We got into Pensacola, FL on the later side, and while I wanted to go out, my traveling companion was exhausted. Sigh... but the next day we went to the beach before driving I-10 to New Orleans.
Pensacola Beach was remarkably empty, for being such a ridiculously amazing stretch of sand and surf.
"Where IS everyone?"
No, seriously... did we really have this beach to ourselves?
At least we had this extra large beach ball all to ourselves. ;-)
Oh rats, the masses showed up.
Time for me to check out the water conditions.
I've only been to the Gulf of Mexico once before (the last time I was in Florida), and it was a teaser. This felt right.
Oh yeah, no oil slick either (wooooo).
The birds were digging it.
So was the chica.
Back in Pensacola proper = we had lunch at Hopjack, which had something like 100 beers on tap. I had one of the two purple highlighted ones (see below).
Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA is 17% ABV, and they only served it in a 4 oz. pour. It was incredible.
It went very well with this amazing pizza, featuring filet mignon.
Pensacola felt more southern than the rest of Florida that I had previously seen. Like the saying goes: "The further north you go in Florida, the deeper south you get."
I was rather proud of myself for discovering this brewery = Pensacola Bay.
Here, you buy the glassware, and they "give you" the beer to go with it.
I got the tasting flight: my favorite out of all of them (hardly a bad one in the bunch) was Lil' Napoleon IPA, which is now in my top 5 favorite IPAs (along with the aforementioned 120 Min., Pliny the Younger, et al.).
Afterwards, we needed to head to Perdido Key to fulfill a stupid dream of mine = seeing Flora-Bama. Along the way we thought we'd pop over to the Gulf Islands National Seashore, but the parking was $8. Since we weren't going to spend a long time, we turned around. Oh well.
Looked like a nice stretch of coastline, however.
I had no idea of what to expect at Flora-Bama, except that it straddled the Florida-Alabama stateline (hence the name).
Ok, so it's a dive bar!
But we had fun... although we actually didn't drink or eat anything since we were full from Hopjack.
But it didn't matter, because the beach out back was a big draw. This is the Florida side...
...and this is the Alabama side. Gotta love the Redneck Riviera.
The beach entrance to Flora-Bama.
We were headed to New Orleans, which was where the BCS Championship was going to be held, so I found this appropriate. Of course, Alabama beat LSU a couple weeks later.
Back in Sweet Home Alabama (this picture was taken from the Flora-Bama parking lot).
Perdido Key wouldn't be a bad place to retire, actually.
I thought Cleveland, OH and San Jose, CA had pathetic skylines, but Mobile, AL rivals both cities.
However, the treelined boulevards made up for it.
Time for dinner = we went to the Brick Pit BBQ, recommended by various travel books.
It was decent, although my girlfriend ordered the ribs, which really gave her a stomach ache. I took a bite and noticed they tasted largely of carbon. My pulled pork was quite good, however, and the potato salad was amazing.
I like to document when I enter a state for the first time.
Finally we entered Louisiana, around 7:30pm.
The night was still young, and fortunately my girlfriend's stomachache got to manageable levels.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was playing its last show of 2011, so we had to go, of course. It was worth the wait in line.
Fantastic set. I love this dingy looking box of a music hall.
Jackson Square at night is a delightfully spooky place.
I couldn't wait to delve deeper into New Orleans. To be continued!