Friday, November 28, 2014

Pensacola, FL - Thanksgiving Feast to Honor Marines

The marines stationed in Pensacola

My dish for them

Love kabobs...heart-shaped strawberries,
mini marshmallows and blueberries
This post is dedicated to the young Marines that are becoming their absolute personal choice!  Marines that took time out on this blessed day to join us at Pensacola RV Park in a celebration of gratitude.  I will allow the pictures and the remarks from the several Marines (Bright Spots) that I had the privilege to spend a little time with speak for themselves about what today was like for all of us!
     First, though, I would like to say thank you to the owners of this Park-Lane, Wyndell and Jeanine-for their awe-inspiring generosity, loving time, effort and hospitality which made this memorable day possible for so many.
Jeanine welcoming the marines to the park


Drill Sgt talking with the marines

"Rocks" for lunch???  LOL
Fresh oysters...Doug ate most of them!!!
Kudos to all who contributed the most delicious quantity of food I've ever seen in one place!  Their offerings were greatly appreciated by all who attended, especially the Marines, many of which were spending their first Thanksgiving away from their families.  WOW-what a special occasion to have been a part of!!!

The sun was shining much of the day, but it was a little chilly and the breeze was a bit strong at times.  I was writing fast with cold shivering hands, so please forgive me if I have left anything out that any of you shared with me.  I'd be happy to add or change any information if you wish...but I'm hoping I get it all correct!!!  Also, I'd like to add here that each one of you that I spent time talking to warmed my heart...your honesty, enthusiasm, dedication and gratitude  for the marines, your being here today and for life itself  delighted me!  I'm honored to have had this time with you and best of luck and many blessings in your future!

                                                              BRIGHT  SPOTS
ZACHARY is from Detroit, MI and has always wanted to be a marine.  His field of interest is aviation mechanics.  Everyday that he wakes up is a reason to be happy for him.
ALAN is from Manassas, VA and his area of specialty is aviation support.  Here they learn ALL the trades in aviation so they can pitch in whenever needed!  It means the world to him that he is able to stay in touch with his family.
JULIE is from MA and is the first in her family to serve in the military.  She chose this path for the adventure, the travel, the challenge, etc.  She has been in the service 9 mos. and is training in the field of aviation electronics because it will serve her well in the civilian world as well.  She wakes up every morning proud to be a marine.
Jeanine and nephews and

"The perfect marshmallows"

Cindy helping prepare
Chavis' 1st s'mores

OK, here he goes....

He did it!  But did he like it?  LOL
THOMAS and JONATHAN are in the same platoon and are very grateful to be here today because last year on Thanksgiving they were in boot camp!!!

SAM has been in the marines for 9 mos. and shared confidently and enthusiastically that it has been the best decision he has ever made.  He is from FL and a year ago found himself with little money working at a Waffle House.  A marine recruiter came into the restaurant one day and the rest is history!  Sam will always remember the look of pride on his parents' faces when he graduated from boot camp this past summer on Friday, June 13, 2014.  "I'll never forget that day."
JORDAN is from Texas, has been in the marines 16 mos. and will be driving across the country soon from Ohio to begin work at his duty station in Mirama, CA.  He recently got engaged and has set the date for June 8, 2015.  Congrats!
Group campfire at dusk

AUSTIN is from WI and it has been 14 mos. since he joined the marines.  His field is aviation electronics and he will be traveling with Jordan on their cross-country adventure!
MICHAEL joined the marines 15 mos. ago and is from FL.  He is extremely excited about haven gotten the exact job that he wanted as a meteorological technician.  He'll be working on weather forecasting equipment and with 100's of options, he couldn't be happier.  Even with a 75% college scholarship available to him, Michael chose the marines.  He is also very grateful that he will be home for Christmas!
HOLDEN, in the marines for 14 mos, is from UT.  He also will be working on weather equipment. He was telling me that it is the rarest job in the entire marine corps with only 40 positions!  He will be working out of SC.  When asked why he joined the marines, Holden shared that he was headed in a direction was destined to be harmful to himself and others and it wasn't what he wanted for his life. Holden was also born into a privileged family and felt like he wanted to be his own man, do his own thing, work for what he achieved and become more independent.  He is so appreciative that no distance can sever the ties and support of family...his family!

Check back for a few rare pieces of footage to brighten your day!  Videos will be posted soon!! Thanks to all for being such good sports!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pensacola, FL-Pensacola Beach

     After I left the museum the other day, I drove to one of the beaches here.  I was ready for lunch and CRABS was recommended to me by the woman in the Pensacola Visitors Center.  Well, she did a great job with that one!  The food was wonderful, the people friendly, the outer patio was right on the white sandy beach that slipped right into the Gulf of Mexico!!!  Not to mention they were playing fabulous beachy songs!!!  I had time while waiting for my meal to walk along the beach and found several pieces of sand cool!  I didn't arrive until about 3:30 and I wanted to be back to the campground before dark, so I didn't stay as long as I would have liked....but rest assured, I'll be going back!
Restaurant from the pkg lot

Restaurant from the beach

Gulf of Mexico-barely dusk

Judi's piggies  in the
crystal clear Gulf

My dinner

My 3 meal dinner...lots of leftovers!!!

