The Beaver, The Beach, And The Bygone Brave

How do you burn through five hours when you’ve only got a 90-minute drive between campgrounds, you have to leave the first one at 11 a.m., you can’t check in at the second one until 4 p.m., and you have no idea where to find a place big enough to park a 36-foot rig and its tow car? You stop at a massive Buc-Ee’s, that’s how!

We were pretty tired of Buc-Ee’s sandwiches, but salad is always a good choice, so we gassed up Fati, grabbed two Cobb Salads, sat in the parking lot for a very long time (with a couple dozen other RVers), and on the way out we took a photo of Buc-Ee’s “No (trucks)” signs we’d seen when we stopped on our way to Tallahassee ahead of the storm. At that time, there were about 20 signs crammed into a long row just outside the parking lot, which read like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no……” and made us laugh. Some of them got knocked down in the wind, so the joke wasn’t quite as funny anymore.

This was not for our salads and tea. It’s for 3/4 of a tank of gas.

Imagine 20 of these, just a foot or two apart. Is it just us, or is that funny?

Over the course of the week, we took several drives along the Gulf and its bays, taking in the magnificent (expensive) homes between Point Clear and Daphne, and Fairhope’s lovely little downtown. One of the stoppers for us is the hurricane risk. And that’s a big stopper, right up there with snow. And dust storms.

Our campground was south of Mobile, but we took a drive to the city and were surprised, once again, by the giant houses, many of which were just a street or two away from very modest homes. There is a lot to like about Mobile. Pretty parks, lots of history, and an interesting downtown with lots of personality. If Savannah and New Orleans had a baby, it would be Mobile.

We felt pretty special when we came upon a park that had just that very day re-started its fountain after a long refurbishment. A couple of representatives were walking around asking people how they liked it, so we assured them it was a mighty fine fountain indeed.

We grabbed lunch from an Irish pub that had come highly recommended, and laid our tablecloth down on a grubby bench (the only seating in an otherwise beautiful park) for a picnic. Here is my “social media” face from our al fresco lunch.

This is how I really felt about that bench.

This is Simon eating a Shrimp Po’Boy that’s as big as his head (yes, he ate it all).

And this is a Live Oak in the park that waves its hands in the air like it just don’t care, but is also so old it has to balance itself a bit by holding on to the sidewalk.

At the risk of sounding like we’re on some cemetery kick lately, we did visit the Confederate Rest Cemetery for its historical value. It is unquestionably right and fitting to remember your glorious dead (each one of them some mother’s son), and to keep their sacrifice in mind, and the cemetery certainly does that.

We did stare in mild disbelief as we read the monument put up by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which reads:

Forever now, among the immortal dead, whose dust belongs to glory’s dreamland, sleeps the fair Confederacy. Right principles can never die. No cause for which the brave have bled in virtue’s name, for which the true have kept the faith, for which the dead have died in holy martyrdom, was ever lost.

Ummm….so much to unpack about that, isn’t there, starting with exactly what those “right principles” were all about.

On the back, it reads:

Furled in our conquered banner, but its folds, rich in immortal memories, bore no stain save the blood of her matchless heroes.

The monument went up in 1941. 1941! We have big feelings about that, but will leave you to your conclusions.

We’d been passing billboards for Lambert’s Cafe – and the actual restaurant itself – a few times, and decided to drop by to see what all the “throwed rolls” fuss was about. And yes, indeed, they do throw hot rolls at diners. Want one? Just put your hand up when the roll guy (or gal) comes by, and he (or she, or they) will whip one at you. Brilliant!

Hot rolls! Who wants hot rolls!

The area’s best attraction, however, was our campground. Gulf State Park is ginormous. Its hugeness is part of its charm, though, because it offers the largest amount of space between sites that we have seen on this trip. And, like Biloxi Bay, it feels like traditional camping, with pine trees, 28 miles of well-used walking and biking trails, and campfires around us each night. We could get used to this!

There are also a lot of activities, making it feel resort-like rather than just a campground. Simon loves live music, and one of the events was a free outdoor concert, so we packed up our chairs, poured a couple of G&Ts into our travel mugs, loaded up Ruthie, and spent a thoroughly enjoyable hour listening to a musician who plays Gordon Lightfoot music, having been a good friend of that artist. He also told us the real stories behind each of Lightfoot’s songs, many of them quite heart-wrenching. There may also have been tears when he sang Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a tragedy that happened in Susan’s home state of Michigan.

We had to move sites part-way through our visit, but the 50 yards it took to get to the second site was child’s play. Yes, we had to pack up the rig as we normally would (with a few exceptions, like not putting away our stuff in the bathroom, and bringing Starlink into the kitchen area rather than boxing it up), but we had a corner lot, which meant even more privacy, and also a view of the main road through the campground, which allowed for exceptional rig-watching.

Our second site. Look at all that room!

Now that we’re in the final month of our Grand Adventure, we’re doing a lot of rig-watching. We’re ready to stop for a while, but not ready to stop forever, so we’re eying smaller rigs we could be comfortable in for a few months at a time. We’re not sure we’re ready to trade in Fati yet, though. Decisions, decisions!