Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pensacola Beach and Fort Pickens National Park


We had a pleasant and uneventful trip to Pensacola. It has undergone a quantum change since we used to come here when our son, Scott, was stationed at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Our first surprise was the new bridge to Gulf Breeze that cuts a lot of miles off the trip. The second surprise was the toll over a relatively short bridge, $3.75 for the first two axles and $3.75 for each additional axle. Our toll was $11.25. The third surprise was the toll bridge from Gulf Breeze to Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola Beach. The sign said $1.00 per car. I got to the booth and the woman said “$1:00 please.” I replied that I was towing a car, expecting to pay two more dollars. The lady said “It’s still just $1.00. “ That was a very pleasant surprise.

We got into Fort Pickens National Park where I have a pass, so my entrances are free and the campground rate is only $10.00 per night, with water and real 50 amp service. The campground has changed a lot since we were here over 20 years ago. Hurricane Katrina did quite a job on the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas and there are a lot of trees that have disappeared. Our campsite was chosen based on length of the motorhome, overhead clearance, and availability. Hence we are in full sunlight with no shade at all. Thankfully the electric feed keeps up with our power needs for the A/C.


This is the $11.25 bridge. It makes the ride shorter, but a lot of pesos for a short bridge.



And here you can see that we are at Pepsi-cola…er…Pensacola Beach.

When we came here many years ago, we did not have a tow car, and drove the motorhome to the local restaurants. In fact, '”FLOUNDER’S” was our favorite. Today, it would be hard to get in a local restaurant with a pickup truck, never mind a motorhome. There are souvenir shops everywhere, restaurants, jet-ski rentals, and a 200 foot Ferris wheel. It’s a real beach mecca for the young and not so young. The adjacent roads are wall to wall condos or time shares and there4 is not a vacancy in sight.



When you get on the National Park property, the buildings cease and what you have left is a long stretch of beautiful white sand beach, blue water and nothing to spoil the atmosphere.

When I checked in at the campground I asked if there was anyplace to take the dogs in the water. I read that dogs were not allowed on any beach, but years ago our dogs were allowed on the bayside beach. That policy has changed as the dogs’ presence on the beach is “toxic to all marine life”. It’s a good thing that the whales and porpoises don’t use the ocean as a bathroom or the seas might be polluted. I’m sorry, but I can’t see the dogs’ doing all that much damage. I walked the dogs over TOWARD the back beach, stopping before the beach. I didn’t have to clean up after either dog, but I did come back with a bag full of soda cans and plastic bottles.



Grandsons Keaton and Kyle did well on the trip up, keeping the dogs company and no creating any problem. I don’t recall hearing “are we there yet?”



This morning I went to “Peg Leg Pete’s”, the closest restaurant and also the closest wifi spot. I checked my email and did a search for “off leash dog parks”. I found 6 listed, including Bayview Dog Park, right in Pensacola. since it was too hot to go to the beach, we decided to tak the dogs to the dog beach. It was a great plan since there was plenty of shade and drinking water and a lot of dogs to play with. In addition, there was the water. For our dogs, the other dogs were not a distraction as the three nuts ran straight for the water. We all enjoyed their day at the beach. The dogs were all well behaved for the most part and there were a couple of puppies that were precious. There were even two washing stations and Helen took her time washing down the dogs really well. Then we took them outside the park and towel dried them under a tree. I moved the car near the tree and left it running with the A/C on so we all had a cool car to ride back to the campground.



After a while, we had a major thunderstorm. It poured buckets and the lightning was terrible. I was on the bed reading with Sandy and Jody at my side. One major strike hit very close to us and everyone jumped. Sandy started shaking life a leaf and would not stop. I walked out to the living area and she followed me only to crawl under the table with Coco. She is a timid dog and often jumps at any noise, so we’re no surprised. In fact, thunder at home has the same effect on her.

Later on the boys and I headed to “Peg Leg Pete’s” for supper, but there was a waiting line of more than 50 people and I’m not a patient person. We went to '”FLOUNDER’S”, where we were seated immediately. The service was excellent and the portions so large that we all came home with boxes of food.

Now we’re watching a movie about saving whales. Seeing all that ice and snow makes it feel more comfortable here, though it’s all in my head.




  1. Trying to visualize where you are camped in relation to where the Lex was tied up and the Bar district in downtown Pensacola where Trader Jon's was located,I'll bet I wouldn't recognize it after 40 years.But I do remember the white sandy beaches and the friendly Florida girls that would wave at you as you flew over them sometimes with their bikini tops.Glad to hear the girls had a good day at the doggie park and I'll bet those Grandboys are lovin the water too. Rigg's goes in for his surgery tomorrow at 06:30AM,The Vet called and said all his blood work was good so it clear sailing for the surgery. Be safe out there and enjoy your vacation. Sam & Donna...

  2. We got Annie a thing called a "Thunder Shirt" on line for when it storms and it works great.

  3. Good to see you having a great summer. Enjoy those grandsons because they grow faster than your kids did! Take care.