The blogger’s biking and birding bonanza in ‘bama

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Painted Bunting

Baltimore OrioleLike last year, when we moved from Dauphin Island to Gulf Shores AL, I took the car on the ferry while poor Steve had to drive Betsy 85 miles around on the highways (Betsy is too big for this ferry).  Arriving at the Fort Morgan ferry landing, I drove straight to Fort Morgan State Historical Park to meet up with Eric and Laurel of Raven and Chickadee, while Steve set up camp at our new site in Gulf State Park across town.  As you may recall, we initially met Eric and Laurel a few weeks ago in Apalachicola, Florida. We had no idea our paths would cross again so soon!

In addition to blogging about our travels, birding and biking are other interests we have in common with them.  Since the spring migration of neotropical birds was at its peak here at Gulf Shores, Alabama birding was pretty much the focus of our activities together.  OK by me!


Eric and Laurel, real birders!

Our first get-together was to observe bird banding at Fort Morgan State Historical Park. The bird banding sessions are operated by the Hummer/Bird Study Group, which was created by Bob Sargent and his wife Martha.  Along with a group of dedicated volunteer bird lovers, they’ve been doing this for the past 20 years.  They gather here to band hummingbirds and other neotropical migrating songbirds in order to study and preserve them.

 Hummer/Bird Study Group

Sargent said, “These birds are all just amazing.  They’ve got a brain the size of half a pea and a navigation system that, even if we live to be 1,000 years old we’ll never understand.”

Once a bird is captured in one of the dozens of nets strung through the Gulf woods, it is weighed, measured, fitted with a tiny metal identification band, recorded, given a quick physical, and then released to continue its northward journey.

Observing the bird banding was a fun and educational experience.  Being able to actually hold and release these beautiful little creatures back to the wild was very exciting for me.

Bob Sargent preparing me to release the bird

Bob Sargent preparing me to release the bird (photo courtesy of Eric and Laurel)

Am I happy or what?

Is this awesome, or what?

Laurel with "her" bird

Laurel with “her” bird

Upon our arrival at Gulf State Park in the afternoon, we were delighted to discover that we were practically next door neighbors.  Steve had checked us into site #37, not realizing that Eric and Laurel were at #32.  That made our happy hour celebration very convenient!

Lowes RV Adventures

Happy Hour at site # 37

On our second outing early the following morning, I loaded my bike into Eric and Laurel’s truck and we drove back to the Fort Morgan ferry landing to take our bikes over to Dauphin Island.  Since I had just come from several days of bird watching there, it was my turn to play tour guide for the day.  And bikes are the perfect mode of transportation for visiting the birding areas, which are all within a radius of only a couple of miles.

As our time on the island was somewhat limited, we went straight to the birding hotspots; Shell Mound Park, Goat Tree, Cadillac Square and finally to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.  Fortunately, we were also able to catch the Great Horned Owl and her owlets, still at their nesting roost by the beach.

Cadillac Square, Dauphin Island

Lunch break at Cadillac Square

While birding with Eric and Laurel I was able to pick up a few tips, like how to identify the many types of Warblers present on the island that day.  We enjoyed our time together and have planned to meet up again in Texas next winter for more birding adventures.

Green Heron and Prothonotary

The Prothonotary warbler can stand on its own cuteness next to a Green Heron

In addition to my initial bird sightings a few days ago, our two days of birding together resulted in enjoying even more of the colorful, cute little jittery creatures.  The three of us had a great time traipsing through the woods in search of these elusive migrants. Going with real birders made it all the more fun!

Steve stayed home to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and our nice paved parking spot to complete some overdue maintenance under Betsy.  We met up with him at the end of the day and went out for a great dinner at the Tin Top Restaurant.

Lowes RV Adventures

Excellent dinner at the Tin Top restaurant

I learned during our two days of adventures that Laurel is far more than just a blogger. She is an author of several books including Herbal Healing, which you can check out at Amazon.  As an herbalist she is also a columnist and contributing editor for Natural Health magazine.

It was indeed a birding bonanza for the bloggers!


Next up:   Just ‘chillin at Gulf Shores, AL

The Sunset Capital of Alabama

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Dauphin Island Sunset

The enjoyment of our two-week stay at Dauphin Island was dictated by the weather, and we had a double whammy of severe thunderstorms, rain and overcast skies.  But on days when the weather cooperated, we headed to our favorite locations to watch the colors of twilight and sunset that the island is known for.  In July 2013, Dauphin Island was deemed by its town council as the Sunset Capital of Alabama.  In reality it’s a logical choice, since the island sits several miles south of the mainland where there’s really nothing to obstruct the western horizon.


