15. July 2013 · Comments Off on Pensacola Blue Wahoos “Field of Dreams” Experience · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
A fine finish to a great baseball season. Our youngest son's baseball team celebrated with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

A fine finish to a great baseball season. Our youngest son’s baseball team celebrated with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

Just before the boys left Florida for good, T’s baseball team enjoyed an evening with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. I had written about the Blue Wahoos games in a previous post in 2012.

The kids got to take part in the team’s “Field of Dreams” experience, which was a block of seats together, dinner, getting introduced as a “featured guest” at the game, and a chance to hang out with the Blue Wahoos players before the game, either by singing the national anthem with them, or else running out to the field with the players as the players’ names are called.

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27. March 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 41: Navarre Beach Marine Science Station · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station is run by Santa Rosa County and the Santa Rosa County Schools. Its mission is to promote environmental awareness through education of the county's marine ecosystem.

The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station started in August 2009 and is run by Santa Rosa County and the Santa Rosa County School District. Its mission is to promote environmental awareness through education of the county’s marine ecosystem.

Just before the kids’ Spring Break, I had the chance to partially chaperone for Timmy’s class trip to the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. My sons have taken field trips with their classes every school year they’ve been living here, and I suspect it’s an annual tradition for all the Santa Rosa County School District kids who live on the coast.

Nostalgic note: When I was growing up in Norfolk in the 1980s, my school system also had a Marine Science Center. I’m not sure if the program still exists, but I fondly remember an annual field trip to Crossroads Elementary School, where we’d spend the day petting horseshoe crabs, learning about turtles, flounder, the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and our community’s nautical history. 

The Science Station is really close, it shares a parking lot with the Navarre Beach Park beach access that our family uses quite often, only about 10 minutes from our house. It started in 2009 after the Navarre Beach State Park property was turned over to the county after suffering extensive hurricane damage in recent years.

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26. March 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 40: The McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day Run · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,
Just before race time!

Just before race time!

A couple weeks ago we took part in another Florida Panhandle tradition: the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K Prediction Run on March 9th.

This is a race that rewards not how fast you can run, but how close you finish to a time you predict at registration time. It happens to be considered the nation’s largest prediction run. It’s also a race that welcomes crazy costumes and serves Irish stew, beer and the restaurant’s signature drink, the Irish Wake, for 3 hours after the first person crosses the finish line.

Our whole family was registered to do the race, but Timmy was sick the week before, so his baseball coach offered to take him to the Navarre Baseball opening ceremonies and we were able to meet him in time for his game. Jacob was excited to take part in the run!

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16. March 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 39: Sea World Orlando · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
During the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, we played hookey off-resort and went to Sea World.

During the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, we played hooky off-resort and went to Sea World.

On our weekend trip to Orlando at the end of February, I was hesitant to invest in one-day Disney World tickets. The solution came easily to us. Thanks to the Sea World Entertainment Hero Salute program, military members and up to three dependents can get one day’s admission per year to one of the company’s parks: Sea World, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place.

We have taken advantage of this program many times, from Sea World when Jacob was a baby, to Sesame Place twice.

We met up our dear friends Andy and Suzy with their kids, who we joined on our last family trip to Walt Disney World in 2011 and Universal Studios in 2012. We absolutely LOVE hanging out with them and we’re so happy they took the time to join us last month. We spent the day before the half marathon at Sea World.

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10. February 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 38: Our Day as Parrotheads · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,


Dave and I went to a Jimmy Buffett concert last week! The Pensacola show was at the tail end of the Lounging at the Lagoon tour.

Cross that one off our Florida bucket list!

We honestly didn’t know what to expect. We read about folks tailgating hours before the concert, but since the concert was on a Tuesday, and we’d have to deal with babysitting on a school night, we elected to pack our camp stove and take some marinated chicken to grill.

Dave and I also packed plenty to drink in our cooler: Margarita, whiskey sours and plenty of beer.

We left as soon as the boys came home from school, and arrived at the Pensacola Bay Center at 4pm. Four hours till showtime. We got pretty good parking, with the venue less than a 5 minute walk away. There were plenty of things to do, lots of people-watching!

Everyone dresses in tropical apparel; Dave wore one of his numerous Hawaiian shirts with flip flops, and I wore a Hawaiian dress.

I didn’t get good photos of the concert itself, but the Parrotheads of Pensacola did and put their album online here.

Our awesome tailgate setup!

Our awesome tailgate setup!

