Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day at Barrancas National Cemetery

Memorial Day at Barrancas National Cemetery. Originally established as a U.S. Navy cemetery in 1838, but in 1868 Barrancas was officially proclaimed a National Cemetery.

"...No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While Fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps..."

Theodore O'Hara
Bivouac of the Dead , 1847

On May 5, 1868, John A. Logan, Commander in Chief, Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Orders No. 11 - The Memorial Day Order:

"If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us....


"It is the purpose of the Commander‑in‑Chief to inaugurate this observ­ance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades."

You may click HERE to read the Order in its entirety.

To those who have served our country and to those who have fallen, we extend our gratitude and respect.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Tern and the Crab

A stand-off occurs when a crab ventures too close to a tern's nest, causing  the bird to try several diversionary tactics.

"Get away, I say! Get away from my nest!"


A beautiful sunrise this morning over Bob Sikes bridge.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Come On and take a Free Ride!

"Come on and sit here by my side!  Come on and take a FREE RIDE!"

Yep, everyone on the beach can take a free ride starting Friday morning (tomorrow) when the Beach trolleys begin running from 11:00 a.m. 'til 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. 

Not only that, but at 11:00 a.m., May 27, the new trolley-tracker system will go online, allowing you to call in -- or text -- an automated system, enter the trolley stop number you plan to use, and find out the trolley's current location and approximate arrival time at your stop. 

To learn more, check out Trolley Times, a special edition Island Times, which gives you all the stop numbers and corresponding locations.  Then, tomorrow (after 11:00 a.m.) , you may call 850-602-9384 or text 41411 to "SRIA (and add your stop number)" to find out when the trolley will be stopping at your location!

Come on and take FREE RIDE!!!

Cruising past Ft. Pickens

I was very appreciative to have an opportunity to go on the Military Fishing Expedition last week. As we passed Ft. Pickens, rounded the island, and headed through Pensacola Pass into the Gulf of Mexico, I took some video of the old fort.  I'm especially fond of Ft. Pickens since it is the primary area I volunteer for sea turtle patrol.

Park Rangers give guided tours of the fort at 2 p.m. each day in the summer and they will tell you Santa Rosa Island is gradually shifting west. When you watch the video above, notice how far it is from the sea wall to the fort.

Now, click HERE to take a look at a drawing of Ft. Pickens done around 1861 and submitted to Harper's Weekly by a Mrs. Gilman, wife of Lieutenant Gilman, second in command at Ft. Pickens at that time.  It shows rough waters swirling around the fort itself - quite a difference from what we have today.

It is my belief that the seawall which now surrounds the fort was not built until sometime after the 'killer hurricane" of 1906.  On September 26/27, 1906, a hurricane hit the Pensacola area and reportedly resulted in a 10' storm surge which washed over the Ft. Pickens area and up to a 14' storm surge across the bay at Ft. McRae.   The storm resulted in much damage to both Ft. Pickens and Ft. McRae, as well as the navy yards.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sea Turtle Patrol

Almost at the western tip of Santa Rosa Island - the Ft. Pickens area of Gulf Islands National Seashore - I stopped to take a short video.  You can see across Pensacola Pass to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola Lighthouse, Big Lagoon, and Perdido Key.

[Note to blog readers:  At certain times of the day, server traffic can get heavy and the HD videos I plug into my blog may experience some hesitation.]

Monday, May 23, 2011


If you ever wondered why they call some people crabby, just look at this downturned mouth and harsh stare.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Black Skimmer mama

A very short clip of the mama Skimmer sitting on the same egg I showed you yesterday. 

Although these birds may have an almost cartoonish look to them on land, they are exquisitely graceful as they fly parallel to shore, skimming the water with their lower mandible to scoop up tiny fish, crustaceans and insects.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Guess the egg!

Well it looks a bit like a Dalmation, or a Rorschach test...or a funny face with a tongue sticking out at us (can you see it?)

Actually this is the egg of a Black Skimmer and tomorrow I'll share a video of the mama skimmer with you.

Morning patrol at Santa Rosa

My sea turtle patrol at Santa Rosa started off in foggy conditions, but by 7:00 - 8:00 am. it was clearing and turning out to be a beautiful day. There was still a bit of haze in the air when I took this little clip.

The water was beautiful, but high surf which has been frequent since the first of May has washed ashore a lot of seaweed, which you'll see.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to peel a crawfish

My neighbor, Wes, demonstrates how to peel crawfish, with a little response from me.

Crawfish Boil at the Singleton's!

Our wonderful hosts for last weekend's Crawfish Boil were our next-door neighbors, Wes and Elaine Singleton.

Steam rises from a huge pot of  crawfish, the size of baby lobsters!  Now, technically, I should be writing "crayfish" which comes from the Old French word escrevisse.  To learn more about them and their colloquial names, you may click HERE.

Heat was turned off and ice was added to the pot after the crawfish had boiled for 3-5 minutes.  This stopped the cooking process and also causes the crawfish to sink, thereby soaking up the spices. 

Mr. Ronnie Treuil, Wes's cousin, came all the way from Rosedale, Louisiana for this event. Ronnie also delivered seven sacks of giant pond-grown crawfish straight from Louisiana bayou country. Six sacks, each weighing in at 35-37 lbs., were stored in a large custom-made cooler on the back of Ronnie's truck. The seventh sack was housed in a separate cooler.  Now THAT, my friends, is one special delivery!  

