Wednesday, October 23, 2013

3 Weeks in the Cradle of Naval Aviation

Back before I went down to West Virginia for the WV Trilogy, I had a pretty big lapse in blogging activity. Considering a news release yesterday, I thought I'd go back and fill in those blanks today as to the "why" no blogging back then.

Yesterday, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels made a much-anticipated announcement that they'll be flying again in 2014. Because of the government's financial woes, they were grounded in 2013. Well, for 3 weeks in September, I was in the "Cradle of Naval Aviation" as it's called in Pensacola, Florida. I was attending a school there. Pensacola Naval Air Station is the base where all who wish to be a part of Naval Aviation go first for training. It's also the home to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels! As in the past, I go pretty dark when I travel from home in order to protect my family but now that the trip is far in the rear view mirror, I thought I'd talk about it. As always, I took a lot of photos while down there. Besides the boring (to you!) classes I was in during the day, my running took a big fat hit while down there. You see, I don't do well in heat and humidity and often at 10pm down there, it was still 80-85 degrees and humid. I'd go on a 7 mile run and you'd think I'd jumped in the ocean by the looks of me. It totally zonked my running for 3 weeks and the longest run I did was 11 miles. I did, however, discover much of the base and ran by the Blue Angels more than once and the Naval Aviation Museum. On the second weekend, I traveled several hours east to Gainesville, Florida for my first college football game. Good friends of ours live in Gainesville and are big Florida Gators fans. They got me a seat 5 rows up in the end zone of the Gators/Tennessee game. I think I went deaf during that game. That was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I'm a band fan so I did love the dueling Florida vs. Tennessee bands from the corners of the stadium. I had also never seen tailgating like that in my life. We even grilled out in a parking lot several blocks away before the game. I had gone to a Browns' pre-season game a few months back so this was a good comparison...NO COMPARISON! football is where it's at! Besides the football game, my trip was fairly uneventful. Below are photos from the trip with some captions to explain. I will was pretty cool to get my hair cut at the Blue Angels' barber shop then eat lunch outside at a food truck while to my right through the pines were the Angels and their support C-130, "Fat Albert." It's good to be a sailor! Enjoy the photos!
Where Navy Recruiting begins :-)
This retired Angel sits in front of the Mustin Officers Club
A common running route while there.

Large "Arlington-like" cemetery on base
Behind the Museum...old relics of Naval Aviation
Can you say "Top Gun"?!?! Oh yea! F-14 Tomcat!
Iron Sailor meet bright orange running sailor 
Photo-bombing the Blue Angels road sign. :-)
No doubt...the Marines have the best dress uniforms. Walking through the uniform shop, I just thought this was a cool photo. Future Marines are waiting...
I had one of my best dinners here in downtown Pensacola. Have you seen "The Help"? This place seemed to jump off the pages of that time in history. I started with Fried Green Tomatoes. Sooo good but I wish my bride had been there to share.

Another daily passing-by on a run
Oh yes...the sunset nearly every night
Mr. Moon beckoning me on an early morning run while I hear the young Sailors and Marines chanting cadence in the distance
En route to the Gators/Vols game
Pretty great end-zone seats. Time for the National Anthem.
Before leaving Gainesville, my friends here took me to a 15,000 year old sinkhole north of town. We're in the bottom of it here.

Fat Albert while I eat lunch one day
These are freshly painted buoys that go in the bay near Pensacola, FL. I saw the opportunity for a cool "Hulk-like" photo and couldn't pass it up. Strong, aren't I?!
Graduation Day...ready to recruit the Navy's finest future officers
Run Happy, friends!

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