Monthly Archives: March 2014

2014 Trip Two, March 31, Deep South

White Springs, FL Monday March 31.

Let’s see. Population of Miami SMSA is about 5.5 million. Population of White Springs FL is about 775. Miami has the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, and lots of beaches with jet skis and parasailing. White Springs has the Suwanee River which is currently flooded-no canoeing allowed. In the early 1900s, the town had over 2000 people and a thriving tourist trade revolving around sulphur springs. A 1911 fire destroyed most of the community. 400 miles brings us to a whole ‘nother world.

part of the porch at the cabin

part of the porch at the cabin

We are staying at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, FL. There are five rental cabins here, we have cabin #1. It appears that two others are also rented. It is just a one night stand for us, most people stay a while. There is room for a family in the cabin and it is equipped with a fully equipped kitchen-but no washer/dryer. There is a long, screened-in, L-shaped porch. The screen is essential; even now the bees are out and flies are starting to be noticeable.

actual piano used by Foster

actual piano used by Foster

The state park was created to honor Stephen Foster (1826-1864). For young’uns and the forgetful, he was the composer of such songs as “Old Folks at Home (Way Down Upon the Swanee River)-Florida’s state song; “My Old Kentucky Home”-Kentucky’s state song; “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair”; and “Beautiful Dreamer” (actually used in a Batman movie; “Camptown Races”. The movie “Gone with the Wind” has four of his songs in it. The correct spelling of the river is Suwanee; Foster abbreviated it for musical effect.

Flooded Suwanee River

Flooded Suwanee River

Foster never lived in Florida and may never have seen the river itself. However, the song became so connected with Florida that the state created a park just to honor Foster and his music. Foster lived most of his life in Pittsburgh where he was born. The park has a museum, a bell carillon, gift shop, and craft village with folk craft demonstrations and shops besides the normal camping, swimming, hiking, canoeing, etc.

Foster is described as a music pioneer. There was no real music business as there is today to make him a millionaire. He sold most of his songs to publishers; most songs were plagiarized with no fees received or acknowledgement as to the authorship. His songs became memorable descriptions of American life. He composed or collaborated on over 200 songs during his brief life and died at age 37 with 38 cents in his pocket. Foster sold many of his songs to Edwin Christy who ran a blackface performing group called the Christy Minstrels in the mid-1800s. The New Christy Minstrels, a folk group in the 1960s, tied in to that history.

Bell Carillon

Bell Carillon

We arrived in time to hear the carillon perform at 4 pm. It also sounds the quarter hours. The carillon is made of tubular bells, 97 of them. (Last November,we visited the School of the Ozarks which has a tubular bell carillon made by the same craftsmen, it is said to be larger although only 96 bells.) Supposedly tubular bells sound different from cast iron bells.

Stephen Foster museum

Stephen Foster museum

The carillon took more than a year to create, the tubular design was created by the company, the bell tower (campanile) is 200 feet high, and regular playing of Foster’s songs occur through live performances and through the use of an automatic electric player. (We heard the electric player.)

Tomorrow we will have to visit the crafts people since at this time of the year they are only here from 10-2. We were able to walk down to the river. Despite the signs, we did not see any alligators or poisonous snakes. The river is over its banks, but still short of the record flood that occurred here in 1973.

Suwanee River

Suwanee River

The song and the river were eloquently described many years ago by a New York editor as: “”The Real Suwanee River,” he wrote, “rises in the highest mountains of the human soul and is fed by the deepest springs in the human heart. It flows through the pleasant, sunny lands of memory; it empties into the glorious ocean of unfilled dreams..””

Ed and Chris March 31, 7:15 pm

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2014 Trip Two, March 29-30, Deep South

Sunday March 30, Miami Beach

Not a lot new to report. Two days at the beach, Saturday continued the windy and cloudy days. Today was almost perfect, sunny, slight breeze and temps around 80.

I am justing posting this to let you know we are doing fine.

