Friday, February 18, 2011

Road Trip: The "Not So Fast" Tour

When I woke up last Sunday after the previous day's photo trip to Fort Pickens, I was ready for a rematch.

I got schooled. Here I was thinking that my legs were getting better after 7 months of every short walk feeling like a sprinting marathon.

On that last trip, I spent 2 hours making my usual circuit around the fort--entrance, take the first left, then wander clockwise around the place. I made it a little more than halfway with a few strategic rest stops.
Today, I tried to pick up where I left off, getting pics along the inside of the western front--the southwest and northwest walls, the west bastion, and the top of that bastion and the northwest wall. This took two hours, as well, but easily half of that was spent sitting on benches or leaning against walls, waiting for my legs to catch up.

Behold my nemesis:

It's only 22 steps to that first landing, then another 5 to the top, and even a year ago I could go right up without falling apart. Today I had to hold onto the railings all the way up, then I had to find a place to sit once I was up there. You never really think about your knees or legs until something happens to weaken them just enough to make simple walking into an ordeal. Stairs suddenly take everything you've got--and you've still got to come back down.

The view was worth seeing, as always; from the top of this bastion you can see all the way to the west end of the island, the gun batteries that were built in the late 1800's and early 1900's, the newly-renovated library/auditorium/museum building, Foster's Bank across the channel, where Ft. McRee used to stand, and to the south the endless stretch of the Gulf of Mexico. The sun was just right, the winds just so, and it felt good to be there. I remember one day a few years ago when I ran up those stairs, camera in hand, and watched the leading edge of a rainstorm coming from the west.

So I'm sitting up there, resting, so of course this is where my body wondered where the restrooms were. Several hundred feet, starting with those damn stairs. A good 15 to 20 minutes, in my present condition. Fark's sake.

By the time I got to the restrooms, I'd decided I'd had enough for the day.

Yeah, I didn't get all the pictures I was hoping for, but the fort will still be there the next time. Fortunately, most of what I want to look at doesn't have stairs.

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