I miss having MY community - and what I'm doing in Pensacola FL
Florida has a lot going for it, good and bad, but this week in Pensacola has been amazing and encouraging. And I have BEACHES to show you!
This week has been a busy one and really, it’s been one of the most special weeks I’ve been a part of. I’ve been here in Pensacola, Florida since Wednesday participating in the Stamped LGBTQ Film Festival which has been so very surprising (more on that below). The other side of my visit this week has been exploring the area, seeing friends, and finally getting to visit Gulf Islands National Seashore. It’s been a beautiful week for so many reasons.
Thank you for following along both here in my weekly update and on the social media stuff. I love hearing from people while traveling and getting recommendations and questions. I head home tomorrow and then Elliott (youngest) and I are heading off on an adventure on Thursday, so stay tuned for some exciting fall travel!
Hawaii and Alaska Sailing Trips!!
Before I forget, I wanted to share that we’ve got a hub on our blog about our upcoming small ship sailings in Hawaii and Alaska. We’ve partnered with UnCruise and will be exploring 4 Hawaiian islands next month, and then sailing out of Juneau, AK in June experiencing their Kids In Nature program.
We get lots of questions about how the business side of running a blog works, and one of the ways we’re able to experience different destinations and travel types is by partnering with companies that align with our values, and UnCruise is one of them. Low Impact Travel and education in the outdoors are two things that are very important to us, so please follow along (or book an UnCruise adventure yourself!) as we work with this unique expedition company over the next year.
PS: part of what is exciting about our first UnCruise sailing is getting to start on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is my favorite island and we finally will be there with the kids. I really hope Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is going off and we get to see the lava at night with the boys!
The Honor of Participating in an LGBTQ Film Festival
So right now I’m getting ready for my last day of the Stamped LGBTQ Film Festival here in Pensacola. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as we don’t do a lot of events within the gay community, particularly in Florida. This has been an unforgettable experience and I hope they want me to come back to participate next year. The films here at Stamped range from animated films to short narrative stories, to full length documentaries. And most of them will make you tear up, a little and a lot.
What’s stood out to me the most as I’m experiencing this is how my whole life I’ve been watching movies and shows that reflect life experiences very unlike mine. Sitting in a dark theater watching stories play out about finding love or dealing with family problems from an LGTBQ perspective is wholly new to me. You always hear the phrase “Representation matters” and it’s become such a cliched thing to here. Sitting here, seeing my story and the stories of my friends on a big screen is rather surreal and made me take a step back and think about how I’ve just been glad to be able to exist in peace, let alone take up space in others’ worlds.
Today I get to participate in a panel at the Stamped Film Festival all about LGBTQ families. I’ll be sharing about our journey of becoming and being parents, sharing about the stories and experiences I put out on the blog and whatever other topics come up. Being here and having the Florida political climate be what it is, I really feel fortunate to get to be surrounded by LGBTQ artists, activists and people from around the country and world, all getting to talk aloud about our lives and loves. It’s remarkable.
Finding Community in Pensacola FL
Being here and surrounded by such cool, caring people really brought to light something that we don’t really have in St Augustine: a solid LGBTQ community that we’re a part of. The individuals I’ve been spending time with here are so very passionate about being active in their community and being visible, and it’s inspiring. We’ve really settled into our lives and just go through the motions of being parents and working and keeping in our lane. I feel like we should do more and be more visible in our community, but it’s also a questions of how and when and where to pull the time from.
The LGBTQ community here in Pensacola is everywhere. While I’ve been here I’ve done the Stamped LGBTQ Film Festival, there is a strong LGBTQ presence in the Pensacola Seafood Festival as it goes on right now too, and the farmers market was visibly diverse with BIPOC and LGBTQ folks everywhere. The sense of community here is amazing and I hope this for us in St Augustine someday. And I feel like I need to be a part of it somehow, so stay tuned because I’m going to make something happen someday!
Exploring Pensacola - How had we not been here?
Beside the film festival, OMG, I’ve been busy. I have been to at lease five different beaches, walked through historic neighborhoods, hiked with carnivorous plants and so much more. I’ll be writing all about Pensacola, but I think one of the things that’s really stood out to me, as far as things to do, is that this city WANTS EVERYONE to have beach access. There are cities that make it difficult to find parking or easily get onto the sand, but that’s not the case here. Whether it’s at the National Park or one of the city or state parks, there are endless beach access opportunities, including some wheelchair accessible options.
A highlight for me, and you know I LOVE my wildlife and wildlife tours, was going out on a dolphin cruise on Friday. I’ve never seen this many dolphins anywhere in Florida. We spend a ton of time in the Florida Keys and have done lots of wildlife tours in the Keys, but the Pensacola Bay is INSANE. I went out with the Frisky Mermaid and had an unforgettable experience, including seeing a huge bottlenose dolphin launch out of the water directly at me before diving down just below me. Crazy and amazing.
Gulf Islands National Seashore Highlights
Wow, where to begin, I don’t even know. Let’s just say that the sand here at Gulf Islands National Seashore is the whitest I’ve ever seen. It builds up along the roadway and is so pure and soft. The birdwatching is off the hook. The Civil War history and forts are fascinating. It’s a great place. I want to come back to camp in the Fort Pickens campground.
As I write up my experience here a Gulf Islands NPS, I would love to know what sort of questions anyone has or what info would be helpful. It’s a huge park with lots of separate units, so it’s a lot to conquer. Feel free to leave a comment, a question, or to email me if you have ideas. And I made a video all about avoiding jellyfish stings if anyone is interested. :)
Thursday of next week Elliott and I are heading off to Missoula, Montana! We haven’t gotten to spend much time in Montana since moving to the East Coast so this is going to be really fun. And I love that it’s just a Dad/Dude trip. We haven’t done one of those in a long time. We’ll be exploring Glacier Country, which is western Montana, and hopefully making it into Glacier National Park a bit. The weather is turning full fall though, so we’ll see what is accessible. (check out the photo below to see how tiny the kids were last time we were at Glacier NP)
After that, October will be pretty chill as we ramp up for a busy November. We start with camping in Everglades National Park at the Eco-tents, then a few days later we head to the Big Island to do our sailing from Kona to Molokai, ending with a few more days on Maui in unaffected areas, including Haleakala National Park. I’ve stoked to do snorkeling with manta rays with the kids. They’re going to LOVE it!
Then December is here and I’ve got a trip to Arizona for the America Outdoors conference and the Grand Canyon and then it’s 2024. OMG time flies!
Welcome to October! I hope you all have a great month and enjoy the change of seasons. I love the long days and hot hot weather of summer, but I know that’s not everyone’s jam, so enjoy the weather you’ve got and find the fun and joyful things to do in cooler weather.
Happy traveling, and thank you for following along and listening to my stories and experiences.