Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Museum, Grits & GoKarts: Pensacola

My cousin Dawn set aside a whole day to spend with us during our trip to Pensacola.  We decide to take all of the kids - her three kids Emily, Nathan & Melanie; my niece Ashley; my grandchild Kendall - to the Pensacola Children's Museum.

The museum has an open area downstairs where kids can play.  There is a house, a fort, a boat (where Kendall, in the blue dress above, is using the scope to look at the ceiling), a trading post, a Native American village and more.  The house has mini quilts, the fort has some wooden guns, and the trading post has baskets and plastic food.  A great place for the kids to play for a while.

I am amazed at how quickly children learn to follow traditional roles.  Kendall & Melanie run the trading post, organizing the food and serving the boys who come to replenish the fort supplies.

I am happy to see Emily break out of those frontier gender roles by grabbing a gun and firing on the boys at the fort.

The upstairs is closer to a traditional museum with displays on historical topics.  However, there are still plenty of opportunities for play.

Kendall works on her fishing skills.

She also dons the engineer hat and drives the wooden train singing "Chuga, Chuga, Choo, Choo" over and over and over and over.

Nathan tries on a replica Revolutionary War uniform.  How is it that boys can always track down the nearest gun?

Even though school hasn't started yet when we visit, we go during the week mid-morning so there is no crowd.  I can see how too many kids might make it hard to enjoy the museum, especially for smaller kids like Kendall. The admission price is a very reasonable $3 each.

Nathan is ready to move on.  One earlier suggestion was to take the kids to ride gokarts.  Nathan is really, very, completely, firmly on board with this idea.  A lot.  For sure.  He reminds us frequently.  So, we leave the museum for a little lunch at The Fish House and then off to do some racing.

At the restaurant I decide to have the Grits a Ya Ya.  The menu says they are World-Famous so I gotta try them right?

Shrimp, bacon, Gouda cheese...how could I go wrong?  The shrimp is good but I don't love the grits.  It isn't that I don't like grits because I do, I just don't love these grits.  I guess I am just old fashioned.  Grits are best with just butter and salt.  And for you people that put sugar on your grits, let me say that you are just wrong.  They are grits, not cream of wheat.  Say it with me...butter and salt.  Maybe cheese.

The Fried Green Tomatoes are good and come with a variety of dipping sauces.

And of course, an order of Kendall's new favorite food, crab claws.

After lunch we head to Fast Eddie's, which offers both a gokart track and an arcade.  We start with a run on the gokart track.

Ashley in the blue #7 car.

Nathan in the yellow #2 car.

Dawn and Melanie ride together in the blue Transformers car.

As do Kendall & I in the pink Hello Kitty car.  You don't get to drive the car by yourself when you can't see over the steering wheel.  It is nice that there are pedals and a wheel on both sides so she thinks she is driving.

Full Disclosure:  I didn't take the pictures of us gokarting - Dawn's oldest daughter Emily used my iPhone and took them for me.  She took this one too.

Want to know who won the race?  I have no idea but I know it wasn't me and Kendall.  In fact, I am pretty sure Nathan lapped us at least twice.  Ashley too.

We want to race a second round but a storm is moving in pretty quickly so we decided to wait it out in the arcade.  The arcade area isn't huge but it also isn't crowded (in the middle of a weekday afternoon).  They had the usual games like skeeball and whack-a-mole.  Games that give out tickets.

Kendall isn't done with driving yet so she takes a quick spin in the Bat Mobile.

Nathan and Ashley compete at air hockey.  I don't know who won this either but I have played Ashley before and she is AGGRESSIVE!

Kendall shooting a water gun into a small hole.  She is playing by herself.  She discovers this greatly increases your chances of winning and getting the maximum number of tickets.

We all share tokens and ultimately share some of our tickets so everyone gets a prize.

Kendall's big prize?  Three Tootise Roll Pops.  She is a very satisfied customer.

When we are done in the arcade, the rain has not stopped so I give Dawn the extra gokart tickets and we leave.  She will take her kids back another time and I am confident Nathan will be sure to remind her.  We all go to the condo and spend a little more time on the beach together. 

That night, while I tickle Kendall's arm hoping she will go to sleep, she tells me, "Grandma, I had fun with everybody today."  I think it is so sweet that for a moment I smile to myself in the dark.  That is until Kendall flops over, sticks out her other arm and whispers, "Grandma.  Tickle."

(Note:  If you are ready for me to move on from Pensacola, stay tuned.  My next post will be on Hammond, Indiana.)

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