Friday, May 12, 2017

When I Thought About It, My Head Spun

Big Lagoon State Park
12301 Gulf Beach Hwy
Pensacola, FL 32507
GPS: 30.31380o, -087.41318o
Elevation: 223 feet

"Wake Up To Wonderful" is the tagline for The Egg and I Restaurant where we began our second full day in Pensacola. This chain restaurant is a new one in our book of eating experiences. The food and service were good. So have a meal there if you encounter one. The name "Egg and I" recalled a book that was popular many years ago, so I looked it up. Here is what Wikipedia told me:

The Egg and I, first published in 1945, is a humorous memoir by American author Betty MacDonald about her adventures and travels as a young wife on a chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The book is based on the author's experiences as a newlywed in trying to acclimate and operate a small chicken farm with her first husband Robert Heskett from 1927 to 1931 near Chimacum, Washington. On visits with her family in Seattle, she told stories of their tribulations, which greatly amused them. In the 1940s, MacDonald's sisters strongly encouraged her to write a book about these experiences. The Egg and I was MacDonald's first attempt at writing a book.

So much for useless trivia.

Today we took a guided tour of the Historic Pensacola Project by University of West Florida Historic Trust Museum – a small section of downtown Pensacola set aside to capture the early history of the city and thereby west Florida. Groups of noisy school children, loud buses, and intermittent rain with lightning and thunder made the job of our poor tour guide almost impossible and our experience less than three stars.

Like most others, this tour walked us through the preserved homes of a few of the wealthy, as the guide gave us the story of their lives in the face of hardship in this wild and hostile land. Reflect though that hardship is a relative thing. Those who faced real hardship never had a house to be preserved and placed on a historic tour. They went nameless to the grave as will most of us.

Amidst the thunder and lightning, a bolt of lightning hit me that makes the story for this post.

I grew up in Philadelphia, PA, what is known as 'the mid-Atlantic'. Our history is simple. We were a British colony, then a commonwealth in the USA. Never anything else. Period, end of story.

Not so with this part of the country, and many parts of the world for that matter. What happens to normal life if every few years you belong to a different country? A new government, new laws, new language, new currency, new history taught in schools. How about new definitions of legal and illegal? How does an attorney practice law? What about contract law? And inheritance law?

I put this together to illustrate what I believe could have, should have, and probably was chaos.

Time Capsule of Western Florida

1513 -- First European contact made by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León
1539 -- Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto skirted the coast of Florida and entered the Mississippi River.
1565 -- Saint Augustine founded by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (that is east Florida)

1865 to present
152 so far

What happened to the average settlers who ventured to this new land, encouraged by their home government with the promise of great fortune? Did they give it all up and head home when the administration changed? Life went on somehow. So maybe none of this mattered. After all, most of this political monopoly game was being played thousands of miles away across an ocean. When I thought about it, my head spun.

This query was not part of our guide's script, so he continued to talk about the difficulty of having pianos and wallpaper shipped from Europe to the settlements in the new world. Maybe I should stop speculating and do some research myself?

After the tour fell apart due to the rain, we took refuge in the Pensacola Bay Brewery, where I tried a local brew whose name I didn't write down.
A welcome respite on a rainy day

I bought one of these glasses to add to my collection.

The rain stopped but everything was still drippy, so we spent some time in the museum. I recognized some of this from my youth, proving that I belong in a museum.
I commuted to high school on trollies like this one. They were green though.

We finished off our day with dinner at Hub Stacey's At The Point
Hub Stacey's At The Point --
an interesting restaurant near our campground

Michelle and I each had a cup of Lobster Bisque and half a Tuna Salad sandwich. Delicious.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

The National Naval Aviation Museum

Big Lagoon State Park
12301 Gulf Beach Hwy
Pensacola, FL 32507
GPS: 30.31380o, -087.41318o
Elevation: 223 feet

The The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL is world renown. I've known about it for years and today I got to see it for the first time. It is class throughout. It lives up to its reputation.

As you enter the lobby this imposing picture hits you in the face.

"Four-and-a-half acres of sovereign U.S. Territory, anytime, anywhere"

From me, it got the desired response: "Wow!" Every hair on the back of my neck stood up. I have always believed, and still do, that the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the most exciting place in the world.

