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Key West or Bust

Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
8,233
Location
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
First Name
Bruce
Last Name
Taylor
A gale was blowing;

At least that's what they said. And It seemed like it this morning on the wharf as the wind was howling in the rigging of the sailing ships in the harbor. ;

I must be rested because I woke up at my normal time of 0630. Breakfast isn't out until 0800 so I killed time on the internet. Continental breakfast was OK, the coffee was hot and rich so that was nice. By the time I was satisfied this was going on in the driveway.

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I started my walking tour at the seaport, two blocks from the house. The old train station is at the entrance to the docks. Mr Flagler brought the world to Key West in the early 1900's with the completion of the Overseas Railroad.

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The Conch Republic

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From the port area I wandered back up Duval St. to see the sights.

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Sloppy Joe's famous as the hangout of Hemingway.

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The original location of Sloppy Joe's and claiming to be the oldest bar in Florida.

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I stumbled upon the HD tee shirts shop and had to get a souvenir, I earned it. As I was paying for the tee the lady at the register said I should ride down some day and they were surprised when I said that I did. I told them of my trip so far and they were properly impressed. ;-)

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One good thing about the high winds was that the three cruise ships that were supposed to dock today all canceled. So there were much fewer people as I wandered about. Here is the cruise ship terminal.

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Lots of chickens roam the town.

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I visited the shipwreck museum because I wanted to climb the 65 foot tower and get a higher view of the place. They has actors portraying salvagers and they put on a good tour. Very informative.

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view from the tower

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On top they had a tower cam so I called my wife in her office and had her go to the website. That was pretty cool. A little bit down the street was the Customs house.

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In front was a statue of a photographer taking a photo of a statue. There are lots of these statues around town.

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Next up was Mel Fisher's Treasure museum. It had more artifacts on display than the shipwreck museum. Lots of gold and silver artifacts on display. You could even buy some for prices ranging from $400 to over $10,000.

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This was the tour guide.

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The Little White House used by several Presidents as vacation and meeting location.

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I stumbled across the end of the road. I wasn't looking for it, it was just there.

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I had been walking around for several hours and was thirsty so I popped into The Green Parrot. key West is famous for the bars and this is one of the well known dives. Lots of character inside.

58GreenParrot.jpg


Next post; the military tours.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
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Location
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Bruce
Last Name
Taylor
The military tours

There are a couple of Coast Guard cutters tied up at the pier near Fort Taylor. First I went to CGC Mohawk. The ship was built as an ice breaker in 1934 and saw duty in WWII as convoy escort in the North Atlantic. She was decommissioned in 1947.

60CGCMohawk.jpg


The bigger and better preserved is the CGC Inham. At 327 feet she was the largest cutter at the time of her construction in 1936. In WWII she served in the North Atlantic were she sunk U-626 in 1943. She also served in the Mediterranean during WWII. Near the end of the war she moved to the Pacific and was MacArthur's command ship for the retaking of Corregidor and the several other engagements in the Philippines. She also served in Vietnam. She is the most decorated ship in the history of the Coast Guard.

61CGCInham.jpg


Nearby is the Fort Taylor State Park. A coastal protection fort built in 1845. It was held under Union control during the civil war. Ships captured running the blockade were taken here. The fort was used through the end of WWII and was closed in 1947 along with most of the coastal forts.

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Time for dinner. It's corny but I want' a cheeseburger in paradise so I made my way to Jimmy Bufett's Original Margaritaville and got a cheeseburger. Pretty tasty.

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Key West is famous for it's sunsets and they are celebrated every night.

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Walking back to the house I had to catch a photo of this place. It can't be a day without a picture of a motorcycle. Check the upper left corner. Now this qualifies as a ride report on a motorcycle site.

76bikerlights.jpg
 

Janet

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Dec 9, 2005
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Midlothian, TX
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Janet
Re: The military tours

Thanks for the nod to the Coast Guard. :hail:

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We are planning on getting down that way in April. It looks great!
 
Joined
May 29, 2005
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4,600
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Out Riding
Re: A gale was blowing;

I stumbled across the end of the road. I wasn't looking for it, it was just there.

57theend.jpg


I had been walking around for several hours and was thirsty so I popped into The Green Parrot. key West is famous for the bars and this is one of the well known dives. Lots of character inside.

58GreenParrot.jpg


Next post; the military tours.
Brings back fond memories of my trip that direction back in 2008.



