Naval Live Oaks A 30 lb Red Fish On My Penultimate Day


Sunday May 6.

I’m on my way on my penultimate day leaving Slidell, Louisiana at 8.45 on a lovely sunny, blue skied morning and the temperature has already climbed to 76F (24.44C) and soon I join my old friend I-10 going east. About 45 minutes later I have crossed the state line into Mississippi and it must have been raining quite hard earlier on as the highway is pretty damp and spray is being kicked up by the vehicles ahead of me. However, the sky is clear and all is well as 75 miles later I cross over the Pascagoula river basin which is a large area that from the elevated highway spreads almost as far as the eye can see. To the south I can just see an industrial area of some kind with some shipping and to the north it’s swampland and near the horizon it appears to become forested. Eighty seven miles into my journey and I have left Mississippi and crossed into Alabama. One hundred and thirty miles and I see the impressive skyline of Mobile and shortly enjoy a view of the Battleship SS Alabama which I described earlier in my blog and you can view the photographs in my photostream on Flickr, please see the panel on the right hand side of this blog. Having passed Battleship Park I get a great view of the river flowing into the Gulf of Mexico which I did not see at the beginning of my journey as it can only be seen from this side of the highway! The Gulf is at peace, it’s an absolute flat calm without a ripple troubling the boaters out there enjoying the water. One hundred and fifty-four miles on and I have crossed the state line into Florida and I now recognise that this is my penultimate day of my road trip and I suddenly feel excited at the prospect of seeing Diana (a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed) and arriving back in Lakewood Ranch tomorrow but now back on with the day. At Pensacola I leave the Interstate system and take the coastal road heading for todays destination of Panama City Beach. En route I pass through the small town of Gulf Breeze and I’m motoring on a two lane highway through the Naval Live Oak Reservation. This area was designated in 1828 by President Quincy Adams as the First Federal Tree Farm. This was an important area at that time as the Live Oak, which is a member of the beech family was used in the construction of tall ships. As many as two thousand Live Oaks were used to make one hull for a naval vessel!  As I continue along US 98 the landscape becomes a strip development of hotels and shops with an occasional view of the gulf.

A little further on I leave US98 and cross over a causeway bridge to Navarre and having parked the car I pay the princely sum of $1 for the privilege of walking along the lengthy fishing pier that was constructed in 2010. As I commence my $1 walk I view from the pier on my right hand side a bunch of not very attractive high-rise condominiums and to my left a brilliant white busy beach filled with the Sunday afternoon crowd relaxing, taking some rays! This part of the Gulf of Mexico is fed by a current that brings a prolific quantity of nutrients which colours the water a lovely shade of green which gives rise to the nickname for this part of the coast as “The Emerald Coast”. The throng of anglers on the pier are having a very busy time as they haul in what almost seems to be one fish after another and as I walk towards the end of the pier I find myself dodging anglers making their casts. The flying rods seem to be landing fish with a resounding thump at my feet as I continue to tread delicately over the writhing fish before they are scooped up by the anglers, de-hooked and returned to the ocean deep. I have just encountered an angler who has just returned a 35 pound Redfish to the sea as it was too big to keep! The angler would only be permitted to keep his catch of this variety provided the fish weighed not less than 18 pounds and not more that 27 pounds so, over the side of the pier this one went. Well, that not strictly true. This huge fish was gently lowered in a net to the ocean beneath the pier and then released from its captivity and some people think this is fun! All in all I think my $1 fee was good value. However, if I had been a fisherman I would have had to have paid $2! A little further on I break for lunch at Beasley Park in Ocaloosee Island and sit in a pavilion overlooking the beach. Having enjoyed my lunch I continue my journey and arrive at my destination at Panama City Beach for the night and tomorrow I start my final day of my journey and I’m now looking forward to returning to my American home.

For the techies out there mileage covered today was 290.1 at an average of 46.4 mpg and achieved 22.2 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Road Trip Day Two.


Day 2 of the road trip starts having stayed in North Tallahassee, Florida last night at La Quinta In  which was clean and comfortable but does need refurbishing but it was as cheap as chips! Got going at 07.20 this morning in an overcast , drizzly morning. Thirty three minutes later I had a unique experience. I crossed from one time zone to another by car, so now I was traveling at about 40 minutes earlier than when I left! Very weird!

By now I was hungry and having gone past several breakfast places, thinking I’ll just go one more and then of course nothing for miles. So, I was grateful to get a large coffee and a sausage and egg McMuffin for the princely sum of $4.61 at the golden arches on the Marianna ramp on the I 10.

The landscape at this point became much more agricultural with undulating fields of haystacks with occasional herds of beef cattle. A little later on my attention was drawn to what appeared to be a fighter jet stuck onto a very large drain pipe. I pulled into the rest area at Santa Rosa County on mile marker 30 on the I 10 to investigate. Have a look at the picture below and on my Flickr photo stream (just hit the link in the right hand panel). Turned out to be a McDonnel Douglas A4 Skyhawk fighter jet that used to be in service in the seventies and used by The Blue Angel acrobatic team. Those that flew the aircraft referred to it as “Henemans Hot Rod” or “The Scooter” I thought it was a pretty impressive piece of sculpture to put in a car park miles from anywhere!

Two hundred miles later on the weather had dramatically improved for the better. Blue skies with white fleecy clouds. Gorgeous! Three miles on and I crossed the state line into Alabama (see photo below). There is an interesting stone laid beneath the flagstaff on the state line which is inscribed with “Alabama We Dare Defend Our Rights”.

Four miles later and I’m on the approach to Mobile, Alabama and crossing over a large expanse of water I get the first glimpse of the city’s skyline. I found Mobile to be a very interesting city with a delightful mix of modern architecture and a very pretty historic quarter which is composed of antebellum fine houses. You can see more pictures of this on my Flickr pages just click on the link at the right.

Having checked in at the Battleship Inn (excellent and good value) it was time to view the battleship USS Alabama which was absolutely fantastic. This ship is huge. Under battle conditions she weighed in at an impressive 45,000 tons, carried 2,500 men and had a maximum speed of 28 knots which is a little over 32 miles per hour. I have taken quite a lot of pictures of the interior and exterior of the ship and some other exhibits and you will find them on my Flickr photo stream (click the link in the right hand panel) and I have titled most of them so you will know what you’re looking at. Honestly, it is worth you taking five minutes to have a look at the sheer size and complexity of such a vast war machine.

Tonight having had Oysters Rockefeller (one of my favourites) followed by grilled flounder stuffed with shrimps and crab meat at The Captains Table (next door to my hotel) I took my trusty tripod and camera for one last picture of this illustrious retired battleship. Next time I do this I will wear trousers and socks. Those damned mosquitos got me!

Don’t forget to look at my photographs and feel free to comment on this blog or on the photographs on Flickr (by now you should know where the link is).

For the technically minded the mileage covered today was 253.6 at an average speed of 62.7 mph and achieved 20.4 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleloo!