Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gulf Shores to Pensacola

Ben and Jane at Gulf Shores Visitor Center
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Got up about 8 AM and took a good mile and half walk before it got hot. This is a nice park with lots of loops for walking or bike riding. Back at camp ate breakfast, packed up and drove over to the activity center to see if the WIFI worked. We were able to get on so Ben caught up on news. Jane took care of her farm on Face book and caught up on emails.

After a short stop at the gulf access area for Jane to take some photos, we headed east crossing into Florida within 10 miles.

Coastline at Gulf Shores State Park

Orange Beach and Perdido Beach blend together and suddenly we were at the Florida State Park – Big Lagoon – where we had planned to camp. We drove through and decided it was a good place to stay. We got a site but immediately left for The Florida section of Gulf Shores National Seashore. We drove through Pensacola, across the bridge to Gulf Breeze where the headquarters for the park was located. Photo at beginning of post was taken here.

We got an overview of the park and the suggestion to drive to the Santa Rosa section for our picnic lunch. We crossed the toll bridge to Pensacola Beach and headed further east along some beautiful white sand beaches. The picnic area at Santa Rosa was indeed nice and we enjoyed the last of the DB 50th meatballs, shrimp, cheese ball, crackers, celery, carrots etc. Nice lunch in a beautiful location.

Oil Spill notice on beautiful beaches
Perfect white sugar sand at Santa Rosa Beach

We then headed to the west end of the island to tour Fort Pickens. This was a very interesting fort as it was first built in early 1800’s – saw action during the Civil War when the Union occupied Fort Pickens and the confederacy occupied Fort Barrancas on the mainland. The fort was updated near the turn of the century and again during World War II. It was an interesting mix of beautiful original brickwork and concrete bunkers similar to those we had seen at Corregidor in the Philippines. The ranger who gave the tour had been there 25 years as historian and had obviously done a lot of research… When Hurricane Ivan came ashore in 2004 the storm surge was 10 feet over the sea wall and flooded most of the fort.

External View of Fort Pickens

Inside Fort Pickens

We headed back toward the campground with a stop at Joe Pattie’s Seafood. This was a fresh fish supermarket! There were numerous types of fresh fish, probably 10 types of shrimp, various types of crab, lobsters, scallops, etc. - anything you would need to prepare them plus lots more. We got 3 pounds of large shrimp for $6.99 and they went in the freezer section of the refrigerator. We also bought snapper and scallops to eat tonight for supper. Jane found this business on the internet and it was indeed a real find.

Joe Patties Seafood
Inside Joe Patties

Back at camp Jane cooked a good seafood dinner. The snapper was particularly good. The moon was nearly full and we decided to walk across the boardwalk to the lagoon. The boardwalk continued for about a mile – crossing marsh and swamp. There was a large pond where the reflections of the trees on the water were beautiful. Photos with my camera just were not possible. As we reached the other side of the island we could see the inland waterway, the bridge back to Perdido Key and the huge condominiums. We were in a different world yet so close.

Campsite at Big Lagoon

It has been interesting that we have had 3G coverage everywhere along the beach. So we have had email on our i-phones but have not able to access the internet with WIFI except at Gulf Shores Park and the internet hot spots we have found.

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