2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali AKA Mt. McKinley

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   BLUE ANGEL NAVAL RECREATION AREA:
CAMPING & ACTIVITIES, CONT.

FRIDAY, APRIL 25

 

Continued from the previous page.

HIKING & CYCLING AT THE BLUE ANGEL NAVAL REC. AREA

Every day we got out to hike and/or ride our bikes on the numerous sandy trails and dirt or paved roads within the recreation area.

In addition to the interesting trails winding through the three disc golf courses,

there is a four-mile multi-use nature trail,

 

several dirt roads through the primitive and group camping areas,

the roads through the two large campgrounds, and a mile of beach on Perdido Bay in Tarklin Bayou State Park, which borders the south side of the Navy rec. area.

I hiked it all with the dogs, repeatedly.

Dogs aren't allowed in the beach area at either campground so we took Cody and Casey across the creek outlet and onto the state park property to let them swim:


Colorful plant life in the creek


Creek outlet at low tide


Outlet at higher tide = we got wetter!


Casey had fun retrieving tennis balls in the waves.


Looking back toward the recreation area

I was curious about the curve in the land south of the recreation area and decided to hike along the beach one day on state park property when the tide was part way down to see what was there:

 

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I enjoyed the hike so much that I took Casey to the spit of land with me the next day. She had great fun splashing around in the water and trying to catch little crabs below the surface:


She could see the little crabs but couldn't catch any of them.

The day after that I saw a big plume of smoke along the beach, right where Casey and I had hiked the previous day:

Oh, my!

Turns out Tarklin Bayou State Park personnel were doing a controlled burn on park property to reduce overgrown plants. Palmettos and other understory foliage smoldered for days. It was near the end of our stay and I didn't hike down there again.

Also turns out dogs aren't supposed to be on that beach, either. Oops. I didn't know that until later.

In addition to riding inside the recreation area, Jim also rode his bike longer distances on local roads to Perdido Key, FL (south of the campground), to Lillian, AL (west), and Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola (southeast). He's signed up for several long bike rides this spring and summer so he trained up to 50 miles at a time. I'll show photos of the base that I took while riding there in another entry. 

LEARNING A NEW SPORT: DISC GOLF

I've noticed disc golf courses at only one other military base, Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, SD. Many public parks around the country also have them and more courses are being built as the sport gains in popularity.

For the first three weeks we stayed at the Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area, I used the shady, winding courses only to walk the dogs. My favorite of the three courses, Palmetto, is adjacent to Battleship Row RV Park. I loved taking various routes through the interesting courses while I walked the dogs. I saw something new each time.

Whenever I saw someone playing near me, I'd stop to stay out of the way -- and to discretely watch them throw. It sure looked like they were having fun!

I began following the courses hole-by-hole, instead of taking tangents, so I could learn the routes the players took. I was fascinated with some of the distances from the "professional" and "amateur" tees:


Yikes!  That's a lot of feet to throw on a three-par hole.

That's a long way to throw those little discs (smaller than frisbees), especially around all the trees and other obstacles between the tees and holes.

Some of the "holes" (wire baskets) were very close to limbs, such as the ones below:

 

With only about ten days left in our stay, I finally couldn't stand it any more. I wanted to play, too.

Never mind that I didn't know the rules yet or have anyone to play with . . . Jim didn't have the same curiosity, and I didn't know anyone else in the RV park that played.

I began talking with some of the players, who were more than happy to share their advice. I learned that these three courses are some of the best in the country, so good that regional and national tournaments are played here. I knew they were scenic and fun; I didn't know they were championship caliber, too.

That doesn't matter. Anyone with $2 can play, even civilians. If you don't have discs, you can rent them at the marina store.

Many of the tees have benches and interesting features, like the pagoda below or the nearby bridge in another photo above. Some also have insulated drinking water containers:

I soon learned the basic rules of play from online websites and read about the different types of discs -- as many or more variations as golf clubs and balls.

Some of the players I saw had dozens of different discs, which they carried in backpacks or wheeled  around the course in little carts. One of the rec. area employees with about 30 discs gave me a basic longer-distance throwing disc to keep, and I rented a "putter" for a couple days from the marina store so I could practice throwing.

I got out each day the last week to throw from both "pro" and "am" tees, usually not even counting how many throws it took to land a disc in the baskets. All the holes are par three, regardless of the distance or difficulty. Sometimes I could get a basket in three throws, and sometimes it took more shots.

I really didn't care how many shots it took. It was simply fun to hone my skills and eventually land the discs in the baskets.

After I took the rental disc back I bought a similar disc at Walmart to keep, so I have two kinds of my own for different throwing situations. (I'm trying to keep it simple.)


Almost got the red disc in the basket (background, highlighted);
one more throw got the yellow one in from about 15 feet away.

I hope I'll be able to find more disc golf courses as we continue traveling. I still don't have any desire to play for real. I just enjoy trying to improve my throwing accuracy. It's relaxing and good exercise, both for me and for the dogs.

Ha. I had to teach them not to retrieve the discs! They are Labrador retrievers, after all. No matter what we throw, they're wired to bring it back.

We really enjoyed staying at the Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area and plan to stay here again someday.

Next entrylots to do at Naval Air Station Pensacola, too (including civilians)

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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