http://www.blogger.com/html?blogID=4316350785635987648 Cave Dwellings

Aboard the USS ALABAMA

Aboard the USS ALABAMA
Feb. 22, 2015

Cave Dwellings

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gautier, MS

We have been here at Shepard State Park in Mississippi since Monday. Gautier is the name of the town, just West of Pascagoula. Den and I were pronouncing it Gotee-air. We were informed by the counter guy at NAPA Auto Parts that it is pronouned “Goshay”…OK,…He guessed we were Northerners right away. When we open our mouths it’s like holding up a big sign saying “Yes, we are Yankees…and we are clueless how to talk!!”  We ended up at the NAPA store to get 2 new deep cycle batteries for the Hiker…Ours are 4 years old and the last time we raised our front jacks it sounded like it was really straining …sooo…about $200 later, we did CPR on the Hiker and got her“up to snuff”!

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Above is our spot here at the park..We are backed up to some of the backwater connected to Singing  River.

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When we arrived Monday, we noticed a sandbar in the middle of the water (you can see it on the left).  But by late evening, the sandbar was gone, so we figured we are somehow connected to the tidal waters of the Gulf.

Dennis was stationed in Biloxi, about 18 miles from here, at Keesler Air Force Base in 1960-61.  He hadn’t been back since, so we took a ride into Biloxi to see if he could recall anything…

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Well, the answer to that was a resounding “NO”..He really didn’t expect to recognize much.  Biloxi has been hit by 18 hurricanes total, and the biggest, Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina, really wiped out much of the old homes and things on the beach.  And those wonderful old buildings were replaced with about 15 casinos…We did find the street that he remembered walking to get to the Air Force Base entrance gate..It was still in the same place, but, of course, much different now…

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The “guard shack” has been rebuilt of brick and made much more secure.

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Dennis says he spent many a day on this beach…It was within 2 blocks of the AFB gate.

We took a drive, following the signs, to see “downtown” Biloxi..Well….it was a big disappointment. I am sure Camille and Katrina wiped out most of those old buildings too. MacGyver says he and some buddies used to walk into town from the base and “bar hop” Imagine that, 19 year old GI’s bar hopping.…(Drinking age then was 18)…So, after a quick drive around, we drove back to “Goshay”, and began a  lengthly cocktail hour.  I am pretty sure he was disappointed, but he says no, he didn’t expect it to be anything like he remembered. After all, that was 54 years and many hurricanes ago!!

Our weather here, like most of it has been lately, is cold and quite rainy.  We have been back in our Winter coats for our last 2 walks….SAY WHAAAAT???? But again, I keep my mouth shut..well, I try not to whine..Illinois is like the frozen tundra…and it’s almost March!!

I do love this town of Gautier..Our park is on one of the “Scenic byways”, about 1 block from the Gulf.  The homes are up on “stilts” out by the bay, but there is an older neighborhood we have walked through that is mostly brick ranch homes..

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Left is a bay home (I actually cropped the car out, but Picasa wouldn’t let me SAVE it! GRRRR!.) Right pic is one of the older neighborhoods..Those Live Oaks are just gorgeous!

At any rate, we are liking this South Mississippi area, trying to get some y’all in our language! Looking for a good place for seafood, I have been online. We didn’t want fancy, but just really good seafood to carryout..I think I found one! It’s called Bozo's Seafood Market. Check out the link..they have 18 photos to look at! It’s about 5 miles from us in Pascagoula, on a back street, open from 8AM-8PM and been in business since the 1950’s!  We did a drive by today so I could run in and get a “to go” menu..Ha! Den could hardly find a place to park so I could run in..and it was 11:30AM!. People were leaving with bags and containers everywhere! I ran in and it was organized bedlam…A bunch of peeps eating at little tables, a line to place your order, a long line to pay for it..and in the back a seafood counter with crabs, crawfish, oysters, fresh fish..you name it. I didn’t get a menu because it was written on the wall, but I now know what we will order..a fried oyster “box” of 1 dozen oysters, fries and hush puppies for $9…Yep, we will be back tomorrow afternoon about 3PM, trying to miss the lunch and dinner rush!!

