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Day 140 - Pensacola to Biloxi, Rain, Rain, Rain

Rain & Wind all night and today, but we checked out the Gulf Coast National Seashore Visitors Center, learned about shipwrecks and lumber, and tried to stay warm & dry

storm 48 °F

Today was Saturday, so I thought I'd try to find a Seventh Day Adventist Church for Mom to attend. While she went to church, I thought I'd work on getting the blog caught up from a couple of days of bad or non-existent internet service. This was not to be. I was able to get far enough into the internet yellow pages to see there was one listing for an SDA church in town, but couldn't get any farther to get the address or phone number. I suggested we could try the phone (Directory Assistence) or a paper phone book (they probably had one in the Wal-mart we stayed in last night) - but Mom said she wasn't feeling well and would prefer to just drive today.

The weather was quite stormy; cold, windy and rainy. The rain let up a little by late afternoon, but it remained windy and cold and not much fun for sightseeing (unless you're into storm watching, which Mom is not).

We just started out when I saw a brown sign for the Gulf Coast National Seashore Visitors Center. In spite of the weather I turned off and decided to check it out. Inside, they had a fairly good narrated slide show about the Gulf Coast seashore. They also had a full scale replica of a small section of the USS Constitution.


What the heck is this doing on the Gulf Coast of Florida??? Well, it's about the wood. Southern Live Oak is the most dense wood grown in North America. It weighs 75 pounds per cubic foot (vs 56 for White Oak and 44 for Yellow Pine). I know, they have cubic foot samples of the wood you can try lifting!


The early American Navy used the best wood they could find for their ships. The USS Constitution proved the value of this effort when British cannonballs bounced off her oak planking - earning the nickname "Old Ironsides". President John Adams was concerned about making sure these would be an adequate supply of Southern Live Oak timber for the Navy and directed the Navy to do something about it. In 1928, the first tree farm in America was set up here for the single purpose of providing Live Oak for naval shipbuilding. Technology has a way of making even the best of plans obsolete however, and by the time the trees were mature enough to harvest - navy ships were made out of steel. However the live oak trees from Navarro were used to restore the USS Constitution in 1929. The tree farm also makes a dandy nature preserve for the Gulf Coast National Seashore.

There are pine and other tree's here as well, and I thought the stormy weather might still make an interesting picture - a different sort of beach shot.


Mom got so cold and wet in the short, 30 foot walk from the RV to the visitors center and back, that an hour later she was still cold - even though I ran the heater at full blast. So when we got the the Pensacola Visitors Center, she didn't feel like doing much of anything. I braved the rain enough to go inside and found out the Visitors Center is just across from Emmanual Point.


In 1992 they found a shipwreck just off this point. The ship was from a 1559 fleet led by Tristan de Luna to try to establish a settlement in Florida. The settlement was unsuccessful, but is still part of the history down here. The wreck is only about 40% explored so far, but has already yeilded over 3,000 artifacts. Recently a second wreck has also been found in this area, also very old, but the salvage is not very far along so I don't think it's been dated yet.

The Visitors Center recommened we visit the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It is the largest Naval Avaition Museum in the world and listed as one of the top three attractions in Florida, believe it or not. I should have gone but was letting the weather get me down also and was a little concerned about Mom, so decided to keep driving. Mom would have been fine in the RV, but wasn't feeling very well and I just didn't feel right about leaving her alone for the that much time. I'll probably be kicking myself for several days about not doing any more sightseeing in Pensacola however. In the unlikely event I ever make it back to this area, I'll be sure to visit this as well as a few of the forts around here.

Unfortunately the bad weather and moods continued as we drove through southern Alabama. Other then the Visitors Center and a gas station, I didn't even stop - not even in Mobile Bay. I am a little embarrassed to confess all this, however it is also true that we had spent over three weeks in Florida and really, really needed to get moving.

We stayed on I-10 into Mississippi and pulled off just east of Biloxi. This is the location of another site set aside as part of the Gulf Coast National Seashore called Davis Bayou. The ranger in Navarro had recommended this for camping, so we thought we'd give it a try. The Visitor's Center at Davis Bayou had been badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, so they are using a 'temporary' one housed in modular units.


When we drove out to the campground area, we crossed a bayou section where a group of egrets were hiding from the storm.


The campground was OK, not the best we've stayed at but the facilities worked and we were warm and toasty for the night. The wind and rain died off during the night, so we expected slightly better driving Sunday. Still had the same problem with the internet - strong enough signal for downloading, couldn't do much of anything however.


Miles Driven - 142
Camped at Davis Bayou NP near Biloxi, Mississippi

Posted by jl98584 08:05 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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It does get chilli in the south. Not as cold as the north, but it is winter. Do not apologize for Florida..that is why everyone in New York goes down there for the winter... They are smart.
It is cool and drizzly here in San Antonio. I hope it suns up a little before you get here.
Phoenix should also be nice for you before you head north.
There are some barbeque places, Mexican restaraunts. The missions, Boerne and Fredricksburg. Or we can go to Castroville, the Alsasion part of San Antonio. We have German,Polish, Spanish, Alsation, etc...populations, each with great food and history. I know we went to the River Walk..don'tknow if you want to take the boat, or ??we can just visit in front of the Fire place. Keep an eye on her BP, I'm a little worried about her.

by rllomas

You're charging along there. You'll be in TX before too long at this rate. I made tentative reservations today, getting me to Robert's place on 3/2, then going down to McAllen for the birding tour on 3/7, and home on 3/16.

by msj

msj - I'm sorry we'll miss you in TX. You should have a great birding tour at that time of year however. Enjoy.

rllomas - We will be at your mercy when we get to San Antonio. It's kind of fun sometimes to find out what other people recommend for their out of town guests! (Besides, we get to choose our itinerary the rest of the time, so also nice to take a break and let someone else do it)

by jl98584

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