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Old 01-17-2007, 10:14 PM   #1
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Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast Updated 1/20: Fort Barrancas

This trip came about as a result of DH Kevan being asked to come to Pensacola for a position in social services, after having had two phone interviews. He asked his mom to allow me to come and help with the lengthy and what would be lonely drive. Also, it would serve as a chance for both of us to become reacquainted with an area once very familiar to us- Kevan and I met in Pensacola when we both attended the University of West Florida. Kevanís mom agreed to watch our two kids for two days so we could do all of this.

The week prior to our journey was filled with obstacles that presented themselves and then cleared eventually. One reared itís ugly head on Saturday, the day before we planned to leave. A major ice storm had hit Oklahoma and was heading for Arkansas. The only thing to do now? Beg for pixie dust from my Passporter friends and pray- that weather would not prevent DH from an opportunity he desperately wanted to seek out.

When we woke up Sunday morning, there was miraculously no ice- just rain. We immediately called Kevanís mom, packed in a hurry and got Matthew and Emily ready for Sunday school. After we picked them up and got them back home, MIL met us and we packed up the car. Quick hugs and kisses goodbye and we were off.

The goal for todayís drive was to make it to Biloxi, Mississippi. Our path would take us down Interstate 40 through Little Rock and to Pine Bluff. Once there, itís a very back road style journey through extreme Southern Arkansas with a small crossover through Louisana and then on through Mississippi and Alabama before crossing the Florida border and on into Pensacola.

Here's a map of the journey!



Weíve made this drive lots of times, however the last time we did it? On our move from Florida to Arkansas just about 7 years ago. Normal drive time hovers around 11-12 hours and itís not exactly the easiest drive to make. Still, we were undaunted and looking forward to being able to talk for an extended period of time uninterrupted- and just spend time together even if it was in a car for a looong time!

Noon and we are on I-40, heading towards Little Rock. The rain, as we expected was constant but traffic still moved easily and we hit the capital city in a good two hours time.

Our drive takes us through downtown Little Rock and right by the Clinton Presidential Library- however the rain and fog were a big problem in trying to get a photo of it. We did get this photo of the fog as seen over downtown:



South of Little Rock, we arrive in Pine Bluff a short time later. Kevan suggested stopping for gas and a little snack- which we did and I took over driving responsibilities.

This portion of the drive can be quite tedious as itís going through lots of very small towns Ė and the speed limits are much lower than on interstate roads. Most of the towns have populations of 5000 or less and you can see a lot of poverty in many of the communities. Most of the income (or what little of it) is generated by the agriculture industry and thereís miles and miles of cotton fields and rice fields. Miles and miles of flat land and the occasional house or two. Most of the bigger towns (and I use that term generously) do have a small Wal Mart, a few fast food places and the like- but thatís about as big as it gets.


Southern Arkansas scenery

The last town in Arkansas before we cross over to the Louisiana border is Eudora. And the Bank of Eudora is an ATM:



We are coming off the two lane, sometimes four lane stretch through Tallulah, LA as night begins to fall:


Louisiana sunset..

Finally, promised land of interstate approaches and we pick up I-20 just near Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg has a stretch of casino resorts along the Mississippi River and is a pretty big tourist spot for the immediate area. Weíve stayed here before but not tonight- we want to get as far as we can.

About 6:15 pm and we are crossing through Jackson on our way to merge on to State Road 49- not quite a back road as it is four lanes but definitely not interstate. By this point, we are positively starving and begin to consider options for dinner, hoping that a good meal would get us a little farther. About 7:45, we reach Hattiesburg, MS and decide to stop at Shoneyís for dinner.

It felt great to NOT be moving and we enjoyed a pretty decent buffet there for $17.99 before the tip. It was a lot of Sunday dinner kind of stuff- homestyle kind of fare.

Back on the road by 8:30, we decide to stop off for gas and a dessert in Gulfport, near Biloxi. This had been the planned place for our overnight but neither of us was tired and we decided to get to Pensacola. By 10:00 pm, we had reached Mobile, Alabama and just about 11:00 pm, arrived in Pensacola via Interstate 10.

We had absolutely NO reservations for a hotel here which is very unusual for us. We stopped in and checked rates at a Fairfield Inn, which was a whopping $105 but did better at the Holiday Inn Express next door- a comparable room for a more reasonable $79. We went with the latter and were really pleased with the room- spacious, roomy and the beds very comfortable.

By 11:30 pm- we were relaxed and almost out, pleased at how far we made it in 10 or so hours- which was record time from Arkansas to Florida for us.
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Old 01-17-2007, 11:40 PM   #2
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Glad you made it to Pensacola, Maureen! I've never been there so I'm looking forward to reading about it and seeing your pictures!
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Old 01-18-2007, 01:11 AM   #3
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

I don't know how you guys drive for so long - we complain about drives of four or five hours over here! [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/082502yes_prv.gif[/img] I'm glad you made record time and I hope that continues for the rest of your journey. [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 01-18-2007, 04:51 AM   #4
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Hmmmmm, a 12 hours trip in 10 hours [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img] [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

Glad you made it safe..