My favorite bar in Key West.

 
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
8,233
Location
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Bruce
Last Name
Taylor
A new plan, not for fun

I've spent most of the morning figuring out what to do next. Problem 1: on the way down I notice the back light in the Harley's radio display was not working. Display works I just can't see it at night. Problem 2: factory two year warranty expires day after tomorrow. :doh: I spoke with Cen Tex and they could not get me in the system without diagnosis. Something he called warranty fraud. :shrug: The closest dealer is in Naples. So, first thing tomorrow I make a speed run to Naples, about 5 hours, to let them diagnose the problem. I'm betting they don't have a replacement radio so they will be able make the record of the problem and I can arrange for the replacement to be done when I get home. There is the possibility that a software re-flash will fix it but I'm skeptical. Routes are loaded into the GPS, it's a balmy 57* with 16 mph winds, gusts to 30. I'm going for a walk.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
8,233
Location
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Bruce
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Taylor
Walking about, more

Planning all done for my return ride home it was time to get out and about. I checked with the front desk, got a good tip on one of the things I had not yet done and hit the streets. Scooter squids of all ages are everywhere including rentals for the tourists. They zip around everywhere and nobody has heard of ATGATT. The sound of wound out small two strokes can be heard just about any time of day. There is lots of on street parking for motorcycles should you want to ride on down here. I picked a placed to stay with parking so I could avoid on street parking to avoid this scene.

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I needed Key Lime Pie and was told this was the best. Kermit's

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Done, and it was very good.

I wandered down to Duval and continued my walking tour. Inside on bar I found a tree and lots of fire load hanging from the ceiling. Yes, those are bras hanging from the ceiling joist.

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What is this hovering above above the horizon next to the Customs House?

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A cruise ship in town. That explains the increased foot traffic and so many people speaking strange languages.

This place had an interesting claim; First fresh water well on the island used by pirates in the 1700's. The sign looked legit and the house was built in the mid 1800's. It's plausible.

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One of the several famous bars is Durty Harry's. A collection of different small rooms to suit just about any preference for adult beverages.

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The walls on the way in were covered with thanks from the many units stationed at the NAS over the years.

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And to end the bar tour, The Smallest Bar. two stools and room for about four to stand.

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I got tips from locals on where to get the best Cuban Cuisine so that's the plan for tonight. They both recommended the same place so I'm going in with high hopes.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
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Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Bruce
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Taylor
Goin' Cuban

I had about 8 blocks to walk to get to the cafe' for dinner and I had one stop to make so I left about 4. Half way was the city cemetery. I'll let you read for your self rather than copying the sign.

88cemetary.jpg


Like most islands the burials take place either in above ground mausoleums or in vaults capped with heavy masonry to prevent the casket from floating when it floods, even though this one is on the highest point in the island. It's called a hill but I never saw one.

USS Maine burial grounds.

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These birds were chowing down on bugs and would not hold still for a nice photo.

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4 more blocks and I was at the recommended cafe', El Siboney. I order the #1, puerco asado, AKA roast pork. Lots of food on the plate, I got real full. Frankly I was not impressed. Fairly bland, rice had zero flavor, black beans needed some kind of seasoning. The fried plantains were the highlight of the whole meal. Soft, sweet, very tasty. Overall I'll stick with Tex Mex.

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Best thing about the meal was that it was fast and reasonably priced, a first for food in this town. I had plenty of time for the 18 block walk to the west end for sunset. I envied these folks on their sunset sail.

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And the sun sets on my stay in Key West. I leave around 0630 tomorrow.

96sunset.jpg


Oh, on the weather, they set an all time record for cold last night and expect to break it tonight. 50 this morning, mid 40's tonight.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
368
Location
NE Texas
We've been to Key West by water but have not par-taken in the experience such as your's! Congrats on the IBA cert. Be safe on the trip back..
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,258
Location
Far East DFW
Cuban pork is indeed very tasty. It can be found at many Cuban restaurants throughout Florida and I'd suggest sampling some at another. I bet you just got a dud there.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
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Location
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Bruce
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Taylor
At the HD shop in Naples getting that radio checked. Good news when they ran the BIN, warranty is good to 4/1/11. I hope that is not some cruel joke.:-) I'll let them do the diagnostics and get repairs done at home if needed. Gotta get on down the road.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
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Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Bruce
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Start the trip home.

