Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Lucky Find

My view with back to the gulf
Close up for my readers
One of the things I really like about traveling the county and state highways as opposed to the interstate system is finding little gems I would have missed.  Today I want to tell you about my latest find along highway 98 which runs along the Gulf Coast of Florida (and on to Texas but I'm not ready to go that far today).  I had planned to drive as far as Mexico Beach, about 30 miles from Panama City, stopping along the way to walk on the beach, collect shells, and maybe find a geocache or two.  Mother Nature changed my plans.  At first I was upset about missing out on the beach combing, but with winds gusting up to 30mph I wasn't about to argue with her.  I stopped at a beach use area because I saw a restroom there.  As I walked back to the car I noticed an historical marker (and if you're wondering why I didn't notice it when I parked you've obviously never been with me when my bladder is full!).  A quick check on my phone told me there was a museum in town dedicated to these wartime residents and why they were here.  My navigator app took me straight to it. 

Now I have been to several museums and shows about the war so this one was cool to me because it focused on the men and women who were here to meet a specific mission.  There was no admission charge but a donation is always accepted.  I dropped a few bucks in the donation box and started in the first room just as a woman anounced she would be taking viewers out to see the vehicle exhibit, so away I went.  The vehicles were pretty typical with a little twist.
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 There was a duck boat like the ones used to deliver soldiers to the beaches, a typical army jeep restored to really nice condition.  I've seen a lot of jeeps over the years but this was the first one I've seen with the wire cutter on the front.  This was there to cut wire strung across the road in hopes of decapitating the driver and any passengers.  Nice little factoid there.  But what really caught my eye was the German utility vehicle.  Looks like a typical Volkswagon from the front but the back end is more like a truck bed. 

Must say I've never seen one of those. 

Back inside I perused the many rooms of uniforms and ephemera related to the war.  I was glad to see a WAVE officer uniform and a presentation dedicated to a Navy nurse who had served here.  There was a looping tape of local vets telling their stories as well as a section dedicated to some of the POWs who were held here during the war.  One German POW was held here for over 2 years then repatriated to his home and later brought his family to the U.S. to become citizens. 

So it turned out to be a nice day for visiting a museum that I wouldn't have even known existed if the winds hadn't been blowing so hard.  Pretty cool how the universe steers your course, huh?

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