Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pensacola Beach

Although we moved from the Mobile area over to Pensacola, we went back to Mobile for Bayfest. One of the oldest and largest music festivals in Alabama. They expected over 300,000 people to attend. It went on for 3 days and had several big name stars such as Alan Jackson and Billy Currington, but we only went on Saturday. Unfortunately neither of these stars were there the day we were. But it was a lot of fun and am glad we went. Early in the afternoon it wasn't too crowded, buy by 8pm it was wall to wall people down the blocked off streets of downtown Mobile. There were about 7 different music venues around the area. If you stood at the right corner you could hear music from several at one time. I realized how old I am getting when I enjoyed the music from a distance. It was way too loud for my taste, except for the venue called 'the cafe'. Here they had local artists who were there without being paid. It was a more laid back feeling with tables to sit at. Very enjoyable.

We were having lunch on the balcony of the Hurricane Brewing Co, when I noticed the Saenger Theater below. Opening in January 1927, it was originally home to vaudeville and silent movies. It is still today the center of entertainment in the downtown area, hosting concerts and other events.

These belles were representing the Azalea Trail. This is only 2 of many. They wandered around in just about every color you could imagine. I think they probably were terribly hot since it was in the upper 80s, low 90s.

Bayfest was an area downtown with blocked off streets and fences with limited entrances. But all around the streets near the area was lots of activity as well, such as these two gentlemen doing their own music.

This is The Battle House, a Rennaissance Hotel. At the cafe is where Max and I had lunch with our friend Karen when we were staying here in Mobile. She told us a little about the history of this hotel. It was built in 1852 on the site where Andrew Jackson had his headquarters in the War of 1812. Karen said the hotel sat vacant for about 30 years before the Marriott Corporation restored it and made it into this historic hotel. It was beautiful inside.

They advertise Bayfest as a family event and even had a kid section. As we walked through we saw lots of interesting sites such as this. The other Azalea queens were wandering around, and the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) also had an area. (If you don't know what the SCA is, google it. An interesting hobby and organization.)

The lead singer of this band, a female, did one of the best renditions of the Johnny Cash song 'Folsom Prison Blues', I have ever heard.

This is the cafe area which I enjoyed the most. This group jams together at a local place on Sunday evenings. They said this was the first time ever this particular group had ever played together on a stage. You would never have known that fact because they were very good. One individual, who had already left when this picture was taken, showed up as a back up singer and musician for another band on one of the big stages later in the day.

The police were patroling on horseback.
But the main reason for stopping at Pensacola was the beaches and more forts.

This area of Perdido Key is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Six miles past the end of this road was where Fort McRee once stood. The area has long since washed away and the fort was demolished during cannon fire in the civil war.

But the beach was great. We actually came out here twice. Once we took the bikes and biked about 8 miles along the beaches and into town.

We have really been enjoying the beaches in the area.

This is Fort Pickens, located across the bay from where Fort McRee once stood, it was part of the triangle of forts which protected Pensacola Bay. Most of the forts we have visited along the coast all have a similar history, but Fort Pickens is unique, Geronimo was once housed here after his capture. Before being moved to Ft. Sill, OK, where he lived out his days, he was transferred to Fort Pickens for about 2 years. Here visitors could come see the famous Indian Chief. It is said he sold the buttons off his clothes to tourists. Then every night he would sew on new ones to sell the next day. He was here with several of his wives and children. One wife even died and was buried here.

Here is where a powder magazine exploded, destroying a corner of the fort.

Almost all of the old forts built in the early to middle 1800s were built in the same style, utilizing the natural strength of the arch for fortification.

This cannon was much larger than it looked.

Like many of the forts along the coast, these newer style batteries were built to replace the old forts. Some were even used through WWII.

The fort is located on the end of an island with water on three sides.

Looking across the bay to the lighthouse in Pensacola. The lighthouse is now located on the same naval base where Fort Barracas is located.

But then there are the beaches.

Pensacola is known for its beautiful white sand beaches. They were everything which was advertised.

This fortification was built in the 1700s by the Spanish when they controlled Pensacola.

The U.S. military built Fort Barracas right behind the Spanish fort in 1825.

Here you are looking at both forts, the older and the old.

Located about 1/2 mile away is the lighthouse. It is still in use.

Looking across the bay where Fort McRee used to be.

Also located on the naval base is Advanced Redoubt. This was about one mile from Fort Barraccas and was the land based support in case of a land attack instead of an assault from the gulf.

But the Aviation Museum was for me the highlight of this days excursion.

Pensacola Naval Air Station is the home of the Blue Angels, the Navy's elite air show team. If we were only going to be here another few weeks we would be able to see them perform, but right now they are in California. Too Bad!
This museum was all about naval aviation, which really means aircraft carriers and the airplanes they carry. But it did have a lot of other planes and their histories as well. I enjoyed it a lot.

1 comment:

Diana said...

Beautiful beaches! I'm so jealous of the weather you seem to be having. It's really cold here in Utah.