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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Road trip to Mayo, Florida

The first Saturday in Pensacola, I drove four hours east and southeast to Mayo, Florida, where my paternal grandmother has lived since 1991. I had never been there, but what better opportunities was I going to have to visit if not this one?

This side of Florida has so many bridges! There must be a lot of resident structural engineers then. I drove over dozens of bridges on this trip, and the first couple dozen were in and around Pensacola. Here I'm driving over Escambia Bay as the sky is greying around noon.
 After getting away from the water, it was just interminable trees for almost 200 miles, predominantly oak and some sort of longleaf pine. It reminds me of Virginia - just trees and swamp everywhere.
When I arrived in Mayo, I wasn't sure how I'd feel. I haven't seen these people since I was six years old. There hadn't been that strong family connection. What better way to rekindle that than to start the barbecue and cook their steaks for dinner?
 We looked through some photo albums and old family history documents, and we spent a while chronicling remembrances and family facts & statistics. There's so much to know.
Here is a picture of Grandma Geraldine's father, Alyre (top left), and ten children. Not pictured: Helene, his wife (the occasion was her funeral in 1973).

I went again the next weekend for Grandma Geraldine's 82nd (or 28th - I can't remember) birthday party. This time Denise and her family came, in addition to some of Geraldine's friends and neighbors.I brought nothing except an appetite. It was all good food, especially the venison sausage.

Then I went on a tour of the backwoods, Manuel's cows, and the land round about. That was a good, relaxing jaunt.

Group photo
(Denise, Kelson, Manuel, Caroline, Debbie, Geraldine, Allie

Meaningful trip. Good folks. It's been a long time, and we've all grown up.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Seashells and hermit crabs

I went snorkeling back at Pensacola Beach on Friday after class, and I collected many more seashells. The visibility wasn't very good further out due to wind-chopped waves, and I nearly swam through a 12-inch-wide moon jellyfish, so I stayed closer in towards the beach.
There were hundreds of hermit crabs, and I had to throw so many shells back that I was sure were uninhabited. I'm not sure how hermit crabs squeeze themselves that deeply inside shells. And I'm talking about some hermit crabs smaller than guppies.
It's a strange sensation to feel a shell suddenly start to move around in your pocket and poke you while you're swimming along minding your own business (and stealing someone and their house). I threw three shells back that were apparently inhabited. I started checking more thoroughly before keeping shells.
After collecting enough seashells, I bought another gyro from Spyros' Gyros, checked the snorkel gear back in at the base gear rental shop, and went back to my room. On the way to the hotel, a hermit crab emerged from a throughly-vetted, "empty" shell, so I had to stop by the quay wall and put it back in the water.
I rinsed out all of the shells. There were whelks, several types of clams and scallops, oyster shells (which are not particularly attractive but are an important piece of Gulf Coast identity), pieces of sand dollars, and a few other nice shells. I got them for Sarah, perhaps to adorn her bathroom, which is sea life-themed.

Then one of the shells walked away.
Once again, I drove down to the quay wall and threw it back. I'm unsure why I didn't instinctively check the other cone shell before I left this time, just in case. When I returned, I checked the other cone shell and, sure enough, there was another tiny hermit crab inhabitant. So I returned another crab to the ocean.
That process got old very quickly. A little bit later that night, I heard a thud in the bathroom. Upon inspection, there was another hermit crab! I told it that I would take it back in the morning. Unfortunately, in the morning I found the shell on top of the shower drain without an inhabitant. It must have crawled out and fell down the drain. That was a slightly sad moment.

Pensacola Beach

Day three after class, it was time to explore the other direction. I went out to Fort Pickens (don't worry, it was closed too) and then I drove to the other end until I encountered a road closure sign. This stretch of sand is collectively called Pensacola Beach.
 Once again, herons guard the beach.
 And another.
And even a third one on the same beach.
And a snowy egret for variety. It was eating a fish.
It was a very long stretch of beach with lots of seashells.

Finally, it was getting dark, so it was time to end the day in proper fashion before going back to base to get ready for class the next day.
The pork gyro was very good. I tried the chicken one a couple of days later, and it was good but not even close to the same level of enjoyment as the first one.

