The county campground on Dauphin Island, Alabama was right on the beach with a bird sanctuary on the other side. It was pretty packed with what looked like full time RVers. Luckily, we got a spot that wasn't crammed up next to another RV, although many people came by our camp to admire our truck camper. Everywhere we go, people stare at it and come by to ask questions. If it's not the truck camper, it's the cattle guard. It's funny to me how Paul doesn't like attention, and we end up getting a lot of it because we chose an unusual RV to live in. Then when we say we are retired, we always get the comment "you're too young to be retired!"
Fort Gaines was just a few minutes walk up the beach from us. We walked over and took a few photos from the outside. Dogs weren't allowed inside. We thought we'd go back another day, but figured the $8 per person entry fee probably wasn't worth what we missed. Hey, we are now on a fixed income, and Paul might make a sign advertising $20.00 haircuts and make me earn my keep!
I saw that the park we were staying at rented bikes, and thought it might be fun to take a ride into town. I needed some non-polarized sunglasses to be able to see my IPad outdoors anyway. Out of the twelve bikes they had in the shed, we couldn't find two that we were confident riding the four mile round trip. Between the flat tires, hanging chains, and wiggly hubs, we decided to walk. Plus, that meant Fiona got to go! We cut through the bird sanctuary (and didn't see one bird by the way). The walk seemed longer than it was, maybe because when we got to town, most stores were closed and we just turned around and walked back. This made me decide that we are adding a bike rack to the front bumper and a couple of bikes.
There was a ferry that went across Mobile Bay; unfortunately the only barge running this time of year couldn't accommodate our length. That doubled the drive time to Gulf Shores State Park on the east side of the bay. When we went through the City of Mobile, we had to take a tunnel that went under the Mobile River. It felt like you were inside of a video game.
We ended up at the state park in Gulf Shores and it was really big, and yes I got lost again! This time, I didn't have any beer with me, but thankfully I found my way back pretty easily. There were signs all over the park that warned of alligators, but we never saw one. I wonder, does pepper spray work on alligators?
While staying at the Gulf Shores, we dropped the camper and drove over to the Flora-Bama. It's an iconic bar that has been used in many songs and videos and survived fires and hurricanes. Built in 1964, the same year Paul was born, on Perdido Key, right on the border of Alabama and Florida. Florida was a "wet" county right next to the "dry" county in neighboring Alabama. It is touted as being America's "Last Great Roadhouse".
Any Kenny Chesney fan knows about the Flora-Bama. He sings about it and even did a free concert on the beach here last summer. A big thank you to my No Shoes Nation sister, Shari for telling me I was staying close by. I knew it was on the border of Alabama and Florida. The fact that I was only ten miles away hadn't dawned on me. A blond moment...hey it happens!
From Gulf Shores, we drove east to Destin, Florida. I had always heard it was a really nice place. We found another state park just east of there on Santa Rosa Beach. The sand seems to get whiter and the water bluer, the farther east we travel along the gulf coast. Today I went for a run on the sand for a couple of miles and never saw another person. I sang out loud with my ipod, did some cartwheels and acted like a kid, without anyone around to see. It was great!
Paul went for a run on the beach and saw one of the strangest things he's ever seen. A small doe walked out from the dunes and timidly checked out the ocean. Paul stood still about 100 yards away and watched as the deer playfully circled around near the waves, then jumped into the ocean and began to swim out into the Gulf. Off shore it encountered a sand bar, went bounding across it, then jumped back into the deep water and continued to swim south until he couldn't see it anymore.
I talked to a ranger and she said the deer often swim in the gulf. Supposedly it kills all of the fleas and ticks, etc. that live on them and they can swim for miles.