Category Archives: Florida

Florida History Museum, Tallahasee, FL

MUSEUM OF FLORIDA HISTORY

This was incredibly well done.  It leads you through the history of Florida, actually starting with dinosaurs and ending with current affairs.  The museum hosts a whole mastodon skeleton, found locally.  There are several persons of interest that are highlighted along the way, lots on the Seminole people and the Seminole wars, pieces of treasure found off the coast of Florida, and some interactive things to keep the kids interested, such as trying to learn about sounding on a boat, or trying to weave a net.  It took us roughly two hours to go through at our pace.  I’m sure you could walk it in 20 minutes, but Gabe and I like looking through everything and reading.

FLorida Cavern Tour

Caverns Flashlight tour

We ended up getting to go on the tour of the caverns with just our flashlights.  It’s something they do only Friday and Saturday evenings.  We were in a group of about 20.  The caverns were interesting, but of course, smaller than the ones in San Antonio.  The kids were acting like old hats.  We got to see bats, very up close, that were sleeping, thankfully.  And there were also some cave crickets.  The tour lasted about 45 minutes.  It was fun, and different, and thankfully cool in the caverns.  But what we spent half a day on in SA, this was more of a quick trip into cooler conditions.  There wasn’t that much to them, so you can’t ask for much more than what there is.

They were not very difficult to walk.  Although there are a few low tunnels that you have to crouch to get through. Image

Fort Pickens

FORT PICKENS AND BEACH

$8/carload, good for the whole national seashore for 7 days.

We went to Fort Pickens to tour in August.  It is one of five forts that protected Pensacola, and is the one that was best preserved.  The architecture of the fort was impressive.  It was well thought out, well hidden, had several Plan B options, and was set up in a series of arches to help with drainage and rainwater collection.

It is a five sided, five sectioned set of buildings, with two sets of “twins” that mirror each other.  Inside, there was what you’d expect, ammunition storage, captain’s quarters, lots of places for cannons.  There are also a few long, narrow tunnels that lead out to three different “dead ends”.  In these dead ends, the soldiers stored several hundred pounds of powder.  That way, if the fort was close to being breached, they could blow that end.

Due to the construction using arches, moisture and rainwater drips down.  Because this fort hasn’t been occupied for awhile, this lends itself to creating cave formations with the build up of lime, calcium, and other minerals.  In fact, where water drips through the most, there are columns even starting to form on the ground.  It was incredibly interesting to see “straws” hanging from a ceiling of an outdoor and above ground building.

After the original fort was built, they added an additional inner fort.  It was built due to an increase in fire power, since the brick walls wouldn’t have been able to keep the newer, much larger, cannonballs out.  In this inner fort, you could see the difference in the newer technology.  There are loading docks for trucks to back up with supplies, a ceiling railway system for moving the supplies that were undoubtedly very heavy, a pulley system for bringing the cannonballs up to where they’d be utilized, and even a lever and stop system to keep the cannonballs under control while they were being unloaded from the pulley system.  In this inner fort, they even had implemented a lowering system so that after a cannon was fired, it would be lowered automatically so they could reload under cover.  Of course, the whole building was black and very utilitarian to look at after the fort proper.

The beach was incredible!  There was hardly anyone else there, white sands, and water that was just the right temperature to enjoy.  We’ve visited other beaches and this is one we’ll definitely be coming back to.  In fact, when we’d planned this trip, I’d decided against camping at Fort Pickens.  We went with Gulf Shores instead.  Next time, we’ll head to Fort Pickens, which has sites with shade and a mostly empty, beautiful beach.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageiImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Florida Capitol, Tallahassee

FLORIDA CAPITOL MUSEUM/CAPITOL

We walked from the Museum of Florida history to the capitol museum around the corner.  When we left the former, the skies looked iffy.  I figured the afternoon storm was coming and would probably be done by the time we got out of the Capitol Museum.  By the time we were half way, (approximately 2 minutes later), it started raining.  Hard.  Buckets.  Seriously, we were in a monsoon!  Everyone who’s lived in the south during the summer knows how summer storms can get.  They’re short, but they are fierce while they’re going.

We talked about waiting it out, but realized that the roof we were under was so high, we were already getting soaked.  So we made a run for it.  By the time we reached the museum’s back door, we were all soaked to the core.  Our hair plastered to our faces, shirts we weighed down with the extra weight, and our shoes left wet footprints all over the floor.