97sunriseKeys.jpg


I slept real good after going to bed around 9 pm and woke up at 0530 without the alarm. So, what else is there to do but to layer up and go. Temps were just above 40 as the sky had cleared and the wind died down. I stopped for fuel in Homestead and made the turn west on FL41 for my ride through The Everglades. The road is nice two lane with guardrails to keep you from going off into the swamp should you have a problem.

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I kept looking for some gators to get a photo of one but every time I saw some there were no places to stop. They were laying on the bank of the canal that parallels the highway.

Into Naples and straight to the HD dealer. They were expecting me at 1200 but since I left early I arrived at 1100. No problem. Jax at the service counter took my info and looked up the warranty record. Then she told me that for some reason my warranty is good for an extra 4 1/2 months past the two year anniversary of my purchase. I had her print of a copy of that page just in case I need it when I get home. Since they were ready for me I let them go ahead and do the diagnosis so they could get a service call out of my visit. They confirmed the back light on the display is not working and they would have to replace the radio. That was entered into the computer system, I got a printed copy of that too, and I was back on my way. Total time including filling up with fuel was a little less than an hour and a half.

Moving on north I turned off IH75 onto 275 and went toward the Sunshine Skyway. The first of two toll sections today. I had to stop and shut off the bike. Take off gloves, dig out the wallet, hand the booth some cash, get the change and reverse the whole process. Too bad for those behind me. :-P
Here is the skyway....

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Progress slowed greatly as I made my way up the small towns that dot the barrier island west of ST. Petersburg. I didn't mind the 30 mph, it was quite nice. After a while I finally rolled into Clearwater.

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I doesn't all look like that, just the first view. There is a real nice boardwalk area with some restaurants and a great beach park.

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Getting out of Clearwater on the route I wanted to take was the worst of the trip so far. Like 20 miles of heavy traffic. But I hung in there and made it. I had no hotel reservation anywhere and had looked up a cheap place on the gps. As I got close I spotted one with a Denny's in the parking lot that was not in the gps database. Bingo. So here I am in Crystal River, FL looking forward to the hard freeze tonight. I think I'll hang around for breakfast while the temps climb a little. The have 70 forecast for tomorrow.
 
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
573
Location
Houston
Man I haven't been down to Key West since the early 70s. Thanks for the trip back. Speaking of trips, I don't know if it's still there or not, but if it is, don't eat those flowers on that tree in front of Ernest Hemmingways house.

:rofl::shock:
 
Joined
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Man I haven't been down to Key West since the early 70s. Thanks for the trip back. Speaking of trips, I don't know if it's still there or not, but if it is, don't eat those flowers on that tree in front of Ernest Hemmingways house.

:rofl::shock:
I didn't go by his house, which was built by Mr.Tift, the king of salvagers. So you need to tell us what will happen if you eat those flowers.
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
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856
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Houston
First Name
Jim
Ummmm, they are pee'd on my 6-toed (Polydactyl) cats....... DUH!
 
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Joined
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Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
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Crystal River to Pensacola, FL; scenic route.

It was cold this morning. 28* cold to be exact. So I took my time getting ready and ate a good breakfast before finally getting on the road at 0900. The temp had warmed all the way to 40* so it wasn't bad at all. In contrast to the hades that I endured north of Clearwater there was almost no traffic on a divided highway that had recently been resurfaced and was smooth as silk.

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I was in the pine forests along the gulf coast. There is a logging industry here and I passed a few logging trucks heading to the mills.

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Passing the mills was nice because of the smells of pine and cypress that filled the cool morning air. Many places I recognized without looking ahead on the map: Suwanee River, Apilatchicola, Destin. Once making the turn west the highway dropped to the coast and followed along most of the afternoon.

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There were even some nice sweepers as the roadway followed along the waters edge.

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A rest stop at a park....

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Palms along the road coming into Port Joe, IIRC.

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As a cold front approached I first noticed flags indicating wind out of the north. Then the clouds got darker and soon descended to the ground and it rained. I stopped soon enough to gear up before the downpour so I stayed dry. I rode in the rain for about 45 minutes total. Most of it light with maybe 5 minutes of heavy downpour causing traffic to slow down. I kept the gear on all the way into Pensacola beach just 'cause. As I stopped at the toll both over the bridge, you know the drill, the large truck behind me thought I could go faster if he honked his horn. :yawn: I was chatting with the lady in the booth the whole time. She just shrugged and grinned and reminded that the beach was closed due to high waves and rip tides. OK, I'm not planning on swimming, just sightseeing. It was nice with the big waves coming in.



