Friday, September 21, 2012

Blue Angels, Pasta and Porpoises

Al really doesn’t LIKE the beach; he barely tolerates it unless there are Beach Toys, preferably grandchildren. Long walks on the beach stooped over looking at flotsam and jetsam, Agates or even gold doubloons, not so much. So this little adventure has been classified as a trip to repair the carnage to our awning –- don’t ask-- or, perhaps a purely scientific inquiry into the rate of dune rebuilding since the last visit.
In his defense, this is what they built back after the hurricane tidied up the mess a few years back…

But this is what
we saved…  notice the
IMG_6254dunes are filling in…

And the remaining trees are filling out as well.  This is the part Al Likes….


    He Likes this too.

So while waiting for our camper repair, Patty found Petrella’sIMG_6229, a family place with rave reviews and seven dollar lunch specials.  Wow!  We split and were planning our next visit as we waddled out the Door.
The Gulf Island National Seashore appears just at the edge of the condo jungle.  It’s a mile or so along a thin ribbon of sand before you even reach the gate, where Ranger Douglas gave us the warmest greeting we have Ever had at a Federal facility.  It’s another three miles of beach before you reach the old Coast Guard station which serves as the camper registration and perhaps another mile to the campsites.

DECOMPRESSION  , and a IMG_6262chance to speculate about the eight foot mounds of sand along the road.  The park was closed several days to clear the overwash of sand from Tropical Storm Isaac.  And WE believe that the surf is a little closer to the road that it was…IMG_6263
We settled into  site #6 (with a lovely bit of shade), met some  truly nice folks, and didn’t even stray over the boardwalk to the beach.
Next morning, the Blue Angels were practicing and we were amongst the standing room crowd watching the spectacle. Standing allows the freedom to swing around and watch as the elements zooming in from all angles.
“Here they come.  Oh wait, that’s a dragon fly.. Oh, there they are.  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!”
As the planes landed and rolled out, a mature Bald Eagle which  had been circling  just off the airfield, moved over the center of the quiet landing area, climbed to 600 feet  in a tight spiral and just held there.
        “ROLL CREDITS.”
The Naval Air Museum is a must see, even though we have been here several times.  (Patty has a LITTLE crush on the Blue Angels.)  This time we strayed off the main hanger floor into a bulkhead to watch a film on qualifying carrier pilots on an old refitted side-wheeler off Chicago!  Who Knew?  The film outlined the recovery of some combat veteran Aircraft from Lake Michigan and the five year restoration.  The plane, a ABD Dauntless Dive bomber was instrumental in winning the Battle of Midway and has a tiny family connection.  Carl Meyer’s first task as a civil engineer at McDonnell Douglas during the war was to engineer/reengineer the tail hook.
“We want it strong, Carl. Lives depend on it.  But, it’s not a bridge.”
Amazingly, nearly 6000 were built yet none were available for display before the restoration on the proud ship sitting here.  We stroked her quietly while a Navy veteran carrier pilot of a later era, recounted the Battle of Midway. 
“Can we go back to Petrella’s ?  Sure.”
Later we found the beach. 
“Yeah, still here.  Can we ….?  NO!
A single Porpoise brightened Patty’s day and she “walked” it down the beach till she was out of sight.
Later we biked until sunset with no noticeable effects on the sore shoulder. (That would show up later.) Patty was full speed from the start and seemed to enjoy the flat terrain, great pavement and balmy temps.
The Osprey nests that were so plentiful in snags last year were destroyed by the winds.  Only a few left.  There will be a building boom next spring.  This is too good a fishing ground to abandon.
Next day the Porpoises were here –- in droves.  Seems that about 3:30 they run East along the beach and play with anyone who can reach them.  Today a pontoon boat accompanied them and, from our distant vantage, seemed to be able to make them jump and cavort by swinging her arms overhead?  It was quite a show, probably as many as 12-14.
Even cooler the last night. The CG was emptying out in the morning as the Grey IMG_6273Hairs moved on and the sites filled with young folks in tents getting settled for the De Luna Music festival over the weekend. One last Breakfast. 

“What’s the Friday special at Petrella’s?”
“Flounder stuffed with crab in a white sauce.”
“It’s on the way….or will be.”
So, the perfect beach trip.  A lovely place, a density of 1-6 people per mile of beach, warm water, pleasant breezes and time equally divided between beachcombing and Italian food.

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