11/20/18 Pensacola, FL

DAY #32

On tap for today;  Head out west along the gulf to Mobile Bay, ending at Ft. Morgan in Alabama.

Not sure why, but I have this tug that keeps drawing me to the ocean.  There’s just something so satisfying about being around the water. Add in Florida’s gorgeous beaches, and that only seals the deal.  DSC_0071 (2).JPG

I’m in a Florida State of Mind…..DSC_0069 (4).JPG

Boy, I thought the area had been developed in my travels to Fort Pickens yesterday, it was even more so today.  First in Florida and then when you cross into Alabama, high rise condominiums/resorts/hotels/timeshares? dot the beachfront.  I saw a couple of for sale signs listing starting prices in the high 800s, that’s thousands (it was one of the nicer buildings).  The area does feel new and fresh, and it’s clean.  If you’re someone into this kind of living, this would be a good place to come. DSC_0146 (2).JPGDSC_0144 (3).JPGDSC_0136 (4).JPGOne thing noticed was that most of the beachfront land has been used for condos (money talks) and only pockets of land here and there for houses.DSC_0127 (1).JPG

Before I took this photo I was facing the beach (which is to the right).  Looking out towards the horizon, I could see the water and oh wow, a couple of dorsals out of the water, it was dolphins, how cool was that.  Once again, no time to get photos before they were gone.DSC_0125 (1).JPG

Thankfully, there are areas of beachfront put aside for public parks and beaches.DSC_0137 (3).JPGDSC_0126 (3).JPG

About half way to Fort Morgan, around Orange Beach, Gulf State Park takes control of the land away from the gulf and the makeup of the area begins to change.  Gone are the endless condos and houses on stilts and replaced with salt marshes and pine trees.  After a ways through the park, the road turns away from the water and heads inlandDSC_0131.JPG

Check out the speed limit sign. DSC_0133.JPG

After going inland, the trees grew in number as while as size, and the road took on a feel of  laid back affluence.DSC_0129 (2).JPG

After about one hour drive time along the island, I came to Fort Morgan.  Fort Morgan has a long history.  It was built in 1814 and saw action during the war of 1812.  During the civil war it was part of the Confederacy.  It was finally deactivated (for good), and the Fort given to the state of Alabama in 1947.

Another interesting fact is that the Fort, in large part, was built by the use of slave labor.

A big difference that I saw between Fort Morgan and Fort Pickens, is this Fort was tucked away into the dunes whereas Fort Pickens, stood up and out in the open for all to see.

The entrance to the Fort.DSC_0079 (3).JPGDSC_0080 (4).JPGDSC_0082 (3).JPGDSC_0083.JPGDSC_0084 (1).JPGDSC_0103 (1).JPGDSC_0104.JPGDSC_0102.JPGDSC_0097.JPGDSC_0098.JPGDSC_0088.JPG

Cool as these Forts are, I think I’ve satisfied the need for old forts for awhile.DSC_0087 (1).JPGdsc_0089-21.jpgDSC_0090DSC_0095_1

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Views of Mobile Bay from the Fort.DSC_0110.JPGDSC_0105_2

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When you leave (or enter) the Fort, this is the view that awaits you.DSC_0113 (1)DSC_0115_2DSC_0117_2I think I may have overdid it with all the Fort photos, but it was kind of a cool place. let’s just say I got carried away.

After leaving the Fort, and starting the trip back to the campground,  I came across where you can catch a ferry to take across Mobile Bay.DSC_0119_1.JPGDSC_0124_1DSC_0122_1

Made it back to the trailer.  Another good day on the road.

 

11/19/18 Pensacola, FL

DAY #31

Plan for the day was to go to Camping World and then meander around the area ending up at Fort Pickens, FL.  I Left a little after 9:00 a.m. with blue sky’s, temperature in the upper 60s , and a song in my heart (not really, just like how that sounds).   The Camping World was located about an hour away from the park and in the same direction that I wanted to check out so it fit in just fine.  Getting there included going through Pensacola.  I took a little detour and quickly checked out the downtown area.  Was kind of expecting to find an another ‘shadow of the past’ area, instead what I found, was a historic downtown district that is quite the charming and attractive place.  I’m going to have to come back and spend some time and take some photos.

Leaving Pensacola I crossed the bay and got on US 98 heading east, making my way to Camping World in Gulf Breeze.  The drive down US 98 left me with the same feeling I’ve had on other drives along the gulf.  Everything is so developed, It leaves you feeling you’re driving through suburbia rather than being in “the sticks” (I much prefer”the sticks”).

