A Unique Start to a New Year

I am beginning to think that this January was as weird as this past December.  I am used to having some order in my life, but it seems January was full of surprises.  

Dennis looking good and feeling good the day released from the hospital.

The month started off with Dennis in the hospital, although he was discharged on New Years day.  How did we not notice he was sick until he was so sick, the emergency room was the place to go?  Since his discharge, physically he is doing amazing.  He can breathe again, and has gone hiking almost every day.  Even at his cardiologist’s hospital followup, the doctor was surprised to see how well he was doing.  We are so grateful for God’s mercies.

The weekend after Dennis came home we finally got to celebrate Christmas. Our house guests had Covid over Christmas, and we postponed all celebrations until everyone was well.

I have a friend who told me she started seeing a cardiologist because she has a family history of heart disease.  I thought about that, and thought it might be a good idea that I also have a cardiologist check me out since there is heart disease in my family.  The doctor set me up for a 24 hour harness that records my heart during a day.  I was told that this is not a day to sit and read a book, I needed to be active that day.  The next test I was given was an echocardiogram that actually looks at the heart size and pumping ability.  The last test was a stress test that takes approximately four hours to complete.  I was prepared to hear all kinds of things were wrong with my heart.  Surely heredity was following me in my arteries.  The other day I got my results from the cardiologist.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with my heart.  It is the right size, and it is pumping very efficiently.  I asked about my arteries—surely they are clogged like my dad’s were (who needed quintuple bypass surgery), and the answer was, no!  My arteries were also very clear. I think I danced with happiness out of the office!

Dennis owns a time share in Panama City Beach, Florida.  He has it for the 3rd week of January.  Living in beautiful warm Arizona, we have offered family to use it if they wanted.  This year no one was able to go, so Dennis suggested we take a week and fly there.  We found reasonable airline tickets and flew to Florida.  We left warm weather to discover it was cold in Florida!  We were able to spend a lot of time with my nephew and his wife, who come to Panama City Beach for a couple months in the winter.  They are coming from Indiana, so they think the weather in Florida is warm!  

The beach outside our condo the day we arrive. It was cold and rainy.

One of the interesting things going on there was the “renourishment” of the beach.  I called it rebuilding, but when I researched this process, I learned is called renourishment.  Simply put, Hurricane Michael in 2018 and Hurricane Sally in 2020 washed away a huge portion of the beaches in Panama City Beach.  Not only does the loss of beach area affect tourism, it also leaves the interior areas more susceptible to destruction in any other tropical storm.  This is the 5th renourishment project there since its first in 1998.  The construction cost for the current project is $2.8 million, and is federally funded by the United States, in case you wonder where your tax dollars are spent!  They started this current renourishing process last September, and still have a couple more months of work.  This is a 24 hour around the clock process where 2.1 million cubic yards of sand will be placed on the beach.  It is the 3rd largest renourishment done in Panama City Beach.

Working at night on the beach.

When we arrived on Saturday, January 21, the work was down the coast from our condo.  By the day before we left, the work had come directly in front of us.  Since the weather is too cold to play in the ocean, I didn’t mind that they took over our beach to rebuild.  It was a fascinating process to watch.

The work starts with a ship that goes out (referred to as a hooper dredge), dredges sand from offshore borrow areas, and then returns to the beach area about a mile and a half from shore.  There it connects with large pipes that go from the hopper dredge to the shore where the pipe is split into two pipes and runs parallel to the gulf.  Large Caterpillar “Extractors” move into place and connect to these 2 pipes.  As this is happening, a couple bulldozers are building sand piles to keep the water in its restricted area, and also digging to make a place for a dump truck to pull next to the interior extractor.  A dumpster is set in place by the other extractor because there is no access for a dump truck between the two pipes.  

Then the slurry of sand and water starts being pumped from the hopper dredge to the extractors.  A slurry of water and sand gets poured out on the beach, and all the shells are extracted and poured into the dump truck and dumpster.  The bulldozers are working swiftly to fill the hole made by the force of the water coming from the extractor.  They continue working the sand as the water flows back into the gulf until the area is level and widened.  Once that process is complete, all the equipment will be moved forward to repeat the process.  

The hopper dredge in the background and the front extractor spilling out the water and sand slurry.
The broken shells being driven to the dump.
The slurry of sand and wat4er coming from the extractor. The bulldozers moving the sand in place.
One extractor set up and another will sit parallel and hook up to the large tube.
Moving farther down the beach.

I was on the deck of our condo taking many photographs.  One day I walked down to the beach and walked along the temporary fencing to get a feel of the project from the ground.  I had an opportunity to speak with one of the construction workers, and asked why they were removing the shells.  He stated that the shells were broken from the dredging process, and that they were like broken glass.  He told me that when they started this process a couple months earlier down the beach, they were not extracting the shells, and the beach is a mess and will have to be cleaned up from all the broken shells.  This way they can build clean beaches.  The broken shells get transported to the dump, where these shells may be used for road construction in the future.  

We finally flew home the following Friday, January 28.  The next day we hit the mountain for a hike that was impossible for Dennis to do just a month before.  We are so grateful for his healing.  That evening I got sick with a sore throat, fever, and swollen glands.  Covid test was negative (which I expected), and this infection was no match for the antibiotics I received from Urgent Care on Monday.  

At some point I should get back to my usual life as I know it in Arizona.  I am looking forward to having some routine days rather than new surprises daily.  It will happen, just not sure how soon.

One comment

  1. So glad that Dennis is well again and so glad that you have a spotless bill of health. I’m sure you’re happy to know that you can hike and do whatever else you want to do to your heart’s content.
    I find the renourishment of the beach to be disconcerting. How often can they do that, and how many beaches need such treatment? And as water levels rise, how much longer will that even be an option? It reminds me of Holland and its dikes. Time will tell, I guess.


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