We remain today in Pensacola, in the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, on Florida’s panhandle. It’s our 58th stop since leaving Keweenaw Bay in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on July 30. We’ve traveled 2,200 miles of waterway. That’s more than 1/3 the distance of The Great Loop.
At this point, a bit of idling is “authorized!”
We’ve been on a military base for almost two weeks. I served 30 years. I like my actions to be, um, “authorized.” Joking! The fact is, as a senior officer, I did much of the authorizing — but of course was also subject to it. (Everyone has a boss, no matter their rank.) For civilians, all this “authorizing” must seem very controlling. Very military. But think about it. In a civilized society, we all pay attention to what is authorized and what is not, even if we don’t think of it that way.
The signs around the base have brought all of this to mind — red signs that spell out a warning: “Authorized Personnel Only!”
It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for nearly two weeks, because the time has flown. And after three months of near-constant movement, it’s been refreshing to stay in one place.
A time to move, and a time to be still.
A Looper boat that we met in Michigan, which is captained by another Navy captain, has joined us here at NAS Pensacola. Sharing “sea stories” has taken me back to a different kind of adventure. “Join the Navy and See the World” was the Navy’s recruiting slogan in the early 80s. It grabbed me. So I joined. And I did see the world — or at least a good part of it.
Now, I’m seeing America. More of it than I have before, anyway. From the water.
I’ve sure enjoyed a closer acquaintance with the water here. I’ve taken out the sailboat, paddle board, and dinghy many times. I rode on a sailing kayak, and took a few dips.
When you’re on a motor vessel, you certainly are close to the water. But smaller vessels bring you even closer to it. Close enough to smell it. Close enough to feel the wind and see the ripples. Close enough, sometimes, to see the fish under the surface.
If you want to feel the energy of a thing, you have to get close to it. Really close.
Photos and captions below.