Thursday, January 31, 2019

Alabama - Foley and the two stops to get there

Stone Mountain, GA

On November 15, 2018 we said good-bye to Asheville, yes Nancy shed a few tears. The drive to our first stop on the way to Foley, AL was of course in the rain.
We stayed at the Stone Mountain Park Campground in Stone Mountain, GA. It is just outside of Atlanta. This is a huge park with over 200 sites, a golf course, hiking trails, amusement park, hotels and of course Stone Mountain. What is claimed to be the worlds largest high relief sculpture is on the side of Stone Mountain. It depicts three Confederate figures of the Civil War. President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J "Stonewall" Jackson. You can take a train ride, a sky lift or hike to the top of the mountain. We stayed only one night so we did not explore any of this, but we do plan on going back for a longer stay.
We stayed in Site 393, a sideways pull through with full hookups, lots of shade trees and pretty private. The view of the lake was a nice surprise, bottom picture below. There were plenty of places for dog walking and even though we only stayed one night we did explore the grounds a bit. We paid $15 with our Passport America discount, but there was also a $20 park entrance fee.

It was rainy and foggy the day we arrived, but we woke to clear skies and sunshine the next morning.
The difference in the view of the mountain was quite drastic.

Hope Hull, AL

Moving fast we headed out on November 16, 2018 to Montgomery South RV Park in Hope Hull, AL. As the name suggests it is south of Montgomery, AL. This is the third time we have stayed here. The first time was June 2016 and the second time was January 2018. Both of those were longer stays. This was a one night stop, we were in Site 28, a gravel pull through with full hookups. We paid $36.00 a night with our Good Sam Discount. The park is well maintained and there is a large field for walking the dog.

Foley, AL

This is our second time staying at Magnolia Springs Hideaway Campground. The first time was in January 2018. We arrived here on November 17, 2018. All of the sites are back ins, they are building additional sites and some of those will be pull throughs.
We were in Site 38 this time and loved it. Cement pad for parking and picnic table. Full hookups and plenty of shade trees. The way the site is positioned we also had some privacy.
We paid $13.30 a night with a combination of the monthly rate and Passport America discounts.
The park is well maintained and very quiet. There is a clubhouse with lots of activities planned just about every day. The bathrooms and laundry are clean. WiFi was good and Verizon signal strong.

She is the worst at playing fetch - which can be a good thing! 
The dog park is good sized and of course Nancy and Mielikki found lots of other places to explore.

There is a large empty field that is perfect for off lead running and there were tons of mushrooms and weeds for Nancy to discover.

Stinkhorn Mushrooms

Of course we had rain! But it does make for some great picture opportunities.

Mielikki had a blast dragging around giant sticks, but getting all the sticky seedpods brushed out afterwards wasn't nearly as much fun.

Foley is a rather large town but it is surrounded by cotton fields. While most had been harvested some were still full of cotton.

Our favorite place to eat was at the Foley Coffee Shop, great breakfasts. Nancy had to chuckle at the ad for David Wilson (the name of her brother who passed away at 15). Her whole family was in the construction business so Masonry seems about right!
We enjoyed a number of dinners with our friends Peggy and Paul. Nancy and Peggy went to high school together in Michigan. It was so much fun spending time with them.
There city park was all decked out for the holidays.

While we are taking it a bit easier and not sightseeing every day we are still out and about and having fun.
Mobile was less than an hour away so we spent a couple of days exploring it.

The Mobile Botanical Gardens was our first stop. The gardens are just outside of downtown and only $5.00 a person to get in.
The entrance to the gardens is through the gift shop, members were busy decorating for Christmas
Plus, they are dog friendly and apparently cat friendly as well, Mielikki was sniffing one of the bushes like crazy and this resident cat jumped out and quickly put Mielikki in her place!

The area consists of 100 acres of seventeen special gardens and 35 acres of it dedicated for a longleaf pine forest. This land was originally all longleaf pine but was logged in the early 1900's. There are trails that take you through all of the gardens, even though it was December there was still plenty to see.

Lots of flowers in bloom, many different types of Azaleas and wildflowers.
One of the foot bridges takes you across a river of ferns. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Another foot bridge takes you across a goldfish pond with a small waterfall, where we found a friendly grasshopper. There were plenty of places to stop and rest and enjoy the stillness.

There is a labyrinth being constructed, and they have a maze made from hedges that we got lost in!
Fall color and spring like plants all in one place.

Of course we checked out the Magnolia Cemetery, it was established in 1836. Many  governors, congressmen and mayors have been buried here. There is a large Jewish section dating back to 1844. Unfortunately most of the headstones are so worn that you can't read them anymore.

As always we found beautiful angels. One headstone with a pointing finger with the saying "Follow Me My Mother". Not sure what that means. The depiction of Jesus resting his hand on a child's head always tugs at our heart strings.

