Our drive back to DFW took us back through Pensacola for a welcome revisit to sites of Civil War significance.
The bridges and the skyline provided us with a dramatic ''welcome back'', and it was nice to park next to some muscle at the Quality Inn at Pensacola. Unfortunately, we did not get the same room (booked), but made do with a rollaway to get the requisite bedding.
Our first goal for the next morning was a return to the Naval Base, to visit the Pensacola lighthouse.
The Lighthouse has Civil War connections, said to be haunted by a number of spirits, including a Slave, and a very angry wife of a lighthouse keeper (who is said to fling objects about), and has featured on Ghost Hunters. We were keen to visit both for the atmosphere, and for what would have been a wonderful view of the Base and surrounds. Very very sadly for us, it too was closed for painting as we arrived, so we could only view from the outside. Undoubtedly, our lighthouse tour of the US was an epic fail in that respect.
Our next destination was Fort Barrancas, which is an old fort with history dating back to both the Spanish and French, and was yet another of the many highlights of our trip.
We spoke at length to one of the National Parks officers, who had been stationed in Darwin as a US soldier, and was the only person we met on the trip who had any real, first hand knowledge of Australia (and who didnt struggle to understand our Aussie accents!). He spoke about the rich history of this location, one I would be keen to return to. Geronimo, the Apache War Chief, was one person imprisoned at this location and native spirits are said to remain, as are the spirits of Confederate Soldiers.
The tour is a self guided one, so on leaving the office with your tickets, you will take a walk through Florida seaside vegetation and heat as you reach a dry drawbridge. Crossing over takes you through a series of fascinating underground structures (that had the added bonus of being a welcome respite from the Florida heat). (as a side, there was an account I read of a visitor that reported hearing the drawbridge closing, and rushed out of the complex fearing being locked in only to find that the drawbridge hadnt moved).
The crowd numbers were very low, which added to the experience of being able to wander around without the hum of distant voices. In the end, we spent a bit over an hour here, before it was time to hit the road for our return to Texas. Without doubt, Pensacola is a hidden gem, rich in both natural beauty, dining and history.