And the "rest of the story" is???? [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 01-18-2007, 05:23 AM   #5
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Great start Maureen. Your drive through Vicksburg and Jackson bring back memories from my hurricane Katrina deployment.
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Old 01-18-2007, 07:54 AM   #6
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Glad you made the trip in record time [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/082502yes_prv.gif[/img]

More please [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
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Old 01-18-2007, 08:58 AM   #7
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Great start Maureen!! Glad you guys made it safely!!
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Old 01-18-2007, 01:49 PM   #8
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Probably made good time because you were traveling at night, and maybe less traffic? Either way, glad you made it there in one piece. I bet those beds never felt so comfy!
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Old 01-18-2007, 06:36 PM   #9
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Great start you made great time. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip and seeing pictures.
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Old 01-18-2007, 06:51 PM   #10
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Impressive trip time! Glad you all made it and found a reasonably priced place for the night!
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Old 01-18-2007, 10:36 PM   #11
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

We both were up by 7:30 the next morning. As I got showered and dressed, Kevan made his way to the lobby for the ďFreshStartĒ coffee and the cinnamon rolls Holiday Inn Express advertises all the time. Neither were particularly spectacular but better than some of the other continental breakfasts I have had before!

When we got ready to take our stuff out to the car (as we were changing hotels) he said, thereís something pretty interesting out there. Really? And he was right.

The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile was in the hotel parking lot next door to us! Now thatís some way to start a morning!



Kevan has this unique ability to come up with quick one liners and just send me into hysterics. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, he asked me if I felt like a physicist or rocket scientist. Huh? Uhhh, no dear. Then he replied, ď Well, you did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!Ē- bwahahaha. I love those commercials and forgot all about them until then!

We had lots planned for today. First on the list was a visit to Pensacola Naval Air Station- and more specifically, to visit my parents gravesites at Barrancas National Cemetery. I was very glad to be able to do this- as I had not been able to visit Pensacola since my momís passing- and had never seen my parents listed on the marker together- as we moved to Arkansas before it was ready and placed.


Pensacola NAS was a good 25-30 minute drive from the hotel and we checked out some areas on the way. One thing we surmised that the hurricanes did was generate new growth and development- there were a few areas that looked better than they did when we went to school here and then of course, there were some that didnít.

When we got to the NAS gates, I was asked to show ID and state the purpose of our visit and we were given a visitorís pass for admittance. Pensacola NAS is one of the nicest and most natural looking military installations I have ever been on- and my dad having been in the USAF, Iíve been to several.


Entrance to Pensacola Naval Air Station

Barrancas National Cemetery is located very close to the front gates and is easy to get to. Quick history lesson for you here. This area has served as a burial ground before national cemeteries were even commissioned. In fact, Geronimo was held at nearby Fort Barrancas and one of his wives is buried at the cemetery. The grounds date back to the early 1800ís and there are several noteable internments here, As you would expect, itís beautifully maintained and incredibly dignified. My father always said he wanted to be interred on a military installation and after his passing, my mom and I chose Barrancas because Pensacola was within a days drive from many areas. 12 years later when mom passed, I was able to have her interred at Barrancas as well.



Kevan and I both visited my dad a lot when we lived here so we remembered the general vicinity of his and Momís site but got a little lost in the many, many markers. After about 15 minutes he suggested I go up to the reception office and see if I could get an exact placement number there. I knew as soon as I drove up there, heíd find it but I went anyway.


Visitor Center/ Office

As it was a national holiday, the office was closed but I was pleased to find a computer site locator. I typed in some information and not only did it give me an exact site where my parents were, but also printed a map.


Found them! (computer site locator)

I got some pictures before hopping in the car and driving back down to find it.



As soon as I made my way close, Kevan was standing still so I knew he found them. He smiled and said ďI never knew what you ended up deciding to put on there- it looks really nice.Ē Because both of my parents were on the one space, I had a horrible time figuring something out that honored them nicely yet concisely. However, the cemetery administrator was patient and helpful- hard to believe that meeting took place 6 years ago but it did and now I got my first look. My father was listed first, then my mom and at the bottom the words that described them so well- ďLoving Parents.Ē

Since none of my family had seen it, I took a picture to share with them. That might seem a little odd but I wanted to- at least now I can see it when I like.

I shed a few tears but did really well. Kevan refused to go until I was really sure I was ready to leave- and after a few minutes I bid goodbye. I hope this move works out- being able to go out to Barrancas more often would be a wonderful thing.

We exited the cemetery and decided to make a quick stop at Gulf Islands National Seashore and Fort Barrancas- which was literally around the corner.

Coming Up:That was some history lesson!
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:32 AM   #12
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

I'm filling up reading that installment. I'm so glad you found your parents' memorial and the wording on that is perfect. [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/grouphug.gif[/img]
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Old 01-19-2007, 07:19 AM   #13
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

Tears in my eyes reading this . . . I am so glad you got to visit your parents' grave. What a lovely stone.
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Old 01-19-2007, 08:39 AM   #14
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How great you were finally able to get back to the cemetary Maureen [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/grouphug.gif[/img]
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Old 01-19-2007, 09:01 AM   #15
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Re: Pensacola in 72 Hours or Less: A Road Trip to the Emerald Coast

I just caught up on your trip report. You and Kevan made wonderful time getting to Pensacola.

I am glad to read that you were able to visit your parents' resting place [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/grouphug.gif[/img] I have lost both my parents as well and find great comfort visiting where they are laid to rest.
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