Made it to Camping World.  I bought a cover for my front trailer jack.  I had put the old one on and it blew off going down the road (My cousin Mark told me this would happen, but would I listen).  Another purchase was a jack stand extender so that I won’t have to extend my jack stand so much.  It works like using blocks of wood underneath the jack only this one is plastic and one piece.  I’ll check it out at the next campground.

After my purchases, I went to the service counter find out how often I need to grease my wheel bearings on the trailer (answer: 5000 Miles or Yearly).  The service I got was immediate and answers spot on.  Camping World gets a really bad rap in online forums but I have only good things to say about them (so far).

After leaving Camping World, I Crossed over to the outer island and began making my way back west to my final destination for the day, Fort Pickens, FL.  I’m amazed at the amount of development I saw.  I thought by looking at the google map, the island would have been devoid of pretty much everything, instead, It was developed from one end to the other and were talking big, big condos.  My salvation  to all of this was that by getting to approx. the middle of the island I would arrive at the National Gulf Seashore and get a break from the endless developments.

While that didn’t work out so well.  I came to the park and surprise surprise, the road was closed.  according to what I read (went online, wanted to know why), the roadway had been damaged during Hurricane Michael.  I’m a little skeptical, I didn’t see any other damage in the area, but I guess why would they make that up?  So, I turned around and back tracked through the area I had just come down.  It looked the same going back as it did going forward, development, lots of big development.

There are small patches of land and beach remaining (set aside) that allows the average Joe access to the water and Florida’s beaches.  They do have a special and unique look and feel. DSC_0002.JPGDSC_0006 (1).JPGDSC_0005.JPG

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Made it back to my starting point and began plan B.  I made it back onto the outer island and just for the hell of it, I wanted to see if the National Gulf Seashore was closed from this side of the island.  Long story short, it was.  So, I turned around and headed on down the road until I made it to Fort Pickens on the western tip of the island.DSC_0061.JPGIt’s interesting, most of the island is composed of sand, and sand, and more sand,  but as you get closer to the fort, the island reaches its widest width and the pine trees decided  to call it home.

Fort Pickens was an active U.S. military post from 1834 until 1947.  Millions of bricks were used in the construction of the fort, and the work was done (in large part) by slaves.  The fort saw some limited action during the civil war and always remained under union control.  After the Indian wars in the west came to an end, Geronimo was held for a period of time at Fort Pickens.

One of the batteries.  This was the last one built and it’s away from the main fortdsc_00671.jpg

This is what you see after coming out of the trees and approach the entrance to the fort.DSC_0063 (3).JPGDSC_0065 (3).JPG

Fort Pickens. DSC_0057 (3).JPGDSC_0035 (3).JPGDSC_0046 (2).JPGDSC_0052.JPGDSC_0051 (2).JPGDSC_0050 (1).JPGDSC_0049 (3).JPG

Some photos of the different batteries (gun placements).DSC_0012 (1).JPGDSC_0014.JPGDSC_0044 (2).JPGDSC_0042 (2).JPGDSC_0018.JPGDSC_0037 (2).JPGDSC_0041 (2).JPGDSC_0043 (2).JPG

View of the gulf from a gun battery.DSC_0032 (2).JPGDSC_0027 (2).JPG

View of Pensacola Bay.DSC_0019 (2).JPGDSC_0024 (3).JPGDSC_0030 (2).JPG

Some of the buildings that made up the fort (I believe these are replicas).DSC_0011 (2).JPGDSC_0015 (2).JPG

“While not a “blow your mind” day, it was a fun day.  I enjoyed being out in the really nice weather and the fort was interesting.  I got to see the gulf and one of the outer islands up close and personal, warts and all.

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11/18/18 Ocean Springs, MS-Pensacola, FL

DAY #30

It’s moving day again.  Time to shut down, pack up, hook up, and hit the road.  Took a leisurely departure this morning.  Left around 9:30 and was only looking at a 2-1/2 hour drive to the next destination.  After conferring with my co-pilot (goggle map), I decided to take I-10 (the freeway) and stay on it through Mobile, Alabama before getting off and getting back on the good old secondary roads. Lots and lots of traffic in both direction on I-10.  I guess that’s to be expected since it is a major east-west artery.DSC_0075 (3).JPG

Pretty uneventful trip, roads were good, weather was great, and I was in a good frame of mind.   I’m still not that comfortable with towing the trailer.  You always know it’s there and when a semi passes, you can feel the trailer get drawn into its wake.  Gas mileage has gone up to around 10 mpg (still sucks) and when I’m driving around without the trailer, it’s been upwards of 25-26 mpg, which for a truck are pretty solid numbers.