If you zoom in, you'll see they are
pelicans!  They're everywhere down here!

Sand covered floor!


Sand dollar pieces
I'm on a mission to discover a whole one!

The side view of this shell reminds
me of a futuristic condo building or
arena of some sort.
So, I have an active imagination!!!
It's cool though even without
an imagination!!! 

Pensacola, FL-Naval Aviation Museum

    A few days ago, I went to the museum to see the Blue Angel planes because they train here and I always thought their air tricks were amazing.  I left with a whole new respect and compassion for families of wartime.  Seeing the models of ships and planes and reading about their contribution to various wars, seeing pictures of those who served during wartime and wreckages found on the floor of  Lake Michigan....somehow shifted me inside.

Top Gun
 I never appreciated history of any kind in school.  I found it boring and unnecessary...certainly not pertinent to my life.  I was humbled by my visit to this museum and felt a bit ashamed of my lack of interest throughout my life.  Perhaps I've taken for granted the fact that during my lifetime I haven't experienced the fear and loss of having to send a child away not knowing if they would return alive or lost everything because of bombings.   I didn't connect MY safe life with the sacrifice of thousands of men and women who risked theirs.  Even though I have no first hand experience with what so many families had to bear, my heart is now open to them and their courage and loyalty.  With much respect, admiration and appreciation, I say Thank you.
Bright Spot- Last evening I joined some of the campers at a community fire.  We were chatting about all kinds of things regarding the RV life.  The we were sharing what we were going to contribute to the Thanksgiving dinner at the campground.  One woman said she was hoping that 96 deviled eggs were going to be enough.  My eyes widened.  I asked who in the world was gonna eat all those eggs when the owners were supplying the main things?  As it turns out, there will be approximately 150 people here on Thursday...about 40 of which will be young military men and women!  The owners are busing them in from the naval base!  Most of them will be experiencing their first Thanksgiving away from home.  Apparently, this campground has been doing this each of the 6 years they have been in business!   I was so touched by this immense gesture of love!  The owners are supplying 9 turkeys, hams, fresh local oysters, pies, etc.  Campers are going all out for this celebration.  I told them they could count me in!  I'm going to make mini skewers with heart shaped strawberries, mini marshmallows and blueberries (red, white and blue) for everyone!  So this Thanksgiving meal will be an opportunity for me to say thank you in person and be part of a beautiful community effort to help these young kids feel at home.  I am so honored to be here for this!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finally in Florida

    The last leg to Florida was a bit long but very smooth.  One of the coolest sights I came across was fields and fields of COTTON!  Beyond the rows along the road, you could see bright strips of was amazing.
     I arrived in Pensacola in the NW panhandle of Florida Saturday early evening.  Since it was nearly dark, Wendall, the owner of the campground, lead me to my site and guided me nice of him! It was gonna be chilly overnight, so I ate dinner and got ready to be tea and a funny movie!
     Sunday proved to be a lovely day.  I was able to walk around the grounds with just a light sweater.  Mostly, this RV Park is just that...where RVs park.  It's privately owned and the owner's home is situated on a sweet little pond where guests are welcomed to hang out.  Of course where there is water, there is ME!!!  I walked around and took pictures of everything lovely that I saw!

 Despite the lack of ambiance throughout the 'park', the area all around the pond was really nice...especially the trees!  WOW, they are old and huge and amazing!  They have a similar feel as antique furniture to me.  Beautiful, well-built, and to be admired.
    Sunday night the weather went to hell in a hand basket!  Thunderstorms, tornado warnings, rockin' and rollin' Van-Go due to high winds AND freeze warnings to boot!!!

the real color of the trees

playing with sepia overtones...kinda cool

a little friend offering to assist with washing
the dishes...ain't he cute?

     As I sit here on Tuesday writing in the laundry center with three layers of clothing on under my coat, I am trying desperately to remember that I am in Florida, the sunshine state!!!  The current temperature at 8:46 am is 31 with a wind chill making it feel like 26 with a high expected of 45!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   OMG!  I came to Florida to get away from the cold.  I can't even take Breeze into town because of the cold!  And go to the beach.....well???!!!  OKAY, I'm finished bellyaching for now...but really??!!!  Apparently, this lifestyle requires not only a sense of adventure, but also a sense of HUMOR!!!  I'm keeping my sights on warmer weather REAL SOON!  I got places to go and a tan to revitalize!  LOL