On this trip home, we were able to go over to Pensacola and stay at the beach for a night. Thankfully, we were there before the deluge of rain that Pensacola received on Friday and Saturday. However, we didn’t miss the rain entirely. Afternoon thunderstorms are a part of life on the Gulf Coast, and sometimes I miss them terribly. We did get a good one while we visited the Naval Air Museum on Friday, though. You can see the rain pouring down the window behind Harry doing his best Top Gun impression in the cockpit of a plane.
Harry loved the Naval Aviation Museum. He loved pressing all the buttons and levers in the cockpits of the planes.
Sometimes thinking too much about flying a plane in war made him somber.
But then he would get his game face back on and be at it again.
And for Harry, there was just too much else to look at to want to look at the camera to take a good picture with his mom.
It has been a few years since I have been back to Pensacola. Pensacola is a strange place. It obviously was hit quite hard by the housing market. On the west side of town, near the Navy base (where we went to the museum), there are parts of it that just look like they have been abandoned. It isn’t like Pensacola is a town that ever really possessed much wealth and prestige. I mean, the wealthiest people in town from the time I was growing up there to the present are either car salesmen or personal injury attorneys. It is the kind of town where people wear flip-flops everywhere. The average person in Pensacola is much poorer and less educated than the places in which I have made my adult life. And yet, in spite of Pensacola’s lack of prestige, I consider myself pretty lucky to have grown up there. I received a fantastic public education with the kids of those personal injury attorneys and car salesmen. In fact, the wealthiest people in town were happy to send their kids to high school with the poorest kids in town, because that is what Pensacola High School was. Few of the kids I knew in high school have returned to Pensacola after they went off to college, but by the same token, everyone in Pensacola looks the exact same as when I was in high school. Not much has changed. At the restaurant where we ate lunch, we saw Sandy Sansing and a kid who graduated in the IB class with Melissa, who is now a personal injury attorney in Pensacola, just like his daddy. That is just the way things are there. What I appreciated most about growing up there is that when I go back, I feel like there is no one that I have to impress. For the most part, people aren’t really caught up in superficiality there. Although, I fear that maybe that is starting to change. My evidence for this fear is that Pensacola elected a mayor named Ashton Hayward who models in Chico’s catalogs with his wife. What is up with that? That kind of makes me want to vomit. That and that his “career” outside of being a mayor is being a property developer, which is the most sickening career profession to have in a place like Pensacola. Property developers have half-ruined Pensacola beach with their high-rise monstrosities. (Also Pensacola doesn’t need property developed. Its population has shrunk in recent years, not grown.) So yeah, Pensacola, you failed big-time with electing that douchbag.
But in spite of douchbags named “Ashton” (who did not go to public school, but Pensacola Catholic High School where all of the douchbags went) there is a level of comfort there when I go to the beach. When I am on the beach in Hawaii, Hilton Head, or anywhere else, I won’t walk down the beach except in some kind of swimsuit cover-up. Not in Pensacola. There I will just wear my swimsuit and be fine with it, because it is the kind of place where it is what it is (unless you are a Chico’s model, that is). It also isn’t like that there are that many people there on a weekday where it will matter in the first place.
Unfortunately, when we were there the beach wasn’t as calm as I like because of the prevailing Southeasterly wins. First, that meant it was incredibly humid so that my camera kept fogging up when I was trying to take pictures of Harry.
It also meant that a yellow flag surf day turned into a red flag day because the rip currents were terrible. When I went in the water, even I thought it was bad, and I think of myself as a pretty strong swimmer. Pensacola beach had 4-5 foot waves that day which is huge for a place with usually calm surf. So Pensacola’s ten resident surfers all thought it was the greatest.
Melissa, Mom and Harry went back to the hotel so Harry could swim in the pool, since the surf was too strong for him. I decided to take a nap on the beach. The Gulf decided to play a trick on me, since I have been away for so long, and even though I was a good 20 feet back from what I thought was the high water line, I was hit with a mini-tidal wave that soaked all of my clothes, towel, shoes, etc. I was able to hoist my camera in the air just in time to save it from saltwater destruction. Maybe I am just not welcome on Pensacola Beach anymore. Thanks Gulf, I’ll remember you kindness the next time I am trying to convince other people of your superiority to other US bodies of water…