Naval aviation has been around since the beginning of aviation itself. This year the museum is paying special tribute to naval aviation in WWI. The sculpture of five aviators over the eras of aviation history commemorate the length of that history.
The Spirit of Naval Aviation

In early 1993, work began to create a fitting tribute to Naval Aviators. Captain Robert L. Rasmussen, USN (Ret.), Director of the Museum and a noted aviation artist in his own right, conceived a dramatic design for five heroic-sized bronze sculptures that salute Naval Aviation at five significant stages in its history: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. Accurately sculpted in flight equipment of the period, the airmen appear to be watching intently as the World War II pilot describes a dogfight; five figures frozen in time, yet united by a common theme.

WWI Navy airplanes and aviators get special notice.

The Blue Angels are Pensacola's darlings. Their name gets used for everything from a parkway to a laundromat, and of course a car dealership. In other words, the community sucks the very life out of the name until all respect is lost and you get sick of hearing it. So the museum pays tribute in moderation with respect.

Blue Angels ??

Every military family knows this scene

Stopped for lunch in the Quarter Deck Snack Bar

Click here for more pictures from around the museum

President Nixon leaves in disgrace

History is history – the good, the bad, the ugly. Everyone knows of Air Force One and most know of Marine One, the helicopter that flies the President on short trips, mostly between The White House and Andrews AFB, but also for other trips too short to engage the jumbo jet.

I was surprised to see this Marine One here at the museum. But I should not have been. These helicopters are part of naval aviation history. This piece of history I witnessed personally. On 09 Aug 1974, I was still in my Air Force career and I was standing in Base Operations at Andrews AFB looking out the window, as President Nixon got out of Marine One and boarded Air Force One to vacate the Presidency. Airborne enroute to California, at exactly noon, Air Force One changed it's call sign from Air Force One to SAM 28000, as Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States.

Here the man who could have been president on the nation's 200th birthday shamefully left public life. I felt bad and good that day. Bad, recalling that Nixon let me down, but good that our institutions were strong enough to fix the problem and protect us. I think about that in 2017.

Let's change the subject.

I didn't know about these cars. What a neat idea!

Our day at the museum complete, we returned to the campground to eat, take off our shoes, and kick back for the evening. No big dinner plans for tonight.

It's all about food

Thanks to Jim Spain for many of these photos


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Today We Go West

Big Lagoon State Park
12301 Gulf Beach Hwy
Pensacola, FL 32507
GPS: 30.31380o, -087.41318o
Elevation: 223 feet

Breakfast with Jim and Bonnie Spain

Today started as a lovely spring morning in southern Georgia. A great morning for breakfast outside with friends before hitting the road.

Travel Day 3: Lake Seminole, GA to Pensacola, FL

I-10 was our path for this leg. Our 176 miles across the Florida panhandle took just 3:43. The trip was easy, uneventful, and we didn't get lost even once.
Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL

Our campsite at Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL

Big Lagoon State Park does not go into the books anywhere near the top of the list. Very small sites and very narrow, poorly paved roads made parking an adventure. We got it done but by then the day had become typical Florida – blistering hot and boiling humid.

Sunset Grille

Exploring the nearby area, with the help of Yelp, turned up our dinner location. The Sunset Grille
is a waterfront seafood restaurant. I had a cup of Gumbo and a Grouper Reuben – both delicious. While eating Jim took several pictures of the sunset visible from our table. Later as we left, we noticed the hallway decorated with framed portrait photos of sunsets taken from the restaurant and I realized the name was the theme. Good seafood was eaten on an open deck with sounds of boats and birds and the smell of the salt marsh. Life was good today. I'll forgive the heat.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Friends Arrive

Eastbank Campground (USACE)
Lake Seminole, GA
153 Eastbank Rd
Bainbridge, GA 39819
GPS: 30.718965, -84.852639
Elevation: 302 feet

Big day today. Our friends Bonnie and Jim Spain joined up with us. We will travel the Great River Road together for the next several weeks. We are all looking forward to this adventure.

The Spains are exercising their new Class C rig and getting used to smaller quarters.
Spain's Winnebago View

Michelle and Bonnie catch up on news and plans