Pensacola Trip (2003/08/22-24)

Pensacola, FL, the home of the Blue Angeles and where the National Museum of  Naval Aviation is located. I have been to the United States Air Force Museum back in summer 2001 (see pages here), but I have not been to this one. Since my friend is stationing in Pensacola, I decided to spend a weekend to visit the museum, also hoping to see my friend at the same time...

2003/08/22 (Day1)

Going to Pensacola

 I woke up at 5:00 am, ate my breakfast and packed. I left my apartment around 6:10am and found out there was almost no traffic, so I arrived at the airport at 6:30am, which is a bit unusual. (Usually takes about 30minutes.)

Checked in at the counter. I did not have any check in baggage so I did not have to do anything besides receiving the boarding tickets. The AirTran is known as a deeply discount priced airline company. They do not actually issue hard paper boarding pass, they are looking like a receipt form Wal-Mart.

AirTran Airways 0802: Wichita (8:00am CDT) - Atlanta (11:00am EDT) Boeing 717

Boeing 717 at Wichita

This is the first time I am on a Boeing 717. The aircraft left the gate 10 minutes earlier than planned. Right after taking off, the plane made left turn to avoid a front (see the picture below). Otherwise, the flight was smooth all the way. However, the air was a bit hazy and cloudy, so I could not see the surface much.

The Boeing 717 was originally designed by the McDonnell Douglas as MD-95 before the company merged with the Boeing Co. Just like other MD series, the plane as two engines at aft fuselage and has thrust reversers and can depart from the gate without assist.

Arrived in Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport at 10:45am, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. The connection flight was in other concourse so I had to use the People Mover. I did not get enough water in flight so I bought a bottle of water at the airport. They gave me a Baby Ruth (King Size) for free. (That was a part of promotion)

AirTran Airways 2125: Atlanta (12:25pm EDT) - Pensacola (12:30pm CDT) Canadia Regional Jet CL-46

CL-46 at Atlanta Airport

Just like before, we departed from the gate 5 minutes early. The sky had scattered clouds so I could not see the ground this time too. I hope the way back will have a bit better weather.

The captain told us the destination's weather was overcast at 2,000ft AGL. So I was not really looking forward to it. We arrived at the airport on time but after the airplane landed, rain started. I am glad to know that we did not get the rain in flight.

Pensacola Regional Airport is a bit smaller than the Wichita's. There are two restaurants and two gift shops at the airport, one in inside of the gate and other is at outside. I had my lunch right after I landed because I was so hungry. I ordered a Cuban Sandwich and a drink. The Cuban Sandwich is not much different from the toasted subs. They put cheese and hams between crispy toasts and put into the oven for a while. The problem with this airport is that I cannot find anything fun. I am not sure how I am going to spend three hours here on the way back. At least there is a gift shop, that's nice to know.

Going to Downtown Pensacola

I needed to wait until 2:00pm to get the car to save money. I don't want to spend three days price for only two and a half day trip (I am writing this about 20 minutes from the 2:00pm). I finished my paper work at 1:51pm. Because they did not have a good map, I had to go up stair back again to find the visitor's information center. They also did not have a good map either but the one they gave me was better than the AAA's. So I got more detailed information about streets then headed to pick up my car. And my car is...

Kia Rio (Red car again???)

It is not a good car to drive, that's what I can say. However, the car is small so it does not take time to cool entire vehicle. The climate in Florida is not hot as in Wichita, but very humid. I think having air conditioning is critical and I kept it running all the time. I called my best friend who stations here, she was busy since her car was getting oil change and told me that she will call me back later.

The first place I decided to go was the historic village of the Pensacola. There are houses from 1800s. Wichita's old town is not that old so I was looking forward to see some of those buildings. I left the airport, try to get on the I-110, which runs north to south of Pensacola and takes me to the downtown area. I was thinking the highway is like I-135 in Wichita, but it was not. Not only the speed limit is 55mph, they have limited number entrances. So, I took a wrong turn somewhere I don't know and I had to drive regular street to the downtown area. The funny thing is that they don't have any gas station on the way, so I could not buy any water and I was already getting dehydrated.

Pensacola Historic Village


After making few wrong turns, I managed to follow the I-110 from the ground level and somehow get to the Historic Pensacola Village. I arrived there at 2:50pm. They will be closed at 4:00pm so I don't have too much time to look around.

The villages are made of few blocks in the downtown area. I have got a dollar discount by telling the lady that I am a student in Kansas (She did not buy my story until I show her my student ID). Before heading outside. I just thought it would be a great idea to buy some stuffs. The lady at the gift shop offered me a "pointing edged" old looking scissors, but since I am going home by plane, I gently declined. I have bought some post card instead. Okay, you ready to head outside? Historic Pensacola Village Tour

There was a group of Japanese from Gifu prefecture cerebrating the 10th anniversary of sister city with Pensacola.

Rain started from right before 4:00pm so I had to take a shelter staying there until 4:30pm

After this one, I thought I had enough for the day, so I head to the motel. This time I asked the way to get on the I-110. I stopped by at a gas station to get some water finally. I arrived at Fairfield Inn at 5:10pm. By the time, the rain has stopped.

The Fairfield Inn.

Pensacola Beach

After checking in, I tried to relax but I was not quite in the mood because I just could not resist the temptations of going to the beach. I went south on the I-110, took left at the very end of the street then went over two bridges which connect islands. To enter the Pensacola Beach area, I had to pay $1.00 at the toll. I found a public parking but I drove to east for extra 10 minutes (since I missed the sign for the first public parking, I had to keep looking for the next one.)

