Tuesday, March 25, 2014

At the fort.
So, it wasn’t until yesterday, day three of BeachVac14, that I discovered I had not packed myself any britches (yes, I use the word “britches” as a general catch-all for anything worn as pants, shorts, sweats, jeans, etc. My friends like to make fun of me because the word is not common within the traditional southern vernacular, but when Hg was a little baby, I began using the word b/c it was so much more fun to say to her than “pants” for a little baby. My kids use it now and think nothing of it. So, when I say I did not pack myself any britches, I did not pack any shorts or pants or jeans or sweats or anything to be worn on the bottom half of my body as such). I only have the yoga pants that I was wearing traveling here, my dress pants that I packed for church, my swim shorts, and my favorite cookie monster pj britches. When we got up Saturday morning, I put on my swim shorts and stayed in those until I put on my pj’s. Then Sunday, I wore my dress pants all day for both services and shopping in between. So, when we finally got going on Monday morning, having decided on the Gulf Breeze Zoo as our destination since it was cold, overcast with rain threatening, I laid out everyone’s clothes and made my discovery - no britches for mama. (sigh) I had already washed clothes each night, so the yoga pants were clean, so I just wore them, and washed
 them again tonight with everything else. The zoo was a wonderful surprise! I am not a zoo gal, but this was a perfect size, both in acreage and in the amount of animals to see. The kids (when I say kids, I mean Abbey and Vic) could feed any animal that was interested along the way, either by the animal
leaning over the fence - including the giraffe - or the kid throwing the pellets in the fence - both seemed acceptable. The budgerigar, little parakeets, were popular with us. We could go in the bird house and feed them off of sticks. So, that was a lot of fun and I’m not a bird gal. After that we drove all the way into Destin, Florida, so that we could eat at Mellow Mushroom. Pizza is our one thing that we all agree on, and someone had given Eli a MM gift card so we had saved it for a special time. Then we wrapped up the day with a few minutes in the heated pool. I discovered that Caleb so desperately enjoys trying to go under water, but has a tendency to take in a big breath while he is under. Good grief! I was so terrified, my legs shook for
several minutes after I finally got him straightened up. Kids can drown from the amount of water they take into their lungs, not just from being submerged in water. I was really worried about him because it took several puking an
 coughing efforts to get him to be able to exhale and inhale normally (he did this twice before I finally forbade him to go under until he had formal instruction on how to learn to do it right). I will have to watch him closely because he thinks he can do things that he can’t (what movie is that from, do you know?). Today, the day was clear with a gorgeous sun spreading over it, but the wind was blistering both because of the sand it blasts you with, and the temp was right at 60 for most of the day. So, we knew about the wind warning, and after an experience during college that pitted wind and sand against me, I was not eager to jump in the ring again. So, we once again opted for a non-beach adventure. When we were in Gulf
 Shores two years ago, during Eli’s Memphis treatments, we visited the naval aviation museum in Pensacola, Florida, but had vastly underestimated the size and interest that we would have. We also did not realize that the Blue Angels practiced there weekly. So, we had already planned to go back to the museum this time and try to catch a practice. We are not Blue Angels groupies, so I was not really up on Blue Angels news. I checked the museum website that said they practiced on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cool, we want to go fishing one day, it’ll be too windy on Tuesday, so let’s do Museum on Tuesday and fishing on Wednesday. So, we travel the hour it takes. We had been-there-done-that with all the planes, then find out that the Blue Angels do not start practice here until Wednesday. They have been practicing at their winter
base in California and arrived in town Monday to be ready for practice here on Wednesday. Furthermore, after some googling (because I KNOW I saw on the museum website that they practiced Tuesdays and Wednesdays), I find today there is even a news story in USA Today about the acrobatic team having been grounded over the last year because of federal budget cuts. So, they are just now kicking off a full schedule of shows. Looks like the government underestimated how much money the naval crew brings in. So, we missed them again, but the girls did try out a Blue Angels pod simulator. They were closed up in the pod and we could see on a screen what they were seeing. Their usual sisterly teamwork failure kept them either on the ground or crashing. That was $9 I could have buried in the sand and it would have been more fun.
At the museum.
Then we waited for a trolley tour and the precious, precious tour guide - a retired navy guy that was funny and cute - had a horrible speech impediment and we could only understand every other sentence. I tried so hard to understand him because I could tell he had great info and funny things, too, but just couldn’t catch it. The kids were completely lost. So, that museum trip was pretty much a bust except that the planes always look cool in
the museum, and I learned about Billy Mitchell, whom I want to read about more. On the way out we did visit a nearby fort, Fort Barrancas, which is just around the corner from the museum. I think Forts are very cool, and this one sits looking into Pensacola Bay. We also learned why Pensacola is called the “City of Five Flags.” I always think about Florida as being Disney and touristy beaches, but it is flavorful in history as well. The day was pretty much done at that point because we had booked a fishing charter for 600 hours in Destin on Wednesday. (Yes, I had the kids in bed and asleep at 1930 hours, which is the only reason I was able to write
Inside the fort.
anything). But, when we got back to the condo, looking out over the balcony, the sand and water was just so enticing. Even though there were only five people as far as we could see both ways up and down the beach, we still thought “well, sure, no one’s out there because the wind is like sandpaper, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t withstand it. Yeah, we can do what no one else is doing, maybe all the hundreds of people staying along the beach are at dinner.” So, we put on sweatshirts, and shorts (I borrowed a pair of Vic’s) and headed out to walk or sit and dig for the few minutes we had before an exceptionally early bedtime. Well, that lasted all of 8 minutes for the boys, and 12 for the girls who had walked further up the beach. Our legs were getting scraped raw with the sand, and we wouldn’t
At the fort looking into Pensacola Bay.
dare turn our face toward the wind. Thankfully, we had on hoodies. The boys were crying and I could hardly get them up to the boardwalk from where we had walked down to set up at the water’s edge. The wind would whirl up in a fierce sand devil, so I couldn’t open my mouth to direct them. Then I had my hands full with two heavy-duty beach chairs that were blowing around like kites, so I couldn’t carry them or even put my hand on their shoulder to help guide them. Phew! I was glad to get out of that … really, I was glad to get out of the whole day. So, about 4:30 a.m., I will be slipping on my yoga pants, since I think those would be preferable over my Sunday britches or cookie monster bottoms, and packing up the lunch that I’ve already fixed
for coolers to take on the boat for six-hour fishing trip. We have nausea meds for all of us, and I always keep barf bags. We had thought about fishing off the beach, but Vic is very nervous to do any of that ourselves, and it will be nice that hopefully he and I will actually get to participate since we will not have to worry about rods that we know nothing about or bait that we know nothing about. And, by some huge chance we catch something, someone else can take it off the hook.

(There are a couple more pictures below.)
The wind was blowing so hard, his shirt is blurred.
Eli is wrapped up, but Caleb wanted to try it... he didn't last but
a couple of minutes or less.

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