Tuesday, October 26, 2010

East to Alabama

First in line for ferry across Mobile Bay
Monday, October 18, 2010

We were up about 7:30, had a microwave omelet, checked email, enjoyed coffee and then took down camp. We were on our way about 9:00. Jane got an email this morning from a friend with some suggestions for the Ocean Springs area. We had already done most of the things but did drive through downtown Ocean Springs looking for a special donut shop (closed on Monday). The downtown area is charming and reminded us of St. Simon GA – it is another “real” place.

We headed east towards Pascagoula. We drove around the Northrop-Grumman Ship Yards where we observed several vessels under construction. Signs up they were hiring “long term – through 2013”. The employee parking areas were full to overflowing.

Two views of Northrop Grumman Shipyards

Then we drove through town observing numerous beautiful old homes on the bay. When we stopped at an area near the bay for a view back to Northrop-Grumman, yellow and white blooming bushes were covered in Monarch butterflies. This is obviously their migration route!

Monarch butterfly migration

On the eastern side of Pascagoula was an entirely different type of shipyard and harbor. This area supported the oil industry. There were cranes, various ships, oil rigs, dry docks, and again plenty of workers and signs out that they were hiring. The area looked very busy to these two passersby.

Oil Rigs in Pascagoula Shipyard

After passing through Pascagoula we were soon in Alabama and turned south on the road that would take us to the ferry to Dauphin Island. We passed through several small towns – one Bayou La Batre was called the Seafood Capital of Alabama so we searched for shrimp…after a number of phone calls and drives down dead end roads we gave up…we even had directions from the city hall! We finally made it to Dauphin Island and drove on to the ferry site since we did not want to miss it. They were running with only 1 ferry so the time between ferries was longer. We got there at 1:05 and the next ferry left at 2:00. We had a nice picnic lunch under some trees while we waited. We were first in line for the ferry and by the time we left there were 18 vehicles on the ferry. The ride across Mobile Bay took about 45 minutes and we were able to see numerous oil platforms and many support ships. When we departed the ferry we went directly to Fort Morgan and wandered through the fort and the museum. The fort saw action in the Civil War, Spanish American, WWI and WWII – for the last two in a defense and support role. It was mostly an earthen fort with numerous concrete batteries similar to the ones on Corregidor.

We drove east towards Gulf Shores stopping at a Seafood Market for 2 pounds of shrimp. We continued on to the Gulf Shores State Park. This park is really quite a place with over 400 campsites – all spaced well apart and with water, electricity, and sewer hookups. There is a WIFI router right beside our campsite and it shows 4 bars but you can’t get on the internet. There is a swimming pool, tennis courts, boat rentals, miles of hiking trails, miles of bike riding trails, and more. They tell us they have not worked to bugs out of the internet system yet but it should be park wide soon.

Campsite at Gulf Shores State Park

The old park was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan and this remodeled park has just re-opened in the last month or so. We will stay here 2 nights.

Dinner was the shrimp – one pound I boiled with some of my just purchased ”Slap-Yo-Mama” seasoning and we will eat it cold for lunches. For dinner I made shrimp scampi and some lightly breaded fried shrimp. We ate it along with a little brown rice and asparagus. It was all great!!! Tomorrow night we will head out to one of the places recommended by one of Jane’s Red Cross friends.

We took a bike ride to locate the Activity Room where the check-in people told Ben the WIFI worked – it didn’t… We watched some TV and Jane wrote up the blog and read. Ben got lots of good TV here with his antenna – in fact we have had good TV every night except the one night when the antenna had a loose connection.

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