And the usual sunset photo (I love sunset and sunrise if you couldn't tell yet)

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I was looking for dinner but everything looked touristy. I spotted a couple guys pull into the parking lot in front of Hooters on their Harleys so I thought I'd see if they were local or like me just looking for food. One guy was local and the other proudly proclaimed through his three front teeth that he was front somewhere in backwoods Alabama. Toothy says he likes Hooters. I say that I like hooter too but I'm looking for food. ;-) So local guy says I need crabs. I say "what?" Crabs, and he points across the road to this place. Called Crabs, we got 'em.

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It looked like a chain but I'd never heard of them. Turns out it's a local joint. They have this place and a chowder house on the other side of the island. I got a fried platter and everything was awesome. 2 coconut shrimp, 4 fried shrimp, 6 delicious scallops, 6 Apalachicola oysters, stuffed crab, and a fillet of fish that was delicious (some kind of white fish, very light and tasty). Fries, slaw, hush-puppies. All topped of with fried biscuits and honey. Wow! I ate most of it but the slaw, fries, and pups.

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I got a really nice hotel room online for 43 bucks. Tomorrow I visit NAS Pensacola and the National Museum of Naval Aviation. I'm excited about that.
 
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M38A1

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Glad you're having fun!

Ahem..... I recall a few of us talking about that cold weather you were going to have to pass through...... cough-cough.....

Let us know when you get in Saturday.
 
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I always love roaming about air craft museums. NAS P'cola is one of my favorite and need to do another run there and Eglan again. Thanks for all the great pictures and sharing your trip with us.
 
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I made it home safely Saturday about 4. I just road home from Baton Rouge without taking a single photo. I do have photos from the museum and some other stops on Friday that I'll upload and post this afternoon. It was a great trip with mileage total at 3220. I also need to get together all my receipts to file for the Iron Butt certificate. No rest for the weary. :lol2:
 
Joined
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Pensacola, FL National Museum of Naval Aviation

The museum opens at 0900 so I was in no hurry to get there in the morning. Even taking time to eat an omelet at the IHOP I pulled into the parking lot at quarter till and got a prime spot.

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I checked in at the front desk to get the scoop. I had stashed most of my gear in the bags on the bike but was still wearing riding over-pants. I was told I could leave them at the counter if I wanted; nice since it was plenty warm inside the huge building. The free guided tour didn't start until 0930 so I had some time to kill in the lobby. Spinning high above was a replica of the first Curtis plane to launch and land on a ship at sea. The Wright Brothers declined the Navy's proposal that was taken on by Curtis Manufacturing. This is a full reproduction built by The Smithsonian.

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There was a display in the lobby of the different classes of aircraft carriers so I looked up my Dad's ship, USS Leyte CV32 of the Essex class.

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Also in the lobby and A4 Skyhawk and a Marine Cobra.

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Our tour began with the early years of naval aviation and WWI. The navy wanted a flying boat so Curtis filled that order.

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At the outbreak of WWI the Navy had no fighters that could compete so they used what the Brits had, the Sopwith Camel. This one actually flew from the catapult of the battleship USS Texas. Yes, it was rigged with pontoons for landing at sea. Note Snoopy on the stick.

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Curtis eventually got up to speed with this model.

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This was a model flown by The Great Waldo Pepper. The Jenny

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I can't recall what model this was.

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This one was designed for anti sub warfare. There were four built and this one made the first trans atlantic flight in 1919, way before Lindy. Of course it had a crew of 6-8 where Lindy did it solo. Curtis D4. Powered by 4 400 HP engines. It was restored by the Smithsonian and was loaned to this museum. The building was actually built around the plane so the loan is now kind of permanent. :lol2:

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After WWI the navy went with Grumman Manufacturing. The Grumman FF1, first carrier plan with retractable landing gear. This one was found is a scrap heap in South America by an American working as a crop duster. He bought it and shipped it home. He worked with Grumman to restore her and they realized this was the only one of the 29 planes built left in existence. They offered to purchase it but he refused wanting more than anyone wanted to pay. He finally agreed to donate it to the museum as long as his name would be displayed with the plane. His name was Schwinddler. He got his wish.