In the Jewish section there were a number of headstones that had a pitcher carved on them.This is a traditional symbol found on a man's grave, signifying a Levite, who was responsible for cleaning the hands of the Temple Priest before he performed his Priestly duties.

The Mobile Museum of Art is right next to the Botanical Gardens. While we did not tour the museum inside we did explore the Art Park that surrounds it. The museum and park are surrounded by a large lake, which served as Mobiles water source until the 1950's which is why nothing was developed around it. It makes the perfect setting for the art park and the city park that is across the walking bridge. It was a very tranquil scene watching the pelicans floating along and diving for food. Almost all of them were diving at the same time, it was like watching synchronized swimming.

There are a number of sculptures along the paths and many trails through the park.

The look of this large iron sculpture changed depending on what side you were standing on.
Not sure if the bike is meant to be an art piece but it is strategically placed at the entrance to the walking bridge.

The "clothes pins" blow in the wind, the horse made us think of a jester and don't know if you can read the bible but it would make a nice place to rest and think about God.

Guessing this pair of shoes are not art but the placement of them in the leaves was very nice!

There is an island in the lake and large metal dinosaurs have been placed among the trees with cutouts of people that look so human you expect them to wave at you. Unfortunately the sun wasn't cooperating with picture taking

We also thought this was a real person painting!

The Mardi Gras Park in downtown Mobile sits on the corner where the very first Mardi Gras Parade was held. On Shrove Tuesday, February 25, 1868, the Order of Myths (OOM) gathered here at 8:00 p.m. to start the parade. There were four wagons, each depicting a scene from Lalla Rookh, a Thomas Moore romance set in Persia. Between each wagon OOM members rode on horseback dressed as Persian warriors

The perimeter of the park is lined with statues of parade kings, queens, musicians and jesters.

A few other Roadside Oddities we found were a Russian Sub outside the Oyster House Restaurant, a Giant Fish and Elvis outside the Bluegill Restaurant all in Mobile and the Metal Fist is outside a VFW Hall in Spanish Fort.

Dauphin Island is south of Mobile and almost exactly due west of our campground as the crow, or seagull flies. We drove through Mobile to get there and then took the ferry across the bay to get back home. What a beautiful litlle island. Of course you have to cross a crazy high bridge to get to it. One of Nancy's favorite things - not!

Our first stop was the beach at the west end of the island. We walked quite a ways on the gulf side and had the whole beach to ourselves, with a windsurfer on the bay side.

Nancy always likes to write Happy Trails in the sand and of course Mielikki loves to help!

Second stop was the Indian Shell Mound Park. The park, also a bird refuge dates from the Mississippian Period (1000-1500). Native Americans visited the shell mounds for centuries. Archaeologists learned that these mounds were occupied according to a seasonal schedule, most often in the late winter and spring.

The mounds, top right picture, are made up of layers of oyster shells, charcoal, fish bones and potsherds. . The moss and vines were pretty amazing and there were some beautiful old trees.

Our favorite stop was the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. It is a beautifully preserved 137-acres of maritime forest, marshes and dunes, including a lake, a swamp and a beach. There are six trails, most around a half mile. They are a mix of wooden boardwalks and sand, plus handicap accessible. You do need to be mindful of alligators, luckily we didn't see any on our hike.

Mielikki really wanted to go in there
We only saw a couple of birds, but we could hear lots of them in the trees. The grass lining the boardwalk was the brightest green we have ever seen.

As we were leaving Nancy spotted this quilted heart hanging in one of the trees. It is part of the I Found A Quilted Heart program. Nancy leaves painted rocks behind so this was super fun to find. What a great idea for those who sew!

We love ferry rides. This one gave us lots of birds, waves and took us closer to oil rigs then we have ever been. Plus, we passed a boat called E.O. Wilson!

Pensacola, FL was about 40 minutes away and offered shopping that wasn't in Foley. We visited the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum. The first lighthouse was built here in 1824. It was 40-feet tall and sat on a 40-foot bluff. It  was used until 1858 when the second and current lighthouse was built closer to the water. It stands 150-feet tall with 177-steps to the top. It is still in use today.

The gift shop is located in what was once the Keepers home.

We found a few Roadside Oddities. Two Spaceship Houses, the one on the top right is a rental. The Giant Roller Skate sits outside a now defunct roller rink.
The Indestructible Cross is named this as it has survived numerous hurricanes and tropical storms. It commemorates the first religious service in the Pensacola area. A mass was celebrated here on August 15, 1559. The Feast of the Assumption was held by the Dominican Friar who accompanied Tristan De Luna.

Next up will be Pass Christian, MS. Looking forward to some beautiful sunsets.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to you!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~  Keeping track
This campground, like many others only allow so much electrical usage per month and then you pay for whatever you use over that.
In order to keep track of our usage we take a picture of the meter the day we arrive and then another one a month later, which in our case is usually the day we are leaving.
The date of the photos shows on our phones so there is no question as to how much we have used.

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