The Blue Angels' ground crews were keeping a pretty close watch as all these shenanigans were taking place within spitting distance of their aircraft.  Although this was primarily an air show, the Coast Guard showed up with their brand new high tech state of the art patrol vessel…

I suppose that the current economic climate and military budget cuts are forcing them to downsize a wee bit.  And smaller boats, naturally, require a leaner, meaner and somewhat smaller sailor…

In addition to the various aircraft filling the skies, the Emerald Coast Skydivers were on hand for a tribute to those who are POW or MIA and remind us that some have not yet returned home…

We have seen these guys perform on several previous occasions but have never witnessed the meticulous procedure they follow before and after their flight.  Each of the six planes has an assigned ground crew responsible for preparing the planes and escorting the pilots to and from their aircraft and then the aircraft on to the runway and into the skies…

A team of Coast Guard rescue divers were also on site with some of the equipment they use in underwater rescues…

Another event that takes place this time of year is the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show in Pensacola, Florida…

We spend countless hours driving the back roads through small towns and communities enjoying both individual and city sponsored lighted displays and wandering through a plethora of church bazaars and bake sales, listening to musical performances by church and high school choirs and attending festivals of every sort...

And, of course, pilots love using these explosions as a backdrop to their aerial stunts whenever possible…

The arrival of December marks the beginning of our sixth month here in Summerdale, Alabama, and, when we leave in March, the longest period we have stayed in any one place during our twelve years on the road.  To spend the Holiday season in this area has been the driving force behind our decision to remain for this length of time as we thoroughly enjoy the passion with which southern folks and their communities celebrate Christmastime...  

There are several groups of native peoples still living on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore and they show up every year at this time in some pretty elaborate costumes to dance at the local Heritage Festival.  Despite the pageantry of war bonnets and dancing maidens, our local farmers can always be found gathered at the centerpiece of any southern fair or festival, the antique farm equipment and tractor show…

I wouldn’t have believed that a helicopter could fly upside down if I hadn’t seen it!  Having one of these events on a military base is a bit different because of the availability and liberal use of high explosives…

Although the Blue Angels are always the feature attraction at any air show in which they participate, there were many other aircraft piloted by both ex-military and civilian pilots engaging in aerial dogfights…

Christmas 2011                                                      December 12, 2011

The timing is such that each pilot enters and deplanes at the same moment and each aircraft then departs its parking spot with precise military timing.  The ground crew and all of the specialized parts and equipment they need to keep the flight team in the air arrive beforehand in a Hercules C-130 affectionately named Fat Albert…

And performing some maneuvers that you just wouldn’t think possible…

Every year at this time, as I sit down to “pen” our last missive of the year, I find myself once again astounded at just how quickly Christmas has returned.  Unlike small children who believe that Santa must have traded in his team of supercharged reindeer and now travels via the US Postal Service, I am of the opinion that the bearded beastie never leaves and merely hides in a closet awaiting the unsuspecting soul to drop off for a nap before popping out once again with a sack full of eggnog and fruitcake and gingerbread and sugar cookies and every other imaginable tasty temptation with which to rebuild all those pounds we’ve spent the past year trying to shed.  The olde fart will not be happy until we all look like him.  He has to be stopped!

Or, we can simply accept and enjoy the inevitable…

If you can’t beat ‘em…  Merry Christmas folks!!  Hugs, Chuck & Kalyn

Lagniappe:  Mincemeat Cranberry Pie

2 - 9 ounce boxes None Such Mincemeat
12 ounce package whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour

Prepare mincemeat according to package directions.  Add cranberries to hot mixture.  Pour mixture into a bowl containing the sugar and flour.  Mix thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pastry lined pie plate.  Add a top crust and make 4 small slices in the top crust.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust has browned.

(Note:  Tomorrow, 12/13, is Chuck's birthday!  Love to my Birthday Boy!!  Zook)

And we witnessed a demonstration of the various IEDs being used against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by a Marine Ordinance Disposal Team…