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A really nice Ford Tri-motor that had been assigned to NAS Pensacola.

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An atrium in the rear of the building has a cool Blue Angel display.

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Then Pearl Harbor happened. The Navy fighter of the day was the Grumman Hellcat.

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Going up against the Mitsubishi Zero.

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The trainer of the era was the Texan. Most well known for it's portrayal of the Zero in movies such as Tora, Tora, Tora.

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The P40 Warhawk. Flown by the Flying Tigers in China/Southeast Asia against the Japanese. The only Army plane flown by Navy aviators.

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One of the displays was a full scale reproduction of an Essex class flight deck. Including a Dauntless and an Avenger.

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They know the history of these planes from the military records attached to the chassis numbers. This Dauntless survived the Battle of Midway when it's pilot made an emergency landing on Midway with only one operating landing gear. The plane had over 200 holes from enemy ordinance. She was patched back together and continued to fight. Here are some of the riveted patches.

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The Avenger

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The Wildcat

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Probably my personal favorite of WWII is the Corsair.

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The above photo demonstrates how many aircraft the have in this building. Hard to get one isolated for a good photo.

Another example of the Hellcat.

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Around the mezzanine level they had numerous displays showing life in the navy during WWII including aboard the carriers and on island bases for the marines.

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Moving on past WWII, the last prop fighter and one of the least known and most capable of the fighters. The A1 Sky Raider. It could carry heavier payloads of more varying types of ordinance including nukes. Sky Raiders even logged several kills against the Mig15 during the Korean War.

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From the mezzanine looking over the display floor.

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Many of the early jet models including the Banshee and the Cougar. Unfortunately the flight line was closed the day I was there so I didn't get to see the many newer planes on display outside. The good news was that the museum is opening a new display hanger and many of the planes will be moved inside on more permanent display, so I have a reason to go back one day. I still had lots to do this day so I left around 1200 to get on down the road.
 
Last edited:
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Fort Morgan and Mobile Bay

I made my way down the coast road toward Gulf Shores, Al. I wanted to catch the Mobile Bay Ferry and cross over to Dauphin Island. I like a boat ride when I get the chance. Along the way I stopped at a house we had rented with a group several years ago. The Wheel House. It had been badly damaged by Katrina but survived and is once again available to rent.

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I got to the ferry about 5 minutes late and watched to boat pull away from shore. The next departure was an hour and a half so I had some time to kill. Next to the ferry landing is Fort Morgan. I had been before but with time to kill I didn't mind visiting again.

Time for a little history lesson. Fort Morgan is one of the coastal defense forts planned after the War of 1812. Since it was so isolated it was also designed for defense against a land attack and for the ability to withstand a siege. It was completed in 1834 and garrisoned for 7 years before being put in mothballs. It was seized by the Alabama Militia at the outbreak of the Civil War and fully garrisoned. August 5, 1864, Union forces ran the gap into Mobile Bay and landed six miles east of the fort and began a siege that lasted 2 weeks before the militia surrendered. The fort was inactive after the Civil War until the Spanish-American War when it was updated with hardened concrete gun emplacements. It served as a training base during WWI and staffed as a coastal battery during WWII.

The first bit of the fort you see is the glacis; a sloped grassy hill that hides the fort from approaching forces from a distance. That's the glacis of the fort behind the big gun.

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You enter the fort through the postern. A tunnel that goes through the glacis.

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Once through the postern you must cross the ditch, a dry moat that exposed any attackers to racking fire from gun ports in the inner wall and from cannon on top of the wall. The fort is in a five pointed star configuration to that there are no blind spots from protective fire. The pickup truck gives an idea of size.

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Finally you enter through the fortified gate. Notice the firing ports in the wall to great any attackers.

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Inside are the powder/munitions bunkers.

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One side was under some renovation work.

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At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war the concrete battery Duportail was constructed across the southern end of the fort.

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This battery had two 12 inch breach loaded rifled guns that could fire a 1,080 lb shell 8 1/2 miles. The guns were mounted on disappearing carriages that lowered the guns behind the wall through a counterbalance mechanism once the gun was fired. Each gun took a crew of 84 to work the gun. Here is the remains of the mount below the wall.

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Here you can see where the brick fort wall remained in front of the new battery.

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The walls were bristling with gun mounts.

