Friday, January 30, 2009

A Nauga Dawga reminder!

"My 'B.I.G.' mama says I can't go to the Nauga party tomorrow, so here I sit...all dressed up with no place to go. I even brought out last year's Nauga ears that I hid behind the bed, but she won't budge!

"She said I could be on her blog again to remind you the Nauga Champagne Breakfast starts at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning at The Dock and you have to wear pajamas. It only costs $15.00 for humans, and they get breakfast, new Nauga ears, and all kinds of good stuff. So go to the party...and think about me. All dressed up. No place to go..."

~~ P-pup (Panama Jack)

Tiny shells

"Today is a smooth white seashell, hold it close and listen to the beauty of the hours."

~~ Author unknown

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"To the Beat of an Island Drum"

Occasionally I enjoy sharing a special book or website with you. With Mardi Gras season really gearing up, I have to add one more to my list...

Several years ago, shortly after I first discovered Pensacola Beach, I stumbled upon a book called"To the Beat of an Island Drum - a Different Kind of Mardi Gras," by Jane Waters Cooper, in The Market on the Island. My husband and I were headed out of town that day, on our way back to Tennessee, but knowing Mardi Gras was an integral part of the Pensacola Beach community, the book immediately piqued my interest, and I looked forward to learning more about the heart of this small beach paradise I had found

On the drive home that day, I read and laughed, then laughed some more as I read about the birth of Mardi Gras on Pensacola Beach and all the Krewes and 'Social Clubs' which have come after. None of the names had meaning to me at the time, as they do now, but I felt a rush of excitement knowing someday I would be a part of this unique and adventurous...might I add wild and of people.

Flashing forward seven years, I truly feel part of this community as I have no other. With Mardi Gras season upon us once more, I pulled my copy of "To the Beat of an Island Drum" from the shelf and starting reading it once again from the start. This time names have meaning or a tinge of sadness that I did not/will not have the opportunity to meet some of the special ones like Harry Gowens or Andrea Brunt. I also know some of the 'back-stories' now and have seen the generosity of these people first hand. They party hard, they love dearly, and they have open hearts.

I verified that Mrs. Cooper's book is still available through mail within the U.S., so if you would enjoy reading and learning more about Mardi Gras on Pensacola Beach, please send her a written request, along with a check for $13.00 (which includes shipping and handling) to:

Shelley Ink
P.O. Box 844
Gulf Breeze, FL 32562-0844

If you purchase the book, be sure to read one of my favorite chapters, Chapter 21, about the Krewe of Nauga! Better yet, read the book, then come join us for Mardi Gras!

"Just gather the tourists into your own parties, and make them feel like they are Beach people, if even for one day. There is no better gift to give a tourist than acceptance and togetherness as they walk in our shoes. (It's o.k. if they walk in our shoes, since we're all barefooted anyway.)"

~~ Jane Waters Cooper, "To the Beat of an Island Drum"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mardi Gras time!

Even my little P-pup is gearing up for Mardi Gras time on Pensacola Beach, so get out your calendar and make note of your favorite events.

The Krewe of Nauga Champagne Breakfast will be at The Dock this Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Don't forget to wear your favorite 'jammies for this event! Tickets are $15.00 at the door and you will receive not only champagne and a great buffet breakfast (duh, it's the Nauga's Champagne Breakfast), but your own set of Nauga ears, party favors, and a chance to participate in their silent auction.

In case you've forgotten how much fun the Krewe of Nauga has at this event, take a look at last year's photos by clicking HERE

And catch up on the 'Nauga Saga' by clicking HERE.

Read more about the Nauga's Champagne Breakfast (and other upcoming Mardi Gras events) by picking up the January 29th edition of Island Times. You may also find it under the 'LINKS' section of my blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So, there was this sea gull...

I saw a sea gull flying by
and watched as on the beach he spied...

a cob of corn which lay nearby.

It was a crab-boil scrap, no doubt,
And he swooped down to check it out,

Then nibbled while it rolled about.

Suddenly a wave rushed in, grabbed his treat, then out again,

But he marched in and grabbed it back,

Triumphant with his corn cob snack,

And headed toward a seashore wrack...

Turning home I paused to say, "Mr. Gull, you've made my day,"
as he and cob flew far away.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A beautiful day

"...It's a beautiful day. Don't let it get away..."

~~ Bono, "Beautiful Day"

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Yesterday evening was simply beautiful. The last rays of the sun reflected off houses along the beach; puffs of blue-gray clouds drifted low; windblown sand, white as snow, had drifted high; and we were snuggled contentedly in between.

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, it is the realization of how much you already have.”

~~ Unknown

Friday, January 23, 2009

Everything in connection

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it."

~~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

Photography & Tutorials

In the past couple of weeks I've discovered a great new site that I want to share with you. If you are interested in photography, which many of my blog readers are, you'll definitely want to visit Jeff Wignall's Digital Photography & Tutorial website.

