Sunday, January 31, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

PERDIDO KEY, FLORIDA:  
JANUARY 1-31, 2010 
  
What a surprise! While we were updating our house to get it ready to sell, it sold—before we ever listed it on the market. So without a plan of where to move to, we decided maybe it was time to just hit the road for a while.  We rented a small apartment, crammed in everything that didn't go to Goodwill, and set out for a month in Perdido Key, Florida.
The sign went up with "under contract" already attached.
In Perdido, the scenery was beautiful, the temps chilly, and the beach all but deserted.  Just the way we like it.  Since we were last in the area, a couple of new letterboxers have been busy planting lots of new boxes, including one in Pensacola's beautiful St. Michael's Cemetery, which dates back to the 18th century. 
  
St Michael's Cemetery, Pensacola
We were delighted to learn that a replica of the Niña, one of Christopher Columbus's ships, was at the Palafox Pier and available for touring. At 65 feet long, the Niña is not much larger than some of the recreational sailboats that were docked at the pier. Imagine boarding such a ship in the 15th century, not having any real idea of where you would end up.

The Niña (black ship at left) at Palafox Pier in Pensacola
Built in Brazil in the 1990s, the Niña has been touring around the U.S. along with a replica of the Pinta (which was actually built larger than the original ship). Since they are relatively small, the ships have been able to travel inland on river systems and came to Pensacola from the Northeast. We talked with a member of the crew, who told us the ships came down the Ohio River to the Cumberland, then the Tennessee to the Tombigbee, which brought them to Mobile and through the bay to Pensacola. 

Pinta and Niña replicas (photo by the Columbus Foundation)
When we asked whether they didn't generate some interesting reactions from people who saw these caravel replicas sailing down American rivers, she told us of an incident as they came down the Tombigbee in Alabama. They heard a tugboat captain, who was guiding a sizable barge tow down the river, say on the radio, "I may still be drunk from last night, but did anybody else see those two pirate ships that just went by?" The crew explained to the tug captain what the ships were, and one can imagine he was quite relieved. 

Searching the driver's side of the Lennon Rolls
In our coastal letterboxing adventures, we went in search of "Lennon the Rolls," which we were informed was hidden in a magnetic container in the wheel well of the passenger side of this car. Legend has it that this vehicle was once owned by Beatle John Lennon. Some even said he planted a time capsule in the car. Though none of that has been confirmed nor disproved, a Pensacola attorney obtained and restored it, displaying it in the parking lot of his law office. And a Pensacola area letterboxer planted a box on the car.  While we refuse to disclose how long we looked on the right side of the vehicle before translating the term "passenger side" to a British-manufactured car, we did eventually locate the letterbox.

Imagine our surprise when we passed the parking lot a couple of days later to discover that someone had bashed poor Lennon.  We learned later that the car was sent to the body shop and re-restored (it had already been given a restoration after Hurricane Ivan left severe salt damage in 2004).

Lennon's Rolls injured
Dianne's mother came to the beach for a visit, so we decided to travel across the panhandle to Tallahassee to meet the newest little yaya girl—Baylinn, Clint and Carrie's baby daughter who was born in December.

Baby girl meets great-grandmother
Of course, we found her just as charming and adorable as other family members who had already met her had attested. A very sweet baby who patiently goo-goo-ed and ga-ga-ed for all who held and talked to her.

Love Reese to pieces
Of course, no trip to Tally town would be complete without a visit to Roostah and June's house, where we were lucky enough to find the winsome Reese. Her great Aunt Sylvia helped us bring her a couple-of-weeks-early celebration of her third birthday.  Her grandparents, Bruce and June, were the consummate hosts they always are, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening in their home, delighted by a surprise visit from Adam and Jessica as well.

Back in Perdido after Sylvia left, we had a few days for planting some letterboxes in the Pensacola area. The fantastic National Museum of Naval Aviation was an obvious choice, as was a trail near the Pensacola lighthouse.

Pensacola Ice Flyers are always entertaining.

With just a few days left in our time at the beach, our friend Jamey came for a long weekend. We took her letterboxing (she was underwhelmed) and to an ice hockey game, which she enjoyed. This was our second Ice Flyers game. We had planned to attend more but had to return to Atlanta for a couple of weeks. This minor league team plays with a lot of heart and enthusiasm and provides an entertaining evening of fun for a very reasonable price. See you next season, Flyers.

JANUARY 1-31, 2010

A bit crowded in our home base, but we don't plan to spend much time there.

A friendly local who hangs out at the Gulf Shores pier
National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola
The letterbox is that way.