The brownies are safely stored in the oven, are you ready Ski Cat? Hit it Jackson! We’re heading for Dauphin Island, a barrier island off the coast of Alabama. We heard about this island from our friend Bob Bowers and several full time RV people have mentioned it to us. We tried to stop here a couple of years ago but there was no room, this time we have reservations and plan to stay for a few days.
We are towing the fifth wheel so we need some maneuvering room to get it parked, the first spot they showed us was nice and shady but in a congested area that just wasn’t going to work. We moved to a nice grass area that was sunny but we’re from Tucson, sunshine is good and we enjoyed it.
The beach was great, and the best part, it was dog friendly, so Zoe had a great time in the ocean. Actually the first time she saw the ocean she ran over and jumped into a big wave, only to discover her feet didn’t touch bottom, her eyes got big as saucers and she was paddling like crazy. After that experience she decided it was just as much fun to simply run on the shore and chase the waves. She is so funny to watch, she bites at the waves and ends up with a mouth full of sand. Dogs don’t spit so the end result isn’t good. Let’s just say that sand has to go somewhere in the end!
Dauphin Island is on the Yucatan Express flyway for birds returning north from their winter in Mexico. The bird sanctuary is adjacent to the RV park so it is nice for an evening stroll. There were lots of birders filling out their field guides with the names of their new BFFs (best feathered friends). While they eagerly pointed toward the trees we looked but, finally decided they were playing kindergarten games, because we couldn’t figure out what they saw. We enjoyed the boardwalks thru the swampy areas, Zoe was ever vigilant, on the lookout for gators and snakes. The rest stops with benches overlooking the bay were great for sunsets. The vegetation was typical of the South, lush and green.
Another attraction on the Island is Fort Gains, located within walking distance of the RV park. This Fort was instrumental in defending Mobile in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. The Fort is nicely preserved with five of the original cannons still intact, we enjoyed the docents acting as living history guides. The blacksmith was good at his art and it was fun watch him and hear about the blacksmith’s life in the 1800’s.
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab sponsored by the University of Alabama houses an Estuarium, my new favorite word. Go ahead, say it out loud, doesn’t it roll off the tongue nicely? The Estuarium houses displays of the wetlands, beaches, and woodlands of the area. We enjoyed the displays, the eel was scary because he was about five feet long, the octopus was kinda cute and we loved the turtles. Docents told about the various displays and it was a good afternoon.
We took a side trip off the Island up to Bellingraph Gardens. This magnificent house and gardens were constructed in the early 1900’s by the president of the local Coca Cola bottling company. He held the Coca Cola rights for the entire State of Alabama. The house sits on sixty-five acres, most of which are gardens. The azaleas were in bloom and it was beautiful. I think we walked most of the sixty-five acres before we were ‘greened out’! Have I mentioned the South is absolutely beautiful, I guess that’s why we continue to come and visit here.
From Dauphin Island, we headed over to one of our favorite places, St. George Island, off the panhandle of Florida. We have been here many times and never get enough of the sugar sand beach and the fresh shrimp. We were here last year for a couple of days and it was cold and rainy most of the time with a tornado touchdown just a few miles away. This year we were blessed with great weather the whole trip, well there was that little tornado thingie in Alabama the next week but for the most part we had great weather.
About one hundred and fifty miles due north of St. George Island is Dothan, Alabama. This might not be on your list of TopTen Places To See, heck, it wasn’t even on ours until we discovered the three day, Great American Bluegrass Festival. It was a good time, with lots of great music and nice people. I think a lot of these people have been ‘pickin’ on their porch’ for generations and they can play any kind of instrument and play it well. They had a lot of community support and the weekend was well attended. Monty is just starting to play the dobro so he wasn’t ready to jam with anyone but we loved talking with the people. We’ve found the South to be very friendly and welcoming. Most people seem to be home bodies and if you mention traveling to Arizona you might as well suggest a trip to the moon.
One of the funniest performances was a couple of neighbors that go by the name the Moron Brothers. We almost passed on the comedy routine but the people around us persuaded us to stay. They were so funny, old hillbillies along the line of the Smothers Brothers. We laughed until our sides hurt. The tornado warning for that night sobered us up quickly!
That’s a Happy Dog
On the way up to Alabama we stopped at Falling Waters State Park to spend the night and see Florida’s tallest waterfall, seventy-three feet. You might have to think about this for a minute, Florida doesn’t have any mountains, in fact I think the biggest hill is about thirty feet tall. Where do they get the tallest waterfall? The water actually drops into a fifty foot sinkhole. So this seventy-three foot waterfall is actually falling about twenty feet above ground but drops into a fifty foot sinkhole. We thought it was pretty neat. The park had great boardwalks and boardwalks are one of my favorite things. We took Zoe and walked the whole area. In the evening people came knocking on our door to ask about Zoe and invite her out to play.