Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Pensacon" - Pensacola's Comic Con

Our last day in Pensacola we chose to tour the downtown area.

 Nicely restored buildings displaying classic iron work

 Street gardens

 Vibrant shopping and dining areas

 Carriage rides through the city are available

 Many unique artist galleries

 Expecting to just see a nicely rejuvenated urban city, much to our surprise, it was the weekend of "Pensacon", Pensacola's version of Comic Con.  Now, I am only aware of comic con because of The Big Bang Thoery, so it was an eye opener for me.  Looked like a blast.

We were walking along admiring  buildings and balconies when we spotted our first costumed group and realized something was going on here.

Then a few more . . .

Then we walked down the street where one of the main events were being held and costumes came by faster than we could get pictures.

Princess Leah and a Storm trooper visiting in peace

My photo missed the high healed sneakers, but who's complaining!

"Want to take our picture?"   Of Course!

Even the kids got into the spirit of things.

("Joker" and girl friend in the background) 

For many of the costumes we did not have any idea who the characters were they represented. It was fun guessing any way.

That night we had a final dinner with our Covert relatives at the Shrimp Basket

 Small family group of 19 for dinner!  Tudy's daughter Trisa and her husband Conrad

Mike, Mary, Judy Covert, Shirley Covert at the table.  Jim Covert and Tudy Broz' daughter Trisa standing behind, Elmer on the right

Frank and Tudy Broz

Tudy and Frank's grandsons Caleb and Tyler

A great ending to our time here in Pensacola.  Looking forward to coming back again.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa Island

Much of the outer bank areas near Pensacola are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  This National Seashore includes about 600 miles of coast from Florida, through Alabama, into Mississippi.  The Seashore has miles of beautiful beaches and a campground here on Santa Rosa Island.

At the very end of this island is Fort Pickens, which is part of this National Park, and was in operation off and on from 1834 until 1947.  There were many changes and additions made to the Fort during its long history in order to accommodate changes in technology.  Some look really out of place inside of the old brick walls.

 The national Park Service offers a self guided tour as well as Ranger programs one day a week on different topics. 

This broken wall is the first thing you see when you park at the entrance to the visitors center.  I assumed it had just worn away

This is the other side of the arch.  During the self guided tour we learned that the breech was caused by a fire in June of 1899.  Unfortunately, the fire reached a powder magazine that held 8000 pounds of gun powder.  It blew out this wall, obliterating Battery D. Some of the bricks were even found across the bay, a mile and a half away.  Amazingly only one man was killed.

Canon placements on the outer walls

This fort, built on a sand island, used a double arch design to prevent the walls from sinking into the sand.  Upper arch bares the weight of the walls, lower reverse arch holds the foundation in place.

From October 1886 until May 1887 Geronimo, the famous Apache war chief, and other prisoners from the Indian wars in the West were held at Fort Pickens. 

These cement walls were added for mine equipment when Pensacola Harbor was mined to prevent enemy ships from entering the bay

Fort Pickens played an interesting part in the Civil War.  When Florida seceded from the Union in January of 1961 there were three forts in this area being used by United States forces; Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas and Fort Pickens, which had been unoccupied since the Mexican American War.  The Lieutenant in charge of the troops evacuated the 51 soldiers and 30 sailors from McRee and Barrancus out to Fort Pickens because it was more defensible. He refused the demands to surrender from the Florida militia. There were several skirmishes between the two sides, but Fort Pickens remained in Union hands throughout the Civil War. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pensacola Area

Moving west to the Pensacola area lets us sight-see and visit relatives at the same time.  Marlin has four cousins and their spouses who live in Lillian Alabama, just over the bridge from Pensacola.  Shirley pampered Marlin and made his favorite dish; chicken and dumplings.  The food was incredible, and the entire evening enjoyable.  During our week at Big Lagoon State Park we got in multiple visits, in between all their scheduled responsibilities.

Frank Broz, Tudy Covert Broz, Elmer Covert, Melodye Zich, Judy Covert, Judy Cook, Marlin Cook, Shirley A. Covert, Jim Covert, Mary Hartt, Mike Hartt. 

