December 31 – Gulf Shores, Alabama

Sometimes I feel really blessed. We were so concerned about the weather and threatening tornados and rain, that we didn’t lounge around in our PJ’s too long Monday morning but began packing and getting ready to roll. We left by 8 AM which was really good time for Brenda to get it all together.

We did experience some rain but nothing like it could have been. I hate driving in the rain, and I am retired so if it’s raining I just pull over and wait. Where do I have to be anyways? Who is waiting for me?

We made it to Gulf Shores fairly quickly and I went up to check in. I noticed that check in wasn’t until 2 PM and here it is 10 AM. Do I have to sit around and wait? The lady at the desk couldn’t find my name and said they had no room in the park – oh no! First time in 17 tries that I lost a reservation or they lost it. She asked if I had paid my deposit and I explained that my Visa card had been compromised and she remembered that story ( which I told when I made my reservation) – she looked closer at the list and there I was “Wilfon” and there was a site for us. I guess it was my northern accent.

Nice campground, right in Gulf Shores (walk or bike to many place), great wifi, open and decent size lots and paved roads with concrete pads. That is everything a traveler wants.

We did our usual and rode around the area, scoping out places to go and see.

Tuesday looks like our peak day of the week, so let’s get outside. We did ride our bikes together for 15 miles along the road parallel with the gulf coast. We saw houses for the rich and famous. If you want to come here there are many houses for rent. We even saw one that had 11 bedrooms. Even saw the Blue Angels practicing over the coast.

Met some of our neighbors, one thing I can say is that campers are friendly people, always willing to share a story or help.

Wednesday turned out to be a day that I hate to admit, but nothing happened. While you are dry we are wet. It rained and rained all day. You really know how small 330 square feet of living space is when you spend all day together. We did survive.

I watched a movie in the middle of the day. Saw Captain Phillips, I know its old but just got around to watching it. It was great, really enjoyed Tom Hanks’ part and how he was so protective of his men. And without spoiling it, it had a happy ending.

To break the cabin fever we did walk to the Oyster House and had a great meal. Enjoyed some oysters on half shell, gumbo and broiled fish stuffed with crab.

Thursday, New Year’s Eve, weather wise is just as bad as the day before and it has turned a cool 60 degrees. May have to break out the long pants.

I did go to long pants.

The campground had a gathering at the club house and we attended with our artichoke dip dish and wine. Started about 7 PM and about 30 people were there. Got to meet many people from Michigan, seems that this is a gathering location for those Michigan snowbirds. Only entertainment was the Michigan State football game which turned out to be a disaster for Michigan State. We left after 9 and went home and watched a movie.

Here was the highlight for NYE – we made it to midnight and we got to watch the “pelican” fall on TV in Pensacola. If we would have been in Mobile we could have watched the “moon pie” fall at the stroke of 12. I guess you can watch whatever tickles your fancy, people will turn out for a good time.

Friday morning brought more rain and cool temps. Brenda wanted to attend the Polar Bear Dip. I wasn’t too thrilled especially with the rain. But about 10 AM the rain quit, no sun, no warm up so I began to consider the Polar dip. We left at 11 and headed for the Flora-Bama Lounge (bar) on the gulf coast. To our surprise there was 1000’s of people there, parking was a disaster and traffic was backed up.

We did find us a spot and headed for the beach. We weren’t as prepared as others but we had our swim suits on. People were dressed as Elvis, polar bears, cross dressers, pirates and on and on. Yes there were some in just their bathing suit, so we didn’t feel out of place.IMG_0764

Noon came and everybody headed for the water. Air temp was 48 degrees. It was a mad rush but Brenda and I hit the water with excitement. It wasn’t as bad as we expected because the water temp was higher than the air temp. In fact, it felt good to stay in the water and get warm.

Getting out was done in a hurry and quickly dried off and got the bath robe back on. The bar offered a free dinner and a beer to all participants. We had black eyed peas, rice, greens and ham. Stayed and listened to music for a while and headed home.

We were lounging around about 4 PM when someone knocked on the door. After getting the dogs to shut up (not used to people knocking on the door) the lady next door asked if she could bring over a bottle of champagne as it was her custom on New Year’s Day. We said sure.

Our neighbor was from Scotland and their custom was to knock on the door next door and offer to share a bottle of champagne. Her and her husband came back with the bottle, glasses and some short bread. They are living now in Canada and spending the winter here as snowbirds. Had a good visit and we did finish the bottle. That has been one of great things of traveling, is visiting with and sharing stories with people we never met before.

Saturday was overcast and windy but we headed north to Mobile, not mobile but mobeel. We went to visit the USS Alabama, the battleship that fought in World War II. Quite impressive display to see the battleship that had been so successful. They had a lot of information and displays. The ship was big but there still wasn’t a whole lot of room for the 2500 sailors that worked on the ship. We thought it was tight in the RV, but our sailors sure had to sacrifice space. I can now appreciate and enjoy the show “The Last Ship”.

There was also a submarine on site (SS Drum) that you got to tour through. Talk about lack of space, you really appreciate those sailors and the sacrifice they made. What is really amazing is creating such a machine that can provide all the support and needs in that little enclosure.

After the tour, we did lunch at Felix’s Fish Camp and it was great food. There was a 45 minute wait at 1:30 PM so we headed for the bar and got quicker service. The food was great and we could see why people would wait. I had turtle soup, Brenda was offended as she is a turtle rescuer, also had a Crab BLT Panini.

Did some shopping while in the big city and then headed home via Fairhope Brewery. Enjoying our beers when we met a couple form Minnesota spending the winter down here as snow birds. They had all kinds of stories and he was a retired policeman looking for music gigs to play down here. We enjoyed the visit.

Sunday is overcast again and 50 degrees. Attended a church about 1.5 miles away and it was filled with snow birds. In their bulletin they asked for volunteer help because they only had 6 male members that could provide assistance around the church. Even those who were bringing the snacks was divided into states.

Brenda wanted to shop, so I headed out on the bike. Rode to Florida, 12 miles but you know what is on the Florida Alabama state line – Flora Bama Bar. I figured I made it that far, why not have a drink before heading back. They are known for their Bloody Mary’s so I sat in the bar and listened to the band (remember this is 12:30 in the afternoon). I believe they have music all the time. Great southern country band.

On the trip back (oh I forgot to say that there is a nice bike path along the highway that made riding easy) It was cool and overcast. I started to overtake a guy pulling a small trailer and he asked me where the state park trails were. I mentioned just ahead and we began talking while we were riding next to each other. He started in Minnesota and had rode his bike to Key West Florida and now he was on his way back. He was camping on the beaches and wherever he could. I felt kind of bad as I described my RV but he was much younger than I.

After he went his way, I rode through the Gulf Shores State park and would really consider it next time for camping. It had nice sites and was open spaces.

I think we have been too long in the south – yesterday we bought “pork belly” and tonight I grilled it up. Turned out to be pretty tasty. We saved most of it for later and finished the night with a steak and wine and watching the Rams – lose.

Monday we move to New Orleans – Let the Good Times Roll!

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