the best, but nothing was going to stop Kaitlyn from seeing the dolphin show.
We sort of just wandered around and killed some time once we got there. We checked out the penguins, saw the sea lion and rough-toothed dolphin show, and basically just milled around until the main event.
Much to Kaitlyn’s delight, one of the stars of the show Saturday was one of the dolphins she got to interact with in September when she did the meet-and-greet there. It was, appropriately, the dolphin named Roux (pronounced “Roo”). During the show, all of the dolphins did great; they showed tremendous progress in working with their trainers, and even did a few jumps with the trainer. Seeing Kaitlyn’s face during the show made Amber and I forget about the wind and the cold; her love of dolphins is tremendous, as is her love of all marine animals.
After the show, I asked her if she was sure that she wanted to be a dolphin trainer, and she replied, “of course!” Her reason for being steadfast in wanting to be a trainer is that she wants “teach people about dolphins and marine conservation.” She is already planning on going to college in Panama City so she can be close to Gulf World (she is convinced she is going to work there), and was already wanting to scout out places for her to live, preferably about halfway between the school and Gulf World. If there is one thing we know for sure about Kaitlyn it is that when she puts her mind to something, there is nothing she can’t accomplish, and if she says she is going to be a dolphin trainer, Amber and I will support her and encourage her 100%.