Thankfully, a few employees were watching us, and they helped us out the best they could, even giving a commercial sized roll of paper towels to both the girls and boys.  Caelan and I walked off in opposite directions from Gabe and the boys to the women’s restroom.  We squeezed out our hair and clothing the best we could.  I was wearing a wrap skirt and found out that my bicycle shorts and tank top were relatively dry.  Caelan and Tristan we both wearing board shorts and rash guards and they dried quickly.  While we walked around, I fanned my wrap skirt, taking advantage of air vents to help.  Corbin and Gavin and Gabe ended up being wet and cold for quite awhile, due to wearing cotton clothing.  While Caelan, Tristan and I weren’t exactly dressed to visit museums, but we dried and warmed up much more quickly.

The capitol was well done with lots in interesting cases documented as you walk around.  The kids probably got less out of it, but if they hadn’t been freezing and wet, they might have had a better time.

After walking through the capitol museum, you can go across to the new capitol building.  Once there, you can ride up to the top floor and walk around, looking at some art work and also seeing a fantastic view of Tallahassee.

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Gulfarium

GULFARIUM

Along with the Lighthouse, we decided to check out the Gulfarium the day we were supposed to go to the Aviation museum.  (Well, I wanted to go to the cultural museum, but we thought we’d give the kids a break and do something more fun.)

It was fairly expensive to get in.  Especially for how small it was.  We’ve been to aquariums that cost the same, but you could spend all day there checking things out.  What little was there was done well.  The dolphin exhibit was cool, getting to see them under water.  Afterwards we went top side to watch the dolphin show.  There was a small room with fish tanks in them that had a few interesting fish.  We got to see the upside down jellyfish again.

And there was an octopus that had recently been fed, but he’d taken the cup from the worker and wouldn’t give it back.  Watching this creature out smart a human for 30 minutes was hysterical!  It would NOT give that cup up, and every time the worker tried to distract it, well, the octopus has 8 arms.  It didn’t have to drop the cup to check out something else.  After that, I was very grateful humans only have 2 arms…..having a two year old with 8 would’ve been difficult to say the least.

We watched a sea lion show, and there were sea otters, sharks, turtles, penguins (one of which was hanging out by the gate like he was waiting for someone to spring him from the joint), a small tidal pool, a small aviary, and some gators in a nursery.  There was also a manta ray and small shark tank that someone had paid a lot to snorkel.  We watched for the price of admission.  We were close enough.  I doubt he could see much more than we could, since we could reach out and touch him.

All in all, not a bad aquarium, but in my opinion, not worth the price tag.

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Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna, FL

Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna, FL

$24/night.

This was set up like any number of small rv parks.  There were 30 sites total, so it was a very small campground.  We spent 6 nights there while touring Tallahassee.  We were about an hour away from Tallahassee, which doesn’t really have any RV parks, or even places to pitch a tent.

The Caverns.  They are known for their Caverns.  It’s the only accessible cavern system in Florida.  We went through the tour, at night, in what they call their “flashlight tour”.  We saw some bats and crickets, and some interesting cave formations.  It took about an hour, and wasn’t very strenuous, with the exception of needing to duck through a few corridors, which is uncomfortable after about the fifth step.

The swimming hole.  They have a swimming area.  It was closed when we were there, and the camp host said that there’d been an alligator sighted, relocated, and then sighted again.  So he wouldn’t go there even if it were open.  Due to weather, the water was very murky and the swimming hole area is surprisingly deep at 30’.  So, you never know what might be underneath you.

The bathrooms were decent.  The mosquitos were awful while we were there.  We went through several bottles of off and used up quite a few citronella candles, and we still all ended up with a huge amount of bites.  It was really bad.  There was a washer and dryer by the restrooms.  We didn’t use it, opting instead to go into town and get it all done in an hour, instead of it taking 3 or 4 hours to run one load at a time.

I don’t know that I’d want to try getting my rig in.  A couple with a 35’ fifth wheel came in on one of our last days there and they had an awful time getting in to the spot.  Luckily, the spot across from them was empty to they were able to little by little get into their site.

I also don’t know if I’d want to go back in a tent because so much is outdoors when you’re tent camping and the mosquitos were so bad.  Perhaps in winter or early spring it wouldn’t have been quite as bad.

Aviation Museum

Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

This is located on the Naval Base just south of Pensacola.  The first three pictures are of an engine that they’d cut in half.  Because of how it was done, we were able to see how everything in it worked together.  I took three shots, one of the front/cut part, one of the back side which shows what it looks like on the outside, and one of the side view where you can see where it was cut in half.

This museum had SOOOOO much cool stuff to see!  We spent four hours there, and could probably come back every week for a year and still see new things and learn something new.  It was very hands on, and I must admit, even I was playing around with things, moving the flaps on the wings of planes to see what would happen, getting into the cockpit and flipping switches randomly.  They have just about the entire history of American aviation in the museum.  Everything from the first planes and the first men to cross the Atlantic to the latest in stealth aviation.  It was really cool!