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Pensacola, Florida… about as far west in Florida as you can go. We know that because we had picked it as the place we’d turn the steering wheel right and head back towards NC. We finally made it there after meandering around Florida for nearly 3 months. After a beautiful but sad 4-hour drive we arrived to the place we knew would be further west… but we didn’t think about it being further north than we had been and that change along with this year’s famous cold front brought on cold temps that chased us out of shorts and back into long pants, sweatshirts and even our coats. The drive was sad because it took right across the section of the state that was devastated by hurricane Michael last year. We were not prepared for the miles and miles of nothingness that exists out on the interstate now… nothingness like hardly any trees anymore. They’re mostly all gone, especially on the hillsides. Like boats on land 100s of feet from where the water is now. And homes and business impacted but not giving up… many rebuilding as we drove by… many piling up trees, shingles and debris at the road 20-30 feet high. It was a sight we should have been prepared for but we were not… but how can you prepare yourself for that kind of scene.
But as we crossed the bridge and neared Pensacola the palm trees, shrubs, landscape, houses and businesses started to appear again with many not even touched by the hurricane. Part of us wanted to turn around and go back and help. Part of us was glad there was still a coast to visit at all. We were both tired from a long day of driving, well 4-5 hours is our max, so we got our van all set up and hunkered down for the night… for a long, cold night as it turned out.
But that cold weather didn’t keep us from enjoying the Pensacola area. Like almost every area we visit we had done some research to decide on what major things we wanted to do. We knew we wanted some long awaited beach time, but with temps in the 40s that may not happen. We also knew we wanted to see the lighthouse and although we did the research to know all about it’s history we failed to do the research to help with directions to view it.
You’d think it would be relatively easy to find a freaking lighthouse wouldn’t you? It sticks up hundreds of feet in the air and it’s made to be seen… for miles. Well the lighthouse at Pensacola is not that hard to find… that is if you know you have to go on the Naval Base to get there. While Maggie wasn’t allowed to go up the lighthouse she was allowed on the beach and man that girl loves being in the sand and running, running, running. In fact, like us, she seems to love everything there is about exploring these new areas in our van. Her life is simple… sleep, eat, pee, smell, sleep a little more and play when the time is right. It’s a formula that maybe we all should try to stick to if our finances and situations give us the chance to do that.