"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Percy Quin SP

After returning home from Pensacola, we received a call from friends camping at a nearby state park.  They invited us out for breakfast so what could we say.  It took us most of an hour to get ready and out to the park.  We arrived to sausage and eggs on the griddle.

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There were young folks, and some not so young.

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Critters to tease with a piece of toast, and music.

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After dining on eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, biscuits, fruit, and other fine southern cuisine, it was time for the music to begin.  We had a guitar player and a hammered dulcimer player.

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Between the two, we were entertained for an hour or so.  They played and sang country, gospel, and old mountain music. 

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They even inspired an old dog to try and learn a few new tricks.  I think he’ll be joining the jam session next time.

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Good friends getting together at a moments notice and having a great time.  We find joy and laughter in ourselves and each other, and that’s what life should be about.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fort Pickens (Part 2)

About the time of the Spanish-American war in 1898, Fort Pickens began a modernization effort.  The old smooth bore cannons were upgraded with rifled inserts or replaced with totally new rifled guns.  A new gun battery called Battery Pensacola was constructed on the parade ground of the old fort.

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This gun battery, along with other batteries outside of the fort, was constructed of reinforced concrete.  They were equipped with the latest fire power of the era.

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These guns were able to duck and hide behind the bulkheads while being reloaded and aimed.  There were two spotters for each battery which took compass headings to the target and then relayed that information to the gun crew.  The crew then translated that into an aiming point by using a triangulation process. You can imagine all that went on as levers were pulled and wheels spun to set up each shot before the gun was kicked up over the bulkhead and fired, all to be repeated as the target moved and new data was received from the spotters.

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There were also batteries that contained mortars.  This one, called Battery Worth, held eight 12 inch mortars, capable of launching 700 pound shells up to nine miles.

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It only got bigger from there. Battery Langdon had 12 inch guns, that when fired caused a shock wave to travel through the sand of the island, and the concussion was said to have caused bleeding of the ears and mouth of the crew.

A mix of these different batteries were used through world war II.  All were officially retired in 1947.  As the newer technologies such as radar, better aircraft, and a modern Navy emerged from the war, there was no need for fixed defensive positions.  After 113 years of service to our country the area is now part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fort Pickens (Part 1)

On the Western tip of Santa Rosa Island sits the remains of Fort Pickens.  In the early 1800’s, homeland security was a priority of the military.  As the Nation still feared invasion from other foreign countries, we constructed a number of forts to guard our harbors and shipyards.   Fort Pickens was the largest of four built to defend Pensacola and its Navy yard.
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The fort was constructed from 1829-1834, using skilled slave labor.  The fort contains more than 21 million bricks, most of which were also made locally by slaves.
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Fort Pickens was designed to have over 200 guns.  Not sure if it was ever fully armed but there were plenty of signs of where a number of them had been.  The lower level of the fort consisted of brick arch’s. Each one of the arch’s, or casements, contained a cannon of some sort.  The semicircles in the brick floor were made of granite to support the wheels of the carriage on the cannon as they were rotated.
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The only time the guns were fired on an enemy force was during the Civil War.  Fort Pickens remained under Union control and shots were exchanged with Confederates on the mainland in the early months of the war.  The commander of the Confederate force at the time happened to be the same gentleman that was in charge of construction of Fort Pickens 30+ years earlier.
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The fort was designed with quarters for enlisted and officers. There were powder magazines for black powder, and bastions on the corners that allowed the firing of the guns down along the walls.  Cisterns were built into the outer walls to collect rain water for drinking. How would you  like to drink water stored here?
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The brickwork was amazing in its form and also its function. There were arch’s within arch’s to better distribute the weight of the structure.  That something this large could be constructed upon a sand spit and still be in around nearly 200 years later is a testament to those that built it.
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There is a large gap in the wall of the fort where the Northwest bastion used to be.  A powder magazine located beneath the bastion containing 8000 lb.s  of black powder exploded in 1899, totally destroying that part of the fort and hurling debris for miles.
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As you walk the brick floors and climb the steps that show the wear of thousands of feet, it’s easy to let your mind wander back.
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You think of those who struggled here during the construction.  You think of those that served here, as well as those imprisoned such as the Apache Indians and their warrior leader Geronimo, during the Indian wars.  Never in their wildest dreams or imagination could they fathom that one day in the future, a guy would be walking around taking photo’s of this old fort near its 178th birthday.  Bet they also never dreamed of anything like this screaming through the skies over the fort at 600 MPH!!......jc
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pensacola NAS

Made a little trip back to the mainland to visit this museum.  Had heard a lot about it through the years and it stood up to its reputation.

There were planes of all kinds.  The majority of which, I didn't have a clue even existed.  Beginning with a model of what had to be one of the earliest airplanes, to examples of our space program, the museum covered it all

There were many planes from the biginnings of Naval Aviation.

All equipped with the latest electronics of the time.

Hanging from the ceilings and all over the floor, there were so many examples that it seemed impossible to see them all.

An example of the Presidential helicopter. .

One of the last F-14 Tomcat fighters.  The plane made famous by the movie Top Gun. All have been retired from duty and replaced with more modern fighters.

There was so much that I didn't get pictures of.  There was an example of a Vietnam War POW camp.  A fantastic display of how things were in WWII, both overseas and on the homefront.  Airships and     
 aircraft carriers, space craft and fighter planes.  If you ever find Yourself in the Pensacola area be sure and make the museum a stop. You won't regret it....................................................................................