On the Road Again!!! A Geocaching Road Trip Along the Florida Panhandle: Part 2, Fort Walton Beach

Getting Back to Normal

Saturday, April 17, 2021

No doubt we have mentioned, probably more than once, that half of the RovingRaconteurs team is an extremely experienced aviator.  And of course, before accruing all that experience, had to undergo training.  Lots and lots of training.

OK, so what???

Well, you see, that’s the reason we wound up living in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida in the 1970s.  The young and eager, hotshot fighter pilot had completed training in the F-100 Super Sabre, a USAF fighter jet.  However, the “needs of the Air Force” required a change of plans.  Ergo, a move to Ft. Walton Beach and training at Hurlburt Field in the O2 Super Skymaster.  The Jet Jockey was not happy; and back then, we would both have told you we were underwhelmed upon arrival in this sleepy fishing village.  Ah but, the sun; the white sand; the Red Snapper grilled on the beach; the boating; the snorkeling; the camaraderie!!!  That was all good!!!  And so, at times, we go back to visit or for reunions or just to, again, hang out on the beach and dine on Red Snapper!!!

Here are some photos from the old days:

The Jet Jockey and his F-100 Super Sabre
The captivatingly beautiful white sand and the emerald sea are no longer evident in this faded old photograph. You’ll just have to go and see for yourself!!!
On this particular day, we had rented a motorboat in Downtown Ft. Walton Beach and churned our way, accompanied by a couple of playful dolphins, to this beach. It was a memorable, lovely day!!!
Even our pets enjoyed the beach and the sea!!!
Of course, retrievers are made for this!!!
Oh yeah, we may have been unhappy upon arrival, but we were with a great group of friends and left Ft. Walton Beach with life-long memories!!!

And here’s a look at Ft. Walton Beach today:

This year, as we drove from Panama City to Ft. Walton Beach, we stopped at Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House in Destin, Florida.
Boshamps is a large and well-run establishment. The atmosphere varies by where you choose to sit and the menu is extensive. Everyone in our group ordered something different and we all felt quite happy with the meal!!!
Next time, we might sit on the beach!!!
Fittingly, our first stop in downtown Fort Walton Beach was the Indian Temple Mound–the very first community established in the area somewhere around 1000AD. (By Infrogmation and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic)
Now part of the Heritage Park and Cultural Center in Downtown Fort Walton Beach, the Temple Mound served as the ceremonial & political center of the Pensacola Culture. It was probably the chief’s residence.
Temple Mound was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Built at the confluence of Santa Rosa Sound and Choctawhatchee Bay and atop the Fort Walton Mound, this encampment predates the founding of the city. Fort Walton Beach, the city, was established in 1953.
It was the Confederate soldiers who first excavated the mound in 1861. Interestingly, the U.S. Post Office changed the community’s name on their cancellations from Camp Walton to Fort Walton on March 1, 1932.
This theater was built by John Tingas in 1940. No doubt we saw a movie or two during our time in Ft. Walton Beach but have no memory of doing so. We do recall the 2 buildings to the left were once a large newsstand where we’d buy newspapers, magazines, and paperback books every weekend!!!
There are several military installations along the Florida Panhandle. There’s a Naval Air Station in Pensacola; Eglin AFB just north of Fort Walton Beach; Tyndall AFB near Panama City; and then there’s Hurlburt Field just outside Mary Esther, Fl.
Hurlburt Field was the training center for the Forward Air Control mission. Several aircraft were used to accomplish this mission. The O-2 Super Skymaster was one of them.
The O-2 Super Skymaster
Flown throughout Southeast Asia, the O-2 had a myriad of functions: reconnaissance; directing air strikes i.e. “hit my smoke”; coordinating rescue operations….the list goes on..

The trip to Hurlburt Field ended our day. We returned to Panama City.

And the bottom line???     

No, there is no point to make.  This is simply an indulgent trip down memory lane.

Thanks for joining us on the journey!!!

And next???

Come on back for Part 3.  We’ll take a look at the rebuilding of Mexico Beach after the 2018 Hurricane Michael and then wander around Apalachicola and Port St. Joe and St. George Island.