Thursday, December 22, 2016

Gulf Shoires to Destin

This may not be one of “THE” Blue Angels but this island also has plenty of these blue Herons!!!  We were walking on the beach and the fishing pier on the bay side of the island and this big fella kept moving out in front of us.  He finally took off just as I snapped this photo!!  He’s flying – and he is blue!

One clear day we chose to try and get closer to the Blue Angels since I was not able to catch them as they roared over our
campground.  We left the island and headed for the Pensacola Naval Station – just in case they would be flying while we were in their neighborhood!  No luck but as in our last trip to this area we did find the Pensacola lighthouse.  It was all decorated in Christmas wreaths and garlands!  The lighthouse sits high on a hill right across the
View of  Fort Pickens from across the bay
bay from “our” island and Fort Pickens.  Zoom in on the picture and you can see the fort and the white sand on the island’s tip.  As the crow flies it’s about 3 miles but by GPS it’s more like 25 miles by road!!    The lighthouse shows up much better while standing on the warm sand on our island while the waves from passing boats splash up on shore.
Pensacola Lighthouse from Ft Pickens

After we first arrived on the island and once all the rain had stopped and the flooding had dissipated, we could see a large black hulk lying on the sparkling white beach at waters edge.  The powerful salvage vehicles had finally been called and the huge skeleton of the shipwrecked vessel had been turned over and drug up to the
road’s edge – causing the newest traffic bottleneck by gawkers wanting a better look  - or maybe a picture?!  

We strolled thru the Civil War part of the Fort once again (SPFB!) and the limestone secretions were still there and maybe the stalactites were getting a bit longer as they clung to the damp roof of the ancient arches.   We found more WWII batteries outside of the thick brick walls of the original fort and climbed up their steep black steps to view the gray clouds that were covering up the sky that day.

Our other new friends, Richard and Rachael moved out on Saturday to get ahead of the next predicted thunderstorm and we finished packing up to head out ourselves on Sunday.  I would love to hear from both of my newly gained Alabama girlfriends again!

As we drove east along the entire length of the Gulf Seashore Island, it had a light covering of misty fog.  Heavy charcoal clouds hung out over the gulf and showed streaks of rain alternating with bands of sun.  We exited the island at Navarre Beach and must have been the only ones to have noticed the rainbow’s colorful bands against the cloudy sky as the light rain drops fell and the sun burst thru over the gulf!

Henderson Beach State Park is east of Fort Walton Beach, another barrier island bridge and touristy Destin.  When we stayed here 10 years ago on our way to Texas, the road out front was a quiet 2-lane road with just wind blown dunes and a solitary Wal-Mart across the
road.  Now there are towering condos and resorts lining each side of the fast moving 4-lane highway.  The harbor has a boardwalk that stretches the length of shops and restaurants - from the bridge’s span to the distant end of the scrunched together rows of yachts and commercial vessels.  When we were here before it was the winter right after Katrina and I remember several boats moored at the docks were survivors of that horrid storm.   There had been a lighted boat parade that we watched from the boardwalk with all the rest of the folks!  This year we’ve missed it by one weekend.  Drat!   However – like everything else – it has probably grown way too big and way too crowded and maybe not nearly as much fun as before.  That or we’re just getting OLD!!??   Nah, not us!

The campsites and facilities are just as great as we remembered – groomed, private sites and the bathrooms are tiled and heated. 
There is a boardwalk that crosses the rugged dunes like the Great Wall of China but I did not remember it being Sooooo long!!  The cold and wet weather has abated again. The warm sunshine has returned.  Now it’s back to beach walking on the snow white crystal sand with the aqua blue waves lapping at the shore, bike riding and breakfast outside.

On the island off Pensacola we listened to the jets and airplanes that flew from the Naval Station.  In Destin we are just south of Elgin Air Force Base and we get to watch a different crop of aircraft fly over!  More jets, lots of helicopters and we even saw a VTOL!  H said it was a Vertical TakeOff & Landing plane - I called it a cross between a helicopter and a jet!

 Christmas is almost here!  May yours be Merry and Joyous and Bright!