Nov 29, 2009

Gulf Ventures

Daring to see Bon Secour

Monday 11/23/2009 - After being in the Gulf area for a week, recovering from a Flu, rain and other troubles – it is time to go out and Have some FUN

I am still not in my best, recovering from the flu – but enough is enough, got to get out and enjoy the outdoors. And guess what? I got my GPS! The one I found on eBay, so I got to check it out!

My first trip was in a close proximity to the campground. I took my bike, GPS and camera and headed west. I found Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge couple miles down the road and decided to visit.
This landscape is very different from the views we enjoyed up until now. Maritime plants, Cactus, dunes, sand, swamp – creating a unique mixture that characterize the gulf area Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge 

Bon Secour National Wildlife RefugeWednesday 11/25/2009 - I enjoyed the ride so much - I actually came back to the preserve couple more times. Once with Patti and another time by myself – both on the bike. Being in and around nature is a great feed for the soul. It relaxes, it is beautiful and healthy too!
It is so nice there that I couldn’t help it and added couple more pictures. BTW If you click’em you will see a full size.

Bon Secour
Bon Secour





Thanks Giving Weekend

Thursday 11/26/2009 - The holiday is coming and Patti has decided to cook a Thanksgiving meal for us in the RV. Patti loves cooking, and became very passionate about it in the last few years. Before she was diagnosed with Lupus we actually thought we would open a small restaurant as a part of our B&B dream. The dream has changed, but not Patti’s love to cook.
There are plenty of challenges cooking in an RV – but I think Patti has beat them all. Healthy, Tasty Affordable meals in the limited storage and kitchen areas. But this is a whole blog by itself – I am trying to convince Patti starting her own blog.
So for thanksgiving – we got Cornish hens a-la-orange, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, Green beans, and pumpkin pie! all done in no time, from scratch – oh – I forgot to say, Patti does not believe in canned/frozen pre-made food. Everything must be fresh and from scratch.
ThanksGiving 002
But beside the meal we have a long weekend coming and plenty of places to see.

Dauphin Island

Friday 11/27/2009 - The first place we visited was Dauphin Island. At the beginning, when we heard people talk about it, we thought it was Dolphin Island, it sounded so similar… There are 2 ways to get to the island – one is from the west side of mobile bay on Hwy 193, and the other is from the East through the peninsula our campground was on. There is a ferry between the island and our road every 90 minutes I think.

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Damn the torpedoes, Full steam ahead!

The island itself is not so big, and the biggest attraction is the Fort (Fort Gaines) on the east side of the island. The famous saying was actually right here from the battle of Mobile Bay.
Damn the torpedoes is a well-known quotation. The original quotation was by U.S. Navy Admiral David Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay, during the American Civil War. Mobile, Alabama, at the time was the Confederacy's last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were known as torpedoes at the time). Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When one ship struck a mine the others began to pull back, but Farragut shouted the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" All of the ships (except the one sunk) entered the bay.
We approached the island on the ferry. We just walked in to the ferry, but you could drive your car (like most people did). When we got to the Island we immediately visited the Fort and ware very impressed by the richness of the history of this place. If you ask me – worth the visit!
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DauphinIsland 042

We then visited a small museum about the marine life at the bay, explaining the challenges if shrimps alligators and other creatures co-existing with the modern industries in the area.

Gulf Shores State Park

Saturday 11/28/2009 - Gulf Shores State Park The next day, we visited the Gulf Shores State park. It is a nice park with paved trails divided into 2 miles sections. This is a perfect place to come and visit with your bike. We brought our bikes with, and explored 3 of the trails in the area. Patti, who had an older Wal-Mart bike was sore at the end of the day. This is when we decided that we have to get Patti a new bike.
That night we drove all the way to Pensacola, FL – 45 minutes away, and got a shiny new Trek bike. Patti was happy :)

Private visit to a National Park

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Sunday 11/29/2009 - We wanted to finish the weekend with a nice whole-day trip, and decided to go to the national league. The closest park to our area was in Florida, not so far away, near Pensacola. This is a National Seashore that is divided into two stated – one in FL and the other in MS. They skipped AL somehow in the middle. There are quite a few locations for this park and we chose the closest one – Perdido Key, figuring we will get directions and explanation from the rangers.
We printed directions and were on the way. It took us about 49 minutes of driving on the south shore (great drive by itself) to get there. The only sign of a park was a small booth that charges entrance from cars driving to the shore. They told us that this part of the park is not where we want to visit, but we needed to go to the park HQ at Naval Live Oaks. The directions she gave us were long and complicated and we were supposed to drive through a navy base to get there.

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Since we are “Adventurous”, we started our journey. We drove through some towns on the shore line and got to the Blue Angels Naval base. We explained to the guard at the GulfIslands 002gate that we are on our way to the park, and she said – there is no park in the base. There is a light house and a nice Naval aviation museum, and you are welcome to visit them if you want, but I think I know what you are referring to. She gave us a pass and some more directions, and we were on our way again. We did stop by the light house, but skipped the museum as we had a long day in front of us.
We continued driving by the shore and got to Pensacola. at some point we got to a bridge leading south crossing Pensacola bay (Hwy 196). This is a 6 mile bridge that drives over the sea. Feels like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Patti saw a Dolphin as we were driving. How many times do you get to look out the window in your car and see a Dolphin swimming beside you? Now, how cool is that?
Gulf Island National Seashore, FL The second stop in the park was at Naval Live Oaks by Gulf Breeze. The park HQ is right there where we stamped our passports, and just by the ranger station there are some nice trails leading you to the live oaks plantation and touching the sea shore.
GulfIslands 025

The ranger told us that the road at the last location in AL – Fort Pickens – was closed due to sand damage caused by the last hurricane. We decided to go and take a look anyways. We drove through another long bridge on the water (Hwy 399) and arrived an island that was loaded with tourist activities, like restaurants and souvenir shops. We continued west towards the fort until we got to the road blockage. From that point and on there were no buildings, just road and sand dunes, but we still had 7 miles to get to the fort.
GulfIslands 040We unloaded our bikes from the truck. This is the first time Patti gets to use her new bike! We started riding west. Most of the way was an easy smooth ride with some areas where the sand was deeper and it was harder to go through. GulfIslands 050We made a short stop in the middle to walk on the dunes and soak our feet in the water.
The amazing thing is that we had the road and the park to ourselves! very few people were there and we had all the peace in the world to explore and take pictures as much as we wanted.
We got to the Fort. On a normal day there should be an office there, and I believe they may charge you to get in, but we found a deserted fort that we could conquer without a battle. It was an amazing big and nice fort that was built as a preparation for an attack that never came.GulfIslands 072 In addition to the fort itself there are several batteries around the shoreline that were designed to provide shelter if the fort was hurt. We walked around and followed the guided signs, andGulf Island National Seashore, FL it was actually really interesting to see.

Ocean Sunset

I was really waiting for this opportunity from the moment we arrived to the Gulf. I wanted to have a nice picture of the sunset in the ocean. Some clouds in the sky for the drama, red and purple colors blending with the deep ocean. And today, here at the park – I had the perfect chance. Patti and I took a romantic walk by the ocean watching the sunset, and of course we took some nice pictures too. Perfect ending to a great day.
Gulf Island National Seashore, FL

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