Apalachicola and Perry, Florida

Leaving Hickory Landing we went just a short way south to see Fort Gadsen. This was a challenging trip in our RV so I don’t recommend anyone else try it in anything bigger than a pickup truck. If it has been raining, you’ll want four wheel drive.

Fort Gadsen had been in existence in many forms for many years before the actual Fort Gadsen was built. This location on the Apalachicola River was a strategic one for everyone who lived here.

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You can still see some remains of the fort.

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Heading on south we passed Tate’s Hell State Forest. According to Wikipedia: “Local legend is that a local farmer named Cebe Tate went hunting in the woods in this area. He went into the swamps hunting for a panther that was killing his livestock. Most stories end with Tate being lost in the forest for 4 to 7 days until he finally came to a clearing near Carrabelle. There he stated “My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell!” He then died.”

We pulled off by bridge for lunch. I used the packet of sour cream that came from Lambert’s Cafe to make dill dip to go with baby carrots. I’m still eating from that $12 meal back in Alabama. Would I go to Lambert’s again? You bet I would.

Our next sightseeing stop was at Forest Capitol Park in Perry, Florida.


There we learned more about the making of turpentine.

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We also visited the Cracker Homestead Interpretive Site there.

Florida “crackers” lived in rural areas of Florida from the mid 1800s through the early 1900s. One of the possible sources of this nickname is the cracking sound of the whips they used to drive their cattle and oxen.

The house consists of two good-sized rooms with a dogtrot between them and big front and back porches.

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The main room was where Ma & Pa and the newest baby slept.


The other room is where Granny and all the other kids slept unless there got to be so many kids they had to add rooms off the back–one for the boys and one for the girls.

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Activities of daily living went on in both rooms, both porches, outbuildings, and the yard.

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This family had everything they needed for daily life including the above cane grinder and syrup kettle. Aren’t you glad we don’t have to make our own sweeteners today?



Long Day


We were awakened early by construction equipment. If it had been only the low roar of their motors I probably would have slept through that but one of the machines had a backing up beeper I couldn’t ignore. So we were on the road much earlier than usual.

The beaches of Gulf State Park are still in the process of being rehabilitated. There is now a very long boardwalk leading over the dunes.  Sorry about the reflection in the windshield; that light wasn’t going to stay red forever, you know, and I keep my maps and lists of potential destinations on the dash where we can refer to them quickly.


ReMax Realty had a sign out front saying “The turtle only makes progress by sticking her neck out.” Trying to shame people into tackling more than they should? In a place they probably shouldn’t?

There are a great many new houses, hotels, and condos here which, while they are pretty, make me feel sad thinking about what came before them.

Just before entering the bridge across the entrance to Escambia Bay is a sign that says, “Check Fuel.  Long Bridge Ahead.” BIG bay! And signs on the bridge warning you not break down there. If you do you are required to keep driving anyway. If you get a flat tire, drive on it until you get off the bridge. It made me think of Sprinter vans having what is known as “limp home mode” which drops your speed if there is a problem but lets you keep moving. We have not experienced that but it’s always possible.

We stopped at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Visitor Center and Administration Building where we got a Florida State Highway Map. 


Displays there were mostly about the Live Oaks and their usages such as becoming hulls for warships back when all ships were wooden. 


Technically, this is the same park we stayed in while camped at Davis Bayou campground in Jackson, Mississippi. Can you remember back that far?  Me either.  That’s why I take notes and write these blogs.

Gulf Islands National Seashore has bits and pieces all along the Gulf Shore. Many of its campsites are pack-in sites you access by ferry boat. Back when we were young backpackers we might have done that but our RV won’t fit on the ferry and I’m no longer fit for anything else.

We went to Wendy’s for lunch because Dave has no leftovers from Lambert’s Cafe. Since we were there I ordered one of my favorite food combinations there: a plain chicken sandwich and a sour cream/chive baked potato. I take the chicken off the bun and cut it up onto the potato. Yummy.

We saw some people kite boarding but the area went by much too quickly to get a good photograph.  This is the best I could do. See the two little specks over the water? You don’t? Oh, well, I tried.


It’s Easter Week but schools are in session here. We slowed for three school crossings with flashing lights this afternoon.  Since the kids are getting out of school it must be time for us to find a place to park for the night.

We planned to stop for the night at Grayton Beach State Park. We wanted to see this place where the Yahoo View/Navion Owners Group has gatherings. We didn’t get to see it, though. Local schools may be in session but families from other states are here on Spring Break so the campground is full. The ranger was not encouraging about what we are likely to find in other parks ahead of us, either.

Leaving Grayton Beach we turned right instead of left thinking we’d be taking a more direct route to meet up with Highway 98 again. We were right. More direct–but not faster. We drove through lots of communities that appear to make a fair amount of money off college kids on Spring Break. I wish I hadn’t been so busy looking that I forgot to take pictures. It was just like my imagination has always told me it must be. Lots of barely dressed young women with sunburns, lots of full sidewalk cafe’s/bars, and lots of beach houses with multiple cars parked outside them.