Hey Kosuke, Take me to the Beach!!!!

Pensacola Beach website

I have not been to a beach for such a long time. I think it was more than a decade. I just love the sound of waves crashing, and breeze containing salty smell. I had my sandals on so I got my feet wet a little but I did not go in.

Since I did not get a call back from my friend, I ate dinner at Denny's Restaurant around 7:30pm. It was just fine restaurant, I go this franchise when I don't have much choice (I think it is much better than going to a McDonald's).

Denny's Restaurant

Back in the motel 8:00pm, watched TV for a while. I got call from my friend past 8:00pm, we decided to have lunch together in the downtown at 11:30am tomorrow.

2003/08/23 (Day2)

I woke up at 6:00am, stretched my body while watching the TV. The Fairfield Inn has complementary breakfast so I had mine at 7:00am, they did not have orange juice so I drunk apple juice instead. They had bagels, Danishes and some muffins. I think I ate too much...

Going to beach (second time)

I left the motel at 8:00am to the beach, could not resist wetting my foot. Walked about half miles in water. I have seen people digging the sand. I bet they are looking for sand dollars. Compare to yesterday evening, the beach looked a lot better. I took some pictures.

Meeting with my friend

I went back to the downtown area around 10:45am to take more pictures of historic houses I missed. I think I got them all.

Lunch in downtown with my friend and her friend. She came in a bit late, but looks doing well as usual. The restaurant we ate is called Dharma Blue Cafe (Look the picture from the village tour). One of the historical building used as a restaurant today. Her friend is in the flight school, flying a T-34. He is quite a good guy and nice to talk with. We had all different foods.

The National Museum of Naval Aviation

Visiting the National Museum of Naval Aviation. After the lunch. It took me for a while to get there and rained too. It was free to enter, but their east gate is closed for public so I had to enter the base from the west gate and received a permit. From the museum, I could see C-2 and E-2C, Hawkeye were in the pattern to practice touch and go's. I felt that the museum is a one of the kind. It seems bigger that the Air Force Museum, although they have more problem in the ventilation and I could see water dripping from the ceiling due to high humidity environment.

Let's go see some planes! The National Museum of Naval Aviation Museum Tour

Phone call from one of my friend while I was at the museum, telling me that my friend's host father died. I have to attend the funeral on Monday.

Got trolley tour at 3:30pm. I had to get a ticket (free, but limited by the number).  I have seen the NAVY's newest stealth aircraft which you cannot visibly see it.

Going back to Beach again

Going to beach (again) at 5:45pm, this time I know where I can get changed and showed so I had my swimsuit with me. I swam a bit to see if I can find any sand dollar, but the water was really murky and I could not see the bottom. A guy I talked to was complaining the same thing. So I must have been in a wrong day. It is always nice feeling to be in sea water.

Back to the Motel, realizing that I was checked out without my knowledge. To compensate for the inconvenience, I get to stay in the executive room for the same charge. It's much better. They have furniture and coffee maker, microwave and fridge.

Eat dinner at Waffle House at 7:30pm had a chopped Steak dinner

Sorry, a bit scary...

Watched the Man of the Honor, got call from my friend. She told me she might have some time tomorrow.

2003/08/24 (Day3)

Wake up at 6:15am. I wanted to stay in the bed until 6:45am, but I just did not feel that way. Stretched my body again while watching TV. There was Formula One racing on the Speed channel. So I watched it. I ate breakfast at 7:00am, no orange juice, no apple juice, so I took some of milks from the fridge. I guess "free" breakfast does not come without a price.... At least they still had some bagels, cupcake and Danishes.

Stopping by my friend's place

Stopping by my friend's apartment at 9:00am. Talked a bit. She is having her biannual flight check today I left her apartment at 10:00am.

Beach for the last time

Going to Beach again, I tried to get a bicycle but they did not have a good one and don't even have helmets. So I run, walk for 2 hours

Gulf pier, they say it is the longest in the entire gulf. $1.50 to walk, $6.50 for fish.

Ate lunch around 1:00pm I just don't have anything particular, so I decided to go to Whataburger for the first time... The food was okay but I picked a wrong drink which was not my kind.

Fill up tank, drove back to the airport I arrive there at 1:45pm,

Got a call from my friend past 2:00pm. We are not meeting since her flight got delayed and finished later. Out of time.

I had to get a box for a some of my belongings because I think I bought too much extra stuffs They had several boxes so I get to choose. They were kindly to me.

Going home: AirTran 1724 Pensacola (5:15pm CDT) - Atlanta (7:25pm EDT)

Boeing 717-200, departed on time but few minutes late to take off. 49 minutes of flight time was simply smooth but the weather was hazy.. The kid who was sitting right next me was reading the Harry Potter - The order of phoenix - and just started it.

I ate my dinner at a restaurant in the airport. I have never been there so I was wondering what kind of food they serve. I had only 45 minutes to to get the connection flight. I had a grilled chicken sub in California style.

AirTran Airways 0811: Atlanta (8:05pm EDT) - Wichita (9:21pm CDT) another Boeing 717. Leaving the gate about 10 minutes early.

I have seen a big storm cloud

Thunderstorm cloud dissipating...

The plane arrived to Wichita at 9:00pm, which was 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. My car was still at the parking lot so I was happy. Since I was so tired I could not drive fast enough on the highway. Luckily, I found a bus driving slow on the Kellogg so I just followed it.

I uploaded the first batch of this trip notes and went bed at 10:20pm.

cost: $222.50 AirTran

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