Monday, October 13, 2014
Another fun day
Today was the first day of 'wild' weather we've had since coming to the Gulf Coast. The wind began blowing up a storm during the night, and by morning warning flags were flying all the way along the coast, signifying dangerous sea conditions. Intermittent rain began during the morning, and we've had thunderstorms through late afternoon and into the evening.
Since the weather wasn't conducive to doing things outdoors, we did them indoors. Miss D. and I went through to Pensacola again to pay a return visit to the Naval Aviation Museum, specifically its balcony displays around the main exhibition hall. They're fascinating vignettes of various aspects of naval aviation history, focusing more on the ships, bases, equipment and people than on the aircraft themselves. For example, there's an in-depth look at the USS Enterprise (CV-6) of World War II fame. She participated in more major actions than any other US Navy ship during that conflict, and earned 20 battle stars in the process. How I wish the Navy had preserved her, instead of letting her be scrapped in the late 1950's! If ever there was a single ship that epitomized the US Navy in World War II and the transition of the 'capital ship' banner from battleships to aircraft carriers, it was her.
Another exhibit illustrates life on Guadalcanal for the members of the 'Cactus Air Force' in 1942 (most of whom were Marines, with a few stranded Navy pilots and aircraft joining them on occasion). There are gondolas and other components from balloons, blimps and dirigibles, commemorations of naval aviators awarded the Medal of Honor, and many other interesting displays. For me, as a military history buff, the balcony section is just as interesting, if not more so, than the aircraft on and suspended above the main floor.
Miss D. and I were particularly interested to locate a series of plaques giving the names of the 'founding members' of the Naval Aviation Museum. Those of you who've read Old NFO's books (The Grey Man - Vignettes or The Grey Man - Payback) may recognize the author's name:
I note, too, that his contribution was made before he was commissioned, so he's one of the very few founding members who was serving in enlisted ranks at the time (if I read it correctly, he was then an Aviation Structural Mechanic Third Class). Thanks for your support for one of my favorite museums, Old NFO! Nice to see your name in lights, so to speak.
After our visit to the museum we took time to deal with a couple of car issues, putting in a new headlight bulb and having the air-conditioning system serviced (we've been working it hard on this trip). We then met a reader of this blog, Michael Cravatt, for lunch, along with his wife and child (I don't normally name readers without permission, but he'd already posted an invitation using his name in a comment to an earlier post here, so I'm assuming he won't mind). Thanks, Michael - we had a great time. I particularly enjoyed your almost-five-year-old son's antics. Kids are cute, aren't they? - unless you're their parents when they're throwing a frothy!
We came back to find the wind just as strong as ever, with yellow (Florida) and red (Alabama) warning flags flapping all along the coast. Only the foolhardy were in the surf, and the beaches were largely deserted. Rain and thunderstorms moved in for the rest of the afternoon, which spoiled our plans, so we've had a quiet rest of the day.
We have two more days of vacation, then on Thursday we'll head back home. It's been a great time so far - exactly what we needed to de-stress and unwind, with lots of nature's beauty all around us, birds and other wildlife to keep us amused (including a young coyote trying to cross an urban street last night, quite unperturbed by the traffic and other human activity), and new sights, sounds, smells and tastes to explore. I've particularly enjoyed having real, genuine sea-food once more. I can't get used to the American habit of calling all fish 'seafood', even if the fish in question has never been within a thousand miles of salt water! I grew up on a steady diet of sea fish, and I miss its denser flesh and stronger, saltier flavor. This trip has offered many opportunities to rectify that de-fish-iency.