Made it to Big Lagoon State Park which is located just east of Pensacola.DSC_0071 (3).JPGDSC_0072 (3).JPG

Once there, I did have a little trouble finding the campsite, the map (I don’t think) was very accurate.  After driving around for awhile I was lucky to find a volunteer working at the park and he showed me where the site was.  Backed into the site, got set up and here I was, home sweet home for the next eight days.  Interesting campsite. all the campers are tucked away from each other and the road, while hidden away by scrub growth and pine trees.  DSC_0077 (1).JPGYou’ll notice no water hose to the trailer.  I’m thinking about hooking it up and testing it in the next couple of days.  I guess I’m hesitant because in the back of my mind, I’m afraid that when I turn the water on, there will be leaks everywhere.

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Didn’t do much else, after all it was Sunday and we know what that means…Football!        I got to the park a little after noon so after setting things up (including scanning all available TV channels),  It was time to sit down and watched the games.  The first one at 3:00 pm watching the New Orleans Saints (Being down here, you just have to be a Saints fan), and then the Vikings  later at 7:00 pm.  After watching the Vikings game I’ve come to a conclusion;  I hate to burst your bubble Vikings fans, but I don’t think they’ll go far this post season, if at all.  they have the potential, just not the right chemistry to bring it all together.

Getting lots of TV stations although over half are evangelical in nature, and my Verizon reception is really good, so no feeling cut off from the civilized world.  Bathroom and showers just a short walk away.  I think this is going to be a nice stay.

11/17/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #29

Big excursion planned for today.  I went into Biloxi and took a 75 minute shrimping trip.  For $16, They take you to the outer part of the harbor on a boat that had a small rigging  to net for shrimp.  It’s a simplified version of what commercial shrimp fisherman use.

We left the dock and went out to the harbor.  It was a nice day, partly cloudy with temps in the upper 60s.DSC_0358

Going out the into the bay brought us closer to one of the outer islands that help protect the mainland. DSC_0354DSC_0355DSC_0356(Sorry, not real satisfied with these photos.)

Once out there, they dropped the net and began dragging along the bottom, that’s where the shrimp are.DSC_0350 (2)

After dragging the bottom for about 10 minutes, they brought the net up and let’s see what was in it.DSC_0361the seagulls were sure interested in what we caught.DSC_0375

Yes, those are shrimp.DSC_0367

Also brought up a blue crab. *(No crabs were harmed in the taking of these photos).DSC_0372

They dropped the net a second time because the guide had a fishing charter for the next day and was going to use the shrimp as bait.DSC_0376DSC_0379 (2)

I don’t like seafood and after seeing these critters up close and personal, I still don’t.DSC_0380.JPG

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I know that he/she does.DSC_0384.JPGAgain with the penguin, are these guys under contract?

Had to take a photo of one of the crew.  He/she would get you drinks from downstairs and bring them to the upper deck for you.DSC_0357.JPG

Wow, I didn’t think it could get more adventurous then going out on a pseudo shrimp boat but I had something to top it.  Next on the list was driving go-karts (or so I thought).DSC_0389.JPGDSC_0388.JPG

A bit expensive, $25.00 for about 10 minutes but what the hey, I’ll do it twice. I checked in and it was busy, took almost twenty minutes to get signed up.  Then it was off to wait until my heat was called. After another 30-40 minutes of waiting, it was finally my turn.  Got in line, was given a helmet and briefing and then wait again.  Seems someone ran into the protective rail and paramedics were called.  After more waiting, this time much of it sitting in the kart ready to go, they decided they had to do some track modifications and it would be another 30 minutes at least.  Well, it was getting dark and while it would have been fun, I resigned myself to it just not going to happen, I actually took it well remembering to “roll with the flow.”  I was able to get my money back and then I headed back to the park after spending my last full day in Southern Mississippi.

11/16/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #28

Just a beautiful day. Temperatures in the low 60s, light winds, and a simply marvelous blue sky.  It’s really amazing how blue sky’s along with the sun can recharge your spirits, especially after a number of cold, dark, gloomy days.

