Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ft. Pickens National Seashore Campground

We left Pensacola Beach Monday and came here to Ft. Pickens campground in the National Seashore. It's quite a contrast, and while we initially tried to get reservations here for our first stop, turns out it was better to start in Pensacola Beach. There it was right on the strip of bars, restaurants, hotels and condos and it was quite active, with lots of people on the streets and beaches, and live music playing loudly at some of the bars until quite late. And we were in a fairly upscale commercial campground, but it was the only place we could find with a spot right on the water, and Trisha really wanted to be able to wake up on the water on Easter morning. As it turned out, we were glad we were close to stores since we forgot some things and needed to get some more supplies. But, boy are we glad we were able to find open slots here. Out here it is totally undeveloped, almost desolate, but the dunes, sea oats and pristine shorelines are just spectacular. Reminds us both of the times we spent on Cumberland Island. There were relatively few people on the beach and you could see forever. Just so peaceful, sitting out there for several hours yesterday afternoon--with naps, of course! And the campground is so much like the national park campgrounds we tented in when we first got married and were stationed in DC in the Army. We used to go to the Shenandoahs just about every weekend and here is very similar--lots of tenters, families and groups having fun around campfires, and lots of different types of RVs, pop-ups, truck campers, etc. Quite dramatic to see the aftermath of the storms of the last couple of years--still some chunks of asphalt in the sand where the road was torn up, but volunteers, staff and some contractors have removed over 3000 cubic yards of asphalt chunks left after roads were destroyed by Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis in 2004 and 2005. Also they are continuing the oil spill cleanup from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Hundreds of dead trees in various stages of decay are left from the storms as well, awaiting the schedue of control burns to clear them. In the campground atop a couple of tall dead trees we've seen osprey carefully watching over their nests. Encountered a black snake along the road on our walk this morning--Trisha had been complaining about my fast pace until then--I had to almost run to catch up with her after she spied that snake!

We've been walking for about an hour every day since we've been gone, and here where it's flat it's a good deal easier than at home. Of course seeing the Gulf and hearing the waves and having cool breezes makes it nice too! Found a pedometer/GPS app for the phone and based on today's walk we figure we've been doing between 3 and 4 miles every day. Then we came back and just chilled here at the campsite for most of the day. Around noon while napping out by the RV, was awakened by the screaming jet engines of the Blue Angels, out training and practicing--what an incredible sight! Tried to get some pics but it was tough. I love watching these amazing pilots fly so fast, so close--they were working on formations and maneuvers, and some basically vertical dives that took your breath away just watching, and then they all started letting out multicolored contrails. A lady who's been here for a week or so told us they are scheduled to practice again tomorrow, and she told us where to go for the best vantage point, so we can't wait for that.
After we see the Blue Angels tomorrow we'll leave here and head for Gulf Shores, AL, and stay in a state park campground there. Several places to see along the way. We'll decide once we get there how long we'll stay, but for now, just spending much of the day relaxing is soooooo nice!

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