Early morning  at the beach

Early morning at the beach

The crowd starts to build

The crowd starts to build

A view from the ocean

A view from the ocean

Ed and Chris 9:30 pm

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2014 Trip Two, March 28, Deep South

Friday, March 28, Miami Beach

Another windy day but we invested in an umbrella which was used to block the wind, not the sun. Nothing too unusual on the beach today, just a formation of five planes pulling large banners advertising Las Vegas locations and events.

planes pulling banners over South Beach

planes pulling banners over South Beach

The scene in South Beach is eclectic. Of course there is the usual mix of residents, flavored by its international mystique. The Sony Tennis Open is being played so you have tennis fans. Business people are here on expense accounts. Northerners and retirees like us. Spring breakers, although they do not predominate or overwhelm. For the first time in memory, we have seen a number of Buddhist monks-or at least guys who dress that way. In this town, who knows if they are or not. Plus the people attending the Miami Music festival.

Sidewalks and streets are crowded. Taxi drivers do their usual pull over and stop anywhere. So do all other drivers. So do delivery trucks. Scooters weave in and out of traffic. There is a new dimension this year as bike rental programs have proliferated adding more undisciplined drivers to the mix. Pedestrians cross against traffic and do not understand the concept of not taking up the entire sidewalk whether walking fast or slow. Sidewalk cafes are everywhere which also reduces the space for walking. People are dressed in suits and fancy dresses with stiletto heels, or swim wear, or mundane shirts and shorts with some place or cause plastered on them.

So back to the Music Festival. We saw 5 or 6 fancy sports cars driving around with the words “Afrojack” on them. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. I now know that EDM is Electronic Dance Music. Afrojack is a Dutch DJ performing a headlining act. Avicii is a Swedish DJ set to perform here except he had a gall bladder attack. Laidback Luke is here too, along with Dada Life. Over 150,000 people are expected for the festival over in Miami’s Bayfront park. South Beach hosts a number of parties that start at 11 pm or midnight and run until 5 AM or so. The cost is $60 to $80 so we decided to pass on going to them.

New World Symphony

New World Symphony

Instead we walked over to the New World Symphony. We usually manage to fit in one of their performances. This was titled “Ohlsson Plays Rachmanioff” (Concerto #2 in C minor). It was fantastic. We sat behind the musicians, a location we have preferred since the first time their new Frank Gehry designed building opened three years ago. We get to see the conductor face on. The musicians are very close, although we see more of their hair styles than their faces.

Two males had Mohawk cuts, one with the Mohawk portion colored red. One of the percussionists had a very minor role in the second piece, hitting the drum 4 or 5 times. Each time he got up from his chair to do his bit, he took a blanket-like cloth and placed it over his knee and then placed his knee against the drum. After he banged the drum, he carefully removed the “blanket”, folded it and replaced it on top of the drum.

New World Symphony

New World Symphony

The musicians are entirely in black except for one female violinist who had a white cloth over her shoulder where she placed the violin. Not sure how she got away with that spot of white. The other two pieces were Mikhail Glinka’s “Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla” and Ottorino Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome”.

We have made some changes to our schedule. We had planned to visit some of Chris’ relatives on Sunday. Due to changes in their situation, they won’t be able to see us. So we are spending one more night in Miami Beach. Our HGVC timeshare is booked up Sunday night and we are moving half a block down to the Winterhaven. Monday we will continue our plans and drive 400 miles to the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, FL.

Ed and Chris March 28 11:35 pm

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2014 Trip Two, March 27, Deep South

Thursday March 27 Miami Beach

Another re-arranged day. High winds continued and with access to our car, which is unusual for us in Miami Beach, we headed out to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Despite our frequent times here, we had never visited this dramatic home. (No interior photos allowed.)

Vizcaya from the gardens

Vizcaya from the gardens

Vizcaya was created by James Deering. His family created one of the companies that formed International Harvester. My reading of the various histories is that he was given a vice-president position due to family connection but after less than 10 years in the business, he was eased out. So Vizcaya is the creation more of a person of inherited wealth than a person who created wealth.

Vizcaya from the bay side

Vizcaya from the bay side

The house and grounds are dramatic. The house was built between 1914 and 1916. Due to WWI, the gardens were not completed until 1921. Deering died in 1925. He was unmarried and childless and his brother’s daughters inherited the property. They sold off parts of the extensive grounds that had been used for farms and gardens. Eventually they sold the house and gardens to Miami-Dade County. It is said that 1000 workers were employed to build the home. The population of Miami at the time of construction was 10,000 people.

