Friday, December 28, 2007

As the year ends

"A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year."

Edgar A. Guest

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blog viewers!

I am in Tennessee for Christmas, but will be heading back to Pensacola Beach Wednesday morning -- just in time for guests from Texas and New Mexico to arrive! Friends and family know how much I love the island because I rave about it all the time, consequently it's rare to go a month without guests! One by one, I'm convincing the world population that I have indeed found paradise.

We're only a week away from New Year's Day. One of the best resolutions you could add to your list for 2008 is a visit to Pensacola Beach, Florida!

See you on the beach!

P.S. When I get home, I'll post a photo of my great Christmas present.


"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 - 1986)

Friday, December 21, 2007

The walkover

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old."

~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


"If I could fly
how high would I

"Too high to see
a glimpse of me
from shore."

--Barrier Island Girl

Beachy Santa

What a great day on Pensacola Beach! The sun is shining, there are cotton ball clouds in the sky, and it is 65 degrees at 10:30 a.m. Guess where this little Santa is heading!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My inspiration

"The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration."

~~ Claude Monet

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pensacola Beach Christmas Parade

The annual Pensacola Beach Christmas Parade was held today and our island spirit was evident!

A Color Guard signaled the start of the parade.

Hmmm...let's see what the Chamber of Commerce is throwing the crowd today! This way, Jeff! Cool ride!

Kicks and smiles!

And these little cuties want to be just like the big girls.

Divine Danah and her Krewe of Naugas are in the Christmas Parade! If you don't know the hilarious story behind this Krewe, you must swing by The Market on the Island and pick up a copy of To the Beat of an Island Drum...A Different Kind of Mardi Gras by Jane Waters Cooper.

Who needs a float! It's all in the attitude around here.

Oh look! It's the king and queen!

I want her glasses!

I know why Sandi Johnson's smiling. All her friends are so happy to have her back on the island in time for our Christmas festivities, and so is she.

Chrissy Cook is having a blast handing out beads along the parade route!

It's Bubba'Lishous (aka Tarsha Bechtol)! "Hey 'Lishous!" Sorry I had to crop Bubba out of the picture, but he bent over at the wrong time!

I loved this little vehicle and its creative placement of a Texas Longhorn hood ornament...

but I loved what was riding in the back even more! Scotties!

Maraca-mania! Let's start a conga line.

Alrightttttt! The elves are out and they have some serious goodies. Oh pleazzzze, Mr. Elf, I want one!

Carly Churchward gets a hug and a prize from Elf Lila. She also went home with about five pounds of candy and two pounds of beads!

Merry Christmas from Pensacola Beach and don't forget to
Season Your Holidays with Island Spirit

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pensacola Beach - Lighted Boat Parade

It was was was on! Mother Nature was funnin' with us today.

The rain came down in buckets throughout the day (as evidenced by a leak in my house). At last, with concern that the weather may be too rough for children at the landing and boats en route, the parade was canceled.

But wait! At the last minute, skies cleared and a few remaining captains decided to make the run if Santa was willing!

A decorated sailboat is highlighted against the clearing sky when word comes that the parade is on.

Taking a photo of a moving boat from another moving boat at night can only result in an artsy photo of the sailboat's Christmas lights!

Santa takes a moment to think about the Christmas lists he's received as we near the dock at Quietwater. A Webkinz for Lindsey...transformer for Jonathan...a Wii for much to remember!

Upon landing, Santa concentrates on the children who've brave the weather to talk with him.

Merry Christmas, Pensacola Beach!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another foggy day

We've had very warm, humid weather for days which has frequently fogged us in on the island. Humidity at night can rise as high as 90-100%! It is not the ideal condition for my camera.

As you can (barely) see, the surf is up enough to bring all the surfers out. I finally ventured over to the Gulf yesterday afternoon when the fog started lifting a bit, but surfers were still enveloped in the mist.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A walk

"I dressed and went for a walk--determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer."

~~ Raymond Carver, This Morning

Monday, December 10, 2007

Santa Lookalikes on the beach

Bamboo Willies sponsored a Santa Lookalike contest this weekend.

It's a not-so-well-kept secret that the real Santa must sometimes call in reinforcements when his sleigh gets over-the-weight limit in toys Christmas Eve!

Kowabunga, Dude! It's an authentic beach bum Santa, fer sure!

And one grinch, with his two sizes too small heart!

Santa on the Boardwalk

Santa took a couple of hours out of his busy schedule to visit the Boardwalk yesterday afternoon and get Christmas lists of children who stopped by for a photo. This adorable little girl in her pretty Christmas dress wanted to stay by Santa while her mom shopped nearby. "I just want to hang-out with you," she said sweetly. Ahhhhhh...

Leaving the Boardwalk, she ran over for one last hug and Santa's paparazzi snapped this photo!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Signs of Christmas

The Boardwalk shops have their wreaths and garland displayed...

As well as their "Huge Sale" signs. Hmmmm...this may get a couple of my snowbirds friends from Minnesota on the road tomorrow!

Unseasonably warm weather and high humidity doesn't dampen Christmas spirit! Folks just add a Santa cap to their usual shorts and sandals beach attire.

Don't forget to bring your children to the Gingerbread House Make 'n Take at Tiki Island Golf and Games from noon 'til 2:00 p.m. today. Afterwards, head over to the Boardwalk to see Santa and his paparazzi from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.. You can get a snapshot with Santa for a nominal charge -- and you never know who might be called in to help out with the photos!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Kowabunga, dude!

I hope you didn't miss the Kowabunga Breakfast with Surfing Santa at Surf Burger this morning!