Started out today with the itinerary of visiting Pascagoula (and area), and then drifting around the gulf cost of Alabama.  Off I went heading eastbound on US 90.   To get into Pascagoula, you need to cross the bridge over the Pascagoula river.

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Looking out at the bay after crossing the bridge.

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Pascagoula is the home to Ingalls Shipyards which builds ships for the U.S. Navy.DSC_0296.JPGDSC_0291_1DSC_0292.JPG

While Pascagoula does have a downtown area, it’s not something that stands out.  I’ve felt a bit disappointed by the city centers along the gulf in Mississippi for their lack of historic feel.  It still exists but only in a building here and a building there way.  One example is the railway station.  Sadly it’s no longer in use (service stopped after Hurricane Katrina in 2005).DSC_0305.JPGDSC_0310.JPGDSC_0312.JPG

When was the last time you saw one of these?DSC_0307 (2).JPGI’ve figured out what I’m looking for (and why my disappointment) and its not found along the coast.  I’m looking for city centers that have town squares with court houses and such (the old south),  the kind of towns that are commonly found farther north.

Pascagoula is a city with a diversity of housing.  From simple homes to modern-day plantation style houses along the bay.DSC_0325 (2).JPGDSC_0302.JPGDSC_0298DSC_0300

I seem to like these guys.DSC_0288_1

Left Pascagoula (such a cool name) and headed towards the southwest corner of Alabama as far as Dauphin Island.DSC_0340.JPGDSC_0327 (3).JPGDSC_0329.JPGDSC_0316.JPGDSC_0320.JPGDSC_0319DSC_0314.JPG

Heading to the western side of Dauphin Island you find sand, sand, everywhere.DSC_0323.JPG

Looks to be largely weekend beach houses, and I’m not sure how many will be left standing after the next hurricane.DSC_0317.JPGDSC_0322.JPG

The other side of the island is mainly trees and looks like much of Southern Alabama away from the water. DSC_0270DSC_0274.JPG

One thing I’ve noticed in my short time around here, there are a lot of Mercedes on the road. Life must not be too bad down in these parts.DSC_0294

Driving down the road I saw a number of stands selling Satsumas. Do you know what they are? (Hint, their orange in color). Also saw a couple of small fields of cotton. Again, no big deal, but I think it’s neat to see.

Made it back to camp a little after dark, man the sun is setting too early.

 

 

 

 

11/15/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #28

The night had been a cold one, I think the coldest so far, but with my newest friend, the space heater, the trailer remained warm and cozy thru the night.

Even though the day was cool (low 50s), the sun had returned and it just gave you a whole new get up and get out feeling. I decided to get off my behind and take a walk down a short trail that originally had been created by the CCC.

For those scratching your head going what? CCC?  The Civilian Conservation Corps was created by the government during the great depression of the 1930s. Its purpose was to create jobs while helping to build and refurbish our federal parks and other federal lands.

About all that’s left of this encampment is some cement foundations that of course, I didn’t take any photos of.DSC_0259DSC_0260DSC_0261.JPGKind of spectacular when you think about it,  considering that civilization is just a hop, skip and jump away.  It puts you in a gulf shores state of mind.

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Coming back after dark I saw a opossum (I’ll call him Jim Bob).  An ugly little critter, but one that eats a lot of stuff that we want to stay away from us (like bugs and such).  I don’t get to see many opossum’s so I thought it was neat.

 

 

11/14/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #27

I thought yesterday was a washout of a day, today was even worse.  The rain and gloom continued and the temperature was even colder (high of 41 degrees).

I decided to take the truck to get an oil/filter change and tire rotation.  Did some checking on the internet (it really is an amazing tool), found a dealer not too far away  (Astro Ford in D’Iberville, MS) and away I went.  I took the long way there and back and I did get to see some more of the area.  It was not what I would call an exciting adventure but a necessary one.  Got in right away and was out in less than an hour. With towing the trailer I’m thinking one should change the oil more frequently and it had been around four thousand miles since the last change.  I may be a bit conservative here but better safe than sorry.

It’s supposed to get down to 32 degrees tonight, oh baby, crank up that heater.

Here’s a question on a touchy subject (This is what happens when you stay in a little box for too long);  I’m not passing judgment, I’m looking for an answer.  it’s just a question that I think about.

