11/19/18 Pensacola, FL

DAY #31

Plan for the day was to go to Camping World and then meander around the area ending up at Fort Pickens, FL.  I Left a little after 9:00 a.m. with blue sky’s, temperature in the upper 60s , and a song in my heart (not really, just like how that sounds).   The Camping World was located about an hour away from the park and in the same direction that I wanted to check out so it fit in just fine.  Getting there included going through Pensacola.  I took a little detour and quickly checked out the downtown area.  Was kind of expecting to find an another ‘shadow of the past’ area, instead what I found, was a historic downtown district that is quite the charming and attractive place.  I’m going to have to come back and spend some time and take some photos.

Leaving Pensacola I crossed the bay and got on US 98 heading east, making my way to Camping World in Gulf Breeze.  The drive down US 98 left me with the same feeling I’ve had on other drives along the gulf.  Everything is so developed, It leaves you feeling you’re driving through suburbia rather than being in “the sticks” (I much prefer”the sticks”).

Made it to Camping World.  I bought a cover for my front trailer jack.  I had put the old one on and it blew off going down the road (My cousin Mark told me this would happen, but would I listen).  Another purchase was a jack stand extender so that I won’t have to extend my jack stand so much.  It works like using blocks of wood underneath the jack only this one is plastic and one piece.  I’ll check it out at the next campground.

After my purchases, I went to the service counter find out how often I need to grease my wheel bearings on the trailer (answer: 5000 Miles or Yearly).  The service I got was immediate and answers spot on.  Camping World gets a really bad rap in online forums but I have only good things to say about them (so far).

After leaving Camping World, I Crossed over to the outer island and began making my way back west to my final destination for the day, Fort Pickens, FL.  I’m amazed at the amount of development I saw.  I thought by looking at the google map, the island would have been devoid of pretty much everything, instead, It was developed from one end to the other and were talking big, big condos.  My salvation  to all of this was that by getting to approx. the middle of the island I would arrive at the National Gulf Seashore and get a break from the endless developments.

While that didn’t work out so well.  I came to the park and surprise surprise, the road was closed.  according to what I read (went online, wanted to know why), the roadway had been damaged during Hurricane Michael.  I’m a little skeptical, I didn’t see any other damage in the area, but I guess why would they make that up?  So, I turned around and back tracked through the area I had just come down.  It looked the same going back as it did going forward, development, lots of big development.

There are small patches of land and beach remaining (set aside) that allows the average Joe access to the water and Florida’s beaches.  They do have a special and unique look and feel. DSC_0002.JPGDSC_0006 (1).JPGDSC_0005.JPG


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Made it back to my starting point and began plan B.  I made it back onto the outer island and just for the hell of it, I wanted to see if the National Gulf Seashore was closed from this side of the island.  Long story short, it was.  So, I turned around and headed on down the road until I made it to Fort Pickens on the western tip of the island.DSC_0061.JPGIt’s interesting, most of the island is composed of sand, and sand, and more sand,  but as you get closer to the fort, the island reaches its widest width and the pine trees decided  to call it home.

Fort Pickens was an active U.S. military post from 1834 until 1947.  Millions of bricks were used in the construction of the fort, and the work was done (in large part) by slaves.  The fort saw some limited action during the civil war and always remained under union control.  After the Indian wars in the west came to an end, Geronimo was held for a period of time at Fort Pickens.

One of the batteries.  This was the last one built and it’s away from the main fortdsc_00671.jpg

This is what you see after coming out of the trees and approach the entrance to the fort.DSC_0063 (3).JPGDSC_0065 (3).JPG

Fort Pickens. DSC_0057 (3).JPGDSC_0035 (3).JPGDSC_0046 (2).JPGDSC_0052.JPGDSC_0051 (2).JPGDSC_0050 (1).JPGDSC_0049 (3).JPG

Some photos of the different batteries (gun placements).DSC_0012 (1).JPGDSC_0014.JPGDSC_0044 (2).JPGDSC_0042 (2).JPGDSC_0018.JPGDSC_0037 (2).JPGDSC_0041 (2).JPGDSC_0043 (2).JPG

View of the gulf from a gun battery.DSC_0032 (2).JPGDSC_0027 (2).JPG

View of Pensacola Bay.DSC_0019 (2).JPGDSC_0024 (3).JPGDSC_0030 (2).JPG

Some of the buildings that made up the fort (I believe these are replicas).DSC_0011 (2).JPGDSC_0015 (2).JPG

“While not a “blow your mind” day, it was a fun day.  I enjoyed being out in the really nice weather and the fort was interesting.  I got to see the gulf and one of the outer islands up close and personal, warts and all.

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11/18/18 Ocean Springs, MS-Pensacola, FL

DAY #30

It’s moving day again.  Time to shut down, pack up, hook up, and hit the road.  Took a leisurely departure this morning.  Left around 9:30 and was only looking at a 2-1/2 hour drive to the next destination.  After conferring with my co-pilot (goggle map), I decided to take I-10 (the freeway) and stay on it through Mobile, Alabama before getting off and getting back on the good old secondary roads. Lots and lots of traffic in both direction on I-10.  I guess that’s to be expected since it is a major east-west artery.DSC_0075 (3).JPG

Pretty uneventful trip, roads were good, weather was great, and I was in a good frame of mind.   I’m still not that comfortable with towing the trailer.  You always know it’s there and when a semi passes, you can feel the trailer get drawn into its wake.  Gas mileage has gone up to around 10 mpg (still sucks) and when I’m driving around without the trailer, it’s been upwards of 25-26 mpg, which for a truck are pretty solid numbers.

Made it to Big Lagoon State Park which is located just east of Pensacola.DSC_0071 (3).JPGDSC_0072 (3).JPG

Once there, I did have a little trouble finding the campsite, the map (I don’t think) was very accurate.  After driving around for awhile I was lucky to find a volunteer working at the park and he showed me where the site was.  Backed into the site, got set up and here I was, home sweet home for the next eight days.  Interesting campsite. all the campers are tucked away from each other and the road, while hidden away by scrub growth and pine trees.  DSC_0077 (1).JPGYou’ll notice no water hose to the trailer.  I’m thinking about hooking it up and testing it in the next couple of days.  I guess I’m hesitant because in the back of my mind, I’m afraid that when I turn the water on, there will be leaks everywhere.


Didn’t do much else, after all it was Sunday and we know what that means…Football!        I got to the park a little after noon so after setting things up (including scanning all available TV channels),  It was time to sit down and watched the games.  The first one at 3:00 pm watching the New Orleans Saints (Being down here, you just have to be a Saints fan), and then the Vikings  later at 7:00 pm.  After watching the Vikings game I’ve come to a conclusion;  I hate to burst your bubble Vikings fans, but I don’t think they’ll go far this post season, if at all.  they have the potential, just not the right chemistry to bring it all together.

Getting lots of TV stations although over half are evangelical in nature, and my Verizon reception is really good, so no feeling cut off from the civilized world.  Bathroom and showers just a short walk away.  I think this is going to be a nice stay.