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Carl Wernicke: We All Take The Familiar For Granted

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WUWF Commentator Carl Wernicke

When I first moved to Pensacola Beach years ago, I remember walking along the Gulf on moonlit nights and marveling at many things. One was how often I found myself totally alone on the gorgeous, luminous landscape. I also noticed the shimmering glow of TVs in the windows of home after home.

Why, I wondered, were these people inside watching TV when they were living along what was literally a multimillion-dollar waterfront view on one of those nights that made it a multimillion-dollar view.

I came to realize it was just another manifestation of how we take for granted so many things we are familiar with. That of course it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I suppose people living in the mountains or in glass-walled condos high above the glittering lights of cities also get so accustomed to the spectacular view that it becomes their ordinary. Not that they don’t sometimes look out the window or stand on the porch and take it all in, but when it is your ordinary day to dayness it loses its special luster.

Now, I hope this doesn’t come across as pedestrian, but I recently was reminded of all this by passing over something that most of us surely take for granted: the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

OK, boring, right? But let me tell you, after making multiple trips to the beach via the I-10-Avalon Beach Boulevard-U.S. 98 conga line, suddenly a trip to the beach seems like a joyride. Not too long ago it seemed like something of a slog to get to the beach through downtown and over the bridge, but the other day I almost found myself laughing at how easy and short the trip now seems.

Maybe this is how Pensacolians felt in 1931 when the first bay bridge opened. It must have seemed like a miracle. Back then going by boat must have been the only sensible option.

With the reopening I also discovered that with our ebikes – or just a good ten-speed for younger folks – the new bridge’s pedestrian path makes riding to the beach feasible. We had packed our bikes on the ferry for the trip over, planning to return on it the following day. However, we misread the scheduled, and there were no ferries that day.

No problem! The map app said the trip was 12 miles, so we loaded the bikes and headed for home. Now, the fact that the pedestrian path was still closed and we had to return to the beach notwithstanding, we realized how easily we could make the trip, and we will as soon as the path opens.

One of the things we planned to do at the top of the bridge hump was stop and take in the sights. We will do that. And in years to come I intend to never take for granted the view we will have from that spot.

Carl Wernicke is a native of Pensacola. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After 33 years as a reporter and editor, he retired from the Pensacola News Journal in April 2012; he spent the last 15 years at the PNJ as editor of the editorial page. He joined the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in 2012 as Senior Writer and Communications Manager, and retired from IHMC in 2015.His hobbies include reading, traveling, gardening, hiking, enjoying nature around his home in Downtown Pensacola, as well as watching baseball and college football, especially the Florida Gators and New York Yankees. His wife, Patti, retired as a senior vice president at Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union and is a Master Gardener. Carl is a regular contributor to WUWF. His commentaries focus on life in and around the Pensacola area and range in subject matter from birding to downtown redevelopment and from preserving our natural heritage to life in local neighborhoods.