We’ve been extremely busy of late, traveling through several states, from Texas to Alabama to North Carolina, life on the road couldn’t be finer. The temperature could be a little warmer though, but at least there is no snow, and if we only had bright 80 degree days, we’d probably be soaking up too many rays.

We left Tucson in mid-February and stopped in Texas for a couple of weeks. It was great to see Ashley and Jeremy again. The mother to be is doing fine! We also took the opportunity to drop off winter clothes and picked up more summer stuff. It was interesting to look again at the stuff we decided to keep in storage rather than sell or give away. In retrospect, we kept too much! What were we thinking?

By early March we were back in the Florida panhandle staying at the Blue Angels Recreational Area on Perdido Bay near Pensacola, Florida. This is the former site of Bronson Field used primarily for dive bomber, fighter, and seaplane training during WWII. Baseball great Ted Williams was among those trained at the base. The airfield is still in use today but only for model airplane enthusiasts. One of several seaplane ramps is pictured below.

Our next stop was Panama City, Florida. We camped at NSA Panama City, a US Navy base that supports fleet activities. Among the units on base is the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center where the services conduct experimental deep diving techniques. Did you know this is the 100th anniversary of the Mark V dive helmet and the 40th anniversary of women divers?

Our timing at NSA Panama City coincided with the final round of a unique competition among civilian engineers and scientists who work on base. Participating units receive $15,000 to design and build an improvised explosive device (IED) detector robot that searched for and neutralized IEDs. We were in attendance for the final detect and dig-up competition. The DoD pays about $150,000 for each robot it buys for use in the fleet. The winning team in this competition was able to build two robots for one-tenth the price.

The next stop was on the east coast of Florida near Kennedy Space Center. Again our timing was perfect. We were there for the launch of a SpaceX rocket. This was the first rocket launch we’ve seen and it was nothing short of incredible. It was calm and clear when the rocket lifted off at 9 PM. The plumb was so bright it was like a mini sun! We were amazed at how slowly the rocket climbed into space, not Fourth of July fireworks. The rocket plumb remained clearly visible for several minutes until the first stage burned out. If you haven’t experienced this, put it on your bucket list.

Visiting Florida gave us the opportunity to visit with family and friends. The luck of the Irish kept us safe in Boca Raton as we partied-down with my sister Karen and her husband Rick.  Everyone had a great time – and we stayed up past 10 PM!

We’ve recently moved up the east coast to North Carolina where Nick and Ashley’s big day is April 29! It will be lots of fun, and we’ll get to spend time with a lot people we haven’t seen in a long time.