My parents moved to Pensacola as retired military. Nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station gave them access to the commissary, officer’s club, and other amenities. They were smitten, as are so many visitors, with the incredible beauty of the Gulf coastal region and relaxed Southern lifestyle.
After moving to Tucson in 1999, I began annual treks to the beach and back, linking me to what at first glance appears to be environments at opposite ends of a moisture continuum: desert to marine systems. But I began to find uncanny parallels:
- The spectacular high desert of Tucson with its tropical blooming cacti and tall saguaros, evolved from a subtropical environment as recently as 8,000 years ago – America once had a large inland sea in the Midwest;
- The Gulf and coastal environs evolved from a dry savannah that supported lions, elephants, and other megafauna that thrive in dry, hot weather;
- The desert hills of Tucson and the sugar white dunes of Pensacola both support prickly pear cacti and similar species of horny toads!
I also found that we are on very close latitude lines: Tucson is 32.2217° N and Pensacola is 30.4213° N.
Strains of Jimmy Buffet come to mind:
It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.