After a weekend of getting settled in with laundry and groceries, we spent all day Monday and half of Tuesday at the Naval Aviation Museum.  This is the largest Naval Aviation museum in the world.

There is no way these few pictures can begin to convey the history of Naval aviation that is brought to life in this museum.  It is hard to believe any survived when you look at the first attempts to land a flying aircraft on a moving ship.  Extreme sports enthusiasts  have got nothing on those guys.


The museum has over 150 restored aircraft.  On our 2 hour guided tour, the docent had facts and stories about every plane we stopped to see.  He made the experience come to life. 

When Marlin was in the Air Force, on his free time, he got to play photographer and fly with one of the Doctors he worked with.  The Doc was also a pilot and wanted someone to take pictures of scenes as he flew over the country side.  The plane above Marlin, a T-28, is like the one they used.

The famous Blue Angles are based here in Pensacola.  These four planes are A-4 Skyhawks.   When they are not on tour around the country, they put on a show here every two weeks, with as many as 20,000 people attending.

This plane was the same kind that President George Bush flew in World War 11.

We took a lunch break at the  Cubi Bar & Cafe, inside the Museum,   Cubi was an actual Officers Club and cafe in the Philippines.  It became a famous tradition for squadrons to hang retired plaques on the wall of this officers club.  When the bar closed in 1992 the plaques, representing each tour of duty, were packed up and sent to the museum.  The museum recreated the restaurant decor and layout exactly as in had been in the Philippines.  The food was great and reasonably priced.

Plaque wall

The next day we took a trolley tour of the restored planes outside.  Many historical planes out here also, but it was impossible to get pictures from inside the trolley.  One of the fascinating things this tour guide explained to us was that many of the planes restored here were recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  During World War II pilots were trained in the Great Lakes.  Sometime the training didn't go so well!

Highly recommended place to visit, regardless weather you are interested in planes or not.  Fascinating history of Naval Aviation.

After our trolley tour, we went to the Pensacola Light house, just to add one more light to our list.


177 steps gets you to the best view in Pensacola.  Except it was closed for painting the day we visited.  The lighthouse, built in 1859, is on the grounds of the Naval Aviation Station. 

The keepers house was added in 1869, as a duplex.  Half for the keeper, half for the assistant keeper. 

Impressive dwelling.  We hope to come back on February 20 for a full moon tour of the house, complete with ghost stories, and a climb up the tower.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

St George Island State Park

Another day trip taken from our base in Sopchoppy was to St George Island State Park.  We will come back here for sure!  This marvelous park sits on a gulf-side outer bank island, right in the elbow of the Florida panhandle.  Traveling on route 98, the highway that hugs the panhandle coast, when you reach Eastpoint, turn onto route 300, and enjoy the breathtaking views on the trip over the bridge onto St. George Island.  Just looking at the location on a map makes you want to come here.

Since it was 12:30, we headed to the closest pavilion for a picnic. 

 There are multiple picnic pavilions spaced out along the park road, each with large parking lots.  The park road is a total of 9 miles long, 5 of those miles are closed to motorized vehicles.

Rest rooms

A hungry motley crew!

After lunch we headed onto the beach.  We sat in the sun for awhile, then took a long walk in the sand.  No one else was on the beach.  Hardy Mainers.

Ocean on one side, beautiful sand dunes on the other.

When we were leaving the park we checked out the campground.  As with all the Florida State Parks we have been in, the sites were spacious, nicely spaced out, and surrounded by vegetation to offer a measure of privacy for each camper.  Canoes and kayaks were for rent and there were multiple boat ramps located at convenient locations.  Definitely a return-to spot.

In the small village at the island entrance stands Cape St. George Light.  This lighthouse has an interesting, and recent, history.  It is the fourth Cape St. George light.  The first, built in 1833, was damaged by storms, the second fell during a hurricane in 1851.  The third lighthouse was reconstructed from the salvaged materials of lighthouse number two, but built further inland from the water.  That one held up for 153 years but succumbed to beach erosion in 2005. 

After the collapse of number 3, local volunteers salvaged the original bricks and with community support and private funding, the light was successfully rebuild and reopened in 2008.  Open every day except Thursday.  Guess which day we visited the island!



Who knew Florida had so many lighthouses.