Friday April 25, 2003.
Thunder and the sound of rain pelting my window woke me up earlier
than the time I had set on my alarm clock. A peek through the gap in the curtains confirmed hurricane-like rain and
wind outside. The radio weather report said the rain would stop by mid morning, and luckily for me, it did.
The drive east parallel to Pensacola Beach is a tour of weird architecture
in beach houses. One house was in the shape of a flying saucer and even appeared to have aliens inside.
To avoid the stop-start traffic through the beachfront suburbs,
I turned inland towards the Eglin Air Force Base and then east on highway 20 in the direction of Tallahassee.
Just after Niceville ( I can't believe they called it that ) and
near the Air Force Base is an Air Force museum. Hoping to sit in some more fighter jet cockpits, I went inside, only
to discover that it's really an Air Force armaments museum, which means it's mostly about weapons, and not so much about
exotic aircraft. It was a bit depressing to see how proud they are of their weapons technology. Eglin Air Force
Base is largely there for the purpose of weapons development and testing. The telling statement that turned me off and
made me want to leave was in a video about a new type of bomb that can "sense" multiple targets such as tanks and trucks and
destroy several of them in a single pass within about a half acre area. The phrase used in the video
narration to describe the benefit of this new bomb was "productivity improvements".
Ironically, a mockup copy of the most "productive" bomb ever used
is also on display. That bomb was "The Fat Man" which was dropped on Nagasaki. It was chilling to see what it
actually looked like (see picture below). And the descriptive sign with the mockup states that approximately 45,000
people were "immediately killed" by that bomb. Those people were largely civilian women and children. That is not
a "productivity" that I would be proud of.
Soon after the start of highway 20 east I stopped at Choctaw Beach
on the north side of Choctawhatchee Bay. I needed to clean the car's windows inside and out because they had fogged
up in today's high humidity. I needed to use the car's airconditioning several times during the day.
From Choctaw Beach, the road was very easy to drive. For the
next ten hours I encountered very little traffic. The road passes through forests and farms and only the smallest of
towns. To bypass Tallahassee I turned southeast onto state road 267 which allowed me to then rejoin highway 98 east which
was now clear of all beachside suburbs and gave me a free and pleasant run to Perry where I turned onto highway 27 east.
I was hoping to stay the night somewhere east of Perry so I could explore the thermal springs in the area the next day.
But all the towns on that route were so small they had no motel. I ended up reaching Gainesville at 11:00pm before
I found a motel for the night. It was a much longer drive today than I had set out to do.