Chasing After Treasure

Friday, January 06, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

To Big Bend and Back, Day 2

MOBILE, Alabama— Our day began in foggy Pensacola, where we visited Bartram Park to search for a letterbox, triggering the memory of December, 2007, when we found our first letterboxes ever.  It was a series of letterboxes, and the clues took us for a walk through the historic section of Pensacola.  We didn't have a stamp or logbook to officially note our visit to the boxes, but we examined them and returned them to their hiding places.  It would be eight more months before we bought a catface stamp at Michael's and became legitimate letterboxers.  Today we recorded our 1,750th find.

Long Pond, Big Lagoon State Park

Next on our agenda was Big Lagoon State Park east of Pensacola.  Sitting on the northern shoreline of Big Lagoon, the 655-acre park separates the mainland from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico.  We have hiked and letterboxed in the park before, but a new letterbox attracted us back like a magnet.


No visit to Pensacola would be complete without a visit to the amazing National Museum of Naval Aviation located at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.  On this visit we were in search of a letterbox.  An inexperienced letterboxer found our box at the museum and poached our location, planting his box less than 100 feet from our original.  Too bad, when there are an infinite number of places he could have planted his letterbox using his own ideas.

By the time we left the museum, the fog had cleared completely and the day was sunny and warm.  The very generous folks at the wonderful Orange Beach Library renewed our cards to use their excellent facility (in person or online) for another year, giving us just the flimsy excuse we needed to have lunch at Cosmo's to celebrate.


Located on Canal Road away from the beach, Cosmo's nonetheless is a favorite of both locals and visitors.  Named for a shelter dog rescued by the proprietors, the restaurant reveals the owners' affection for canines in the decor.  As in the past, we found the service to be very good, though the food did not rise to quite the level of our previous visits.

At Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, where we were searching for yet another letterbox, we observed a couple riding a recumbent tandem bicycle.  Later we met up with them at the park's public pier.  John and Kathi left their Wisconsin home a few days ago to try out a three-month snowbird visit to the Gulf Coast.  Though they traveled to Orange Beach in their automobile, bringing the bike with them, they have logged more than 20,000 miles on the bicycle including a cross country trip (over the course of two summers) from Washington state to Maine.  How far could you and your spouse get on this gadget?


Our purpose in visiting the pier was to check on our pelican friend Sam, the oil spill victim we met last year.  Though pier employees and members of the fishermen's liars club that meets regularly on the pier verified that Sam is still a fixture there, we did not see him today.  One of his pier buddies speculated that Sam was off chasing women.

Gulf State Park Pier fishermen's club

After all this, we still managed to arrive in Mobile in time to check on another of our letterboxes that had been reported missing.  As in Pensacola, we found the box at the USS Alabama in perfect condition but moved slightly away from the location indicated in the clues.  A brief visit with Mother, Uncles Joe and Jim and Aunt Eleanor on their way to an event was the perfect way to cap off the day.

DAILY STATS:
  • Started in Pensacola, FL; ended in Mobile, AL
  • Miles driven: 113          (Trip total:  427)
  • States: 2 (FL, AL)          (Trip total:  3)
  • Letterboxes found:  4  (+ another of ours confirmed still alive) 
  • Weather:  Foggy to Sunny to Light Rain, 56° to 65°
  • Gas (premium):  $3.499 (Orange Beach, AL)
  • Canoeing dogs:  1
  • Alligators in Big Lagoon State Park:  0
  • Alligators at Summerdale's alligator ranch:  0 (closed for winter)  Who knew alligators hibernated?
  • Pictures of dogs in Cosmo's restaurant:  163
  • Pelicans waiting for handouts at fishing pier:  46
  • 20,000-mile tandem bicyclists:  2
  • Fishing poles on pier:  67
  • Walk-in shark mouths:  1
Other Photos from Today
Why we like the beach in winter
Walking the dog
FloraBama finally rebuilds what Ivan destroyed
One of the most bizarre restaurants in America
The "Mighty A" (USS Alabama)
Naval Aviation museum
Not Sam