At 6:00 p.m. we finally pulled into Pineglen RV Park in Panama City Beach, Florida. It has some big sites and some not so big sites. Five sites still available. Fortunately, we were able to get a site between a road and an empty spot with a pond in front of us.


 But, we paid $43 for one night! That will mess up our camping fee averages for awhile.



20 mile day

Yesterday we drove from Summerdale, Alabama, to Gulf Shares, Alabama. Short but good day.

We started the day at Rainbow Plantation, an Escapees park where we had been sitting for several days. It was a leisurely start allowing time to sleep late, do our normal morning computer stuff, and take advantage of the park’s book exchange to get five new-to-me books. Check out time was noon and we managed to make that by doing the garbage run and the book exchange after checking out.

While we were parked in front of the office with Dave inside checking out I suddenly realized what was parked in front of us.


Look closer and you see this.


That won’t mean anything to most of you but those of you who participate in the hobby of geocaching will recognize that as a travel bug. A travel bug is usually something you find inside a cache that wants to go to a different cache so you help it move. This one moves without my help but I can go online to geocaching.com and log this find.

While I was taking that picture the owners came out, pleased to find me finding their travel bug. Then they asked if I had looked at their motorhome yet. Sure enough…


Easiest finds I’ve ever made. But harder for others to find because they move a lot. If you happened to be parked at Rainbow Plantation last night, go quick and see if they are still there.

Since we had been parked there for so long, our grocery supplies were seriously depleted. Instead of our usual stop at WalMart, though, we went to Winn Dixie hoping to get Mocha Mix or Coffee Rich. We got lots of food but neither of those.

So we drove across the street to Piggly Wiggly. They had Coffee Rich! In pints. Dave bought TEN of them. We are thawing two and the other eight are in our freezer. I will be able to eat cereal for a long time now.

All that grocery shopping helped us decide it was time for lunch. So we went to Lambert’s Cafe in Foley, Alabama.

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This is another Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives place. At 2 p.m. parking was challenging. They have several extra long spaces marked bus parking but they were full of cars. So we found a space next to a car using one and a half spaces and backed in next to it leaving our tail end hanging over a curb.

They have activities to help you wait your turn to be seated.


And activites to help you wait your turn once you are seated. This guy is entertaining everyone by throwing hot dinner rolls to anyone who holds up their hands to catch one.


Then they start bringing you food. And more food. And more food.

Here’s the “glass” of Diet Coke they brought Dave.


I ordered chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, cottage cheese, and fried apples. When it came the pieces of meat was so large, about 5″ diameter” it hung off the plate where I couldn’t cut it. So I set aside the bowls of cottage cheese and apples to make room for the meat. That didn’t work because of the Pass Arounds. Servers wander the aisles offering more sides. Besides the throwed rolls there are fried okra, black-eyed peas, macaroni with tomatoes, fried potatoes with onions, apple butter and sorghum for your rolls.  Before I could get my meat moved further onto my plate it looked like this:


It took me two large take-out containers and a go-cup to get out of that place. Dave had a hamburger and potato salad and ate all his. Sometimes, I don’t understand that man; how could anyone pass up all those goodies?

Then we went to Gulf Shores, Alabama, to the Gulf Shores museum. A small but powerful place.


I learned a lot about bar pilots but the best stuff was about hurricanes. We watched video taken by professional storm trackers of hurricane Ivan hitting Gulf Shores. I got so emotionally overloaded I had to leave without seeing all the exhibits. Powerful, powerful stuff.

Then we drove to Gulf State Park wondering if we would get a site since it is Spring Break here for a lot of families. While Dave was in the office trying to register us I took this picture.


No they don’t really pack in the people like that. Those units are in the storage space across from the office. It gives you an idea of how popular this park must be, though, doesn’t it? There’s another row just behind those, too.

To give you an idea of the actual spacing withing the park, here’s the units parked on each side of as as seen through our windows.

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Look at all that sunshine! Makes you warm just looking, doesn’t it? In reality the high in Mobile was 61 degrees so people were wearing sweatshirts and jackets but that’s a LOT better than what they are having in Minnesota now.

It did get a little warm in here, though, when Dave plugged in the electricity. Somehow the toaster oven got turned on after we unplugged from the previous park. So it started heating when we plugged into this park. While it was still packed for travel! We shove a flexible silicone bowl sideways into it to keep it from rattling while traveling. The white line on the red bowl is where it was pressed against the heating element.


Fortunately, I heard odd crackling sounds coming from the galley and checked that out before this turned into an actual fire. That white line is ash, though. They say most RVs have a kitchen “event” at some time. I hope this was ours so we never have another one. The toaster oven is now unplugged.



Going out

We didn’t have to use the storm shelter at the funny money park but it was nice having it so close by just in case. Here you see it through our living room window.


Thinking about storms made the think about our ability to drive away from them. I guess you could call our RV our “get-away” vehicle. It contains most of our valuables but we came by all of them honestly. Honestly.