Oh, I almost forgot…I have a question for “the birdlady of blogland”, Judy

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Just what IS this bird, oh great Sensei??? Looks like a Robin, but even I know it isnt..I could get out my bird book, but I figured you might want to know that I trust you more!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Battlefield , a Battleship and… a submarine

I know it’s been a while between blogs lately…Between bad weather and little ambition, I have been a bit lax. We have had much cold and windy weather since getting to the Gulf coast..Lesson to self..next year, stay longer in South Florida! When I planned this trip, I really did want to do the Gulf areas. I wanted to see Eglin AFB, Ft. Walton Beach, Historic Blakely MS, Biloxi MS, and …our original plan was to stay at Grand Isle LA for our last 2 weeks. We did change that up a bit..Instead of Grand Isle, we are going to St. Bernard SP and Tickfaw SP in Louisiana for the last 2 weeks before turning the Hiker North into Mississippi.

We have been at Historic Blakely Lake State Park in Spanish Fort MS, across the bay from Mobile. This park is on one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields ever. The Battle of Fort Blakely took place from April 2-April 9, 1865 in Baldwin County, Alabama, as part of the Mobile Campaign of the American Civil War. The siege and capture of Fort Blakely was basically the last combined-force battle of the war. As a result of this battle, Union forces would finally be able to occupy the city of Mobile, Alabama on April 12, 1865.

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Above left you see the Confederate “breastworks”, (the front lines)..on right you can see the front of the Union breastworks.

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Left is an original portion of the Union Massachusetts Battery, constructed April 6th of gabions (cages containing wire, earth, assorted things),by work parties. This position held three 12 pounder Napoleons (cannons) that pounded the Confederates at 500 yards. Right, you can see how they are shoring them up with logs to reconstruct them. There was a town of Blakely there first. Get ready, here comes a US History lesson!

“In 1813, Blakeley was founded by Josiah Blakeley, "an entrepreneur and adventurer from Connecticut who moved to Mobile in 1806. Blakely had a deep natural port, which was reachable by ships that could not cross the Dog River bar, a sandbar that sometimes impeded shipping access to Mobile. For some years, Blakeley competed with Mobile to be the top port in what was then the Alabama Territory.

In 1820, state legislation recognized the port and harbor of Blakeley and officially incorporated the town under state law. Also in 1820, Blakeley was named as the seat of Baldwin County. It boasted a post office, a bank, three hotels, and a weekly newspaper called The Blakeley Sun , the fourth newspaper to be established in Alabama. Weekly ferry service connected the town with Mobile. Boat-building was an important industry, and two prominent steamers, the 400-ton Mississippi and the 60-ton Tensas , were built there. The Tensas was one of the first steamships to ascend the Alabama River as far as Montgomery.

Blakely began its decline after yellow fever epidemics struck the region in 1822, 1826, and 1828, decimating the city's population. Casualties were so high that mass graves were needed to bury the dead. High land prices and widespread speculation during the 1820s also may have discouraged people from settling in Blakeley.”

While we were near Mobile, of course we had to visit the USS Alabama, WWII battleship at Mobile Bay.

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16" guns..."The BIG GUNS"..USS Alabama "BIG GUNS" aft of USS Alabama 101_6704

The Alabama was commissioned August 16, 1942. She earned 9 Battle Stars, and shot down 22 enemy airplanes in WWII. Her assigned crew was 127 officers and 2, 205 enlisted, but she normally had a crew of about 2500 men onboard. Here is what impressed me..her big guns…Her armament was nine 16”/45 caliber guns (3 main turrets) accurate to 21 miles…twenty 5”/38 caliber guns (10 side mounts), forty-eight 40mm guns (12 mounts) and fifty-two 20mm guns.

