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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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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06. May 2012 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 22: NYSA Baseball · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday was one of the baseball-iest days I’d ever experienced.  Each of the boys had their own baseball games during the day, then we headed out to Pensacola and enjoyed seeing our new local AA minor league baseball team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, in their brand new stadium right on Pensacola Bay!  More on the Blue Wahoos later.

Our boys here play for Navarre Youth Sports Association’s baseball league.  As is typical in Florida, they’re serious about sports here.  And they start those boys EARLY!  Our own sons had never played baseball until we moved here, and it turns out there are several hundred boys playing baseball here, and several hundred more playing soccer in the same club.  And come this fall, ALL those boys (except my two) are playing football.

In this particular club (and I’m not sure who the national level organization is that this club now follows — last year it was Dizzy Dean, but this year it isn’t) the boys’ teams are simply named after the coach’s favorite major league team.  Last year Jacob was on the White Sox, this year he’s on the Tigers.  His current coach is indeed from eastern Michigan.  Timmy is on the Braves and he couldn’t be more excited about that.

I captured some pretty good pictures of the boys at their games yesterday.  They’re both respectfully among the youngest on their teams, and this is Timmy’s first year playing baseball.  It’s remarkable seeing their skills develop over the course of the season!

When my boys' teams are the "visitors" here, I'm sitting on the side that gives me a good view of the batter. Here's Timmy hitting a foul ball. He's become a VERY good hitter this season...

Two hours later, we were at Jacob's game. I haven't taken many pictures this season because I always fear I'm going to miss something while looking at the screen on the back of the camera. And in this case, I took this picture right before he hit this ball for a single! Do you see the ball in motion? It's hovering between the third baseman and the shortstop.

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06. April 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 8.5*: Kayaking! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

*I’ve had to do some re-numbering with my Florida Discoveries posts, so instead of re-numbering everything, I just stuck a “0.5” in there.

How many of you remember this video from Sesame Street?

For years and years and years this was my perception of kayaking.  Being sealed into this fiberglass tube-thingy as if you have no legs and navigating river rapids.  And of course being able to flip around like this guy (allegedly Jim Henson) does at the end.

Last week as a surprise for my sister and nephews, we borrowed a 2+ man ocean kayak from our friend/neighbor/former commander Mike D.  This is different than the traditional, competition kayak that I was more familiar with (but had never done).

I’d been canoeing many times — Girl Scouting, in college, in Louisiana on the Sabine River — but kayaking is somewhat different, and in many cases it was easier.

The first day we took the kayak out to Navarre Beach, we were mortified at how tall the waves were in the Gulf (it was chilly and windy), so we packed everything up and ran about 500′ across the parking lot to the Santa Rosa Sound side where things were much calmer!  We all took turns taking short trips out.

After my sister’s family left last weekend, we took a trip to the beach again, this time so Dave and the kids could try out the kayak.  The gulf side was nice and calm, and we all got a chance to paddle out towards the dolphins!

Here are pictures from our two kayaking trips.

I believe it was a 130″ long kayak (just under 11′).  So here’s how it looked packed into our suddenly-small-looking SUV.  Luckily we were only transporting it about 5 miles, or 10 minutes drive.
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23. March 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

It’s a 12.3 mile drive on U.S. 98 between our neighborhood in Navarre, and Dave’s base to our east. That road is a nightmare a lot of the time; it’s the only east-west artery along the Gulf Coast connecting Pensacola with Fort Walton Beach, so the majority of businesses set up on this road, and it’s extremely congested. Dave probably has a dozen traffic lights on that 12.3 mile stretch (perhaps I’ll count it the next time I make the drive and report back to you).

As I wrote about recently, living on the Gulf Coast opens up a new world of flora and fauna. This being our first springtime here, it’s been a surprise every week seeing what does grow in this area. We’d spent time on the East Coast of Florida in Melbourne years ago, and went from there to central North Carolina. The differences in flora between the two locations was profound.

This area seems to be a blend between the two. Banana trees will grow, but so will bradford pear trees. This week brought out the wisteria.

For those familiar with this invasive species, wisteria typically spreads their vines very aggressively, and many American cultivars don’t flower until 10-15 years after first seeded.

That being said, most of the wisteria I’m seeing in this area are in undeveloped plots of land. In my neighborhood itself, there aren’t a lot of wisteria. Most of what I’m seeing is along that 12.3 mile stretch of U.S. 98. In these photos below, the wisteria vine has been allowed to grow for several years without any pruning, and it’s growing up the telephone pole and draping itself over other large trees.

I also noticed that this particular one wasn’t as purple as others I’ve seen around. I’ve seen one very pretty plant in someone’s front yard in my neighborhood, the only one that appears to have been planted in a particular spot “on purpose”. It’s clearly well-pruned every year, and it looks very attractive. I haven’t gotten a picture of that one, I don’t want to freak out the homeowners.

I wanted to also discuss a book I had read with a book club I was in when we were living in North Carolina.  But I can’t remember the title or author!  One of the “characters” in the book was the centuries-old wisteria on the family’s property.  It told the reader a history of the protagonist family…I thought it was clever and creative.  If anyone knows the name of the book I’m talking about, please remind me!

I found the name of the book!  “The Floatplane Notebooks” by Clyde Edgerton!


This is a huge sprawling wisteria vine!

I wish this blog had smell-o-vision…they smell very very nice.  Not as nice as lilacs or honeysuckle or good roses, but still nice.

I wish I had my good camera with me, but I’m impress with how these iPhone photos came out.

Extreme closeup!

Like kudzu, wisteria is an Asian-originated vine of the pea family that grows VERY fast!