Day 37, November 16, 1997: Perdido Key to Apalachicola, FL

Funny how it goes. After a couple of days of anything it starts to get a bit boring. In this case a second day of sugary white sand and turquoise water. Ho hum... Then again it makes me more eager to notice even the smallest changes to add a bit of interest to the trip.

I didn't actually get onto the road until 11:30 this morning. The reason was another museum. A big one that I didn't know existed but should have. I am a bit of an aircraft buff and have been to the Air Force Museum in Ohio and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington as well as minor ones all over the country. I should have known that the Navy would have one (can't let the AF get one up, can they?) and I should have figured that it would be here in Florida which is the heart of Naval aviation. What with a 9:00AM opening time and the first access to aircraft on the flight line at 10:30AM it just took a while to see everything.

I would have to place this museum third on the list of greats after the AF Museum and the Smithsonian which are neck and neck for first and second. And no, it isn't just chauvinism on my part because I was in the AF. Anybody who knows me knows my opinion of that service was never very high. They simply have the biggest and most diverse collection of aircraft and memorabilia. One big reason for even visiting the Navy museum was access to one aircraft in particular. This is a modification of the old Super Constellation. It was known in the AF as an EC-121 and I'm not sure what the Navy called it. The reason for wanting to see it was that an old coot of my acquaintance (yes, Dave, you are that coot) flew as crew chief in the Hurricane Hunters when the Navy had that duty and it seems to have been a high point in his career. This particular plane was from the Fourth Weather Squadron, and I don't know if that was his unit or not but since this is probably the sole survivor of the type it was the best I could do.

Otherwise the scene today was pretty much the same today as yesterday. More beaches, more beach houses, more hotels, more condos. The span of coastline that has been developed is truly huge. The only undeveloped places seem to be in parks of one sort or another. The only noticeable difference is that in this part of Florida is that as one gets further from the beach the predominant pines are much larger than the spindly ones I have seen previously.

Oh, yeah. I found another of those coastal forts this morning. These things must have been guarding every body of water of consequence along the coast. This one (Fort Barrancas) was built originally by the Spanish and then rebuilt and enlarged by the US. This one is different from the others I've seen in the quality of the brickwork which is still in near-perfect condition after all this time and the multiple levels of the galleries. Because it is in such good repair tourists are allowed to go virtually everywhere inside and because of the multiple level configuration it is almost like a three dimensional maze. Great fun. Almost forgot: the design of this fort is so archaic that it even features a drawbridge over the dry moat.

The pictures today are both from the Museum of Naval Aviation.

Tomorrow I am going to try to make the aquaintance of some wildlife that has always fascinated me: manatees. One way or another the13,000 mile solo journey around the edges of the USA continues.

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