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10. February 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 37: Navarre Beach Mardi Gras Parade · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Last year we went to Mobile and experienced some pretty serious Mardi Gras-ness. This year we kept it local, so here’s some pictures from the Navarre Beach Mardi Gras parade, sponsored by the Navarre Krewe of Jesters.

You had to get to the route quite early, since they close the bridge from the mainland to Navarre Beach 30 minutes before the parade started. We got a great viewing spot towards the end of the parade route.  I thought it was the beginning of the route, oops. Which mean the beads were being rationed by this point. That’s okay, nothing will beat how much we got last year.

Also, we didn’t realize how many people brought their pets to the parade! There’s so little around here that welcomes pets, we didn’t even think to ask.

Our waiting spot for the parade. We arrived 90 minutes early, we had great viewing.

Our waiting spot for the parade. We arrived 90 minutes early, we had great viewing. We brought plenty of drinks and snacks.


This is a very brave gentleman. Very friendly too.

This is a very brave gentleman. Very friendly too.

He was happy to take pictures with everyone.

He was happy to take pictures with everyone.

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24. January 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 36: Pensacola Dog Fanciers Association Agility Trials · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

The first week of January, I caught a status update on Facebook from the blog Pensacola with Kids. It’s a great Facebook page to follow when you’re looking for stuff to do on weekends around here.

They suggested the four-day-long Pensacola Dog Fanciers Association Agility Trials that started on Thursday of that week and lasted through the weekend (January 3-6, 2013). With our boys’ affinity for border collies, this was a no brainer.

It was a fun, super-laid-back event. We were very sad that we didn’t bring Howie, dogs were welcome to come as spectator. There were a few rules about keeping the visiting dogs from distracting the dogs, but Howie would have been perfectly fine.

We had a fun time! The kids LOVED watching the dogs compete, especially the more novice dogs that were VERY easily distracted…one of them saw a “friend” across the arena and completely STOPPED his course run to go and visit.

I took our telephoto lens with our new camera, but it’s clear that I have a lot to learn about our camera. I had a hard time capturing the super-fast dogs, but it’s a work in progress.

Here are some pictures from our day….


Timmy saw a friend from school and the two of them hung out most of the time.


What you’re looking at here are the handlers walking the course, like a rehearsal.


This kind woman was the emcee for the event, and in between events she brought animals up for the kids to pet.


Melt my heart! I switched to my 55-200mm telephoto lens and could get these detailed photos while still sitting up in the stands.




I have a lot to learn about photographing action. This is what most of my pictures look like of the dogs in motion. I fiddled with the exposure and f-stop somewhat, but I didn’t do much better than this.


That border collie was CRAZY fast!




My favorite of all the action pictures.


When the dog goes through the ring at the end of the course, the timer stops.

01. January 2013 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 35.5: LEGOLAND Florida · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,
Timmy's trying to be a Minifigure here. We love our funny guy!

Timmy’s trying to be a Minifigure here. We love our funny guy!

I can’t believe I forgot to post about Legoland! <Facepalm!>

We surprised the boys with a brief trip the day after Christmas, on our drive home from spending the holiday with Dave’s family in Tampa. Instead of writing a bunch of dialogue about it here, I will drop the Google+ photo album here and you can enjoy the captions. Enjoy!

07. October 2012 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 35: Seacrest Wolf Preserve, Chipley, FL (and other similar facilities) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Earlier this year a Facebook friend (a friend from my childhood, actually) had visited the Seacrest Wolf Preserve on a recent weekend trip down from her Air Force home in Montgomery, AL.  The pictures of her with a wolf puppy were simply PRECIOUS.

For those who didn’t know, our oldest son Jacob is a HUGE fan of wolves. He always gravitates towards wolves and other canis-type animals when given a choice. And he has quite the collection of stuffed wolves also.

With some simple research I figured this would make a great surprise for Jacob, especially for his birthday in September! Seacrest is the only wolf preserve in the southeast. There are others around the country, such as in Colorado, New Jersey and Ohio, but nothing this far south.  We were fortunate to live less than 100 miles away.

The Seacrest Wolf Preserve only offers tours to the general public on Saturdays (but private tours can be arranged for groups), and our September calendar was pretty full on Saturdays, between Jacob’s birthday party and my being away for two Saturdays in a row for my Air Force Reserve work.

So we made the arrangements for this past Saturday and loaded the kids in the car at 9:30am and told them “It’s a surprise!”

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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.

View Larger Map
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.