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.

From 2011 01 23 Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola

This past weekend my parents came to visit, mainly for my youngest’s birthday, but I’m sure that Dad was super-excited to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola.

On Sunday after breakfast, we ventured the 30 miles west and arrived at around 11am.  We left at 3:45pm!  Everyone had a great time!  There was so much to see.

The museum is on the Pensacola Naval Air Station itself, which means you have to pass through a checkpoint.  The guard will check for an ID — such as a drivers’ license — and if you just say “I’m visiting the museum” you’ll be let through with minimal fuss.  You might be subject to a random search.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you!  It’s free of charge, always a bonus!

I had visited the museum with my friend Paul (of CrashPlan fame) in December 1998 when I was TDY* to Hurlburt Field for some training with my AF Reserve job.  There’s a lot of wonderful history in this museum, from the birth of Naval aviation in 1911.  They have several originals of “first” aircraft (like the first seaplane to cross the Atlantic), and they also have a collection of “last” aircraft, such as the last F-14 Tomcat to fly in combat.

In those short two years since I was there last, there were many changes to the museum, all for the better!

First of all, the museum made improvements at the front entryway, adding a nice timeline of all aircraft carriers, and they added a lovely children’s play area.

Also, we were able to take a bus tour of the “flightline” section of the museum, where aircraft were parked awaiting restoration. The bus driver/narrator told some great stories of each of the aircraft!

These aircraft parts were recently retrieved from the Great Lakes!
From 2011 01 23 Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola

Another big change was the addition of the “Hangar One” area.  This opened in mid-January 2011 and nearly doubled the indoor display space for aircraft!

????

Up above is the USS Kitty Hawk’s “Homeward Bound Pennant” which was flown on its way home from Japan for decommissioning in 2008.  

???? I took this picture below of the sign explaining how the “Homeward Bound” pennant works, but my Dad (a 30-year Navy veteran) explains is best:

“The red-and-white portion (the “fly”) of the Homeward Bound pennant is traditionally one foot long for each member of the ship’s crew.  If the air wing is included, this would be over 5000 feet!  The number of stars in the blue field is dependent on the length of the deployment.  The pennant is flown during the return leg of any deployment over a year in length.  Again traditionally, after arriving back in the States, the pennant is cut up and the blue portion is given to the ship’s CO.  The fly is cut into one-foot pieces and a section given to each crew member,

In Kitty Hawk’s case, she was “permanently” forward deployed, essentially home ported, at Yokosuka, Japan, since the decommissioning of USS Constellation.  The USA has maintained a carrier based there since the 1950s.  USS George Washington’s there now, the first nuclear-powered ship allowed by Japan to be based there.”

27. January 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 3: National Museum of Naval Aviation · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , ,
From 2011 01 23 Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola

This past weekend my parents came to visit, mainly for my youngest’s birthday, but I’m sure that Dad was super-excited to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola.

On Sunday after breakfast, we ventured the 30 miles west and arrived at around 11am.  We left at 3:45pm!  Everyone had a great time!  There was so much to see.

The museum is on the Pensacola Naval Air Station itself, which means you have to pass through a checkpoint.  The guard will check for an ID — such as a drivers’ license — and if you just say “I’m visiting the museum” you’ll be let through with minimal fuss.  You might be subject to a random search.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you!  It’s free of charge, always a bonus!

I had visited the museum with my friend Paul (of CrashPlan fame) in December 1998 when I was TDY* to Hurlburt Field for some training with my AF Reserve job.  There’s a lot of wonderful history in this museum, from the birth of Naval aviation in 1911.  They have several originals of “first” aircraft (like the first seaplane to cross the Atlantic), and they also have a collection of “last” aircraft, such as the last F-14 Tomcat to fly in combat.

In those short two years since I was there last, there were many changes to the museum, all for the better!

First of all, the museum made improvements at the front entryway, adding a nice timeline of all aircraft carriers, and they added a lovely children’s play area.

Also, we were able to take a bus tour of the “flightline” section of the museum, where aircraft were parked awaiting restoration. The bus driver/narrator told some great stories of each of the aircraft!

These aircraft parts were recently retrieved from the Great Lakes!
From 2011 01 23 Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola

Another big change was the addition of the “Hangar One” area.  This opened in mid-January 2011 and nearly doubled the indoor display space for aircraft!

????

Up above is the USS Kitty Hawk’s “Homeward Bound Pennant” which was flown on its way home from Japan for decommissioning in 2008.  

???? I took this picture below of the sign explaining how the “Homeward Bound” pennant works, but my Dad (a 30-year Navy veteran) explains is best:

“The red-and-white portion (the “fly”) of the Homeward Bound pennant is traditionally one foot long for each member of the ship’s crew.  If the air wing is included, this would be over 5000 feet!  The number of stars in the blue field is dependent on the length of the deployment.  The pennant is flown during the return leg of any deployment over a year in length.  Again traditionally, after arriving back in the States, the pennant is cut up and the blue portion is given to the ship’s CO.  The fly is cut into one-foot pieces and a section given to each crew member,

In Kitty Hawk’s case, she was “permanently” forward deployed, essentially home ported, at Yokosuka, Japan, since the decommissioning of USS Constellation.  The USA has maintained a carrier based there since the 1950s.  USS George Washington’s there now, the first nuclear-powered ship allowed by Japan to be based there.”