Photo: Magnolia Springs, Alabama.
It was January 14 when we crossed into Alabama from Pensacola, Florida. We drove to Magnolia Springs and pulled into the RV Hideout Park at around three o’clock. The wind had whipped up there too and the temperature had dropped to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We hunkered down in the trailer and watched some NFL playoff action.
Photo: We entered Alabama from Florida, driving west into Mississippi.
The RV Hideout is attached to a Par 3 golf course and campers can golf all day for $10.00. Too bad it’s so chilly because it just doesn’t look very inviting right now.
There are severe ice and snow storms to the north of us. We bundled up and went for a walk but Janice’s feet were too sore from the fire ant bites so we retreated back to the trailer.
Photo: The golf course at the RV Park, after the clouds cleared.
It was a good thing our neighbours in Zephyrhills, Folrida, convinced us to buy the $50.00 membership to Passport America because being a member reduces the fee at member RV Parks by 50%. So far, in two weeks, we’ve saved about $200.00 and the book that accompanies the membership has brought us to some parks that we never would have found otherwise.
We went to a Meet & Greet at the clubhouse in the morning to find out what there was to do around here. We were informed that there’s a restaurant called Lambert’s, famous for Throwed Rolls, where they make fresh dinner rolls and throw them out to patrons, with a lot of fanfare. We also learned of The Fish River Grill that is famous for huge helpings of swamp soup, catfish, fries, slaw and cake, all for $9.95. Then there’s Lulu’s Restaurant, owned by Jimmy Buffet’s sister and, there’s the huge National Naval Air Museum back at Pensacola that has three different IMAX shows. The museum is reputed to be the best of its kind, and it’s free. It’s also the home base for the Flying Blue Angels.
We had already decided to drive to Gulf Shores that day, where we witnessed some of the clean-up from the BP oil spill. There are literally hundreds of machines working on this five mile stretch, sifting all of the sand and replacing it. It’s hard to imagine how many people and machines are working the coastlines in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. No wonder the price of gas has spiked so high, and so rapidly. You didn’t think the oil industry was going to pay for all this clean-up did you?
Photo: One of the hundreds of the machines working along Gulf Shores. You can see some of the oil on the hillside in front of the excavator.
On the way back from Gulf Shores we spotted The Fish River Grill and decided to split one of the $9.95 catfish orders, which was almost more than the two of us could put away. It included swamp soup, a huge helping of catfish and fries, hushpuppies, fried okra, and cake for dessert.
In the evening I joined some others in the clubhouse to watch Alabama’s Auburn University beat the Oregon Ducks, in the final seconds of the football game, for the National Collegiate Championship.
On Tuesday we re-crossed the state line, returning to Pensacola and the National Naval Air Museum. We decided on viewing The Hubble show at the IMAX theatre. Wow, is it ever a big universe when viewed through the eye of Hubble. Especially when exhibited on an eighty-foot-wide by seven-storey-high IMAX screen! We perused the rest of the enormous museum before being talked into parting with ten bucks and getting into the Blue Angels flight simulator. There were just the two of us in it and when the hydraulic door closed tight, leaving us in a small, dark, space, I freaked momentarily. When the simulation began though, I loosened up and got into it.
Photo: I don’t know if the Blue Angels flight simulator shot is fuzzy because I was shaking or because of the darkness – probably a little of both.
Photo: Seeing the simple gear that the Apollo astronauts used was a real eye-opener. The earliest space capsule looked like a tin can with a couple of metal cots.
Photo: Inside the monstrous National Naval Air Museum.
Photo: Some of the de-commissioned Flying Blue Angels at the National Naval Air Museum.
On the way back from the museum we visited Perdido National Park, where the sand dunes look like snowdrifts. Oil cleanup is ongoing there too.
Photo: The beach at Perdido National Park. Imagine – as part of the oil spill cleanup they’ve sifted through every grain of the sand to a depth of three feet.
I wouldn’t have thought that the coast of Alabama would be such a tourist Mecca but, after having seen Orange City and the Gulf Shores, I now know differently. Not because that many people are around now, but because of the thousands of towering condos that line the beaches.
For those of you that reported being itchy after seeing the picture of Janice’s feet – they are much better now.
The cold weather still hasn’t let up. On Wednesday night the thermometer dipped to twenty degrees Fahrenheit. By day it climbed to the high forties, which made it barely passable to try the little golf course attached to the park. I paid my $10.00, golfing twenty-seven holes. That cold wind must have really put me off my game – either that or I’ve just lost it. The long game is my strength – good thing too because I sure stunk up the short game, which is all the par 3 course allows. The longest hole on the course was 130 yards – the shortest 55 yards. My score, which I didn’t bother to keep, was more reflective of nine 550 yard holes.
Everybody we’d asked about the city of Mobile steered us away, warning that, “It’s a good place to get shot.” Keeping in mind that we’ve had lots of dire warnings about other places – like the entire United States- we decided to give it a look-see.
Granted we didn’t venture outside of the downtown but it was surprisingly small – and quaint. The population is just two hundred thousand and the downtown is mostly made up of old brick buildings with wrought iron adornments. We walked around in the chill before huddling for coffee at one of those new-fangled, upscale coffee shops that you might find anywhere these days.
Photo: The tallest building in Mobile. This photo is deceiving because of the older, neglected building in front of it.
Photo: Another view of the same building gives a better scale – because Alabama is so flat we could see this building from miles away and had thought that it must be a hundred or so floors tall because it dwarfed anything else on the skyline. It turned out to be about thirty stories instead. There just aren’t a lot of high-rises in Mobile.
In the evening we decided to try a pot luck dinner at the park’s clubhouse. On the way back from Mobile Janice suggested that we stop to get some wine to take to the dinner. I said that I didn’t think it would be a wine drinking kind of affair. She disagreed. I bet her a dollar.
Janice cooked some button ribs and off we went. We left the wine behind, (the clubhouse was only fifty feet from our unit) until we could check out what was happening. The dinner was scheduled for 6:00pm and we got there around 5:55. There were about fifteen people seated at two cafeteria style tables, none with any alcohol in front of them. There was a bit of small talk for a few minutes and then, at 6:03pm, somebody said, “Well, how long are we going to wait?” The line formed and twenty minutes later it was all over.
I won the dollar. We went back to the trailer and drank the bottle of wine while watching The Office.
In the morning we pulled out of Magnolia Springs, destination: Biloxi, Mississippi…