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These originally held 32 pounders. The fort originally had 74 of these but by the time of the siege only 14 were still in use.

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The yellow bouy in the center marks the resting place of the USS Tecumseh sunk during the battle of Mobile Bay. During the confusion caused by the Tecumseh hitting a submerged mine, called a torpedo at the time, Admiral Farragut gave his famous order, "**** the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

156USSTecumsahbouy.jpg
 
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Mobile Bay

I was done with the fort so I walked down to the shoreline and found these folks toiling away. One of the BP clean-up crews.

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I had a nice conversation with the safety guy. I wanted to see how bad it was and asked him about what they were picking up. He pointed to the ground next to my foot and there was a tarball. Those three lines are my finger prints to give an idea of size.

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This was the collection for the day at 2 pm.

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Time to go catch the ferry. I was first in line and had to wait about 20 minutes for the boat to show. Gave me some time to get a drink and some snacks from the trunk.

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Fairly windy out of the north.

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I got a spot in the center on the port side, left that is.

166DauphinIsland-1.jpg


Once we got underway I was shielded by the pilot house so it really wasn't too bad. A little bit of chop and some rolling but not bad. Watch the horizon compared to the rail on the boat for an idea of how it was out there.



Across the bay on Dauphin Island is Fort Gaines, a much smaller battery. You can barely make out a single gun on top of the masonry structure.

167FtGaines.jpg


Once ashore I made my way through Bayou La Batre, didn't see any Gumps but saw quite a few boats. I stayed on HWY 90 into Biloxi, MS. I wanted to see how it was recovering. The big casinos were there in force along the waterfront but many of the majestic home that used to line the shore drive were gone. Where they used to be looked like parkland with trees and grass, nothing else. No trace of any houses. A shame really. It was getting dark so I went five miles north to IH10 with rain starting to fall. I rode through rain for about 45 minutes and two hours later I was in Baton Rouge where I stopped for the last night on the road.

It was a great trip overall. No real problems with the bike other than the radio back-light issue. Only a couple instances of rain. It was cold but my new electric jacket liner worked well and was worth every penny. I'm seriously considering the matching gloves as my hands did get pretty cool a couple times. I'm glad I got the Iron Butt done, I can cross that of the list and probably won't be tempted again. Thanks for all the good comments. Til next time.........:rider:
 
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Re: Pensacola, FL National Museum of Naval Aviation

. . .Then Pearl Harbor happened. The Navy fighter of the day was the Grumman Hellcat.

127GrumanF4Hellcat.jpg
Actually, it was the Wildcat, and that's what this pic is. The easiest way to tell the two apart is the landing gear. The Wildcat's gear extended from the fuselage. The Hellcat's gear were from the wings, giving a much wider track.

The Avenger

134Avenger.jpg
That's a Hellcat

The Wildcat

135Wildcat.jpg
That's a Bearcat

It's easy to get the pics mixed up. Great pics, and great ride report.
 
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I love this kind of ride report. They give me traveling ideas. I was in Key West in 1969. A marine on a navy base making $21.00 a week. Did a lot of snorkeling and not much else. I know I'm going back.
 
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Thanks for all the pictures and write up on the Gulf Coast. I'm glad to see that the old forts survived the storms. WoW! NAS P'Cola has added some stuff. I didn't take time to go by last May. ;-(. Now, I see I want to get back there soon.
 
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Re: Pensacola, FL National Museum of Naval Aviation

Actually, it was the Wildcat, and that's what this pic is. The easiest way to tell the two apart is the landing gear. The Wildcat's gear extended from the fuselage. The Hellcat's gear were from the wings, giving a much wider track.



That's a Hellcat



That's a Bearcat

It's easy to get the pics mixed up. Great pics, and great ride report.
I knew this was going to happen. I took zero notes and was going of top of my head. Thanks for the corrections. I blame Grumman, to many cats in the bag.
 
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Thanks for all the pictures and write up on the Gulf Coast. I'm glad to see that the old forts survived the storms. WoW! NAS P'Cola has added some stuff. I didn't take time to go by last May. ;-(. Now, I see I want to get back there soon.
It's good that you waited since the new display hanger will be open very soon. Now I need to go to Wright-Patterson in Ohio. ;-) My disorder has not been cured, only treated for temporary relief. :rider:
 
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Re: Pensacola, FL National Museum of Naval Aviation

I knew this was going to happen. I took zero notes and was going of top of my head. Thanks for the corrections. I blame Grumman, to many cats in the bag.
It doesn't detract at all from the awesome pics in this report. I need to get to Pensacola and to Wright-Patterson one of these days.
 