Kids loved it (well, most did) and adults were offered a free mimosa. Breakfast is always a hit at Surf Burger. Try the Double Barrel (or split one)!

Never too young to submit a wish list to Santa!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Crab tracks

"Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.

~~ Lao-tzu, "The Way of Lao-tzu"

[Unlike a previous photo of human footsteps across a dune in "Hike to Ft. Pickens - November 2007", the indentations shown here are made by crabs. If you click on the photo above, it will enlarge and you can follow the crab tracks to its current home atop the dune.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chasefield Plantation Cemetery

On any trip -- or hike -- into Ft. Pickens, I've always stopped for a moment at the Chasefield Plantation Gravestones which were relocated to the island from NAS in 1957.

As you can see, the gravestones have not fared well. The stone above is that of Clarissa Francis Golay, daughter of Albert and Rebecca Golay, who died on August 8, 1842 at the age of one year and five days. Her small gravestone was shattered into five pieces during one of the hurricanes. Most of the stones are similarly damaged.

The gravestone of Sabra Lanear Williams, surrounded by chain link, gravel, and sandburs, is barely legible now. It may be years, if ever, before someone comes to restore this tiny cemetery.

Several years ago I copied the inscription and tucked it behind a photograph I took of her stone. It read:

Sabra Lanear
consort of
David Williams
Born Sept 25, 1774
Died May 25, 1846

Kind angels watch this sleeping dust
Till Jesus comes to raise the just
Then may she wake with sweet surprise
And in her savior's image rise.

Farewell, my husband, my life is past.
My love for you through life did last.
Grieve not for me nor sorrow take,
But love my children for my sake.

My interest of this particular stone was captured by the inscription. The last verse switches to first person, which I found curious. If only we knew the story behind it. Still, most who stop to pay their respects and try to read the inscription will be touched by the final cryptic verse.

Spectacular sunset

Did you happen to see the sunset tonight? Santa Rosa Sound turned pink as it reflected the colors of the sky. I only had time to grab my camera and get a couple of quick shots from the balcony.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hike to Ft. Pickens - November 2007

On November 13, my husband and I hiked into Ft. Pickens. I meant to publish my photos before now, but with the Thanksgiving holiday, family visits, a trip to New Orleans, and the daunting task of sifting through over 200 photos which I took that day, suddenly I realized over three weeks have now passed!

We started out enthusiastically around 9:00 a.m. on the morning of our hike. I packed sandwiches, bottled water, band-aids, and my camera, of course. The day was slightly overcast and cool, a perfect day for a 15-mile hike.

A large tidal pool spreads beside us on the sound side beach. It looks like mirrored glass on a day like this with little wind to disturb its surface.

The road ends at this point. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the two large piles of asphalt in the distance, a landmark of sorts to which hikers refer.

I turned back for this shot as we left the road behind. A fellow hiker parked his bike, deciding to explore a bit or choosing not to push it through the long stretch of sand ahead of us.

Closer to the asphalt piles, the road completely disappears and we hike through sand. Only park rangers and workers proceed in vehicles here.

The landscape is beautiful and silent. I stop for a minute to wonder why someone has hiked across the top of the dunes.

We pass an asphalt boneyard, a stretch where the road has been completely destroyed. Small clumps of asphalt litter the beach like a surreal minimalist painting.

A welcome sight! This means progress somewhere in the park!

We passed the ranger's house and noted new AC units. The solar panels look like they have been replaced also. Surely someone is planning to utilize the house within the next few months.

A stretch of road close to the ranger's house looks like it is lined with snow drifts.

The country store is still boarded up. A front-loader in the parking lot stops briefly before bringing in another load of bricks.

The swampy area always makes me slightly uneasy. Childhood memories of "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh MY!" quickens my steps here. You can hear the skittering of wildlife if you tarry.
Canals intersect and run parallel to the road before you reach the fort entrance.

Fort Pickens! It still stands after nearly 175 years. Heaven and historians only know how many battles and hurricanes the site has weathered.

A cannon still stands atop one of the fortifications.

The building which housed the museum was moved off its foundation by the storm surge. It has been raised and placed on blocks.
The fishing pier looks in pretty good shape. Several fishermen are there that day.

A view of the sea wall which runs along the west side of the fort.

A fisherman spots mullet and casts his net.

The west end of Santa Rosa Island. It is a lovely view of Pensacola Pass. If you enlarge the photo you will see a small boat which has tied up to the shore and the Pensacola Lighthouse in the distance. There were a few boats there that day. Some people were picnicking, others were fishing.

The view past a chain link fence makes me wonder where Geronimo was housed during his stay at Ft. Pickens.

Yaupon, with its Christmas-red berries, was abundant in the park this fall and very colorful.

Thanks to my readers, I was able to identify this plant as wild fox grapes. There were areas of it along the stretch of road in front of the fort.

Sadly, recent occurrences of red tide led to large fish kills all along the Gulf Coast. In some areas where the island remains flattened, high winds and tides washed dead fish approximately 100 yards onto the road during the first part of November. This line of fish was the high-tide line.

As the road disappears into the eastern horizon, you can see white sanddust rising from Pensacola Beach--and home. My legs are beginning to tire.

This last part of the walk is always the hardest for me. Less than two miles from completing the hike, my tired legs rebel against a section of 'rolling-road'.
We finished the hike and arrived back at the parking lot at 4:00 p.m. -- a seven-hour, 15-mile long hike. An hour of that time was stopping to eat our sandwiches at the fishing pier and wandering around the interior loop of the fort.