Another great friend who jumped right in to help Wes and Elaine with cooking duties and clean-up, was Gene Morgan.  Gene and his wife, Tammy, own ReMax Total Properties in Navarre, so if you're looking for some property (or some cooking tips), you know where to go!
Spicy shrimp for appetizers - 20 lbs worth!

When you think of the quintessential southern lady who loves her friends, has a wonderful sense of humor, always has a smile for you, loves to dance, loves to sing, and says nary a cross word about anyone (well, maybe an occasional "bless their heart"), that's our Elaine!  She's just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Let the good times roll, dude! (Isn't it embarrassing when older people like me use the word 'dude'?)  Our neighborhood kids are coming home for summer! George Weisnicht and a friend are fast peelers!

Elaine, always a gracious hostess.

My across-the-street neighbor, Bet Ellis, is in true barrier island girl mode with that hat and smile!!  And don't you love that necklace!   

Another Seashore Village neighbor, Carmella Campbell, always has a smile. If Carmella looks familiar, you've probably seen her hosting the cooking demonstrations/presentations by various local chefs at the Pensacola Seafood Festival each year!

"I just want a cookie, mommy. That man said they were cooking mud bugs!"

Wendell and Marie Colberg's beautiful daughter was in for the weekend. The neighborhood kids are all growing up so fast.

Joe Ellis, president of our Seashore Village Homeowners Association, and an exceptional friend to us all.

I had a chance to spend a little time with neighbor Anne Baehr who is a fellow photographer! Photographers always need more time to talk about lenses and techniques.

The gentleman behind our neighborhood Architectural Committee, Scott Campbell of William Scott Campbell Architects!

I met one of our newest neighbors, Pam Gadboys, who can't say enough wonderful things about living on the beach. Obviously she fits right in with the rest of us who feel the same as she!  Welcome to Seashore Village, Pam

It was very nice to see George Eckes and his wife, Yvonne, at the Crawfish Boil.  George was our former HOA president, but recently sold his property in Seashore Village.  We know how heartbroken he was to give up that position.  Right, George?  :-)   

It was a treat to meet Wes's friend, Bill Koenig, another avid photographer. When Bill brought out his Canon with a 70-200mm lens, I humbly bowed to him. That is the next piece of awesome equipment I hope to buy, but it may be a while before I can justify the cost (convince my husband). That didn't stop me stealing a few yearning glances Bill's way.  And, sorry to catch you off-guard, Bill. Most photographers do not enjoy having their picture taken and you can see that expression on his face, non?  Go figure!  But it's the way we are.

Dr. John Baehr had a chance to chill out with friends and neighbors.  Wes and Elaine were 'roommates' with John and Anne for several days in 2004 after Hurricane Ivan slammed into the island and caused much damage to our Seashore Village neighborhood.

"Hey, Tammy!"   

Ahhhh...and now we see why these Louisiana boys love crawfish boils so much. Those spicy little mudbugs have the power to transform folks into love bugs! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ghost crabs

As a sea turtler patroler, click HERE to read why I'm not fond of ghost crabs, even though they may be cute as they skitter across the sand and are an important part of a beach ecosystem. 

The only part of my patrols I dislike is when I discover a ghost crab has burrowed into a nest and we must carefully dig down, remove them, and fill in their tunnel.  Otherwise these predators will eat the sea turtle eggs or hatchlings, if they have emerged and are working their way up toward the surface.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crawfish Boil!

Before moving to Florida, I only knew about crawfish boils through articles in Coastal Living or novels by Mary Alice Monroe.  Now I know the tradition is alive and thriving on Pensacola Beach.

Crawfish (Crayfish/Mudbugs) are cooked with corn and potatoes, various spices and lemon halves, then heaped up and served on large platters.

 Whatcha think about it, Anna Grace?

Lance shows Graham, Anna Grace's older brother, the proper technique.

Amy holds Sharon Elizabeth, who's keeping a close eye on her grandpa and daddy as they cook.

By the way, Sharon's daddy, Justin, is the speediest crawfish peeler I've ever seen!

Anna Grace's blue dress is adorable, but it still can't compare to her beautiful blue eyes! 

Poor Roux keeps hoping someone will drop a tidbit under the table, but the sad expression is because she hasn't gotten lucky yet.

Looks like Graham is enjoying the crawfish.

Our next door neighbor/host, Brian, brings in another platter.

Brian and his son-in-law, Justin, have a great system going.

Sharon Elizabeth should be nicknamed 'Sunny'.  She's the happiest little girl I know, always laughing and smiling.

Poor Hub watches the fun through the fence.

Pat and Justin peel the leftover crawfish for tomorrow's etouffe while Elizabeth supervises!

Lance has a chance to catch up on his share of crawfish now that Graham is full and off to play.

Back-door neighbors, Mellissa (Anna Grace and Graham's mom) and Priscilla (our hostess).

Two Cajun boys! Our neighbor Wes with his long-time friend, Wayne, who was visiting from Lafayette, Louisiana.  I could happily listen to Wayne talk all day!

Stacy and Molly!

Mother's morning walk

My mother loves to walk on the beach and look for shells.  Unfortunately we don't have a lot wash up in this area. Still it is a beautiful way to spend a morning, especially with the water so clear and calm.