Big Lagoon

Date: Friday - Sunday, February 13 - 15, 2009
Location: Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida
Trails: Estuary Trail, Sand Pine Trail
Members: Bart & Jennifer & Emma, Danny & Chelsea & Emily, Foster, Larry & Mimi, Mike

Campsite #47

To call this outing a group hiking trip is stretching things a bit. Yes, a number of us overlapped a few days in the same place and spent time with each other and even did some walking about, but circumstances were such that we spent much more time apart than together. Many of the participants had friends and/or family to visit in the area and the weather certainly conspired against us, the area experiencing one of the worst rain storms all winter.

So "we" in this report usually refers to Mimi and Larry rather than the group as a whole.

We had reserved and prepaid our campsite over the Internet several weeks in advance. With no idea of what we were booking, we selected number 47 in the second of three rings. Foster booked the campsite just up the hill from us and Bart was next to him. Danny and family plus Mike parked themselves down the road maybe 100 yards away. All these were satisfactory locations.

Each campsite, being designed for both RV and tent camping, provided water and electricity hookups. A comfort station with hot water and showers was close by, though since most people had their own RV facilities, we tent people usually had the place to ourselves. Considering the presence of a Winn-Dixie supermarket and several restaurants within a mile of the park, this was hardly primitive camping. We didn't even bring any food with us other than seasoning for breakfast omelets.

Tower at East Beach
Great Blue Heron on Bath House

We checked in on Friday at 3 PM and had the tent set up in our usual record time. Foster had arrived the day before and all of the club members showed up to hang out and enjoy the campfire at his place before going our own ways for dinner. Foster, Mimi, and I dined at Triggers seafood restaurant, less than a mile away. Food and service were both excellent.

The rain started during dinner and continued with varying degrees of severity until about 10 AM on Saturday. Mimi and I stayed dry enough; Mike did not fare as well and was forced to retreat to Danny's RV.

We consolidated our kitchen stuff under Foster's canopy and managed to produce a tasty breakfast. Finding a dry spot on which to sit and eat it was more problematic. Danny and his girls and Mike of course had the RV to avoid the rain. I think Bart and Jennifer decided this would be an opportune time to visit her sister in Pensacola.

After breakfast, Mimi, Foster, and I managed a quick survey of the park by vehicle and on foot. The skies clouded up again as we proceeded to the National Naval Aviation Museum which is located on the Naval Air Base in Pensacola, about four miles from the park. We all appreciated the quality and variety of things to see (and the free admission). The others were there at the same time but the place is so big, we did not run into them.

Foster, Mimi, Larry
Boardwalk at East Beach The sunshine returned for maybe an hour in the afternoon, at least long enough to get the dampness out of our sleeping bags and mattresses. Mimi and I set off along the Sand Pine Trail in search of birds, plants, and whatever else we might find. The threatening clouds cut that short but we drove to this wonderful tower in the East Beach section of the park from which we could seek out ducks, herons, and other wildlife in the lagoon and the surrounding marshes.

Mike had a roaring campfire blazing at Foster's when we returned and we had to pull ourselves away for dinner, again at Triggers, again excellent. A little rain fell but nothing very serious until about 3 AM and even then not anything close to the deluge of the previous night.

Sprinkles continued during breakfast on Sunday. Though Foster was staying until Tuesday, the rest of us took a look at the gray-skies-rain-continuing weather forecast and decided it was time to head back north, at least for this go around. But everyone loved the park and I think we will plan another outing here for next year, preferably not on such a soggy weekend.

Naval Aviation Museum
To view more photos (in better resolution), please see our Picasa Web Album Big Lagoon 2009.

Submitted 19 Feb 2009
Text: Larry Barkey
Photos: Larry Barkey, Mimi Barkey, Mike Henshaw

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