The USS Alabama saw 37 months of active duty in WWII, she never suffered any casualties or significant damage in enemy attacks. In 1962, the Navy announced that the Alabama would be scrapped. That stirred the hearts of Alabamians so the Navy donated her to the state and school children helped raise the $1,000,000 to have her towed 5,600 miles through the Panama Canal to Mobile Bay.

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Left is a captured Japanese flag…right, is an old Air Force dude I found wandering the ship. tehee.

There were also many military aircraft outside and inside…but my favorite was the B-52D Stratofortress Bomber, Calamity Jane..was equipped exclusively for long-range bombing missions. "Calamity Jane" completed over 100 missions over North Vietnam..She has been demilitarized, but remains in the high camouflage used during Vietnam operations. "

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AND….. there was also a submarine on the museum property…..!  The USS Drum.

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Top, left are some of the torpedo tubes..  “The USS Drum carried up to 8 officers and 75 enlisted men. She carried 10 21” torpedoes, 6 forward and 4 aft. She carried a total of 24 torpedoes onboard… Also forward was a 5”/25 caliber deck gun and AA gun (40mm Bofors). Aft she carried AA gun, a Twin 20mm Oerlikon.”

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Left is one of the torpedoes they carried..Right …well…..MacGyver is hallucinating he is the Captain of a submarine….. 

Den in submarine USS Drum. Me thinks he was just a bit too tall for this kind of sailing!

I know, this is becoming a “marathon” blog..But I had to tell you about our overnight “guests” last Thursday night at Blakeley Lake campground…

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Yep….our youngest daughter, Chris, hubby John and Wolff Cubs Aiden and Maddox came for a short visit…

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We had a short but great time with them..They left Friday afternoon…and had a harrowing drive through ice and sleet in Kentucky and Indiana ..What was suppose to take 11 hours, took 16 hours!!! But, they did make it back safe and sound, thank God!

OK, those who are bored mindless by military stuff can now wipe the drool off your chins and wake up…Push your self away from the computer, stretch out and get a cold beverage..which is exactly what I am going to do!!!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seriously??????back in my flannels!!!!

MacGyver and I left last Monday and headed North (bad idea) to Ft. Walton Beach, FL..in the panhandle. Yep, we went from pretty nice weather to “not so nice” weather in 230 miles.  We are staying at Fred Gannon State Park, which is actually located in Niceville..I find this a rather humorous name for a town, especially when they turned off our park water for 4 nights due to freezing nightly temps..Tonight, 28 degrees, tomorrow  a high of 51 and low of 30, Saturday a high of 63 (HEAT WAVE) and low of 41..and finally we have Sunday…a high of 54 and low of 35.  We loaded up with water onboard, so we are all good.  Soooooo,it’s back to my flannels for the next few evenings.  Heck I just might have to wave good bye to my summer ensembles if this keeps up!

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This is our new diggs here at the park.

This park has 36 sites, most of them are very sandy. We do have some gravel in ours though. They have a huge day use area along the Choctawhatchee Bay…I had to copy and paste that name…couldn’t remember how to spell it…and DON’T  ask me to pronounce it! The park has 2 washers and 2 dryers, and we happened to be parked just once site away…SCORE! I chose this park because I know my Uncle Walt was stationed down here at Eglin Air Force Base when I was little. We drove from Northern Illinois in a 1953 Chevy down here to visit him. I still have the memory of me and my brother and sis stuffed into that car for the drive…and this was before the interstate system. We left home about 10PM and Dad drove it straight through. I slept up in the back window, my sister, Darlene, got the back seat (she was 12 and I was five…I guess I fit better in the window than she did.) My brother, Michael, was only 2, so he sat on mom’s lap..(before seat belts too). Uncle Walt lived in a trailer with his wife and 2 kids in Ft. Walton Beach. 

