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My Day at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola (Day 103)

October 28th, 2009 9 comments

Here’s how my Day 103 started:

pensacola_rainAnd thus the Blue Angels canceled their practice session.

It supposedly rained like three inches in Pensacola that morning, which seems like a lot. We were the top news on the Weather Channel that day. That’s right, The Weather Channel. Which, btw, has some good-looking on-screen personalities.

pensacola_museum-entry-rainOne day I’m going to find a flag that’s not flying at half-mast. Maybe.

pensacola_museum-glingFiercest of the Navy’s 1920s night-fighters: the Gling.

pensacola_f8f-cowlingF8F.

pensacola_sbd-dauntlessDauntless.

pensacola_p-40-tomahawkCome to think of it, we may have already been fighting Japan when they attacked Pearl Harbor.

pensacola_many-tailsIt’s like a tails and folded wings convention in there.

pensacola_artworkNavy art. I like the composition.

pensacola_blimp-videoI am deeply concerned about naval blimpery.

pensacola_wide-viewAny color you want, so long as it’s navy blue.

pensacola_t-28Trainer.

pensacola_blue-angelsForever stuck in formation.

pensacola_museum-entranceIt eventually stopped raining.

pensacola_chopper-rowChopper row.

pensacola_fat-albertFat Albert: always a crowd-pleaser.

pensacola_door-21You asked me once, what was in Room 21. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 21 is the worst thing in the world.

pensacola_blue-angel (1)Yes, it *does* seem to be listing to port.

Beyond that:

  • The museum is actually on-base, which I thought was very cool.
  • I think the one thing this museum has going for it that no other flight museum has is the Blue Angels practices. Which get canceled when it rains three inches.
  • The museum has some usability issues, for instance: some of the displays are hard to read (see: “gling”); it was difficult to tell what the organization at the museum was meant to be — there are grouped displays, but their locations seem randomly selected; and some of the aircraft did not seem to have signs describing them.
  • Dave, our flight line tour guide, was exactly what you want a retired-Marine tour guide to be. Well done, very entertaining.
  • For some reason the four Blue Angels displayed in the museum (the old A-4s) are angled in a downward attitude. Seems sort of wrong.
  • The other thing this museum has that I thought was unusual and pretty cool was the artwork. They got a ton of artwork and a lot of it rulz — especially the WW2 stuff, which covered subjects I always thought should’ve been covered on canvas, but which I hadn’t seen before. Wish the National Museum of the Marine Corps had had that (seems like it’d be the rightful place for some of these, for instance — or maybe I just failed to notice them there).
  • I don’t think this museum quite nailed The Navy’s Big Moment (IMHO, that’d be Midway). I mean, they talk about it, but it doesn’t come alive or command attention the way you’d think it should. IMHO. Always IMHO.

But it was fun. Again, I thought it was particularly great that the museum was on-base.

It was also interesting to me that the base has its own lighthouse (what base doesn’t?):

pensacola_lighthouseIt keeps PBYs from hitting the control tower, I assume.

Once I got over the lighthouse, I left the base and headed to Warrington, which is where my parents lived when my dad was stationed in Pensacola. This is what the house looks like now:

pensacola_505-e-sunsetI like the gully.

Anyway — big day of naval aviation. And it’s still sort of disappointing to go to these places where my parents (and siblings) lived before I was born and then to find them to not be stuck in the era in which my family lived there. I mean, how hard would it be for Pensacola to pull off 1961? Oh well: maybe next year.

bkd

Another State, Another Lighthouse (Day 100, Part 2)

October 27th, 2009 4 comments

Another *two* lighthouses actually. Drove into Savannah, saw confusing-looking streets, decided it was probably the same idea as Charleston, and instead headed out to Tybee Island where there was at least a fort. And lighthouses of course. Of course.

