16 February 2006

Trying to See the Gulf Coast...

Today is 16 February 2006, Bill and I drove out to the Naval Live Oaks Area (http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/us_ns/fl/nav_gulf.htm) and after walking the 2/3 mile loop we realized is was just a bunch of trees on the coast, they are special because people used them to make ships out of since they naturally bend and curve while they grow, the bends and curves work perfectly for ships. We also ran across this cute little guy hangin on one of the trees. The sad thing was that they have placards standing in front of what used to be the tree it showed on the placard, but the tree is now lying on it’s side having been ripped out of the ground by Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004. This kind of destruction is currently pretty normal for the area, driving around the Gulf Coast you will likely run into a road detour or just massive piles of rubble where houses used to be, and this was the damage from 2004, there are other areas who have been rebuilding just to be hit by Dennis in 2005, and also catching the edges of Katrina and Rita, etc. I could never live somewhere that it’s a crapshoot every year as to whether or not you’ll have a house.

After trying to see the beaches and FT Pickens (http://www.tulane.edu/~latner/Pickens.html) (we drove out there to see the Fort, but the roads where all closed as well as the fort because of construction and stuff), we hung out on the beach for a bit, collected some shells, and just enjoyed the beautiful beach and gorgeous weather, it got up to 72 degrees today…we’re having a heat wave…a tropical heat wave! Hi’iaka really prefers the beach to warm, me too. On our way to Pensacola from the beach we stopped and had lunch at Surf Burger….OH…MY….GOD…..they have really good food. Well, they have really good burgers. Bill and I both ordered the Surf Burger Fully Loaded, it had everything including jalapenos, it was a heart attack in a plastic basket and it was glorious!

Ok, enough about the food. From the beach we drove into Pensacola and stopped at Veterans Memorial Park. Here they have the only permanent replica of the Vietnam Wall, War Memorial. They have several memorials in the park that are incredibly moving and beautiful. It’s really a very nice tribute to our Vets! (http://www.pensacolawallsouth.org/)

From the park we drove back onto Naval Air Station Pensacola to check out some of the other things on base other than the Museum. The first place we went was Fort Barrancas; it’s really a cool place. In the pic of me I'm standing on the original part of the fort that the Spanish built in 1797. It was originally built by the Spanish in the late 1700s and then rebuilt and added to by the Americans. It sits across the water from Ft Pickens and together they defended the area. It was so cool to be able to walk through the halls and tunnels of this old Fort. You can see where the cannons used to sit and how they used to defend the bay. http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/us_ns/fl/his1_gul.htm

The last stop we made was the Pensacola Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1856, its height is 191 feet and can be seen for 27 miles. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=589

We had a pretty busy day today just driving around and trying to see the area. It blows me away how much destruction they are still cleaning up 18 months after the fact. There are several houses we’ve seen that are missing entire outside walls. You look at the house like you do a dollhouse, you can see all the rooms, some still have furniture, and it’s SO strange. This whole area was just devastated and is still working on rebuilding. There are TONS of property lots for sale if anyone wants beach property on the Gulf Coast.