Watching children swing made me think of abdominal exercise. See, it can be fun.

We finally found a WalMart that carries a wide selection of Diet Rite so Dave brought me two cartons of Red Raspberry. It’s been so long since I had that flavor I’d forgotten it is strong enough to make me feel like I should be picking seeds out of my teeth. I really like Red Raspberry. In the meantime it was nice to learn, though, that Tangerine makes a good substitute for me. Now if we could just get some Mocha Mix or Coffee Rich for my morning cereal I would truly be a happy camper.

In Biloxi, Mississippi, we stopped to see The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum but it was gone with the wind. There was a small pile of rubble left and a trailer with a sign saying it was the museum’s office. We didn’t go in.

Some things are rebuilding, though. Check out this Hard Rock Casino.


We resisted the urge to go eat at the Hard Rock because we wanted to to eat nearby at The Shed in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. One of our RVing friends gave us the URL for the Food Network’s program “Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and we’ve been vising random ones. In case, I haven’t given it to you yet, or in case you already lost it, here it is: http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/guys-idiners-drive-ins-and-divesi/index.html

Check out this one.

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Dave’s favorite sign on their wall was “I think, therefore I am overqualified.” I rate their barbeque 4 napkin good. We shared the jumbo sampler platter and brought back leftovers. We were there midafternoon of a weekday so it was fairly quiet but I can imagine this place jumping on weekends. You go to the bar to order your food and they take your name. When the food is ready they wrap it in insulated packaging and carry it around yelling your name until they find you. I wonder if they have to wait until between sets of music on Fiday nights in order for the customers to hear the servers?

We spent that night parked near a similar storm shelter except this one was in Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Davis Bayou campground where we met a volunteer named Dexter. I wish Dexter didn’t have to keep making his rounds. His stories were as good as IYQ’s stories. Did you know if you set an electrical outlet into a 4×4 and plant it in the ground, some camper will plug into it? Even when they know the park they are in doesn’t offer electricity? Even out in the desert by Quartzsite, Arizona?

We’ve spent hours watching the weather trying to decide what to do. Some joker told us the reason for living in an RV is that you can always move to better weather. I want to know where? Terry & Jeri got snowed on in Washington this week. Lee & MaryJane got 60 mph winds in the desert SW. Steve and Carol got snow in Oklahoma. Mike & Julie got rainstorms in Texas. And we are getting Tornado watches in Mississippi! The National Weather service called for the storm watchers to be out here tomorrow morning from 9 to 11 a.m.

So we decided we’d get up early and depart ahead of the storm. Right. It started raining about 4:30. The wind picked up about 5:00. I got up early but decided not to risk trying to stand on one foot in the shower in this wind. Then it all ended about 9:00. I should have slept in as usual. We waited until 11:00 to depart, though. No sense catching up to the storm that just left here traveling our direction. That should put us a couple hours ahead of the next one, too. So we might get some rain but we shouldn’t get storms, right?

Right. Dave got slightly damp getting an Alabama highway map from their welcome center. And we got slightly damp stopping for lunch. But, lunch was so good our spirits are still up.

Lunch was another “Guy’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives place”. This one called Big Daddy’s Grill near Fairhope, Alabama.

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I included that last photo to remind me to tell you to read the front of the menu before you order. It says things like, “No alcohol may leave the premises except inside your stomach.” And “This is a family restaurant; please don’t teach the children any new words.” There was another one I laughed about but have already forgotten–I’m getting old, you know.

Now, we are tucked up for the night at Rainbow Plantation, the Escapee’s RV park in Summerdale, Alabama. And it’s supposed to rain tonight. Surprise, surprise. We asked for and got the first available site closest to the storm shelter. This one is an actual clubhouse, though so, if we have to take shelter tonight, at least no one has to sit on the toilet. I hope you are having good weather wherever you are. If you are, would you, please, let us know where it is?



Chalk and Funny Money

Like most full time RVers we know we write our plans in chalk so we can change them at the drop of a hat. I think the weatherman writes his plans in chalk, too. Is it going to rain today? If so, how much? The weatherman said severe storms all day today. Today’s real answers turned out to be, “yes,” and, “very hard for a short time”. The rest of the day has been mostly sunny and warm enough to need to open the windows and turn on the fan. We could have gone sightseeing just fine. I wonder how much of our plans revolving around the weather are just excuses to not go anywhere?

The park we are in accepts the National Parks passes which are supposed to be good for free admission and a 50% discount on camping. Camping here is normally $20. S0, you’d expect us to pay $10, right? Nope, our fee is $13. How can $13 be half of $20, you ask? By separating the charge for electricity at the campsite from the charge for the campsite itself. We only get half price on the site, not the electricity. Of course, we aren’t using nearly as much electricity as we are being charged for but that’s beside the point, right?  

Cue the music here: “Oh, the games people play now. Every night and every day now.  Never meaning what they say now.  Never saying what they mean.”  Followed by, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” Tomorrow will be better. We “plan” to go out.