We cannot get on base, of course, but we do have those wonderful military aircraft zooming overhead…AND there is a munitions range near hear, which rattles the ground on occasion…I don’t mind the noise, in fact I love those sounds..Yes, I am a bit strange…no surprise, right?

We have made a change of plans for the first couple weeks of March. Instead of going to Grand Isle State Park at the “boot tip” of Louisiana, we are splitting it into 2 separate parks…WHY did we change our plans? you ask..Because I am tired of having either no phone or no internet..We researced Grand Isle and it is pretty remote, sketchy service again..and it would have been for 2 loooooong weeks…Nope, Nada, Nix, NOT!!!Our first park will now be St. Bernard State Park in Louisiana…I chose this because it is only 18 miles to New Orleans, and I really want to go there…but NOT for Mardis Gras!! The second week will be spent at Tickfaw State Park. I chose this one so we can tour Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, LA.  I have this passion for history and cannot pass this up while we are down here!

As for now, we are freezing our butts off here in Northern Florida, but it’s still better than Illinois! Here are a few more pictures from our last place, Manatee Springs State Park..

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At Manatee Springs they had a little place by the springs where you could get BBQ!…and wine and beer…

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Here’s their menu…There was no place inside, just picnic tables outside overlooking the springs…We didn’t eat there, but they were always busy working that big smoker!!

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Aaaaah, yes…I remember sitting outside catching some rays…those were the days!! Hopefully, I will be able to do it again soon…HOPEFULLY~

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Sorry….I just could NOT resist!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pushing the envelope…

We are here at Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, FL….This is another wonderful and amazing spot..if you don’t mind almost NO internet and absolutely NO AT&T cell phone service!! We have been pretty fortunate to see a young Manatee in one of the springs here at the park..I am only going to attempt one or two photos and a collage…Our Verizon internet connection sucks pond spring water.

The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. Adult manatees average 10 ft. in length and about 1200 lbs…There are scuba divers here daily to swim in the spring with them..but they have to maintain a 50 ft. distance from them (which some idiots PUSH to the max!). There are always park rangers at the springs when there are divers to keep an eye on them and make sure the divers don’t do anything dumb..In my humble opinion, the divers ruin it when they are paddling all over, fins and masks swooping through the springs…making ripples so it’s hard to spot the manatees..I would prefer to see them without “Mike Nelson” in the water. (If you remember the TV show, Sea Hunt, you get my meaning.)

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This park is connected to the Suwannee River, as in “Waaaaay down up the …”.. It is a gorgeous place to explore. The campsites in our loop, Hickory loop, are all in the sand..This does not bode well for RV carpet when it rains all day and night, which it did yesterday.  And the roads in our loop are packed sand, with pot holes and tree roots making for an interesting RV drive to your site.  TO be fair, there is another loop, Magnolia loop, which is closed because they are improving the sites and road…(much needed)..I’m thinking they are doing it one loop at a time, and I sure hope this loop is on the agenda soon!

Today is sunny and 70 degrees.YAY!! Tomorrow, MacGyver and I are going to drive to Cedar Key to explore a bit…Cedar Key was basically just an old fishing village in “the day”, that has developed into a popular tourist attraction.. They do have a wildlife refuge and an old lighthouse..and you know me and history..I gotta see it…

Here is a collage of a few pictures I have taken here…and you know darn well I have LOTS stashed on my computer!!! I figure a collage will publish easier than lots of separate photos…here in Verizon Hades.

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Manatees are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. It is illegal to feed, harass, harm,  pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy or molest manatees…And I say Thank the Lord!!

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If this is the only way I can ride one…I’m jumpin’ on it!!!

See ya again when the internet Gods that be allow!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Yep, we’re still here…

Finally back online for a blog…We had a sketchy connection in Big Cypress…and NO connection in Flamingo..Soooo..I am going to post a few chosen pictures…and you know darn well I took a gazillion!