Geographically, its location is at the westernmost white-sand beach in Alabama, and also on the Gulf Coast – unique features that the town likes to point out.  We drove to the west end of the island where we could see the clouds and colors changing 360 degrees around us.  Of course, there were days when Mother Nature produced a dud, but most evenings it was well worth the drive and it’s not like we had a lot of other important things to do.


The only other time I have posted about incredible sunsets was when we were in Arizona, where the sky in the desert had spectacular twilight hues of oranges and reds, and the cloudscapes were spectacular.  Other than birds, sunsets have become my other photographic inspiration.  I try to catch at least one wherever we go.  But here at Dauphin Island the panoramic sunsets are something to behold, and we have tried to view and enjoy them from various locations.




Sunset afterglows…




Dauphin Island has given us several memorable sunsets that I’ve been able to add to my collection.  The hard part is picking which ones to delete!

And that about wraps up our two weeks of hanging out on our favorite southern island.


Up Next:  Bloggers Biking and Birding Bonanza!

Going our separate ways…

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Lace Hydrangea

…but only for a day 🙂 No, it’s not what you might think.  We just decided to kill two birds with one stone by pursuing our different interests one beautiful day.  To add some variety to our island living, we checked out things that we missed last time we were here. The choices were flowers and gardens or a warship – guess which of us did which activity?  Steve dropped me off at the Bellingrath Home and Gardens so I could spend my day with the flowers, then he headed up to Mobile to check out the USS Alabama warship and USS Drum submarine.

The USS Alabama on display in Mobile, AL

The USS Alabama on display in Mobile, AL

Steve wrote about his experience:

We have visited several warships during our travels, but I still enjoy them and am always fascinated by the complexity of these vessels that were built over 70 years ago. Considering the technology available at that time, it’s pretty amazing how they were able to navigate, communicate and accurately fire their huge guns while underway on the pitching ocean waves.  The USS Alabama was loaded with weaponry of all sizes and pointing in all directions, to handle anything that could be thrown at it.

USS Alabama

This ship is loaded with weaponry – large and small – from one end to the other

16-inch gun turrets

Inside one of the 16-inch gun turrets

The submarine USS Drum is also on display in Mobile, right next to the Alabama. Whenever I tour one of these old submarines, I’m amazed that dozens of men could live in such a small and claustrophobic place for weeks on end.  Submarine duty was obviously very difficult back in those days.

USS Drum

The USS Drum on display in Mobile, AL

Engine room of the USS Drum

Engine room of the USS Drum

Torpedo room of the USS Drum

Torpedo room of the USS Drum

Now it’s my turn to tell about my own excursion…

In the early 1900’s, an overworked rich person was advised by his doctor to “learn how to play”, so he bought an abandoned fishing camp on the Fowl River.  Walter and Bessie Bellingrath converted the camp into a country estate.  Over the years, Mrs. Bellingrath beautified the property with flowers, and hired a local architect to help her transform it into a formal rose garden and conservatory.  In April 1932, the Bellingraths placed an ad in the Mobile newspapers inviting locals to see the spring flowers.  Thousands of people took them up on their invitation, and the Bellingrath Gardens was born.

Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens

I just wanted to enjoy the flowers and all the beauty of nature on a sunny day, so I decided to forego the home tour and instead spent lots of time wandering through the gardens.  They were expansive, and it took me about two hours to smell the flowers and enjoy all of the beautiful colors.  The price for this tour was $12.50 per person.

Bellingrath Gardens

The roses were not in bloom yet, and in a matter of days the Azaleas would be an additional explosion of color.  A variety of other flowers, like the Tulips (my personal favorite) and Hydrangeas were already in bloom, and the 65-acre garden was in full spring blossom.



Bellingrath Gardens


At the end of the day over wine and a dinner of steamed Blue Crab claws, we shared our experiences and photos.

Blue Crab Claws

Tasty steamed Blue Crab claws

We both agreed it was a wonderful day to be apart for a while, and a great way to spend some “alone time”.


Next up:  Enjoying the Sunset Capital of Alabama

Dauphin Island is for the birds!

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I know what you must be thinking – I just completed four months of gawking at birds while we were in Florida, and here I am talking about birds again.  Lucky for me, we arrived at Dauphin Island, AL where neotropical migratory birds make their first landfall at the beginning of the spring season.  Migration begins in March and peaks in mid-April. If you’re not a “bird fan”, then you probably won’t be interested in the rest of this post. Even my hubby gave me an agonized look when I asked him to edit yet another bird story!

Dauphin Island

But first, what the heck is a neotropical bird?

