Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HONEST, WE'RE NOT ON VACATION!

This is our lifestyle, but sometimes you get to these beautiful parts of our country and you just break one tourist rule after the other. Like Gulf Shores....we decide to drive that little strip of land south of US Highway 98 heading east from Gulf Shores, AL and the sand dunes and the shoreline were just captivating. We're heading toward Pensacola, unaware we're going to be at the entrance of the Pensacola Naval Air Station any moment...and who should be practicing right over our heads but the Blue Angels - the Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron - who first performed in 1946 - and if you're from Jax., FL, as RV and I are, you were fortunate because that was where it all started. These days they fly F/A-18 Hornets...SO we had to stop everything and as soon as we got inside the Base gates, we parked at the Navy Museum to enjoy the remainder of their deafening practice.

We hadn't planned to go in the Museum - but decided we'd go in for about 30 minutes and then continue our excursion. O.K., almost 3 hours later we came out saying "UN-BEE-LEEEEV-A-BULL!!!" Yes, we heard the same from all of you who said "You've GOT to go to the Naval Museum in Pensacola", but we didn't believe you. Now we do. And thank you very much for arranging the Blue Angel demonstration for us - we loved that also. As a side note, we had lunch at the Cubi Point Cafe - disassembled in the Navy Base in the Phillipines (when the U.S. was asked to leave) in the early '90s, and reassembled exactly as it was inside the Museum as a living, delicious and very authentic Navy cafe/bar/officer's club.

As we left we drooled over the beautiful base campground on the water right across the street from the Blue Angels Training Field. What a benefit for all you military retirees! On the way back, we went out of our way to stop at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Perdido Key. Several years ago someone suggested that we buy the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass - and it has paid for itself many, many times. All you young whippersnappers (62 or older only) need one. And by all means, get a Passport sold at the National Park Service bookstores.

Our tour continued the next day when we decided to take the Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan across to Dauphin Island, AL and travel north through Mobile, enter I-10 and then get off to get back over to Gulf Shores to our campground, and I hope that makes sense. The Ferry sign read "No RV's Today" - are you kidding? No way we could imagine getting on that Ferry in anything larger than our car! Dauphin Island is so beautiful you can't put it in words; however, Mother Nature keeps re-nurturing it over and over...one storm after another. We visited Fort Gaines - an anchorage for the colonization of the New World. The Fort was established in 1813; however, this area was mapped by Spanish explorers in 1513. Ever heard the saying "Damn the torpedoes - Full speed ahead!" - a quote of Admiral David Farragut during the Battle Of Mobile Bay.

What a gem this island is, but we're getting hungry and begin to head north to the mainland on a bridge built in 1952 - to one of the hidden little bayous where we enjoy lunch and the freshest of seafood at Beaudean's. Fresh oysters are such a luxury and the story is they were brought from the Bayou LaBatre that morning. These were the tastiest and freshest oysters I've had in quite some time.

We've been at Island Retreat in Gulf Shores about a week, and while we were one of the last to leave the rally campground, we are excited as if it were Christmas morning as we begin to head in a westerly direction toward Louisiana to the "Who Dat Nation".
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