Before our weekend trip to Pensacola, Florida, Penny was already an interstate traveler, as she visited the Wildflower Trails Festival in Linden, Texas (at which there were no wildflowers or trails) in April. This, though, was a much longer trip – hours longer, even, than our trip to Mandeville earlier this year. We took the long way there, down I-49 to I-10 because there’s a dog park right off the interstate in Baton Rouge, and I wanted to give Penny a break.

We spent somewhere around 8 hours on the road, and by the time we made it to Pensacola, we were both exhausted. We were very glad to see Palmer, though, who was working for there for two weeks. It was around 6 o’clock by the time we got there, so we headed almost directly to dinner at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille, which welcomed us with excellent food, a lovely sunset, and a bowl of ice water for Penny.

The next morning, we headed to the beach, where Penny found her true love: big puddles of water. She was so excited and pulled so hard to get out into the surf that Palmer had to hold her because she was about to pull me in.

We couldn’t go to any beach in Pensacola, though. We had to go to the Dog Beach. It was really nice, though, because there were no fences and it was just a section of normal beach bounded with signs. The caveat was that dogs were supposed to stay on-leash. Not that half of them did. Penny, though, followed the rules.

After tiring ourselves out at the beach, we went to Shaggy’s for lunch. I ate a pile of super-fresh fish and had a local beer. I could get used to eating by the water.

26668270503_2e011f5d63_kAfter lunch, we took Penny to another dog park, this time inland, so we she’d really be exhausted. She had a great time and made a new friend! A couple brought their two dogs, one of which was a lab mix, and he and Penny ran around and around until it was time to head back to the hotel for a serious nap.

We had dinner at the Sunset Grille on Perdido Key. There were a few too many children for my taste, but the food was good and the sunset was amazing. They chose their name well. The sunset alone was worth the 45-minute trek from the hotel.

The next morning, Palmer had to do laundry, so Penny and I paid an early visit to the dog park. We played Ball, and she ran around with the other dogs like she was a regular.

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Palmer and I decided that Penny needed more beach time. The first time we went, we weren’t wearing swimsuits, so Penny was limited to the shoreline. We had a really nice breakfast at George’s Artisan Bakery and Bistro, picked up some necessities, and headed back out to the dog beach. We had underestimated the ridiculous amount of traffic headed onto Pensacola Beach on a beautiful Sunday. There’s only one bridge over the bay, and it’s a huge bottleneck. It took us well over an hour to get there, so by the time we made it to the island it was time for lunch, and everywhere was crowded. Since our restaurant choices were severely limited because Penny was with us, we ended up back at Shaggy’s and had a good time.

Finally, we were off to the beach, this time with swimsuits, beach towels, and an umbrella. The trade-off to preparedness, though, was no camera and very limited phone use because Sand. Penny bounded into the water as soon as we got there. Palmer took her farther out in the surf, and I guess she got intimidated because she was almost instantly ready to go.

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Luckily, though, she came to her senses and enjoyed herself after that. I, on the other hand, finally came to terms with my absolute hatred of sand. It gets everywhere and it’s hard to clean off. I think Penny will probably be limited to rocky seashores and lakeshores for most of her future, but I’m pretty sure just about any puddle of water will suffice.

After allll of that adventure, we were exhausted again. We’d planned to go to a restaurant/bar called The Oar House, but when we pulled into the parking lot, it was already crowded. Bad music was blaring, and it was full of sun-baked partiers, most of whom were over 50 and generally gross-looking. We decided instantly that it wasn’t the place for us and ended up back at Jaco’s. At least we knew the food was good and they like dogs.

I was so tired of seafood, so I ordered the filet mignon, and it came out in a pool of barbecue sauce? It was good enough, but it tasted more like the sauce than anything else, so I was disappointed. The server said the kitchen must have used the wrong bottle because it was supposed to be steak sauce. They also said the chef was new and was working out the menu, so I’m not sure which was the actual case. So I’ll call that meal adequate.

Penny, however, had an excellent time. She got all of the attention and tasted her first filet mignon! She liked it so much that she refused to eat her puppy food afterward. We watched the sun set, then crashed. I think Palmer and I were both Done for the weekend.

On Monday morning, we took the shorter route home through Mississippi. Penny was so good, but she really hates long car rides. She spent most of the time napping, but every time she’d hear an unusual noise, she’d jump up and look out the windows. Then she’s lean her head against the back seat and look pitiful for several minutes before lying back down. Just before we got to Vicksburg, I stopped in a green area next to a Tractor Supply parking lot to give her a break and let her eat her lunch in relative peace. I think she was grateful.

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When we finally made it home, we were both tired but glad not to be on the road anymore. Penny seemed to have a good time, but it’ll be a while before we take another field trip that involves driving 8 hours each way – maybe even until we make it to the Rocky Mountains, which will hopefully happen next summer.

I should also note that I took most of these photos with my sparkly new camera. It’s a Sony a6000, and I love it. I was planning on getting a new Nikon DSLR because mine is almost ten years old and is totally outdated, but then I stumbled on this new mirrorless trend. They’re smaller than DSLRs but have interchangeable lenses and take photos that I think are just as good. I don’t need a professional-level camera because I’m not a professional, but I wanted a nice mid-grade one. This Sony fits the bill. (A super-duper thank you to Palmer for choosing a most excellent birthday present!)

Here’s a link to the entire Flickr album in case you need to see even more photos.