Here We Go!

The north is calling! The winter snowbird season is coming to an end and so we have begun our trek back up to New Hampshire for the summer. But we don’t want to go north too fast, it’s still cold and snowy up there. After spending a couple of months at Gulf Shores State Park on the Gulf of Mexico we only went about 20 miles to the Escapees Rainbow Plantation just west of Foley AL for a few days.

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Escapees Rainbow Plantation, Summerdale AL

The annual Foley BBQ and Blues festival was great! Got us some good BBQ there!

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Foley BBQ and Blues

On a different day we went to an arts and craft festival at Fairhope AL. The Azalea Trail Maids were there too. They are a group of high school seniors chosen yearly to serve as “Official Ambassadors” for the city of Mobile AL. They were being interviewed by local media when we saw them.

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Azalea Trail Maids at Fairhope AL

After a few days around the Foley and Mobile AL area we ventured a bit further north, spending one free overnight at the Wind Creek Casino at Atmore, Alabama, and a couple other one night stays in small RV parks by Montgomery AL and Fort Payne AL.

Right now we are in an RV park very near Chattanooga Tennessee. How could we resist a visit to the Chattanooga Choo Choo? It was a real train, and is now a train car hotel. Each Pullman Train Car has been converted into a nice hotel room with a queen size bed. And there is a dining car too. Cool.

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Chattanooga Choo Choo

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Chattanooga Choo Choo Pullman Car Hotel Rooms

We enjoyed Chattanooga very much. It’s a very nice little city. Just outside the city is Lookout Mountain. You can get to the top by car or take the Incline Railway–The World’s Steepest Passenger Railway. This has been designated as both a National Historic Site and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

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Incline Railway, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga TN

At the top of the mountain is Point Park – Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, a ten acre memorial park overlooking the city.

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Point Park, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga TN

After that we drove back downtown and across the Tennessee River to the “North Shore.” We got a kick out of the dance steps they had in various places along the sidewalks.

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The Hokey Pokey

Coolidge Park, a waterfront park on the North Shore (of the Tennessee River), was busy with people on this nice Saturday afternoon. The park features a beautifully restored 100-year-old carousel, a Pavilion, and an interactive play fountain. The water has not been turned on yet so I was able to get this shot of one of the fountain animals with the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge.

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Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, Coolidge Park, Chattanooga TN

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Coolidge Park Carousel

Hundreds of people were enjoying a walk on the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge across the Tennessee River. We did too.

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Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge

Naturally, the Chattanooga Choo Choo song is stuck in my head now.

  • Distance from Gulf Shores AL:  426 miles
  • Lodging 11 days:  $305
  • Gasoline:  $130
  • Distance to get to New Hampshire: 1055 miles to go
Posted in Alabama, Daily Post, Tennessee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Catch Up

It’s been almost a month since my last post. It’s about time I got caught up here. We are still in Gulf State Park in Alabama. We like it here. Maybe we’ll see if we can stay a while longer yet. However, being in the same location means there’s not a lot of new adventures to blog about. But here goes…

We spend our time walking the trails throughout the park. The team here is busy paving many of the trails and making them great for biking. But there are still many unpaved paths yet. One of my faves is through this grove of long-leaf pines. Some of these needles are 12 inches long.

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Gulf State Park

And the long fishing pier is another favorite walk. There’s always something going on.

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Gulf State Pier

We did fly up north to New England for a few days. Just can’t go the whole winter without seeing the family.

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Flying Over Atlanta, Georgia

When we had some time to kill we stopped to visit the PEZ factory/museum in Orange, Connecticut. That was interesting. Everything you ever wanted to know about PEZ candy dispensers. Plus a viewing window into the PEZ production area.

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PEZ Museum

While we were in Keene, New Hampshire, it was pretty darned cold, one morning being seven degrees below zero. And, of course the snow, and the ice, and scraping windows, and heavy coats…what were we thinking?

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Yay, Winter!

After getting our family fix we flew back to good old warmer Alabama.

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Pelicans on the Pier

Saturdays we drive to Pensacola, Florida, to visit the Palafox Farmer’s Market.

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Palafox Farmers Market

And enjoyed free entertainment while there.

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String Farm

Back at the Pier we couldn’t resist showing off one of the frosted cookies we purchased at the market.

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Gulf State Pier

Early this morning we had some severe weather pass by. There were some tornadoes north of here, but they missed us. After the rain we walked the beach to see what might have washed up. There were a few Portuguese Man-O-War.

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Portuguese Man-O-War

But not much of anything else washed up. Here’s a few more pictures from this morning.

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Leave Only Footprints

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Gulf of Mexico

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Jellyfish

………

 

Posted in Alabama, Daily Post, January | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas at the Beach

Ah, the beach life! Friends invited us to their beach condo for Christmas dinner, what a great day. First a good meal on the deck with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, then a walk on the beach, a good visit, and a beautiful sunset to end the day. Here are some pictures from our day:

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Sunset on the Gulf of Mexico

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Posted in Daily Post, December, Florida | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Big Lagoon and Gulf Shores

We have been having some computer problems lately, but I think we have it fixed now. So time for an update of what we’ve been up to.

Big Lagoon State Park, Florida

The three of the four days we stayed at Big Lagoon were cold and wet so not much to report about that. But one of the days was nice enough that we ventured out to walk one of the trails.