The fort was Ft. Pulaski, mostly famous for being the Civil War fort that guarded the Savannah River. It was taken by the North early on and then used as a prison. Also known as being the site of the earliest known photograph of men playing baseball. They know it’s the earliest photograph because someone claimed it was and so far no one has refuted the claim.

pulaski_grave-moat-wallExecuted for overthrowing his cut-off.

pulaski_cannon-circleI always think fort photos are going to be interesting.

pulaski_interior-wallAnd then they turn out to be not all that exciting.

pulaski_exterior-moatAnd yet I persevere.

cockspur-island-lighthouseCockspur Island Lighthouse, right next to the fort.

pulaski_frogMy animal spirit guide assumes tangible form.

cockspur_lighthouse-pathPurportedly, over 5,000 shells passed over this lighthouse during the battle.

cockspur-lighthouse_meEvidence that I may have been there.

tybee-island-lighthouseThe Tybee Island Lighthouse — way too well-kept.

fort-pulaski_dumpsterCaution indeed.

Another big day of looking at old stuff! The fort also had a rifle demonstration. I always wonder why it’s more interest to watch someone else shoot a rifle than it is for me to shoot one myself. Wait — maybe it *isn’t*. Hafta think about that one.

bkd

South Carolina Puts Its Lighthouses Next to the *Water* for Some Reason (Day 99)

October 26th, 2009 No comments

Ever wake up in the morning and you can’t remember what state you’re in? Yeah.

Left Charleston and headed south to Folly Beach. Meant to go swimming, but there weren’t showers and I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day encrusted with salt. And hopefully you tuned in for lighthouses today, because you’re getting lighthouses. Oh — and this:

folly-island_graffitiEven South Carolina’s fools are deserving of pity.

Then lighthouses.

folly-island_lighthouseYou had to be a good swimmer to work at this one.

folly-island_blusterThe sky shows off its dual nature.

folly-island_lighthouse-beachThe Folly Island Lighthouse in its full glory.

This was probably my favorite lighthouse so far, mostly because (a) it’s still where it’s always been and (b) it hasn’t been restored. I love ruins and relics and the fact that the top of this lighthouse is rusting visibly just — man. It’s perfect. I think there’s some sort of “save our lighthouse” thing going on amongst the locals. I hope by “save” they just mean to keep it standing rather than wanting to go all North Carolina and move it three miles inland. Lighthouses should be weathered, not freshly painted. IMHO.

From there, headed south, mostly along the coast, until I got to the Beaufort area. For some reason this is pronounced “Buford”. There’s a MCAS there and it adjoins Parris Island, whose gate I, well, looked at. They have a state park there that’s got the thickest palm tree jungle this side of Guadalcanal. Also has a campground that was utterly full and charmless as well as, of course, a lighthouse.

hunting-island_lighthouse-palmJust because you can’t see the water in the photo doesn’t mean it isn’t close (enough?) to it.

hunting-island_lighthouse-doorThe door to the lighthouse: *way* to freshly painted…

hunting-island_lighthouseSame lighthouse, different photo.

Ended up going to a private campground to sleep (“Tuck in the Woods” was the name of it). It was very nice and mostly unlike any other private campground I’ve driven by. The spaces actually had trees around them, for instance. Its owner also recommended a place in town that had very good hamburgers — better than the majority I’ve had this trip even.

And then I got bit by a bunch of mosquitoes.

bkd

The Graveyard of the Atlantic and Me (Day 88, Part 2)

October 14th, 2009 1 comment

Rest assured, I didn’t not wreck at Cape Hatteras. Just about melted down when it turned out that the Parks Service, in their infinite wisdom, closes down all their campgrounds on the cape (four or five of them) on October 12th though. Real handy. Y’know, a lot of Parks sites keep their campgrounds open during the off-season. Bring in a couple port-a-potties, turn the water off, and lower the price by $5, but otherwise: open. And these are sites that, like, get snow and crap. Or you could just allow beach camping.

And thus started my hate affair with North Carolina.

But hey, how ’bout these lighthouses! They weren’t closed, no sir! Not till the next day, at which point, yes, they were to have been closed (or so the rangers said).

hatteras_seagullsYou’re right: these are not lighthouses.

hatteras_bodie-lighthouseBodie Island lighthouse. It’s only a mile from the water (the *ocean* water). Maybe it was built to protect the ships that were working their ways up the swamps.

hatteras_hatteras-lighthouseThe Hatteras Lighthouse. They have signs that point you to where this one *used* to be. You can still see its old foundation. It’s next to the water.

hatteras_lighthouse-glassTop of the lighthouse.

hatteras_lighthouse-stairsInside the lighthouse. How trite.

I think moving a lighthouse away from the water is worse than de-clawing a feral cat. I mean, it’s still a house with a light in it, but it’s not a lighthouse any more. My only remaining hope is that global warming kicks in for real so that poor suffering lighthouses like Hatteras and Bodie can glimpse the water again.

BTW, Hatteras is the tallest lighthouse in the US (if you can call it a lighthouse) and the “tallest brick lighthouse” in the world. The black-and-white is cool, IMHO.

Otherwise, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is just another shoreline. Not nearly as dramatic as Big Sur or Oregon Coast — and I was a little underwhelmed by *those*. There are a few touristy towns there — I’m not sure why a tourist would hang out in Avon, North Carolina, though. Maybe the beaches are nice in summer. There were guys who were surf fishing, which looked like it could be cool, although they didn’t look like tourists. And I didn’t see any ships get wrecked while I was there — but at least it didn’t cost me $55 to get in.

Without NPS campgrounds, I ended up paying $50 to stay at a motel run by a gas station. There were private campgrounds available, but they all looked like they were ruled by feral cats. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As it turned out, the gas station was also ruled by feral cats.

bkd

Pemaquid Lighthouse (Day 76)

October 1st, 2009 No comments

Big drivin’ day yesterday (like eight hours total), but I checked out some more Maine before high-tailin’ it out of there. Have I used “high-tailin'” recently? Seems too familiar somehow.

Oh, stayed the night in the Seven Mountains Motel in Rockport, Maine. It was like a classic 1960’s motel (park in front of your room, single-story, 15 or so units), but the couple that ran it sort of did it like it was a bed and breakfast. Jean and Norman were their names. Norman had an outstanding Maine accent. It was awesome, recommended.

Anyway, went to this lighthouse and took these two photos.

pemaquid_birdsBirds near the lighthouse.

pemaquid_lighthouseLighthouse near the birds.

I was kind of expecting a grander lighthouse, but as it *does* sit near the water, I’m guessing this one’s effective at least.

bkd

Welcome to Pennsylvania, State #18

September 22nd, 2009 No comments

That makes three-eighths (3/8ths) of the way there in terms of states. It’s not like I’m excited about blowing through states, just that it happens so I might as well enjoy it.

welcome_pennsylvaniaDaylight! Legible! Huzzah!

Someone on some other website told me I should visit Presque Isle in Erie if I happened to be driving through, so I did and I’d sort of like my 40 minutes back, although I took this photo of a lighthouse:

presque-isle-lighthouseBravely warning sandcrabs away from the 25-mph park road!

I’m sure real lighthouse people (they have those, right?) could explain why it makes sense to put lighthouses somewhere other than right next to the water, but it’d probably be a long and boring explanation, so — you know.

I’m also now saying that I’m in the “northeast” and no longer in the “northern states”. It’s a fine line. A fine line that I’ve drawn between Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it was weird starting out driving in Bengals AM radio country and then traveling through Browns and Steelers territory before ending up in Bills AM radio land. It’s also weird how much of AM radio is now on FM.

bkd

And I had this dream last night where I was rafting down a river with members of my family and we got to a spot that looked like a waterfall, but everyone else said it wasn’t, but I was pretty sure it was so I jumped out of the raft and then they all continued and it turned out to be a 20-foot waterfall and I called 911 and couldn’t quite figure out where I was (I thought I was in Central California in a river near a national park other than Yosemite, Sequoia, or Kings Canyon, but I couldn’t think of what that park would be called and then someone helpfully suggested it was “Hehla Park”, which meant “holy” in some unknown language, but that person didn’t know what he was talking about, so I disregarded), but then it turned out that no one got (physically) hurt, so I hung up.

They Turn the Split Rock Lighthouse on Twice a Year (Day 56)

September 14th, 2009 No comments

Once on the anniversary of its construction and once to commemorate the date of the sinking of the Ella Fitzgerald. Fine, Edmund Fitzgerald, what do I care?. “Starlit Hour” is my favorite song of hers. The boat never did much for me.

The lighthouse is a good one, located in Minnesota, north of Duluth, along the shores of Lake Superior.

split-rock-lighthouse-exterior (1)And by “good lighthouse”, I mean it’s reasonably polite and a generous tipper.

split-rock-foghorn (1)The foghorn gets used more than twice a year.

split-rock-interiorClichéed shot of spiral lighthouse staircase. Ah well.

split-rock-exteriorAnd it even seems to be situated usefully.

Yep, lighthouse. Apparently it was featured on a stamp as one of the “Great Lighthouses of the Great Lakes” some time in the 90s. And Lake Superior is really, really big.

bkd

No Activity! (Day 22)

August 6th, 2009 No comments

The most challenging thing I did all day Sunday was go to church with my parents. Which I guess could be considered challenging, depending on the point-of-view. Hmm.

Here’s another photo from my parents’ deck. They have a nice view.

lighthouse and shipBrowns Point lighthouse manages through another close-call.

Back on the road on Day 23.

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Oregon Can Keep Its Coast (Day 18)

July 31st, 2009 2 comments

I figured out what the problem was. When you’re in New York City and it’s wall-to-wall people, it’s cool — you’re in NYC, it’s supposed to be crowded, that’s why it’s NYC. When you’re out on a remote sea coast in a forgotten part of the country and *that’s* crowded? Just wrong.

I think it was the Portland weather (106 a couple days ago) that chased everyone that wasn’t already occupied out of town and down the coast. Meaning: crowded, no campsites, hotels charging maximum rates, and people not used to having to deal with the outside world struggling to cope with the outside world. I had multiple occasions where someone would be staring at me, I’d say hello to them, and they’d act like they didn’t hear me. Odd.

Plus it was foggy.

cape meares lighthouseCape Meares lighthouse — so stubby, even a morbidly obese man can consider climbing it!

oregon coast fogIf you look hard enough, you can just about make out one of the rarest of sights — ghosts eating marshmallows in a snowstorm.

three capes drive shorelineShoreline along Three Capes Drive — and the scene only barely ruined by litter!

cannon beach in the fogHard. Up. My favorite is the guy out in the surf wearing his rain jacket.

In short, then: too many people, too much fog.

bkd

The Oregon Coast Would Be Better with a Date (Day 17)

July 29th, 2009 4 comments

At least, that’s what I’m figuring. I’m realizing there’s a certain class of activity on this trip that is not ideally suited for individual travel and the Oregon Coast seems to be in that class. So were Monterey and Carmel.

Also, seeing all these sights in such close succession leads me to, well, compare them. Oregon Coast seems similar to Big Sur, thus I compare. And I think Big Sur wins. Way more drama, at least so far. Nothing much to *do* at either of them (I guess I could go collect sand dollars), but still — I like my Big Sur photos better.

‘Course, today I’m probably going to a flight museum. That oughtta speed things up. And I’m thinking I’ll be at REI in PDX tonight getting my broken down brand new shoes replaced (less than 50 miles and the soles are coming off). So things are looking up! And maybe the coast gets more drama once you’re north of Lincoln City. Ah well.

It’s still way better than working and the coast is very beautiful, even if I’m forced to recognize that it’s not my favorite part of the Pacific Coast. (Plus all these little towns are very tourist-trappy, until you hit the Wal-Mart, at which point they also lose some of their charm. Meh!)

umpqua lighthouseThe Umpqua Lighthouse, bravely keeping Coast Guard family housing safe from errant U-Haul trucks.

sea lions on rockIt costs $11 to look at these sea lions. And then all they can do is just writhe there.

heceta lighthouseThe Heceta Lighthouse, which — credit where due — is at least near the ocean.

beach with guy and dogIt’s not that it’s not pretty — just: (a) better with a date and (b) not as pretty as Big Sur.

cape perpetua shoreVaguely reminiscent of the Na Pali coast, what with the fog in the distant cliffs and all.

And I’m still wondering if I’m just getting jaded from seeing too many great places. Ah well. Maybe I just need to get into another more-kinetic part of the trip. Maybe I should’ve just hiked the PCT instead. Maybe next year. No, really.

bkd

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