A neotropical migratory bird is one that breeds in Canada or the United States during our summer, then spends our winter in Mexico, Central America, South America or the Caribbean islands.  The majority of neotropical migratory birds are songbirds, such as warblers, thrushes, tanagers, and vireos.

Dauphin Island is the first landfall for many neotropical migratory birds after their long flight across the Gulf from Central and South America each spring.

Map of Dauphin Island Alabama

Map of Dauphin Island, Alabama

After a recent storm here I ventured out to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and the Indian Shell Mound Park, where I was amazed by the abundance of “fall out”, a term used to describe these large groups of arriving migrants.  The cute little colorful birds were all over the place, hopping and foraging.  And it seemed like their stopover lasted only a single day, for when I went back the following morning the area was already quiet.

Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Audubon Bird Sanctuary

The Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary Center lists 347 species that have been sighted on the island.  The Center distributes a migration calendar which lists each bird species expected to arrive, and on what dates.  This year, it’s estimated that the peak spring migration will be around April 15-25 – depending on the weather – but I’ve already seen lots of birders and photographers swarming the island.  Although we’ll be at Gulf Shores in late April, I might just hop on the ferry to come back here for another look!

Dauphin Island Shell Island Park

Some of the many birders and photographers at Shell Island Park

Here are a few snaps that I managed to capture that day.  These tiny birds are skittish and move around a lot.  To make it more interesting, I added some fun facts that I learned about these particular neotropical migratory birds:

  • Migrating birds cross the 600 miles of the Gulf of Mexico without resting.
Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler – these cuties were literally all over the place that day.

  • For most long-distance migrants, the birds are born genetically programmed to fly in a certain direction for a certain amount of time.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

The most challenging bird for me to capture – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

  • The time it takes a single bird to complete a full one-way migration can range from a few weeks to up to four months, depending on the total distance, weather, flight speed, route and stopovers.
Yellow-throated Warbler

I froze when this Yellow-throated Warbler posed right in front of me.

  • Ninety percent of migrating birds fly at airspeeds between 15 and 45 miles per hour.
White-eyed Vireo

The White-eyed Vireo was checking me out as well.

  • Many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of predators that are also migrating, such as raptors.
Prothonotary Warbler

Four of these Prothonotary Warblers were competing for seeds.

  • Migrants have an internal clock that controls the onset of migration and their pre-migration preparations.
Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanagers were way up there in the trees

  • Migrating birds use the stars and sounds from the earth below to find their way at night.  Buntings specifically use the pattern of stars around the North Star for navigation.  Amazing!
Indido Bunting

Steve was even excited when an Indigo Bunting visited our site (blue is his favorite color)

And that’s just a few of the gorgeous specimens I’ve seen the last few days!  In addition to all of the migrants passing through, we’re also being entertained daily at our campground (Steve’s review here) by the constant sounds and visits from the locals – Cardinals, Finches, Mockingbirds, Grackles, Doves and Blue Jays, who seem to rule the island.  These guys are eating us out of house and home, as we’ve been refilling our feeder every day.  But there’s nothing like waking up every morning to the sounds of all these wonderful birds singing to us!

Next up:  We go our separate ways

A detour to one of our favorite places – Dauphin Island, AL

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Great Horned Owl

Since it’s still a bit early to continue our northward trek, we’re chillin’ for a couple of weeks at one of our favorite Gulf Coast stops, Dauphin Island.  Unfortunately, a severe weather system slammed the area just a day after our arrival, the worst storm we’ve endured since we began our travels.  It wasn’t just the buckets of rain, but also the lightning and fierce winds that made us hunker down in Betsy.  Our windshield cover even blew off in one of the wind gusts, and that’s never happened before.

Dauphin Island Beach Campground

Poor Steve had to wade out into the water in pouring rain to retrieve our windshield cover

Although this was an unplanned stop, we were excited to be back.  After a couple of weeks here we’ll move back to Gulf Shores, AL for a final three weeks on the shoreline.  That will take us up to May 1st, when it should be warm enough to head north and leave the beaches behind for quite a while.  Our pace will be more leisurely this summer, as we don’t see ourselves visiting as many historical and resort spots as last year.  In keeping with our goal of visiting all 49 states, we’re guessing we’ll be able to add 9 or 10 to the midsection of our map by the end of the year.

The planned route will take us to Michigan by mid-summer and back to Texas by December, where we plan to spend next winter.  The stops along the way will be determined as we move along, and by the end of our third year we will probably have visited at least 38 beautiful states.  Well, that’s the “jello plan” for now, we’ll see what surprises this part of the journey brings – hey, that’s the fun of it!

