Gulf Islands National Seashore, Including Fort Pickens

3/7/15 Saturday in Robertsdale, AL (Wilderness RV-RPI ($13/night))

It was 30 degrees when I looked at the temperature this morning. Thank heavens we ran the space heater all night long-no frozen faces! Spent the morning with usual chores, including the laundry, then some computer time while John read his Western.

We ate an early lunch, then drove to Pensacola, FL first passing through Pensacola Beach.gulf 1a gulf 2 gulf 3

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Then on to Gulf Islands National Seashore (Fort Pickens area). This is a National Park, so with our Senior Pass we got in free.

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Something we didn’t realize: Geronimo was one of the Apache prisoners of war there. Can you imagine – someone used to the freedom, wide open spaces, dry weather of Arizona to get moved to a prison in humid Florida? Plus there was a move to have him separated from his family, also imprisoned. They were supposed to be sent to Fort Marion (where many Apaches died of yellow fever), but the Pensacola citizens petitioned to have them sent to Fort Pickens, that the other fort was too crowded. They also saw the Indians as a tourist attraction. Tourists actually did get passes to see the Apaches and the Colonel there even got permission for their families to come. In time, though, they were all moved to Mount Vernon Barracks, then to Fort Sill in Oklahoma where Geronimo died (1909). Later the Chirichua Apaches were freed (1913) with some remaining at Fort Sill and others going to a reservation in New Mexico.

Another tidbit: Even though this Fort was in the Confederate State Florida, the Confederates abandoned it (to bolster sagging defenses in north Mississippi and west Tennessee) to the Union soldiers early in the Civil War. It had its most action during that war, under the Union flag.

We also enjoyed their Museum. “Did you know that the white sands here were once granite in the Appalachian Mountains? As granite rocks eroded and tumbled into the ocean-bound river systems over many thousands of years, the rock was weathered down to its mineral components. Of all the minerals in granite, it is quartz that survives the long trip from the mountains to the Gulf relatively intact. Thus the beaches at Gulf Islands National Seashore are composed of over 90 percent quartz crystals, giving them the appearance of granulated sugar.” (From the museum). Honestly, it FELT just like sugar. Marvelous.

From the Fort we could see the Pensacola Lighthouse and even walk to the beach. The Museum was in one of the green roofed buildings you see on the left. That’s also where employees and volunteers can live.

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Greater Scaup? Red-Breasted Merganser?  Let me know if you know what this bird is.

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In the photo above, on the top left is part of a rather large sand dollar.  I love the delicate little shells I found, but can’t get started with collections when you live in an RV.

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Least Tern on the right.  Even saw them in the grocery store parking lot we went to later.  I thought they were seagulls at first!

On our way out:

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Picked up groceries before we left Pensacola (few grocery stores are near our campground).

A lovely day of history and beauty. Speaking of history, this is the 50th anniversary of the walk at Selma, celebrated today. We’re actually 150 miles away, but that was just too much to drive for a short celebration. Pretty neat to be so close, though, on this special day.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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