Our friends and neighbors, the Scotts, took our family out on their boat last weekend.  It was so kind of them to offer; their boat seats 4 adults and 2 kids pretty well, but no more passengers than that can fit, so we had to find a weekend that didn’t involve other visitors.

We here thought we were going to have a visitor this weekend, my girlfriend Susan from Virginia, so we had said “No, thank you.” to the invitation at first. Susan canceled at the last minute because of Issac impacting her return trip. So then we were able to fit in a trip just before hunkering down and preparing for Issac.

Michael and Cathy gave us a choice: would we like to go east to Crab Island or west towards Pensacola Pass.  Cathy told us there was an area similar to Destin’s Crab Island towards the west at the mouth of Pensacola Bay.  Since we had been to Crab Island before, and I’m such a sucker for new experiences, we elected to go west.

We put the boat in the water at about 10am, and it took about 90 minutes to get to our location.  The trip took us past Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Pickens and much of NAS Pensacola.  When we docked, we were in view of the Pensacola Lighthouse and the Museum of Naval Aviation.  The map below shows where we were — on the shore just west of the mouth of the Pensacola Bay, along a channel called Pensacola Pass.

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When Cathy was trying to tell me about this place, she wasn’t really sure of the name.  She and I jokingly called it “The Crab Island-Like Place near Pensacola” when we were planning.  We asked a couple people who were near our docked location about the name, and we heard two names: “Fort McRee” and “Sand Island”.

When I looked online, I found a forum post that provided several other names: Admiral’s Island, Dog Island, Pelican Island.  Nonetheless, it was a lovely place to dock the boat and play.

It was a very Floridian day for us!  Enjoy some pictures (mostly of the kids).

Backing the boat in at the Navarre Beach boat ramp.

Ready to climb in!

Dave had shotgun!

Timmy enjoyed the ride. He seemed obsessed with the boat’s wake for much of the trip.

Heading under Pensacola Beach Bridge.

Once you’re west of Pensacola Beach Bridge, you’ve transitioned from being in Santa Rosa Sound to being in Pensacola Bay. Then we were quite surrounded by sailboats most of the way across the bay.  You can also see the chop on the bay.

A view of where we were headed at Fort McRee. We docked just to the right of that center boat. Not nearly as crowded as Crab Island. Not nearly as wild and crazy either!

Timmy wasted no time leaping into the water as soon as we anchored.

Jacob was asking “Can I just jump in?”  The water was REALLY shallow, so after plenty of warning about that, we let him do it.

That is an ICE CREAM BOAT! Seriously! It plays the music, and you wave and it pulls right up near you.  And of course we let the kids get ice cream. I couldn’t resist this concept!

Happy Jacob with his bomb pop.

And Timmy was happy with his Spongebob pop.

One thing about hanging out with the Scotts — they know how to pack for an outing! We all brought plenty of drinks and snacks! The kids discovered the beauty of beef jerky.

After a couple hours at Fort McRee, we headed to Pensacola Beach and docked at Peg Leg Pete’s for a late lunch before heading back to Navarre.  Tip: 3pm is a very good time to go to Peg Leg Pete’s.

A gift for a GeekMom writers’ gift exchange last June.

We and our house is doing just fine with Issac.  It’s no worse than tropical storm-strength here, but my neighbors and our family are all puzzled by this dull roar that we’re hearing outside.

In the meantime, we are all stuck in the house, and the kids are off of school both today and tomorrow.  This is a quiet week for me, some Air War College reading, and preparing the family for this weekend’s trip to Atlanta for a Braves/Phillies game and Dragon*Con.

I had just realized today that I didn’t share a craft I had done this past June!  So here we go!

The ribbon wreath.

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26. August 2012 · Comments Off on Issac: Thoughts on Hurricane Preparation · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

While everyone’s minds are on preparing for the storm itself, something many folks don’t think about life for the week-or-so after the storm!

I’m slowly working through our checklists for getting the house prepared for the storm.  I just got back from the store picking up some preemptive supplies, and I filled up a spare 5-gallon gas can that we have.  I think we’re about as ready as we can be with the current forecast information.

For those new to the hurricane-life, folks may not realize how post-apocalyptic things get in an area recently ravaged by a storm.  After hurricanes France and Jeanne in 2004, during which our house suffered VERY minimal damage, we were more traumatized by how things were in the week after the storms hit. More »

26. August 2012 · Comments Off on Issac Preparation · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

Come on! I know you aren’t the only one who thought this!

Yes, we are preparing for Issac.  We’ve been through this routine before — in 2004 with numerous storms, and we’ve already had a couple near misses here.

Dave, the kids and I took care of a lot of stuff last evening (after a wonderful afternoon boating with our friends the Scotts), to include burning the enormous pile of palm fronds and branches that had been sitting much of the summer in a corner of our backyard.

Today I will be attempting a trip to my local Walmart just for some groceries.  I’ll toss our 10 gallon gas can into the car just in case.  Although Facebook friends are saying that only premium gas is left in our community.

The kids don’t really know what to expect.  The 2004 storms impacted us right around Jacob’s 2nd birthday, and I was pregnant with Timmy at the time.  For Hurricane Jeanne, while I was evacuated with my Air Force unit, Dave stayed home with Jacob and Howie…and Jacob slept through the whole thing.  Dave says he doesn’t wish staying home in a Category 3 storm on anyone!

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Our family likes to go to the beach on weekends.  It’s Dave’s and my little indulgence on Sunday mornings these days: we head out around 10am and come home in time for a late lunch around 1pm.