2014 planned route

Rough outline for our 2014 adventure route

Back to Dauphin Island.  Although we were here around the same time last year, there were a few things we missed during that short stay that we wanted to explore this time around.  Our first couple of days were spent waiting for better weather and doing fun things – like finalizing our taxes 😦  But we tend to get “cabin fever” fairly quickly, and we couldn’t wait to get out to breathe the fresh air and get moving again.  The good news is that our home base at Dauphin Island Campground had private access to the white sand beach, trails to the bird sanctuary and access to the bike path that runs the length of the island (8 miles).  There are other activities within walking/riding distance that made our car almost unneeded here – a pair of healthy legs were the only requirement!


Dauphin Island Beach

We’ll definitely be missing this in the months to come

So, what have we done so far?  Well, I did mention that the RV park had direct access to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, and that was my first destination.  Actually, the whole island is designated as a bird sanctuary, just for good measure.  Everywhere we went the birds could be seen and heard – heaven!  Steve even got caught up in the possibility of seeing new and beautiful birds, so he grabbed our binoculars and tagged along.

We were not disappointed. A great horned owl had established a nest by the beach and was nurturing her two young ones.

Great Horned Owl

This Osprey nest was taken over by a Great Horned Owl, and she and her owlets were the talk of the town

Great Horned Owl

They seem to be saying, “What’s all the fuss about?”  Aren’t they the cutest?

Dauphin Island is the first landfall for neo-tropical migrant birds after their long flight across the Gulf from Central and South America each spring.  In inclement weather, the island has been known to receive large flocks of exhausted birds landing all at once, in what is called a “fall-out.”  Having my first Alabama bird-watching experience after that storm hit was quite amazing.  And that will be covered in my next post.

Finally, our first sunset taken at the west end of the island.

Dauphin Island Sunset


Next up:  Dauphin Island goes to the birds!

Our favorite beaches – Final 2nd Anniversary Post

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Dauphin Island Beach

This last installment of our 2nd year anniversary celebration week postings is a new category that will appear only once.  We jammed along the coastlines of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean last year (Mar 1, 2013 to Feb 28, 2014).  I thought it would be fun (and possibly helpful to others) to share our favorite beaches during that journey. Walking on the beach, enjoying the smell of the salt air, the sounds of the water, the hypnotizing rolling waves, the crunching of the shells, and the birds entertaining us made the saying ” life’s a beach” a reality for us.

Our selection is obviously colored by the fact that we visited many of these beaches off season, hence the overall experience was enhanced by the lack of noisy crowds.  Many times we enjoyed the solitude with just the birds keeping us company.

So, in no particular order – since it was too difficult to pick a favorite – below are the beach experiences that we will miss and remember most fondly as we travel the midsection of the country this year.  As before, the blue link with the location name is a link to more information about that spot, and the month we were there.  The “Click our related post here” goes to our blog about it.

Dauphin Island, Alabama – March

Betsy was parked across from the public access to the beach, so we had no issues with parking or entrance fees.  The water was blue and calm with small waves.  With no huge attractions or condo buildings lining the beach, it was a very quiet, unspoiled place to just enjoy walking the stretch of white sand and dunes.  We loved watching the birds and gorgeous sunsets so much that we’re going out of our way to spend a couple more weeks there at the end of this March!

Click our related post here

Dauphin Island Beach

Dauphin Island Beach

Rosamond Johnson Beach – Perdido Key, Florida – April

This beach is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and is considered among the whitest, most beautiful sand beaches in America.  It is considered an excellent example of a pristine Florida Panhandle beach.  With no commercial buildings or residential homes, it remains unspoiled and beautiful.

Click related post here

Gulf Shore National Seashore

Kitty Hawk Beach – Outer Banks, North Carolina – October

Betsy was parked just across the street from the beach, making it a pleasure to jump out of bed in the morning and run over to get sunrise photos and hang out, or to take a long walk.  There were no tall condos or hotels along the beach and the area was characterized as low to medium density, single-family residential developments – mainly running small businesses.  Our memories are of sunrises painting the sky with colorful pastels of orange, pink and yellow.

Click related post here

Kitty Hawk, Outerbanks, NC

Kitty Hawk Beach

Glorious sunrise at Kitty Hawk

Bonita Beach Park – Bonita Springs, Florida – January

The beach got crowded with snowbirds as the day progressed, but not early in the morning when we arrived to take our walks.  The shorebirds were plentiful and fat, hanging around and waiting for the equally fat tourists to feed them.  Although the beach is not known for shelling, we could hear our steps crunching as we walked on piles of sea shells.

