Had the opportunity to visit the gulf coast of Florida this week, which is always enjoyable. Ever since my time there in the early 90s I’ve loved the Southern hospitality, laid back lifestyle and mild weather, at least in the winter. Summers? Not so much, but it’s still nice. I lived in Pensacola during my training as a Naval Flight Officer and the area really grew on me. Before I married my beautiful wife, I dated a local girl there who introduced me to some of her close friends who soon became my close friends, and still are. They grew on me for their own brand of hospitality which involved their boat. Of course the best boat is the one owned by a friend and theirs was no exception. At least a couple times a month we’d take it out on the inter-coastal waterway, mainly in Perdido Bay, but sometimes along Old River and Pensacola Beach. Any waterfront restaurant or bar worth its salt would have a dock, which enabled us partake in one of my favorite activities from my time there- bar-hopping by boat. Fresh-caught fish, hush-puppies, beer and/or mud-slides was the typical afternoon menu.
|I lived on the beach just below the 'o' in Ono Island|
One of my favorite places was a little dive called Pirates Cove, up that finger inlet near Josephine. It was very much a whole in the wall, with few redeeming qualities other than very cold and very cheap beer. The food was good, as far as burgers and fried fish go. Not much else on that menu from what I recall. Popular joint which attracted all kinds- from the redneck in his muddy jacked-up pickup, to the rich-folk driving their Jags and Beemers. Didn’t seem to matter what you drove, everyone was welcome and everyone was friendly.
The reason for my trip to Miramar Beach was the annual Mine Warfare Science and Technology conference which I’ve attended and mentioned before. The audience and briefings are heavy on the science behind the technologies being developed to improve our mine countermeasures capability. Not having much of an engineering or mathematics background I can only understand half of it, which gave me an opportunity on one of the afternoons to drive over to Pensacola for a quick visit.
My favorite spot in Pensacola proper was a great lrish Pub called McGuires. It was a big hangout for the students and instructors during Flight School. With an apparent love for all things Notre Dame, it was always heavy on the green and Irish theme, but I wouldn’t vouch for the authenticity. We loved it all the same. They always had an Irish singer on the weekends which made the place all the more fun. Another part of the entertainment was seeing the ladies walk in on the men’s restroom because they didn’t read close enough.
Assuming I didn’t drink too much or wasn’t too full, I would indulge in the best bread pudding I’ve ever had. I have the recipe around here someplace which includes a whisky butter sauce topping that makes it so good and worth going back for.
I wonder if the dollar I put up in 1990 is still there. McGuiresirishpub.com
Another fun place was Seville Quarter. Essentially a series of bars and restaurants under one roof, it had a definite New Orleans feel and a band in every room. Several dance floors and different levels helped give the place an inviting club feel which attracted a crowd that any aviator would love. It seemed to fall out of favor with some of us when the place opened up to the 18 and over crowd and their multitudes that took all the parking spots.
Well, I didn’t intend for this post to have the alternate title of “All the Places I Used to Drink” so I’ll get on with it. If I had been on a longer trip to a gulf city closer to my old stomping grounds I might have actually stopped in one or more of those places, but Miramar Beach is almost two hours from my real destination in Pensacola.
It was really good to see Blue Wolf 700 brought indoors. The only truly famous S-3 Viking, save for the one I flew over Iraq in which is now part of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, Blue Wolf 700 is better known by its redesignation.
With several tires and a strut being underserviced, dying paint, and dried up caulking characterizing the jet the last time I saw her, the new space was needed to better display a significant event in Naval Aviation history. The fact that the hangar is dedicated to George Bush Senior, and the museum has the NS2 Kaydet he flew in Training probably helped bring her inside and get a little TLC.
The hangar also has an F-8 Crusader with markings of a ship and a squadron my father served in back in the 60s.
I also got a perfectly patronizing partial picture of a fine looking Phantom that they had there.There was an aircraft outside that I can’t remember ever seeing, even in some of the fine history Sarge has posted about. If there was an emergency the pilot and intercept officer had to slide down a chute behind the cockpit in order to bail out.
|Grumman F9F-2 Panther|
I’ve only been retired from the Navy for less than 7 years, but I was surprised by how sentimental I’ve gotten in that time, and how much I loved some of the more simple exhibits there. The ones depicting a modern Aircraft Carrier really took me back and almost made me miss it.
I was a decent modeler when I was a kid and would sometimes try to put together a diorama for the plane so this exhibit was interesting to me.
Being a place for all things Naval Aviation, they also have a very fine exhibit of art which I've always loved.
Even though I never flew in the A-4, they got rid of the TA-4J version for NFOs just before I began Advanced Training, but this is still my all-time favorite painting in the genre. It's not titled, but "A Gathering Storm," which is how it's described on the placard beside the picture is so fitting in more ways than one.
The Cubi Point O'Club exhibit is excellent and depicts history all on its own through the many squadron plaques that are its heart and soul.
Of course I paid special attention to the ones from my first fleet squadron. I wasn't there in 91, but shortly thereafter so I know many of the names on this plaque and others. I got to the museum at around 3 PM and it closed at 5 so I couldn't get too many more pictures to share. However, I still have one that is special to me.
These two little cuties are the daughters of those folks with the boat. This was during an Air Show on the base back in 1990 and my squadron put those signs on the jets for photo ops. Those girls have moved up to Jax and Orlando, all grown up now with their own families, but we still keep in touch. And both of them keep this picture up in their homes. So besides some great memories of Pensacola, I've still have some good friends from there as well.
Well, thanks for coming along on my "visit" back home.
I apologize for the different font sizes if that shows up in the version you see. I've checked and double checked the settings, trying different fonts, but blogger can be a temperamental SOB sometimes.