You never know how the Gulf is going to behave on a given trip to the beach.  Sometimes there’s a ton of seaweed, sometimes there are jellyfish, sometimes the water is really deep at our favorite spot, sometimes it’s really shallow.

On our last trip, two weekends ago, the seashells were out in force and we enjoyed collecting several.

The kids have brought home buckets full of small seashells before, and they’ve mainly sat in our garage awaiting an idea.  This time the kids begged me to help them do something more fruitful than have them sit in the garage.

So I offered to buy the kids a vase and they could fill the vase with the shells.  I went to Walmart and took a look at the glass vases in the craft/candles section and thought to myself “That’s going to take forever”.

I found a hurricane glass and chose a sand-colored candle to add to the glass.  The kids filled the hurricane glass with the shells and it now sits in the bathroom to match their surf-shop bathroom look.

First we washed the shells and sat them out in the sun to dry.

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21. August 2012 · Comments Off on First Day of School 2012 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Enjoy a nice picture of the boys just before they headed out for the school bus yesterday.  The boys both have great teachers this year and both have been reporting good days so far.

Jacob’s happy to have many of his friends from last year’s class in his 4th grade class again this year.

Timmy reports that his favorite thing about 2nd grade is being allowed to sit at the back of the bus.

The best I could do in 21 takes....

The best I could do in 21 takes….

I used to have a nifty collage capability in iPhoto, but with an upgrade earlier this year I can’t do the nice gridded pictures the way it used to be. But here’s an alternative showing some of our takes, ha ha!

15. August 2012 · Comments Off on More Camera Fun…in Humid Florida · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

This is my favorite of the batch, really capturing the rainbow colors as the sunlight refracted through the ice clouds. The blueness of the sky really comes through also.

On Tuesday morning at about 8:30am when I let the dog out in the backyard, I saw a thunderstorm building towards the east near Hurlburt Field and Fort Walton Beach.  The rising sun was behind the storm clouds and shining through some ice clouds, causing some pretty diffractions.  This gave me some good opportunity to play with our new camera.

I ran inside, grabbed the camera, ran back outside, uncapped the lens…and everything fogged up.


This is an issue here.  Bring a 75F camera outside into warmer 100% humidity and you will get condensation on the lenses.  After last week’s adventures at the butterfly house with the fogging lenses, I had ordered some anti-fog lens cloths from Amazon (along with a spare battery and some other maintenance supplies).  I hadn’t received that order by Tuesday morning (it arrived 6 hours later), so all I could do was stand outside and wait for the lens to clear up.

I was getting impatient, hoping the clouds would continue to cooperate for me…it took about 3-4 minutes before I could get clear pictures.

What I was attempting to photograph were “iridescent clouds“, which occur when ice crystal clouds are between your eyes and the sun.  Learn more about atmospheric optic phenomena here.  There’s all kinds of great stuff to see!

This storm moved east of us, but later that morning we had our own thunderstorm come in from the Pensacola area.  Right after I took these pictures I had gone out for a run (with the kids on their bikes) and we had come home right when it started raining.

Enjoy some of the color variations I could get from my viewing spot in my backyard.  No post-processing was done with these pictures, they’re coming to you straight off the SD card.  The first picture is my favorite of the batch, zoomed in…

The full storm, this is facing east in my backyard. You can see the ice clouds on the right.

Playing with the settings some. I think this was the silhouette setting.


Low saturation.

The refractive effects have nearly dissipated…as the thicker clouds began to dominate.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off on Lacewing and Slime Mold · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,


Yeah…um…I had a good old time today photographing assorted stuff with the new camera while I was doing lawn work.  First of all, this lacewing has been sitting all day on our door from the garage into the house.

I’m starting to dabble a little with the post-processing that iPhoto offers.  Dave has numerous other options in his Paintshop Elements but I haven’t used that at all.  The lacewing pictured here is simply my hitting the “Enhance” button.

The next picture is of some “slime mold” that’s been in spots all over my front lawn, due to the volumes of rain we’ve been getting.  Sunday was a really nice day, the family got to visit the beach.  It was the first day in over a week that thunderstorms didn’t chase us indoors.  As a consequence, though, my lawn is covered in mushrooms, dead spots due to grass root rot and this spotted moldiness.  Click in the link in the caption below to learn more about this stuff.  There’s nothing I can do about it but let it run its course.

I fiddled with the more fine tuning features in iPhoto to make this picture greener than the original picture.

Learn more about grass slime mold through this Ohio State Extension service flyer.

12. August 2012 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 33: A Visit to Tallahassee · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

After a 3 hour car ride, the kids were ready to do some running around!

It had been on my to-do list all summer: to take the boys to Tallahassee to visit the Museum of Florida History and see the Capitol Complex.  It’d also be a chance to try out my new camera in some new settings.  We had put it off numerous times, and last Friday — our last Friday before school orientation — we made it out the door nice and early for the three-hour drive.

Except I forgot a critical planning factor: the one-hour time change.  So we were out the door at 8am and I was thinking we’d get there in time to enjoy lunch somewhere and then get in 4-5 hours worth of sightseeing.  We were on the outskirts of Tallahassee when I noticed that the clock on our truck was reading about 11:55am instead of 10:55am and I thought to myself, “Oh crap…”

So we blasted through a Taco Bell drive-through just off of Florida State’s campus and then as the kids ate I negotiated my way downtown and parked in a garage next door to the Museum.

This is a nice overhead shot of the Gray Building from the 22nd floor of the New Capitol building…the museum is only on the ground floor of this building.

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