Here is just a partial list of Jeff's books which have been published:

Exposure Photo Workshop (Wiley; 2008)
The Kodak Most Basic Book of Digital Photography (Lark Books, 2006)
The Joy of Digital Photography (Lark Book, 2006)
The Kodak Guide to Shooting Great Travel Pictures (Fodors Travel Publications)
Winning Pictures (Silver Pixel Press)
Landscape Photography (Kodak Books)
The Kodak Pocket Guide to Sports Photography (Simon & Schuster)

Jeff is incredibly generous with the number of tutorials on his website, ranging from more technical topics such as Lens Aperture Primer (I - IV) and Shooting High ISO Speeds in Low Light, to Night Photography and shooting creative and fun photos with sparklers. I can't wait to try that last one out this summer.

Heaven help him, Jeff has also started a Photo Tip of the Day blog. What was he thinking! I know first-hand it takes a lot of time and dedication to keep up with a blog, which makes me even more grateful that he is reaching out to help photographers like me. You will see I've put up a link to his blog (as well as his website) and I'll be checking it out regularly.

Time to get off the computer now. Jeff's book, Exposure Photo Workshop, arrived in yesterday's mail and I'm scouring it cover-to-cover, making notes along the way. It's turning out to be even better than I hoped.

Thanks, Jeff!


The last couple of days have been very special for me. Sean Dahlen, Kirsten's younger brother came to town for a couple of days and we were able to spend several hours on the beach getting to know each other, visiting places where Kirsten spent time, and celebrating her wonderful life and accomplishments.

Like Kirsten, Sean is a world traveler and a beautiful soul. You need only read the eloquent eulogy which he wrote for his sister to see he is as unique as she was. You may visit Sean's website, Innerstanding, and learn more about him, his studies, and work, which explore the relationship between physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Deep peace, Sean.

It's not a bird; it's not a plane...

Look what I discovered near Park East...

a windsock blowing in the wind.

Look! It's not a bird...

It's not a plane!

It's a paragliding man!

Cool, dude!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The New Year

Ah ha! I finally discovered the film crew working under the watchful eye of independent filmmaker, Brett Haley (in the white shirt).

The name of the movie they are filming is "The New Year". You may learn more about the project by reading a recent article in The Independent News.

The weather has not been very cooperative during their stay here, but today turned out to be spectacular for filming on the beach, though rather cold. The color of the water couldn't have been more beautiful for them.

Peeking outside

At last we have a beautiful day with sunshine and a light breeze. At 1:30 p.m. the temperature has only risen to 40 degrees, but I'll take it as long as we have sunshine without high winds.

My friend, Scottie, coaxed me out for lunch and I was able to capture a few photos of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico from the deck. Looking east toward Navarre Beach, it was clear enough to see some of the condos on that end of the island.

Looking west, you can see all the way down to the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier in the distance if you enlarge the photo.

The color of the Gulf of Mexico is incredible today. Thanks, Scottie!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Krewe of Junkanoo Chili Cook-off

Great fun and good eatin' at the Krewe of Junkanoo's Chili Cook-off at the Sandshaker this afternoon.

We got there right at 1:00 p.m. and started diggin' in.

The "You can't beat our meat" team.

The crowd started growing and the parking lot filled. Most of the chili was gone by 3:00 p.m.

One of the best today was a white chili entry, cooked with chicken and white beans. It had a surprisingly rich and spicy chili flavor. YUM!

Okay, I think I'll 'creep' on past this entry.

Put out the fire, boys! A former Waukegan fire chief entered the cook-out. No surprise that it was excellent.

Too much pepper!

You can always spot the Krewe of Junkanoo! I think they have a real winner with the new chili cook-off event.

It's exciting to see the purple, green and gold start coming out of the closet. We're ramping up to Mardi Gras and it will be a great year!

Ahhh...all that chili and a couple of sweet little cupcakes

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Krewe of Junkanoo Chili Cook-off

The Krewe of Junkanoo will be hosting their very first Chili Cook-off at the Sandshaker this weekend. With another blast of arctic weather descending on us tomorrow, the timing couldn't be better for a steaming bowl of chili -- or a whole bunch of steaming-hot, tiny bites to taste and vote on. Trophies will be awarded solely by the results of the tasting public.

Considering they currently have twenty-three entries and expect possibly two more, this should easily become an annual Krewe of Junkanoo event.

Date: Saturday, January 17th

Place: Sandshaker Lounge. 731 Pensacola Beach Boulevard, Pensacola Beach

Time: Cooking starts at 10:00 a.m. Tasting begins at 1:00 p.m.

Cost (to taste samples): $5.00


No word on whether complimentary Beano samples will also be available, but the Sandshaker has reportedly ordered up extra portalets for the event.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Public Service Announcement

The cold front which has invaded paradise was somewhat to blame for keeping me indoors, though I've also been hiding out after treatment from a Mohs specialist for basal cell carcinoma - a very treatable form of skin cancer - on my face, no less!

In this abnormally cold weather it is fairly easy to stay indoors and hide out from the sun, which I've been ordered to avoid for approximately three weeks. Hopefully the cold front will move through quickly and the north wind which assails us will push the Portuguese Man o' War far offshore.

If you see me out and about with bandaids on my face this weekend, I swear I haven't taken up shaving! It's the convergence of a lifetime of sun exposure and my Scots-Irish heritage with a Mohs specialist, despite the fact sunscreen has been the first thing I apply in the morning before hitting the beach ever since I moved here.