The stone barge sculpture-the breakwater

The stone barge sculpture-the breakwater

The home was inspired by international influences, particularly Italian and Spanish. There is no one theme, influences come from Mediterranean architecture; from 18th century Italian theater; from a 2nd century AD Roman marble basin; etc. Whole rooms were purchased and transported from Europe to Miami. Deering purchased a rug that once belonged to the grandfather of King Ferdinand of Spain (the one that bankrolled Christopher Columbus.) There is a 15th century Italian coffered ceiling. A harpsichord dates back to 1619. Tapestries on a wall once belonged to the 19th century poet Robert Browning. This guy had money and spent it.

Vizcaya and gardens

Vizcaya and gardens

Modern influences included indoor plumbing, all electric lights, two elevators, a refrigerator, an electric dumbwaiter, walk-in vault for the silver when Deering was not present, etc.

Secret garden with photo shoot

Secret garden with photo shoot

The home was built on Biscayne Bay. Several dramatic views of the bay can be seen. The design includes a stone sculpture of a barge out in the bay that acts as a breakwater. The pool is an indoor/outdoor pool.

Vizcaya gardens

Vizcaya gardens

The gardens are extensive. Whole hillsides were created to block the view of the farms and grounds. Fountains and statuary reflect European style. The gardens are more formal, reflecting symmetry and shrubbery more than blooming flowers. The beauty of the grounds lends itself to photos shoots. We saw at least 6 teen age girls having their Quinceanera photos taken.

Norwegian Cruise Lines ship the Sun with pilot boat alongside it

Norwegian Cruise Lines ship the Sun with pilot boat alongside it

We returned to Miami Beach and went for another long walk. This time we headed south to South Pointe and the shipping channel. We arrived in time to watch one of the four cruise ships in port as it headed out to sea.

Ed and Chris March 27 10:30 pm

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2014 Trip Two, March 26, Deep South

Wednesday, March 26, Miami Beach

Our Hilton time share

Our Hilton time share

Our time share at night

Our time share at night

Windy day in paradise but we made the best of it. Sleeping late was the first priority. We followed up with a long walk along the boardwalk. The boardwalk is wide and populated by walkers, joggers, bikers, Segway riders, etc. It is a popular place to exercise and people watch. It runs between the ocean/beach/sand dunes and the hotels.

Miami Beach boardwalk

Miami Beach boardwalk

As we headed north along the boardwalk, we detoured over onto the beach. We thought we saw two horses, probably mounted police. Instead we saw bulls. Brahman bulls. Well, of course, we had to check it out. While I took pictures, safely behind the line the security people were trying to maintain, Chris chatted up a beach chair attendant. Evidently the city of Miami Beach was filming a commercial. Not quite sure what for, but the scene was interesting. It is not unusual for us to come across one or more photo shoots during our visits to South Beach but this was our first bulls on the beach.

beach photo shoot

beach photo shoot

bulls on the beach

bulls on the beach

bulls on the beach

bulls on the beach

After lunch, we headed for the beach. Today was cooler and the wind was strong, strong enough to blow sand as you are laying on the beach. Usually we go to the beach around 11, a later arrival made sense today. So a shorter beach time meant less sand blasting and the beach time was enjoyable. We will try tomorrow for a longer spell.

Wind-kite surfing

Wind-kite surfing

Dinner was down the street at one of the many restaurants with live music lining Ocean Drive.

Ed and Chris at the beach

Ed and Chris at the beach

Ed and Chris March 26 10:30 pm

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2014 Trip Two, March 25, Deep South

Tuesday, March 25, Miami Beach

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Well it was a nice day in Paradise. We spent the day north of Miami Beach visiting with my cousin Chris and her husband Nelson. They have a condo in the small town of Lighthouse Point. Two years ago they visited us in Miami Beach and we were delighted to visit them since they were in Florida at the same time we were. This posting will be short on words and long on pictures.

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Chris and Nelson took us to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The wetlands were unused utility land that has been converted into wetlands and recreational areas; primarily birding observation points. The water utility pumps treated water from the wastewater treatment plant into the wetland for further treatment by the vegetation and to recharge the aquifer instead of disposal into the ocean.

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Wakodahatchee Wetlands


The wetlands has a boardwalk running through it with fantastic bird watching opportunities. We were able to get close to bird nests. Some eggs were still being sat on by the parents, some young birds were trying to swallow fish that seemed larger than the bird. We observed one turtle and two alligators.

