Gulf Islands National Seashore, Santa Rosa Island, Florida

Today’s trip was conceived in 2004 and planned in 2005 before getting postponed because of Hurricane Katrina. I was planning my first real holiday of my adult life and, like most housebound folks, had only a few weeks’ vacation a year, and not always at the most opportune time. This trip was supposed to take me to Savannah (which I saw in 2008) then New Orleans (where I’m heading tomorrow!) by way of Pensacola because it was in proximity to Florida’s former capital that I had wanted to see the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.

I really need to look at maps more rather than just make itineraries with Google and my GPS because I had no idea that my current itinerary was taking me less than an hour and a half from that location, the western tip of Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola Beach. I’m just glad I clued in with enough time to make the detour!

While I’m sure there are lots of lovely things to see and do in Pensacola and Pensacola Beach, I just wanted to walk the pure white sand beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and tour the ruins of Fort Pickens.

The trip to Pensacola Beach (a separate community from Pensacola, btw), was super quick and easy as the casino sits at the exit I-65 southbound folks can take as a short cut to Pensacola. There is a $1 toll to get onto Santa Rosa Island and an additional $8 to visit the Fort Pickens site.

Sunshine state my ass!

Sunshine state my ass!

I'm really here!!!

I’m really here!!!

This is NOT the Gulf of Mexico, but a bay.

This is NOT the Gulf of Mexico, but a bay.

I just wanted a picture of my truck next to palm trees. :)

I just wanted a picture of my truck next to palm trees. 🙂

Definitely going the right way!

Definitely going the right way!

Long bridge to Gulf Breeze.

Long bridge to Gulf Breeze.

Cross Gulf Breeze, another bridge, a toll booth, and I'm here!

Cross Gulf Breeze, another bridge, a toll booth, and I’m here!

a lunar landscape

a lunar landscape

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Just as I envisioned it...

Just as I envisioned it…

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I frolicked in the surf, wading waist deep! The water was cold, but I was seriously tempted to swim a little!

I frolicked in the surf, wading waist deep! The water was cold, but I was seriously tempted to swim a little!

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Approaching Fort Pickens

Approaching Fort Pickens

The fort was built for homeland security in the early 1800s.

The fort was built for homeland security in the early 1800s.

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The fort is extremely damp, with mould being rampant. The public washrooms are soggy, too.

The fort is extremely damp, with mould being rampant. The public washrooms are soggy, too.

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The fort is full of fun tunnels and dark corners to explore. I'm not claustrophobic per se, but I found that stooping to explore that left tunnel was a little breath catching.

The fort is full of fun tunnels and dark corners to explore. I’m not claustrophobic per se, but I found that stooping to explore that left tunnel was a little breath catching.

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This is a long tunnel that seemed to go on forever -- in pitch darkness.

This is a long tunnel that seemed to go on forever — in pitch darkness.

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Thorny plants, beware!

Thorny plants, beware!

Geronimo was held captive here.

Geronimo was held captive here.

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Water cistern.

Water cistern.

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Note the double arch construction to keep the foundation from sinking into the sand.

Note the double arch construction to keep the foundation from sinking into the sand.

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The fort within a fort, painted glossy black.

The fort within a fort, painted glossy black.

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This display shows how long garbage stays in the water before decomposing.

This display shows how long garbage stays in the water before decomposing.

plastic bottles, 450 years

plastic bottles, 450 years

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A swimsuit from the early 20th century, when people started going to the beach.

A swimsuit from the early 20th century, when people started going to the beach.

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There's an RV park right next to the beach.

There’s an RV park right next to the beach.

Boardwalk leading up to the beach.

Boardwalk leading up to the beach.

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Still pinching myself.

Still pinching myself.

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 Note to self: your sandals are the block spots on the beach!

Note to self: your sandals are the black spots on the beach!

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The sand was very comfortable to walk on, not cold at all.

The sand was very comfortable to walk on, not cold at all.

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The road out.

The road out.

I have more about today, but I seem to time my casino stays with the seafood buffet, so you’ll just have to be patient. I just hope I don’t drown on the way into the casino as the sky has finally opened and it is pouring rain out there!

0 thoughts on “Gulf Islands National Seashore, Santa Rosa Island, Florida

  1. Hi Rae,

    I loved your, albeit brief, video-log… it was awesome to see the Gulf of Mexico with you. It sounded like you were super excited too.

    I’ll review the fort pictures again as the important part about your blog today, to me, was that you made it to the beach.

    I’ve been watching your weather today & I thought you would get dumped on.

    Glad you made it back safely & a seafood buffet… oh my golly gosh! Who could wish for anything more. 🙂

    See it is a travel blog! 😐

    What a great day. Thanks! 😉

    • Vicki, who could wish for anything more? Not me, and yet in my valiant attempt to pay the casino for their hospitality, they paid ME $150. I’m still in shock.

      Oh, and excited? Just be grateful there are no videos of when I arrived and had the beaches to myself and stripped down to my skivvies and raced into the surf whooping like a mad woman. I can’t believe I just admitted to that…

  2. Pingback: A Smoother Ride | Travels With Miranda

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