Public Service Announcement for the day: Basal cell carcinoma is generally the result of a lifetime of exposure to the sun. Enjoy paradise, but frequently slather SPF 30 sunscreen on yourself and especially children. Each sunburn makes you more prone to skin cancer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Island Empress

I discovered a website which has been launched for The Island Empress, a new development which is scheduled to go up between The Beach Club and Emerald Isle. If you go to their site you will see they have installed a webcam with a great view of the beach, the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier and the Gulf of Mexico.

I was amazed when I took the virtual tour. It is nice at the beginning, but the real fun begins about 45 seconds into the virtual tour when the viewer appears to be riding along Via de Luna in front of the new property. It's stunning to realize it is all computer-generated. How do they do that?!

You may check it out by clicking HERE.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spanish Royalty to visit!

What an exciting announcement this afternoon when we heard King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia of Spain will be visiting Pensacola on February 18 and 19 to help us celebrate our 450th anniversary countdown. On August 14, 1559 Tristan de Luna de Arellano's expedition sailed into Pensacola Bay and became the first European settlement in America.

Celebrate Pensacola, Inc. has been working very hard to bring about this visit of Spanish royalty. Dignitaries arrived from Spain on Friday to assess potential security concerns and scout out our local attractions. I'm only sad we aren't having brilliantly sunny days to showcase our sugar-white beaches and sparkling turquoise and emerald waters.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate in February to show the King and Queen of Spain the beauty which must have greeted their explorers who arrived in Pensacola Bay 450 years ago. They would truly understand the words of Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora who wrote of Pensacola Bay,
"I hereby assert that this bay is the finest jewel possessed by His Majesty...not only here in America but in all his kingdom."
I will be putting up a permanent link to Celebrate Pensacola, Inc. so you may follow the celebratory events scheduled during this exciting anniversary year.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Salt Life

I've enjoyed taking photos of the surfers from the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier during our recent period of high surf. If you click on the individual photos you can get an idea of the beautiful waves, plus the athleticism and determination of the surfers. Their stamina is incredible.

Look closely at this fellow above. He's not only surfing, he's playing Twister, Surf Edition!

Such grace...

and, literally, a second later he's engulfed in the Gulf! Ouch!

They go in, under...

And pop back out behind the waves.

I'm in awe of their patience and perseverance.

New site in town!

I discovered a promising new Pensacola Beach website this morning which was recently launched:

The site is visually appealing and looks easy to maneuver, even as it continues to grow. Its initial categories include hotels, restaurants, and local news. Site visitors also have the ability to link/share/save/leave comments under each individual business.

The webmaster said he also plans to create a blog submenu for guest bloggers on the front page where you can establish your own personal blog. Too cool!

The creator of, who currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri, has a story similar to many of us: frequent visits to Pensacola Beach left him captivated with the beauty and uniqueness of the area, filled with dreams of living here eventually. Sound familiar?

I'll be providing a permanent link to the site on the left side of my blog. Check it out!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Visit to the Pensacola Beach Pier

We been experiencing higher surf than usual, so it's especially fun to drop by the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier to see the waves crashing against the pilings and praying the surfers do not!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Surf's up

It's great fun to watch the local surfers from the pier. They were enjoying the high surf this afternoon!

Rainbows and salt spray

When you see the beauty which surrounds us on this incredible barrier island, sometimes manifest in rainbows and salt spray, is there any doubt I'm living in paradise.

My thanks to Sean for calling to give me a heads up about the surf this afternoon!

Technical difficulties

I'm very sorry, but Blogger seems to be having some difficulties this afternoon and I cannot upload photos I took at the pier this afternoon! Let's hope they get the problem fixed quickly. This is not fun for a phlogger*!

*Phloggers are photo bloggers, but you knew that, right? Not to be confused with a Flogger: someone who blogs about food. And definitely not to be confused with someone who flogs!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gull friends

This seagull surely has my respect. Anything willing to eat up a few Portuguese Man o' War becomes my immediate gull-friend.

Go for it, baby!

"Eh, he's such a show-off. Let's just wait for the next wave to throw some at our feet."

Portuguese Man o' War alert

Since I have been traveling quite a bit during the holidays, I haven't walked on the Gulf side of the island for a couple of weeks. The purple flag has been flying, but I had no idea the extent of Portuguese Man o' War washing up on the beach right now. You can click on the photo above to get a closer look.

Close up, their color is beautiful, but be sure to steer clear of these venomous sea creatures. As I returned home I noticed red welts appearing around my ankles, wrists, and hands, accompanied by a burning/itching sensation. Soon the affected areas looked like they had been dipped in scalding water.

The only thing I can surmise is that the tiny biting gnats which sometimes hover around sargassum (also washing up on the beach) must have transferred tiny amounts of the venom from the Portuguese Man o' war to me when I got close to take photographs. A cool shower and a couple of Benedryl seem to be helping the discomfort.

I had expected to get some shots of surfers this afternoon since the surf is up, now I can see why there were none in sight.