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Above is our spot at Midway Campground, Big Cypress Nat’l Park..Right is a picture looking across the lake there.  This was a very nice place,  electric only, you need your own water but they do have potable water there.  They have bathrooms but no showers..$15 a night if you are an old fool like us. No phone service for AT &T, and sketcy Verizon signal..We stayed here one week. While we were there, friends from Illinois invited us to Everglade City, where they stay for January and February…They have a boat…and we got a great boat ride!

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They took us to a deserted island called Fakahatchee Island where a family once lived. There is a few tombstones where some of the family are buried. We docked by pulling right up to the island..After walking through a little path to explore (I was a bit concerned we might encounter something exploring US), Tom and Sammye broke out some cheese, crackers and wine and we had a little picnic on the boat..! This was so much fun..I felt like I was on Gilligan’s Island..

Fakahatachee Island, FL Here we have the the Professor, the Skipper and Ginger…MaryAnn took the  photo..tehee. What a spot!

I have SO many photos, I will put this boat trip into collage form ..You get an idea of just how much fun we had…

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From Big Cypress, we went further South and spent one week at Flamingo campground in Everglades National Park… Here we had good AT&T cell service, but zip, zero, zilch Verizon internet signal..Oh well…sometimes it’s nice to be a bit “off the grid”…no new is good news, right? Flamingo is very large, and most of the campsites are no  hook ups..We managed to get one with electricity and used our own water onboard again. Now I need to make a collage of Flamingo pictures…

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They have a lot of hammocks here in Florida..and NO, not the kind you lay down and fall out of. A Hammock is a forest of broad leaf trees surrounded by Pines or swamps..(there are no cliff notes for this lesson). On the left pic, we are walking through a Mangrove Hammock..If you think those peeps in the middle photo look like the same three on Gilligan’s Island, you are right. Tommy and Sammye drove the 120 miles from Everglade City to pay us a day visit at Flamingo..Great friends,  yes they ARE!..Papa Osprey was watching over his mate, who was sitting on a nest resting on a post at the Flamingo Marina..Everyone was taking photos..all he did was crab at us every so often..I think he liked the publicity.

Are you ready for one more place?? Hey, we have been out of touch for a few weeks!! We have been here at Highlands Hammock(yep another hammock) State Park in Sebring FL…

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This is our spot at Highlands Hammock..In my opinion the spots are waaay too close together. It’s kinda hard finding where yours stops and another begins..It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but a little tight..The trails here, however, are a-maze-ing!!!!!!

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This was Cypress Hammock Trail.. We did see one alligator crawling up on the shore, but he was faster than I was with my camera…Some of the Oak trees here are HUGE!

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Above is what’s left of a 1000 year old Oak Tree…awesome, to say the least!  There are 9 trails to walk here and we did 8 in one day..My favorite was the Cypress Swamp Trail..It was like walking back in time..felt like we  had to whisper (which is no easy feet for moi!)..Here are some photos from that trail…

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Sooo beautiful at this place…There was a boardwalk built up over most of it, so you really got the feel for being in the swamp…However, there was a section that made me pause before I walked out on it..

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“Come on, Donna, you wimp..There is a rail to hold…COME ON!!”..but …there was only ONE flipping rail to hold…Somebody who built this walkway had an evil sense of humor..didn’t make the rail on the other side…and it was this way for a looooooooong walk!! “OK, Dennis, I’m coming, but I’m NOT feeling real good about this..I know there are critters in here who see me as lunch!”

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This is me…trying to think my way to “becoming one with the swamp”…Note there is NO rail on my left…and that walkway was darn narrow..I’d like a headcount of how many people actually did a header into the water, please…

OK, these are just a smitten of the pictures I have taken in the last 18 days..We leave tomorrow for Mannatee State Park near Cedar Key and Chiefland, FL…We will be there one week, but not too sure about internet service..So if you don’t hear from me ….either I DID become something’s “lunch”…or we have no service there… Thanks for tolerating my “big sissiness”!!

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Sunset over Flamingo, FL…