Exploring Alabama's Gulf Coast (Perdido Key, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Fort Morgan)

After the first day of class, it was time to begin exploring. I drove west from the base and down through Perdido Key, where apparently a lot of Navy pilots live. Nice, expensive strip of sand with a lot of houses built to withstand high water and hurricanes.
Among these was a junky-looking 2,000-sq-ft home that was being sold for a paltry $630,000 (not the one pictured above).
 Most of the way down Perdido Key, I crossed into Alabama. That's a first!
After passing through Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, the road ended at Fort Morgan, which historically guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay. The fort was closed because it was after 5pm, so this is what was at the end of the road.
I had forgotten that the Gulf Coast is a major oil and natural gas drilling area, and there were dozens of oil platforms off the coast and in the bay itself.

 Just to the right of those platforms is Dauphin Island, a popular vacation spot.
There were several large, dead fish on the beach.
 And hundreds of jellyfish everywhere.
Herons seem to be on patrol on every beach around here. 
I chatted with a local fisherman. He said people typically catch redfish, snapper, or whatever happens to get caught.

Lieutenant Mosier goes to Pensacola

So, I'm active-duty Navy again. This sure surprised a lot of my friends and family, as well as myself. My new job: Naval Officer Recruiter for the Boise region, and head of the Boise Navy Recruiting division (Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and Twin Falls offices). After spending the first few weeks getting oriented and not doing much in the way of recruiting due to lack of access to the required web-based tools and programs, my first assignment was three weeks in Pensacola, Florida, to attend the Navy's officer recruiting course.
I tried to get Emily and the kids to come along, but she said something about kids, calendar commitments, way too much travel, etc. Well, someone had to be responsible, so I took it upon myself to go to Pensacola alone.
It suddenly dawned on me several years ago that I was afraid of flying. I still do it, which is a good thing.

When I arrived at Naval Air Station Pensacola, I found a promising spot to enjoy my Panda Express dinner.

Pensacola is in the extreme western corner of the Florida Panhandle, 25 minutes from Alabama. It is bounded by several barrier islands and "keys." It's a great spot for a vacation naval station.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Chris: 1 Year Old!!

I can't believe that our little man is a year old. There have been some parts of this year that have certainly gone slowly (like the months when he woke up 10 times a night and screamed all day), but mostly this year has zoomed by. I put off taking these photos for a couple of weeks in hopes of getting a photo with no bruises, but I'm afraid bonks are a major part of this boy's life right now.
 Chris at 1 Year:
  • Constantly on the move. We thought he would be an early walker, but he has decided to be lazy. He crawls around like lightning and is finally starting to stand on his own, but he hasn't attempted any steps yet.
  • He has recently developed a love for music and likes to dance.
  • Takes his job as a little brother seriously. He steals Sarah's toys and drives her crazy on a regular basis. 
  • Mama's boy. He has been very clingy to Mommy lately.
  • Not sleeping well at night at all. It's a good thing he is cute.
  • 5 teeth, with more on the way.
  • His nightly lullaby is "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music
  • He loves reading books and dives off my lap to grab a story at bedtime every night.
  • Babbles all day but not really saying any words yet.
  • We love him so much!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Chris: 11 Months

This little stinkbug is 11 months old!
Chris at 11 months:
  • Mama's boy. Exclusively. If Mama leaves his sight, he gets very angry.
  • Jabbers all the time. I'm claiming Mama as his first word. He definitely says it when he is angry and wants attention from me. He also says "Da-ey" pretty consistently when Kelson is around. 
  • Gets into everything and puts all things in his mouth, food or not.
  • Still loves water and the outdoors. He hates being left out of anything.
  • His favorite food lately is watermelon. If we are having watermelon, we have to save it for the end of the meal or he won't eat anything else.
  • Cruises around furniture and pulls up on everything, but he shows no signs of attempting to walk.
  • Loves story time and has learned to turn the pages in his books.
  • He is having a great intellectual growth spurt right now, and I see him turning into a toddler. Stay my baby a little longer!

 Trying to sneak a choking hazard into his mouth. Yep, that's our Chris.
 Chris might look a little silly in this picture, but I had to include it because it is so incredibly rare to snap a picture of Sarah with a calm, serious look on her face. No worries, she was back to her happy, silly self about half a second later.
Sarah wanted to take a picture too. Not bad for a 3 year old photographer.