Wakodahatchee wetlands-note bird egg

Wakodahatchee wetlands-note bird egg

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

Wakodahatchee wetlands

After lunch we visited the Norton Art Museum. Rain was threatening and inside activities seemed prudent. The art museum was founded by a Chicagoan who headed Acme Steel Company and believed Chicago did not need his extensive art collection. He had retired to West Palm Beach and the museum was established around his art collection.

Chihuly glass at Norton museum

Chihuly glass at Norton museum

We were able to look at several of their special exhibits. One was titled “industrial sublime”, which was focused around New York City and the Hudson river valley. A second collection was focused on “Baby Jane Holzer”, a well-known model and acquaintance of Andy Warhol. The third exhibit showcased the jewelry and design of David Webb.

Ed, Chris, Nelson at Norton museum

Ed, Chris, Nelson at Norton museum

Dinner was at a local Italian restaurant and then we zoomed back to Miami, dodging reckless, speeding drivers along I-95. Our tour guide at Wakulla Springs boat ride on Sunday considered the springs area as the “real Florida”. We keep joking that the “real Florida” is speeding drivers and South Beach.

Ed and Chris

Posted Wednesday, March 26 10 AM

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2014 Trip Two, March 22-24, The Deep South

Monday, March 24 Miami Beach

Well we are back on line. Had a slight glitch with the iPad and telephone technical support got it going again. I just forgot phone support existed and thought I would have to wait for an in person visit.

We are “home”; our regular Hilton Timeshare on Ocean Drive across the street from the ocean and park. Already got some groceries and had dinner at The Front Porch just half a block away. (Our waiter told us that Tom Brady and his second wife Gisele Bundchen have a unit in the high-rise condo across the street.) It was a 500 mile drive door to door from the Wakulla Springs Lodge south of Tallahassee. While I know there is speeding on the roadways everywhere, Florida drivers seem to take the award for greatest percentage of drivers dramatically exceeding the speed limit (like 15-20 mph over the limit).

Maclay Gardens State Park

Maclay Gardens State Park

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens


On Saturday, we drove from Sandestin (Miramar Beach, FL) to Tallahassee. The weather was supposed to be rainy most of the weekend but on arrival, the skies were clear and we made Alfred Maclay Gardens State Park our first stop. A New York financier, Alfred Maclay created the gardens for his family’s southern retreat. He specifically designed the gardens to showcase flowers that bloom from December to April, the time of year that the family would be present.

Maclay Gardens State Park

Maclay Gardens State Park

The flowers here were blooming much better than the flowers were at Bellingrath last week. Today,we arrived in time for a park ranger tour; although other people were touring the gardens, we were the only ones to take advantage of her insights.

Reflecting pool at Maclay Gardens State Park

Reflecting pool at Maclay Gardens State Park

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens


The home was not palatial, just well constructed. The gardens were more of the centerpiece. The live oak and spanish moss set off the azaleas, dogwood, etc.

After Maclay gardens, we stopped in at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. In the 1970s, Florida constructed a new capitol and legislative chambers in the shape of a modern, high-rise office building. Florida is one of only four states to do this (ND, NE, and LA are the other three). The historic capitol was constructed in several phases from 1839 to 1947. The building is plain for a state capitol; reflecting Florida’s traditionally conservative fiscal policies.

Tallahassee is the far northern part of the state. When Florida became a territory in 1821, it had separate capitals at Pensacola and St. Augustine reflecting the structure Great Britain set up during its control from 1763-1783 (East and West Florida units). Tallahassee was chosen as the mid point to reduce travel time. In 1900, Florida voters went to the polls and Tallahassee was re-confirmed as the capital, beating out Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Ocala.

Florida Historic Capital Museum, new capitol in background

Florida Historic Capital Museum, new capitol in background

The capitol museum recounts a summary of Florida history, reminding us again that Jim Crow laws and slavery had a strong hold on the state. While some of the Florida Indians were transferred forcibly to Oklahoma, others hid for years in remote areas.

Florida did not really grow until the 1920; it is currently the fourth most populous state in the Union. Florida reflected the southern pattern and it fought to keep segregation. The capitol museum seemed to portray the situation honestly but concisely.

We completed the day with church and settled in to our Airbnb abode for the evening. This was a one bedroom townhouse not too far from downtown Tallahassee.

Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park

Sunday, March 23rd again looked like it would be a rainy day. We headed out to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. Once again, money speaks. Edward Ball was a brother-in-law and business manager of Alfred DuPont. On a “scouting” expedition to find land to grow pulpwood in the 1920s, Ball came across Wakulla Springs. The springs pump out, on average, 225 million gallons of water a day. It had been a small lodge since before the Civil War. Ball recognized the need and value to preserve the springs and purchased the property, adding land to it over the years.

Lodge at Wakulla Springs

Lodge at Wakulla Springs

Ball personally handled all of the details of the new lodge construction including materials, building floor plan, etc. His original Tennessee marble is still used throughout the building. The lobby has a series of scenes painted by a German painter who had been the last court painter for Kaiser Wilhelm.

We went to Wakulla Springs for two reasons. First, to take the 9:40 boat tour before the rains came. Second, we would be spending the night there in the lodge.

Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park


Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park

The springs tour was an hour long, led by a retired park ranger who continues his love affair with the park by volunteering to lead tours. The park is home to a wide variety of animals and birds. I can not name most of the birds. We did see about a dozen alligators.

Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park


Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park

The waters are increasingly cloudy, not clear, due to tannic acid from trees and pollution from human development and agriculture. The area of the springs and park are remarkably clean and devoid of trash. (Younger persons can skip this next sentence or two.) Several of the Tarzan movies featuring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan were filmed at Wakulla Springs. Evidently, Ginger Stanley who did O’Sullivan’s underwater antics stayed in the room we slept in.

Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park

The springs discharge from a series of underground caverns developed in this karst geologic formation-last seen by us in Missouri and Arkansas. Teams of scuba divers have spent years exploring and charting the caverns,to date, over 30 miles of interconnected caverns have been discovered. One group of scuba divers planned out a 7 mile completely underground journey with air tanks stored underwater to provide enough oxygen for the journey. When it was completed, they had to stay underwater in special structures for 24 hours to decompress.

St. Marks Lighthouse

St. Marks Lighthouse

After lunch at the lodge, we drove to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse. This is on the Gulf of Mexico and is one of the oldest refuges in the national system. This part of Florida is called the Forgotten Coast since much of its land is owned by lumber companies and is not developed. The refuge includes a wide variety of habitats. Previous commercial uses included turpentine production, forestry, cattle raising, salt production, and limestone mining. We saw a dolphin, alligators, and numerous birds during our walks. The lighthouse dates back to 1842 and has survived wars and hurricanes.

Based on the recommendation of the boat tour guide, we stopped at the Gulf Specimen Aquarium. A combination of “touch tanks” and “looking tanks” allows one, if interested, to closely interact with diverse fish and amphibians. Talk about a bunch of ugly looking creatures. We made our stay there a brief one.

We finished Sunday with dinner at a local fish restaurant in Spring Creek (population 1700). The restaurant was half a block from the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, driving there, we saw the signs; “Dead End” and “Pavement Ends” before we saw the restaurant. The food was quite good. Chris had read about this place in a book she had picked up earlier in the day, “Off the Beaten Path-Florida”.

The lodge room at Wakulla Springs was quite spacious; the common areas more basic. No TV in the rooms and with the iPad dead (at that time) it was time for bed on another hard bed with flat pillows. One of the many reasons we were happy to reach South Beach today.

Ed and Chris Monday 11:25 pm

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2014 Trip Two,March 22 interim

The iPad went kaput and no hope to fix it until Monday evening.
Ed

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2014 Trip Two, March 20 and 21, Deep South

March 21, Miramar Beach, FL, Friday

We took a day off from blogging. The last two days have been just relaxing and without touring. The timeshare we are staying at, Club Intrawest, is a Canadian based company. The Sandestin resort has condos, homes, golf courses, marina, tennis (people were actually playing tennis here), single family homes, etc. It has its own shopping and dining stores. It is overrun with one item; golf carts.

Sandestin shopping area

Sandestin shopping area

I keep forgetting about the prevalence of golf carts in Florida resort areas. They are everywhere holding up traffic. They cart people to fishing, beaches, golf, groceries, what have you. They are as bad as cars, in that both creatures seem to park anywhere they want, not just in the direction of traffic, not always with the rear end properly parked but frequently sticking out into the traffic lane.

