Southern Sojourn – Gulf Shores, AL

Mobile Bay FerryWe did something a bit different upon leaving Dauphin Island for our next destination, Gulf Shores, AL.  You see, the ferry is taking only cars and motorcycles right now; no RV’s.  So, Steve had to drive Betsy 85 miles along the Alabama Scenic Byway (not a bad gig) while I simply hopped a ferry ride across Mobile Bay to Gulf Shores – 29 miles total for me!  The Mobile Bay Ferry connects Fort Gaines at Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan on the Gulf Shores side.  Luckily, there was no threat of torpedoes during my crossing, or I guess Steve would have had the last laugh after all!  It was a fun ferry ride as I got a closer look at some oil rigs along the way and watched seagulls trying to catch a free ferry ride.wpid11134-2013-03-19-AL-1360645.jpg

Once settled in at the RV park, we hopped into our dinghy to check out the area.  Gulf Shores is a popular resort destination, hence more frenetic compared to the quite slow-paced life at Dauphin Island.  And add to that, it’s spring break!  The beach and nearby restaurants at Gulf Shores were busy with spring breakers.  Fortunately, most of our desire for long walks on sugar-white beaches and sunny days had been satisfied while we were on the Island.

Not only were the beaches packed, the RV parks were also booked with snowbirders from northern States.  We wanted to stay at either Gulf Shores State Park or Meares State Park (both with over 100 sites), but snowbirders apparently booked their monthly sojourn months in advance, keeping them full until April.  We managed to snag the last spot at Island Retreat RV Resort (love it when they call their park a “resort”) for a few days.  Here, many of the guests were from Michigan, while the rest were from Missouri, Minnesota and Kentucky.  There are no RV parks on the beach here, but the Gulf Shores State Park is very close.

For several months now, we have been using the site RV Park Reviews as a resource for our upcoming trip stops.  Steve is now contributing reviews to the site for each park we use.  Although we realize these reviews won’t be helpful to everyone because “different strokes for different folks” and the fact that conditions at parks can change fairly often, we will create a link to our reviews in case you want to take a look.  For now, click here to read Steve’s recent park reviews.

Although the 32 miles of white sandy beaches is the main attraction at Gulf Shores, there are a lot of other things to do here.  For historians, Fort Morgan Historic Site and Museum is at the tip of the western peninsula, where I disembarked from the ferry.  Alabama is a birding paradise – on the coast alone there are six Alabama Coastal birding trails.  When in this area, fresh seafood is king when it comes to restaurants.  With the help of one local dude we found one to satiate our taste buds.  At Tacky Jacks, the atmosphere is casual and the food to die for is the Cajun Shrimp Pasta.  Jason was so right, it was simply the best shrimp pasta we had tried so far.

Mifi set up
New WiFi setup, and it works!

Since we were now near civilization, we took care of some business. With the big “T” day approaching, we gathered all tax docs and did a conference call with our tax preparer, did some banking changes and most importantly we trashed errr… I mean cancelled our Verizon MiFi contract.

Nina’s thorough post about their wifi set up and a personal tour of the setup used by Hans and Lisa at Metamorphosis Road finally pushed us to abandon our appalling Verizon MiFi device and move to Millenicom’s device.  It also uses Verizon service, but the old device never worked correctly and after replacing it multiple times we gave up.  Steve’s blood pressure is almost back to normal now!  Using a micro-to-mini cable to charge the MiFi from the Wilson cradle as Hans suggested also helped clean up the wiring, so everything looks nice mounted to our power panel.  Thanks for the help, all!

Fort Morgan Road Trail
Fort Morgan Road Trail

With all of our business completed it was time to relax and act like retired people!  Our RV park was along a nice paved bike trail, so we took an 11-mile ride along Fort Morgan Road Trail.

Hiking and viewing the birds along the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge was a good way to get away from the crowds.  We walked 10 miles along the interconnected Pine Beach Trail, the Jeff Friend Trail, Gator Lake Trail and the Centennial Trail (all part of the Fort Morgan Loop .)

Here are some of the resident birds.

Osprey gathering twigs to build a nest

The south is known for its  hospitality and I felt it here, for I was addressed as “ma’am” at the store, restaurants and most other places.  That’s much nicer than what Steve usually calls me!  I’m beginning to like this place.




  1. Another great stop to put on the list for our gulf coast trip. We also use RV Park Reviews quite a bit, and I have written some reviews, although not as many as I should. One thing I like about the site is that you can find reviews from all different kinds travelers which means a more well rounded view than some other sites. That’s why I try to write reviews because I figure the more reviews, the more useful the site will be!

  2. We took that same ferry a couple of years ago – Gulf Shores is beautiful and your bird pictures are wonderful. Thankfully, spring break will soon be over! – Thanks for sharing.

  3. We, too, use RV Park Reviews. And as Amanda stated, we don’t write as many reviews as we should. But we have found the reviews pretty accurate. Thank goodness there are faithful reviewers.

    Hopefully, all these spring breakers will go away next week. We have a pretty full park here with lots of children. This is still our time before the summer rush comes in.

    Enjoy your new location! Looking forward to the tour!

  4. Glad to read you are having a great time in Alabama. Too bad about the crowds at Gulf Shores. Lucky you got the last camping spot.

    Primo and I are getting over having the flu and pneumonia for a month. We are well now. We got to recover at home with some strong antibiotics.

    In a couple weeks we will be celebrating my 60th birthday in a beach house between Monterrey and Santa Cruz with my kids and grandsons.

    Enjoy your adventures!!

  5. So glad the new internet set up works for you! I too, write reviews on RV park Reviews for every place we stay. The more current the reviews are, the better it is for all of us researching!

    What a great Osprey shot!

    BTW, I think you had mentioned that Rose Valley RV Ranch was great…and I agree completely! We just arrived for a one month stay.


  6. Sounds like some fun exploring. Congrats on the new Wifi. We have a ways to go with our contract and then we’ll be joining the millenicom band wagon. Lovely photos, ma’am!

  7. We joined the Millenicom team some time ago and have no complaints. I have to admit that after following your journey through the southeast I am more excited than ever to explore this part of the country. Thanks! 🙂

  8. Thank for the tip on Tacky Jacks … will check it out when we get to Gulf Shores. We stopped to tour Gulf State Park when we were in the area in September last year and they told us no available sites until April … unless we wanted to just show up and join the daily line-up for a first come-first served site … opted for Fort Pickens instead. We will be staying at Gulf State for two weeks later this spring.

    You’re going to like your Millenicom … we’ve been pleased with the service, even well before they came out with the mi-fi.

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