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Bruce,

I can imagine the amount of effort you invested in this trip report and I wanted to thank you. This was a great report and a great history lesson. I felt like I was there with my own personal tour guide. Thanks.

I’m planning to make the same trip in the next month or so and your report has me very excited and looking forward to the adventure.

Bruce, as you reflect on your trip would you mind highlighting some of the “must see” spots along the way and also some of those spots that you thought were a waste of time. The B&B’s you stayed in looked neat, especially the one in Key West. Would you recommend them and what were their names so I can look them up?

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change? Route, sites, destinations, etc.
 
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For Bob,

How is your leg coming along?

I really liked the route that I took, both ways. Of course you may want to take a little more time heading down than I did. ;-) You can find some back roads through LA, MS, and AL that get you off IH10 and that's what I would do if not doing an Iron But ride. If you have time to go through Birmingham you have to see the Barber Motorsports Museum. A little out of the way but if you are going scenic you can plan on it. There are sections of IH10 in LA that will jar your bones in a repetative manner for a few miles, particularly west of Baton Rouge. The route down the middle of Florida was really quite nice. I didn't stop to see anything on the way down, as you know. Most of the things to see in Key West are in the old part of town near the harbor on the west end. Duval St. is where all the action is. If you want a quick tour of the island, the Conch Train is kinda neat. An open air ride around town they drive by all the main tourist spots and you can decide what you want to go back to see. Of course you will want to see the southernmost point, 90 miles from Cuba. Lots of restaurants but be prepared for high prices; it's an island so everything is shipped in and it's a tourist spot. 10 bucks for a cheeseburger so you get the idea of the premium.

The way home: If you come up the gulf coast the Sunshine Skyway coming into Tamp Bay is pretty cool. Then jog over to the coast and ride up to Clearwater Beach. It's slow going through the small villages but a nice ride rewarded with the beach area. Get out of town on the big highway and stay on it for a while as traffic on FL90 is horrible. The Gulf Coast Highway along the panhandle is real nice, highly recommended, basically US98 through Apilachicola, Panama City, Destin, Gulf Breeze and into Pensacola. Naval Aviation Museum :thumb::thumb:. On a clear day you'll get lots of flyovers from the navy operations. It was cloudy when I was there; I could hear them but there was very little visibility. I would have stayed on 90 along the cost after Biloxi if it wasn't dark and raining. but the interstate is only a few miles away so if you need to get somewhere quick you can jog over and haul buns when needed.

Hope that helps. Let me know if there are more specific questions you have.
 
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Bob, you could take your BMW over to the other coast and ride down from there. You could hit Daytona and have some fun in the sand on the beach. Then take off and head down the coast the lazy way through some of the small coastal towns, then cut inland and hit the interstate once you start hitting the big cities of the south.

CBAT, don't know if you've ever paid any attention or remember the history of the Sunshine Skyway, but I well remember it living in the area at the time. That particular deal was what ended my dad's time volunteering with the Red Cross. He had to do a few jobs that even with his time spent working in the E.R, really ruined it for him and he couldn't continue.
 
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Yea, it was pretty bad. If you saw the fishing piers off to the left of the bridge the way you were going, those are parts of the old bridge. The old bridge was kind of freaky as it was very steep on either side and it had one of those grates on the top that disappears from view as you drive over it at highway speeds. It was not a good bridge for those who have bridge phobias. Then when the span fell in, you had to drive on the other span and for a long time you could look over and just see where the other bridge just stopped. It was chilling to say the least. The new bridge has a much more gradual slope and higher sides to help curb the feeling of how high you are.
 
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I used to fish all around the skyway, both by boat and on the pier. Thanks for the memories. I used to do the ride you did from Tierra Verde all the way up to Clearwater/Dunedin. Nice, relaxing riding.
 
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On my trip down in May, I found the east coast of Florida very disappointing for the most part from Jacksonville to Miami. Most all private and stuff being grown along side of the roads so you can't see or get to the ocean but for small sections of the run down there. And el mucho traffic. ;-). St Augustine was pretty neat and the Space Center is not to be missed.
 
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