 

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Big Lagoon State Park FL

One of the highlights of the park is the observation tower overlooking the Big Lagoon. A few of the condos on Perdido Key can be seen across the water. The Gulf of Mexico lies just beyond that.

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Big Lagoon Observation Tower

 

Gulf State Park, Alabama

Now we are at Gulf State Park at Gulf Shores, Alabama, and have booked a two-week stay here. This is one of our favorite state parks. It feels like a cross between a state park and a resort. There are a lot of empty spaces right now, but I expect that will change after Christmas when the snowbirds arrive.

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Gulf State Park

Thursday we went out to the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier for a guided tour walk/talk. There were several people fishing but nobody was catching anything. We did see a pod of dolphins in the distance.

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Gulf State Park Fishing Pier

“Sam” kept us company during our tour walk.

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Sam

Today we went for a walk on one of the many trails that surround the campground. They have made many improvements since our visit here last year, paving many of the trails and building new boardwalks. We will be checking out more trails in the next few days. The weather should be very nice for hiking. Love the long needle pines.

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Gulf State Park

  • Lodging:  Big Lagoon State Park, FL: $96 (4 nights)
  • Lodging:  Gulf State Park, AL:  $555 (2 weeks)
  • Guided Pier Tour:  free with Park pass
Posted in Alabama, Daily Post, December, Florida | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, FL

It did rain a few days while we have been here at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, FL, but there have also been some beautiful days, and on those days we have walked some of the trails and went back to the beach. Here are some pictures:

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Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Besides the Gulf of Mexico and the beautiful sugar-white sandy beach there are some coastal dune lakes here in the park. These are small bodies of water found in the sand dunes next to the beach. No swimming here because there could be alligators, but we did not see any.

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No Name Lake

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Turpentine Trail

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Campbell Lake

Today, on our way back, two deer met us on the path. They didn’t seem too bothered by us. We just sat on a bench for a while and watched them.

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Deer!

It’s been very quiet in the park. We almost have the place to ourselves. Things should get busy soon as the snowbirds come south after the holidays.

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Santa Rosa Beach and Vacation Rentals

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Santa Rosa Beach

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Santa Rosa Beach

Tomorrow morning we leave Topsail and move about 100 miles west towards Pensacola, Florida.

Posted in Daily Post, December, Florida | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

To The Gulf

The last several days have been pretty quiet.  We moved west to Torreya State Park for a few days. It was cold! And we had been to that park a few times before so we mostly just stayed inside, so nothing to blog about there.

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Torreya State Park

Now we are at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park near Destin, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. We have been here a few times before too, and it’s one of our favorites. We are very comfortable here and will be here until Saturday morning when we will move a bit further west.

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Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

The Gulf of Mexico is a .75 mile walk from the campground. The park does offer a free tram, but we walked this time. And then there is a long boardwalk over the dunes before getting to the beach.

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Topsail Park’s Boardwalk

It was cool and clouds are rolling in. Could be rain on the way. There were only a few others on the beach when we were there. We walked for a while and then took the tram back to the campground. The beach goes on forever and the sand is like sugar.

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Topsail Beach on the Gulf of Mexico

  • Distance driven to Torreya:  144 miles
  • Distance driven to Topsail:   100 miles
  • Lodging:  Torreya:  $41 (2 nights)
  • Lodging:  Topsail:  $333.04 (7 nights)
  • Gasoline:  $70 @ $2.06 (FL)
Posted in Daily Post, December, Florida | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Stephen Foster, Florida

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.  This Florida park, on the Suwannee River, honors one of America’s most influential composers. There is a museum here and a Carillon Tower.

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Suwannee River

The park has special events and festivals every month of the year. The Seminole Chikee Village area is a good place for exhibits.

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Seminole Area

A 200′ tall 97-bell Carillion Tower is the centerpiece of the park. They said this is the world’s largest tubular bell instrument in number of bells. Bell concerts can be heard four times a day as well as marking every hour.

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Stephen Foster Carillon Tower

Inside the tower is an interpretive exhibit showing the history of the tower and its construction in 1957. Also inside are some Stephen Foster exhibits including this 1854 style ball gown that was presented to the Stephen Foster Center in observance of the 100th anniversary of the copyrighting of “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair”.

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Jeanie Ball Gown

There are 10 dioramas in the The Stephen Foster Museum and the lower floor of the Carillion. Each one illustrates the words of some of Stephen Foster’s most popular songs. These were all painstakingly created by hand. Fourteen artists spent two years creating the first eight. They really are fabulous, some have animations.

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Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

Other dioramas include: “Oh, Susanna,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Old Black Joe,” “Old Folks at Home”, “Camptown Races”, and “Way Down Upon de Swanee Ribber.”

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Stephen Foster Museum

December is the Festival of Lights here in the park. Millions of lights are on display every night. The weekends include some special activities and family fun stuff.

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Christmas Decorations

Since we are already in the campground we can walk or drive around the loop to see all the lights for no additional fee.

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Stephen Foster Museum

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Stephen Foster CC State Park, #1

When we first got here two days ago it was 80 degrees and raining so we didn’t get out much and were very thankful for air conditioning! Today was the beautiful day. Just in time, since tomorrow morning we move on.

This was the third time we have been to this park. You can see previous blogs if you just click here.

  • Distance driven since last stop: 112 miles
  • Lodging:  $72.70 (three nights)
  • Gasoline:  $100 @ $2.07 Georgia
  • Gasoline:  $24   @ $2.29  Florida
Posted in Daily Post, December, Florida | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments