Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 54 - National Naval Aviation Museum

Today started late but that's okay because we are retired.  I haven't found too many places on our travels that make very good crusty bread.  Since I had half a loaf of not very good crusty bread left over, it was French toast day!  My back was still tender but doing well enough that it was time to go explore a bit more. 

First up was a drive to go get some fuel.  It is much less expensive in Alabama than in Florida so we drove to Alabama to get some.  This isn't as big a deal as it might sound since the border is only about 10 miles from here.  I'd wanted to drive over the bridge and see what was over there so this was a good chance to do it. 

Perdido Key looks like almost every other bit of coastal Florida that I've seen. Perdido is Spanish for "lost" or "hidden" and the name refers to a bay that explorers had been searching for. Way too many condominiums, expensive looking homes crammed next to each other on the waterfront or on canals and lots of real estate offices.  Most annoying to me were the many Keep Out, No Trespassing, No Beach Access signs along the way.  Again I say "thank you" for state and national parks.  At least there is some way for the average person to get to the beach.  In the case of Perdido Key this is two state parks and an expanse of National Seashore.  There are expanses of dunes with sea oats and other appropriate dune plants.  These look beautiful and are best displayed at the parks.  I can only imagine how much must have been destroyed to construct all the buildings that front the beach now.

Until this visit, I did not know that we had a National Naval Aviation Museum.  Obviously some people know about it.  The place gets upwards of a million visitors a year.  Admission is free.  There are about 150 aircraft here.  Since I don't normally get a chance to be so close  to airplanes, I found this quite exciting.

It was a feast for the eyes!  Airplanes everywhere I looked.  I like a place where you just can't wait to go see the next thing, and the next, and the next.  And this wasn't a stuffy "don't touch" kind of place.  In addition to a great area for kids to play, there were planes to climb into, movies to see, lots of displays to read and things to listen to.

Brett thought that it was fun getting to play in one of the Blue Angel  jets.  It was rather like having an 8 year old boy along (and I mean that in a good way).  I didn't sit in it but that's okay.  My wonderful brother-in-law Lee was an Air Force pilot.  A number of years ago while I was visiting he arranged for me to get to sit in a real FB111A.  So there!  But these were all great too.
I did especially enjoy the exhibits where there was a film with "I was there" interviews along with recreations and footage from events.

The Home Front, USA exhibit is a recreation of a typical Main Street scene as it would have appeared in most any small town during World War II.

Pacific Island recreates the environment of a jungle airfield in the World War II Pacific Theater.

There were many exhibits featuring the parts of a World War II aircraft carrier and another telling the story of the USS Enterprise.  And I cannot even comment on the stuff that we didn't see at all.  We both agreed that this would be a museum worth a return trip.

And here's my secret:  These museums always make me cry.  I don't stand in the middle of the room bawling my eyes out but I always tear up.  It happens when I see the old men who are reliving their own war time or service experiences.  We passed so many groups where the men were discussing what had happened to them.  It happens when I see the young service men looking at the historic aircraft or watching a video about the sinking of a carrier. And it happens when I see the little boys excitedly climbing into the Blue Angel jet and making "flying" noises.  I cry.

No comments:

Post a Comment