Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just after sunrise

I wish this photograph was one-tenth as beautiful as the sight itself just after sunrise at Ft. Pickens this morning. The sky was a delicate rosy-mauve shade as the sun peeped over the horizon. The Gulf of Mexico was calm and clear with ribbons of color - turquoise, sapphire. Dolphin were playing; herons strolled along the shore; black skimmers flew by with their lower beak slicing through the water; and snowy plovers performed incredible dives as they caught breakfast for their tiny chicks.

This morning I was reminded of an Amelia Earhart's 1928 logbook comment, "I'm getting housemaid's knee kneeling here gulping beauty" -- except as a member of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Sea Turtle Patrol I'm driving along the shoreline in a Kawasaki Mule before sunrise.

To learn more about the Gulf Islands National Seashore volunteer sea turtle patrol, you may click HERE to read a 2005 article from the Gulf Breeze News.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Military Fishing Expedition

The Military Fishing Expedition, one of the Military Appreciation Month events, was very successful as you can see. The young men and women who went out on the boat brought back some great-looking fish, like the basket of mango snapper above, and even a few cobia.

Within forty-five minutes those little snappers which had been caught were filleted, seasoned and fried up for the young men and women to enjoy. It doesn't get any more fresh than that.

"I'm wearing my dress whites. Can I get some fish, too?"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pensacola Beach Marina

I enjoy Pensacola Beach Marina which is located directly behind Cici's Market (formerly The Market on the Island), especially on days like this with big, towering cumulus clouds on the horizon. Sometimes it's fun to just drop by Cici's, get a coke, and watch the boats coming and going from the second floor deck.

Bands on the Beach

We had a beautiful night for Bands on the Beach. The Gulf had calmed considerably after rough surf over the Memorial Day weekend.

Folks are really starting to turn out for this Tuesday evening event on the beach.

Little Ryan Nelson is only 19 months and quickly learning there's always one strand of spaghetti which won't cooperate!

Luckily he has his grandma, Shelia Ivie, to help out. These were my favorite photos of the evening.

Four-year old Katie just loves to dance.

The kids love being able to dance to their heart's content at Bands on the Beach.

Jim and Linda Knell enjoy the music after a very busy day with the Military Fishing Expedition, one of the events during May's Military Appreciation Month. Great job, Jim! Linda is the upcoming president for the Pensacola Beach Women's Club. Congratulations, Linda.

Southern Breeze was the featured band last night. You may enjoy their southern rock sound by clicking HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Barrancas National Cemetery

Since moving to Pensacola Beach my husband and I have driven to Barrancas National Cemetery each Sunday or Monday over Memorial Day Weekend to show our respect for those who have sacrificed much for our country. It's a solemn sight.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration maintains 128 national cemeteries in 39 states (and Puerto Rico) as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites.

Barrancas National Cemetery is located on 95 acres within the boundaries of U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola. To learn more about the history of Barrancas National Cemetery you may click HERE.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ft. Pickens Road breached

Less than 24 hours after reopening, Ft. Pickens Road was breached in several places within the Park courtesy of Invest 90, a large extratropical storm which brought the Gulf Coast heavy rain, high surf, and wind gusts around 40 mph.

Sadly, I won't be able to make my sea turtle patrol of the shoreline along Ft. Pickens Road for the Park Service tomorrow morning. I would normally drive a Mule which isn't up to the task under these circumstances, but one of the Park Rangers will patrol in my place using an ATV.

Some of the parking areas were completely submerged.

High tide is around 9:15 a.m. tomorrow morning, so the road may be breached again. This photo was taken mid-afternoon, hours after high tide.

In some places the water washed completely over the island and into the Sound...

knocking down sand fencing much too flimsy to stand up against Mother Nature.

The road had to be cleared of sand which also covered the road in some areas. There were even a few stranded vehicles which flooded out.

Guess Mother Nature wanted to make sure we remembered who's in charge after all our crowing about the road opening yesterday.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ft. Pickens Road reopens!

It was a great day for everyone who loves Pensacola Beach! After more than four years, we can finally make the drive to the western tip of the island! Just look how beautiful it is.

You may find it a bit unnerving, especially if you're making the drive during high tide, to see how flat the island is in places.