Boardwalk on the bay side

Boardwalk on the bay side

We went to the beach, stuck our toes in the water, felt the wondrously soft, white sand. But the temperature is just at 70, there is a breeze, and the water is cool. So we did not spend much time there. Our choice has been the heated pool and whirlpool. The wind is kept at bay here and the sun is plenty warm in those circumstances. Evidently, the weekend and early part of the week was rainy. It is likely that the rain will be returning as we head over to Tallahassee for two nights.

At the white sand beach

At the white sand beach

I went bike riding both mornings on one of those heavy, one speed “cruisers”. I should have brought my padded bike shorts, the seats must be made of metal with no padding. Chris did laundry and other household tasks. In the afternoons we were at the pools and whirlpool, falling asleep in the sun.

For those of you who may plan to come to Florida in the future and drive your own car, remember that Florida has toll roads in parts of the state, certainly around Orlando and Miami, and that the toll roads do not take cash. Florida does not accept EZ Pass, just like Texas and Oklahoma do not.

Part of the Sandestin resort area

Part of the Sandestin resort area

We purchased a mini-transponder for $5 at Publix markets. Florida takes pictures of the license plates of violators and follows up for payment. But the Sun Pass transponder we bought saves 25% on the toll rates and avoids the $2.50 administrative fee on each violation. So it should be a cost saving device.

Ed and CHris March 21, 7:10 pm

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2014, Trip Two, March 19, Deep South

Wednesday, March 19, Sandestin Resort, Miramar Beach, FL

Well, we may just stay put and relax for two days. The worst traffic of the last two weeks occurred on 55 miles from Pensacola to Miramar Beach, FL. It took 40 minutes just to get over the bridge from Pensacola. So woe is us, having to deal with traffic on a sunny day in Florida. I know you Northerners are deeply sympathetic.

Our travel plans changed a bit. The ferry over Mobile Bay was only running one ferry today and the wait for it seemed excessive so we drove around the bay instead; finishing our time at Fort Morgan as the ferry was arriving.

A view of Fort Morgan with an off-shore oil rig in the background.

A view of Fort Morgan with an off-shore oil rig in the background.

Fort Morgan was a classic star shape fortress with construction begun after the War of 1812. By the end of the Civil War, advancements in armaments made this style and construction of fort obsolete. Some concrete reinforcements were made near the end of the 1800s but no major action occured after the Civil War.

The fort played a notable role in the battle of Mobile Bay as union forces were able to capture Mobile and the fort. Union Admiral Farragut was nearly trapped by the Confederates but boldly sailed through a Confederate torpedo/mine field to escape the situation. (Another union captain had tried the maneuver and his ship sunk after hitting a mine.) This is the battle where the saying is supposed to have occurred: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Overhead at the fort: A young man was telling his female companion that if the British had declared earlier for the Confederacy, the War of Northern Aggression (the Civil War) would have gone for the South.

Tidbit: the state holidays for Alabama are as follows: New Year’s Day; Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther Jr. Birthday; George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (not Abraham Lincoln) birthday; Mardi Gras but only around Mobile; Confederate Memorial Day; National Memorial Day; Jefferson Davis Birthday; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day-Fraternal Day-American Indian Heritage Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving; and Christmas.

Our drive to Sandestin was via the scenic ocean route instead of the Interstates. In this case, scenic means primarily coastal resorts and condos, fast food restaurants and strip malls. We did manage to find a small, local fruit/garden stand and bought some strawberry bread to have for breakfast tomorrow.

View of Gulf of Mexico from Gulf Islands National Seashore

View of Gulf of Mexico from Gulf Islands National Seashore

We took a longer ocean drive to visit the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The seashore stretches from Mississippi to Florida. A small stretch between Pennsacola and Destin was all we could squeeze in.

Sunset is coming to Sandestin

Sunset is coming to Sandestin

Sandestin is a gated community consisting of 4 golf courses, multiple resorts/hotels and numerous single family dwellings. It stretches from the Gulf of Mexico ocean area to the Gulf of Mexico bay side. The Intrawest where we are staying is only about 50 units. It is a switch from the Bed and Breakfasts that have been our mainstay for the last weeks.

Sunset on bay side

Sunset on bay side

We have given up the friendly and knowledgeable innkeepers and their unique, home cooked meals for modern showers, spacious room, full kitchen, etc. Some of the B and B’s in the south had pools that had not opened yet; here we have two pools and whirlpools and ocean access via a shuttle or a long walk. We may not have much to report for the next two days.

Ed and Chris 10:20 pm

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