God tells us repeatedly in the commandments that we are to have no other gods before us, yet when I look at Christianity (in general) and the Catholic Church (in specific), with its history, its structure, and its pomp and circumstances,  I do question the role of the church’s position.  I see what looks to me as less than total worship to God and more of an interweaving of God and man.  It isn’t just the Catholic church but they seem to be prolific in examples of and use of what some would call, false gods (e.g. role of pope, saints, symbols).  In Islam and Judaism, you find no tools (if you will) such as crosses, or the anointing of saints, or elaborate alters, but in Christianity and Catholicism, it’s common, it’s part of the religion.

Here’s my question; Does Christianity and the Catholic church worship man? Or does it worship God?  Or is it an amalgamation of the two?   My concern is that Catholicism and with it Christianity are a religion that’s an amalgam that links the church and God into a kind of partnership between the two. If so, doesn’t this go against what God asks of us?DSC_0109 (2)

11/13/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #26

The cold and rain continued, so like the other animals in the park, I decided to just hang out and hibernate for the day.road  closed                                 (Stock photo, I did not take this).

The only action I did was to go out to Canes Chicken Fingers to pick up dinner.  Still haven’t gotten the hang of preparing meals at the trailer (slow starter) .  Now you may be asking what the heck are chicken fingers?  They’re chicken tenders and not bad although I like popeyes better (not something I should be bragging about, being a fast food connoisseur).

Used the space heater last night and it kept the trailer nice and cozy, plus, since I don’t need to use the furnace (and burn LP), it saves me $$$.

 

Biloxi Bay at low tide.  Man, what a difference.cropped-20170429_1117053.jpg

Just kidding.

11/12/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #25

Cold, rainy day.  About all I did (other than sleep) was to research space heaters on-line and then off to Walmart to buy a space heater for the trailer.  the temperatures over the next few nights is going to get really cold, like 32 degree cold and I don’t want to go through all my propane. If I can find a space heater and it will do the job, so be it.  The campsite includes electric so why not use it.  I am a bit concerned about space heaters and especially using them in Travel Trailers.  Most heaters are 1500 watts and that’s a lot of juice.  That translates to approx. 12.5 amps and the trailer has a 20 amp circuits.  So that one appliance uses about 60% of available power on that one circuit.  after careful consideration, I decided to live dangerous and go ahead and use the space heater.

You know you’re down south.DSC_0187 (2)DSC_0187 (2)

11/11/18 Ocean Springs, MS

DAY #24

Made it to Gulfport and without any of the drama of the day before.  I got to the harbor and yea…the dolphin cruise was on.  There were seven of us in total going out on a 60′ ship.  The weather was around 60 and the sky partly cloudy so all in all, not a bad day.  We left on time and slowly moved away from the dock and out into open water.

In honor of Veterans Day.DSC_0247 (2).JPG

One of Gulfports finest resident.DSC_0230 (2).JPGI like being on the water and I love the ocean so this tour was for me fun.  I know it’s not hair raising exciting or adrenaline charging, but I still find it very satisfying.

The view of Gulfport from the ship.DSC_0249 (2).JPGDSC_0232.JPG

Looking along the coast from Gulfport towards Biloxi.DSC_0213 (2).JPGDSC_0215 (2).JPGDSC_0211 (2).JPG

He wanted another photo taken of him.DSC_0231 (2)

The tour ran ninety minutes and took you out a few miles into the bay. DSC_0241.JPGDSC_0227.JPG

Here’s a photo of what we saw on our dolphin watching excursion. DSC_0236 (2).JPGYou guessed it, we didn’t see as much as one dolphin.  I guess because it was Sunday, they were all watching the football games.  One thing about going on a cruise like this, you go out (or you should) with the understanding that you may not see dolphins.  They’re not captive or trained and I don’t want it any other way.  Today I was a bit disappointed, but it only reinforced in me the feeling you get when you do see them.

We did see people enjoying the day sailing in the bay.DSC_0226 (2).JPG

and a dredger working to keep the shipping lanes open.DSC_0238.JPG

Drove through downtown gulfport and while it’s light years more than Biloxi, it’s still a pretty small quiet area.  I was surprised to find out that Gulfport is the second largest city in the state.  It has a quiet & mellow vibe down near the water.  It’s only when you get north of the bay dies it start to take on the look and feel of a big city.  Here’s a few examples of the buildings in Downtown Gulfport.

I like the old advertisements on the wall.DSC_0251 (2).JPGDSC_0252 (2).JPG

Survivor of Katrina being refurbished.DSC_0221.JPG

Interesting story the building of Carnegie library’s across the country.DSC_0220.JPG

Hey what can I say, the kid just likes to be photographed.DSC_0229 (3).JPG

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