We fell in love with Alabama when we lived in Mobile from 1986 – 1988. We just clicked with it, from it being on the Gulf Coast with gorgeous beaches nearby, in the Central Time Zone, to the Azaleas, to living in the Bible Belt, and to the down home southern hospitality! We really enjoy visiting Alabama any chance we have. And you may remember, Red Bay, Alabama is where we take our motor home yearly for routine maintenance!
We still love it in spite of the fact it was in Mobile where our marriage collapsed. For those who have been following our blog since the beginning or you are a family member or friend, you are aware of our story. The GREAT news is that our marriage and family was restored. We visited Mobile in 2012, taking a long motorcycle trip, nearly 600 miles, from Sebring, Florida. We wrote a short blog post about it, call “The Lost Years.” I’m sorry I didn’t write about all the historical places we visited while there. Things we didn’t appreciate while we lived there.
Since May, 2016, we hoped to stay the month of February in Gulf Shores, Alabama, along the Gulf of Mexico. As mentioned in a previous post, those plans were sadly changed. We are making the best of it, but are still trying to figure out the best way to be in a warmer climate during the winter. We are having a blast, but these 1,432 miles driven in the motor home, staying in 11 different campgrounds/RV Resorts in just over a month and a half hasn’t been our ideal. But that is how you see lots of new things….
Since we couldn’t have our ideal month-long stay on the gorgeous white sandy beaches of Alabama, we have just been going with the flow. While staying in Fort Pickens, we learned there was a “sister” campground in Mississippi. Not too far away! We decided to book a week stay there, details to come in our next post. In the meantime, where to stay on the way there from Blackwater River State Park (BRSP)? Bill spends hours researching these things and he has a formula he uses: Trip is ideally 200 miles or less; there is great hiking nearby, or even better, in the actually campground area (like BRSP); it is a new area for us (generally – sometimes we just have to stay in a favorite place like Myrtle Beach, or it is an overnight stay somewhere familiar); has full hook ups, although we will sacrifice the sewer hook up for an ideal State or National Park; and, finally, has great reviews!
All that said to say, we just couldn’t find that perfect location. A friend had recommended Meaher State Park, but the reviews warned about the ants. So Bill looked in Mobile, but it is not a city with RV Resorts or Campgrounds that matched our needs. We would have loved to visited the city again as well as the Bellingrath Gardens. But there were little to no places to hike. So we settled for a private RV Resort, in Robertsdale, on the eastern shore which had good reviews. They had trails on site. It was about half way to our next stop so the location was good. It was an area we never visited. The staff was GREAT, the welcome more than warm and the site was nice and flat. And Camping World was nearby. We just got a $10 coupon so Bill could buy an essential (T-9 spray). Sadly, the trails were a bit short, but there was a nice hill, so we managed one good three-mile hike one day. Otherwise, finding a good long hike, five miles or more was so limited.
While out walking, I thought I took a picture of a sign that said, “If your dog does the doo, you pick up the poo.” Oh how I wish EVERY campground had such a sign. It was great knowing we could walk around the campgrounds and I wouldn’t step “in it.” Trust me, I manage to step in it too frequently! I found this GREAT post about this very topic. I do plan to write my own post one day as it is a bit of a pet peeve – no pun intended! LOL
The next day, Bill decided to buff out some of the scratches from our time in Fort Pickens. I guess the worst thing about that wonderful area were the trees! In fact, the morning we were leaving, someone tore up their 5th wheel on one of the trees. They don’t really trim the trees from the road or on the sites….While he buffed, he had me search for nearby places to hike. He failed to mention to me about Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort. He had actually tried to get us a reservation there, but they never called him back. They don’t do on-line reservations and it was pretty booked up. I used my “All Trails” app and just couldn’t find anything close by. Somehow, I found Graham Creek Nature Preserve (GCNP) in Foley. But the website was a bit lacking. I called the Visitor’s Center in Foley for more info. They couldn’t help, but gave me the phone number to the office there. I called and left a message I wanted more details about the trails since the markings on the website map weren’t clear.
Since there was a Camping World in town (they aren’t everywhere), while we waited for the return phone call, we decided to walk around the RV park and then do a little shopping. While we kept waiting for that return phone call….
Our third day, we decided to go on to the GCNP. I still couldn’t find any other place and Bill didn’t think to have me see how close we might be to Blakeley State Park. On the way south, to Foley, I tried to call the office there again. Still no answer, just left another message. We figured how bad could any trail be in a Nature Preserve???
Upon arrival, we saw a lot of cars and signs that said, HOYT. Maybe you know what that means, maybe you don’t. It meant there must have been about 1,000 people practicing shooting their bows and arrows! Bill’s bother would have been in hog heaven to be with us! But for us wanting to hike around the park, which I finally figured out was about 5 miles, it could be dangerous. Grrr, why didn’t they call us back to say it might not be the best day to visit the park….
We figured out where to go to avoid being skewered by a stray arrow, but it was not the best day…we squeezed out three miles….I’m still waiting for the return phone call. I guess they were really busy as it was a HUGE event with people from all over the country….we checked out the license plates.
So our last day, I finally discovered Blakeley State Park wasn’t too far away. Just to the west of us. We really hate a long drive to go hike, but sometimes that’s just what happens. Both Foley and Spanish Fort were about 20 miles away in different directions, while Mobile was 40 miles. Off we went and what a glorious park it was, with over 10 miles of well-marked trails. There was a $4 per person fee to enter, but we never mind user fees. Sadly, we didn’t get many decent pictures, nor did we get to see that sites that were recommended. But we had a great day and were so sorry we didn’t go here initially. We easily could have spent two days here. We also checked out the campground and it would have been great to stay here. They said they did have a last-minute cancellation….oh well….live and learn.
Here’s hoping we enjoy our next destination, Davis Bayou National Park, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. (PS, GCNP finally called us this morning, 2/21, a week after I called them. They didn’t realize the event wasn’t advertised on their website. This is their only big event for the year.)
Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.” Proverbs 13:12 MSG