From the road it almost appears that you are slightly below sea level and if you make the drive around high tide and during times of high surf such as this weekend you will notice how close the water runs up to the road in places.

Dunes still stand fairly tall in some areas, cut like old canyon walls by high winds.

So good to see the old fort again - one hundred and seventy-five years old. Unbelievable. The Visitor's Center is open and they have a great selection of books. They also have working restrooms at the center.

When you visit and drive around the loop inside Ft. Pickens, notice how much the island has shifted west past the old sea wall since 1834. If you click HERE you can see a sketch of the fort published in Harper's Weekly in 1861 which shows the water hitting against the seawall.

Damage from the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 is still very evident by the remains of trees killed by salt water and storm surge. Slowly they are decaying and being reclaimed by the land. Ospreys are still able to use some of them for nesting.

There must have been quite a line of campers waiting to get in the park this morning. I got there around 9:30 a.m. and there were already people staking their spots.

The campers above must be fairly experienced, considering the way they suspended their cooler to protect it from raccoons (surely not bears!).

Is this an old Airstream?

Beautiful lagoons and bayous near the observation tower.
How wonderful to have Ft. Pickens open again!


Spiderwort? How can such a lovely flower have such an unattractive name?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birding 101

One of my goals this year is to learn more about our shore birds. I know gulls from terns most of the time, and plovers from sanderlings, but I would like to be able to identify them more specifically. I'm not sure when it became so important for me to distinguish a Wilson's Plover from a Semipalmated Plover, but at some point my love of the island kept growing to include all the things I see around me on my walks.

I didn't think identifying shore birds would be such a difficult task, but the darn little things keep changing plumage throughout the season! Oh the irony, I'm becoming a bird lady. Justice for old Mr. Shaver and his birding lectures I giggled through in Vacation Bible School as a little girl when he tried to teach us bird whistles. Serves me right.

Rain moves in

The wind has died down a bit more today, but clouds continue to roll in from the east as an "extratropical" storm moves into the Gulf of Mexico. We may see the surf kick up more by tomorrow, bumping us up to a red flag day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Life's lessons

Watching this gull as he planted his feet and turned beak-first into some particularly high gusts this afternoon, I observed another one of life's lessons. When things get rough, face 'em straight on...and pray things settle down quick!


"Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Wuss that I am, I dislike going out on the beach when the wind is steady around 20 mph and gusting up to 30! My camera doesn't like it very well either.

So today I stayed inside and off the beach to avoid microdermabrasion. I've been enjoying the beautiful orchid my sweet stepdaughter sent me for Mother's Day and decided to take a few photos to share with you!

So delicate...

and loaded with creamy white blooms. Hopefully I'll still have a few left when they visit next month.

What a lucky lady I am!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fiddler crabs

The fiddler crabs are out en masse at Range Point again! If you approach very quietly you can hear the clack-clack-clacking of their tiny claws.

Nice try, little fellow. I mighta missed ya except for that huge claw. Cool camouflage technique though.

You may read more about these fascinating little creatures by clicking HERE

Dinner and a view

Even rain and cloudy conditions don't ruin the view from Portofino. It just adds a little drama to the scene.

My friend, Nancy, made a fabulous dinner for us last night. As the evening progressed we watched the waves settle somewhat as northerly winds swept across the Gulf. Wonderful dinner, wonderful company, wonderful view... life is good.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Along the shore

"There is a great solitude about such a shore...We can never pierce its infinite mystery- we may only wander, awed and spell-bound, on the outer fringe of it."

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874 - 1942)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Portofino water park

I walked past Portofino a couple of times this week on my way to Range Point and noticed that they have a very nice set up with slides, trampolines and water volleyball this year.

For the more adventurous, Tiki Island Golf & Games has their giant water slide (shown below) set up on the north side of the island between Tropical Waves and Soundside Market.

I've also heard Tiki Island has a special combo package which allows you to enjoy the slide as long as you want, then head over to play miniature golf for as many times as you want!

It's nice to see more activities available for kids on Pensacola Beach this summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


From the Gulf of Mexico...

to Santa Rosa Sound, it was a picture perfect day on Pensacola Beach.

I love taking walks on days like this - low 80's and a nice breeze, big fluffy clouds in the sky and the surf kickin' up. Just perfect.