Following Gary Wilkins’ suggestion, we packed up the Silver Manatee in Tally and headed to Pensacola on April 23rd (aka John’s Birthday) and traveled to the Blue Lagoon State Park. One of the high points of this stop was the National Naval Air Museum located on the Naval Air Station (NAS) which is also the home base for the Blue Angels. The Naval Air Museum is a state of the art museum which houses 150+ vintage military airplanes and special walk through exhibits primarily run by volunteers. Fortunately for us, the Blue Angels were in town and early one morning, we were able to watch their practice with a small hometown crowd right beside the runway for a very special experience. Also located on the NAS, was the historic Pensacola Lighthouse built in 1859 on the Pensacola Bay. We took a car tour through the Seville Square Historic district filled with charming shops, galleries & cafes. On our next visit, we will definitely plan to take a walking tour of the historic downtown topped off with a dinner at McGuire’s, but we had another “not to miss” rec by Gary to see- Ft. Pickens, a pre-Civil War brick fort, used by the Army until 1947. Ironically, the Fort was built by slave labor from 1829-1834 to fight off foreign entities to protect Pensacola Bay and the Navy yard, but the only shots ever fired from the Fort were during the Civil War. The Fort was utilized by the government to detain military prisoners and housed Geronimo and a small group of Apaches in Ft. Pickens as prisoners for one year prior to their transportation to Fort Sill, OK where Geronimo subsequently passed away. The approach to Ft. Pickens from downtown is a scenic drive through the Gulf Islands National Seashore with pristine sand dunes, sea oats and white sugar sand on both sides. Pensacola truly gave us a hands on history lesson and a chance to see the awesome beauty of Florida & the Gulf Islands.