Click related post here

Bonita Beach Park

Bonita Beach, FLorida

These guys ignore anyone who won’t feed them – and we never do!

Marconi Beach – Cape Cod, Massachusetts – September

This gorgeous beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the moment you look out from the bluff you become mesmerized by the miles of white sand beach and the huge steep sand cliff located behind the surf line.  The beach is beautiful and serene, providing an unbroken, pristine natural scene in all directions.

Click related post here

Marconi Beach, Cape Cod

Marconi Beach looking north

Marconi Beach, Cape Cod

Marconi Beach looking south

How about you?  What’s your favorite beach to spend time at?

Next up:  Real fun in the “Real Florida”…


Experiencing the deep south – Montgomery, AL

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Alabama State Capitol
Alabama State Capitol

Alabama State Capitol

With our beach days over for now, we headed back to the hills and north to Montgomery, Alabama.  As any history buff can verify, Montgomery has had two pivotal moments in American history – the birth of the Confederacy and the Civil Rights Movement.  There is no better place for me as an immigrant to delve into it than in the city which was the center of it all.  The city has done a great job of preserving, restoring and marking historical areas that allow us visitors to walk and follow the Civil Heritage Trail.  I will share a few highlights of the many historic sites – hopefully you won’t fall asleep halfway through.

Montgomery is where a fascinating period in American history began, when in Feb 1861 six of the seven seceded states formed a new nation to be called the Confederate States of America.  This is where they established a provisional government, selecting Montgomery as the provisional capital and electing their first and only president, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

First White House of the Confederacy

First White House of the Confederacy

Because of its significance in American history, the state capitol is a designated National Landmark.  In Feb 1861, it served as the first capitol of the Confederacy with Jefferson Davis being sworn in on the front steps as its President. Much later, on March 25, 1965 this spot is where the Civil Rights March ended.  The march, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., demanded voting rights for African Americans.  President Johnson passed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965 five months later.

Just around the corner from the capitol is the First White House of the Confederacy, where the President and his wife lived during the first months of the confederacy until the confederate capital moved to Richmond, VA in May 1861.

Montgomery Bus BoycottWe stood at the bus stop where, in 1955, Rosa Parks sparked the Bus Boycott – signaling the start of the Civil Rights Movement and making Montgomery the epicenter of a groundbreaking societal shift in this country.

An ornate  fountain built in 1885 on top of an existing artesian basin can be seen at the center of town.  It is named Court Square Fountain.
Court Square Fountain

On another day we drove about 20 miles from our campground to the Daniel Pratt Historic Disctrict in the city of Prattville.  We checked out Autauga Creek and the manufacturing complex around which this New Engand style village was developed by Daniel Pratt.  He chose this town to build his gin mill, saw mill and grist mill on the banks of Autauga Creek in the early 1830’s.

Autauga Creek

Autauga Creek and the Pratt manufacturing complex

Olympian Center, Jasmin Hills and Gardens

Olympian Center

Before the rain hit us again, I visited the Jasmine Hill Gardens, nicknamed “Alabama’s little corner of Greece”.  It is a 20-acre garden that features mythical gods and Olympian heroes.  The facade of the Olympian Center, which is the entrance to the garden, is an adaptation of the Temple of Hera the oldest sacred building in Olympia, Greece

The gardens feature reproductions of famous Greek works of art and Olympian heroes and inside was the world’s only full-size replica of the Temple of Hera ruins at Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games.

Temple of Hera Ruins

Replica of Temple of Hera Ruins

Jasmine Hill Gardens

The rain did come, and we had a leak leak similar to the one at Patagonia, AZ.  This time Steve figured out that the rain had created a pool of water on top of the slide cover and seeped through it.  So, we know the cause of the problem and that it only happens under certain conditions.  Now all we have to do is figure out what to do about it. wpid11985-2013-04-05-AL-1380012.jpg

We stayed at our first US Army Corp of Engineers (COE) campground, and it became one of our favorites.  We stayed on the Catoma Loop at Gunter Hill Campground, the newer of the the two loops.  The park is wooded and right on a lake.  Most of the sites are super long and there is generous space between sites.  The downside is that there are no hiking trails, but we made do by walking/biking to the other Antioch Loop, which is about 4 miles roundtrip.  I particularly liked it here, as our feathered friends were abundant in the area.  The park is about 20 miles south of Montgomery.  Click here for Steve’s review.

Steve loves to cook, and when the weather turned gorgeous he did his thing:

And with spring come the blooms!

Next up: LaGrange, GA and a visit to the Little White House.

Southern Sojourn -Gulf Shores, AL

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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.