Working our way to and through Florida’s Panhandle: Feb 5-17, 2018

We began our 2018 winter road trip Feb. 5th. We departed early in the morning from Atlanta and headed towards Red Bay, AL for annual service work on the RV.  We were in and out of Red Bay within 2 days.

Our first vacation destination was Mobile, Alabama. Neither of us had ever visited the area. We were lucky to find an available spot at an RV park, as it was Mardi Gras time in the area and all parks were full. We stayed at the “all about relaxing” RV park on the west side of the city, in a rural area. The park is small, but very quiet and clean with a friendly staff. When we checked in we were given a small jar of local specialty jam. From the park it was only a 20 minute drive to downtown Mobile. We would highly recommend this park if you are in the area.

We had only one day to spend in Mobile so we made the most of it. We started with a tour of the USS Alabama Memorial Park. The park offers self-guided tours of a submarine, a battleship and an airplane museum. We spent a few hours there and enjoyed it very much. It was a little chilly in the morning, low 40s, but warmed up nicely to the low 60s by early afternoon.

Pics from the Aviation Pavilion:

Pics from the Battleship:

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Pics from the Drum Submarine:

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In the afternoon we grabbed lunch at a boutique restaurant called ‘Spot of Tea’. Charlie enjoyed crab cake eggs Benedict, while I enjoyed a salad.

Following lunch we took a scenic drive through Daphne and Fairhope, before returning to the RV. All in all, we enjoyed our visit in the Mobile area.

A Pelican hanging out in Fairhope:

Our next stop was at the Bella Terra Motorcoach Resort in Gulf Shores, AL for one night. We found Bella Terra located a little farther from the coast then we would have liked, but the resort was nice. After getting settled in we headed out for lunch. I was thrilled to find that there is an Acme restaurant in Gulf Shores. I have fond memories of falling in love with their baked oysters in New Orleans.

After enjoying some oysters we took a drive through the Gulf Shores State Park. We were amazed to find that they have 450 camping sites. It is located right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, and includes a boardwalk over the main road to get to it. We would have loved to stay there, but every site was booked through March. If you ever think about staying at this park you need to consider booking a year in advance.

The Pensacola Naval Museum was on the way to our next destination so we decided to stop there, with the RV towing the Jeep. We had confirmed that there was a parking lot large enough to accommodate our rig. However, we missed the appropriate turn for the gate entrance to the museum and ended up going to the Naval Base main entrance. There was no way we could turn the RV around before going through the security gates. Security made us pull over and wait 10 minutes for a police car to lead us back to the exit. After that excitement we decided to park the RV at a nearby Target parking lot and simply take the Jeep to the museum, as you have to go through yet another security entrance. We finally made it to the museum and spent a couple hours there meandering around the planes.

After the museum we continued on our way to Navarre’s Emerald RV Park in Navarre, FL. It was pretty much the only RV park along the panhandle we were able to find a spot at last minute. When we arrived it was pouring down rain. We had been dealing with a ton of rain and cold weather since leaving Atlanta the week prior.

During our time in the panhandle we visited the Air Force Armament Museum. It was very interesting. They have a large variation of armament from the early days of WWI through today. The write-ups and displays throughout the museum were well done and informative.

We also visited ‘The Gulf Islands National Seashore’. It is a short 10-minute drive from the Emerald RV Park. We found the national seashore park to be extremely quiet at this time of the year. We rarely saw a car go by as we drove and walked along the park’s main road. I regretted not having brought our bikes on the trip, as a ride through the park would have been enjoyable.

We discovered, through their blog (https://liferebooted.net/), that fellow RVers, Kat and Mike were staying just east of Destin, at Topsail State Park. We were able to meet up with them for lunch at the Back Porch Restaurant in Destin. Last year, by pure coincidence, we discovered through their blog that they were staying at the Lost Dutchman State Park in Phoenix, AZ while we were there. Turns out, they were our nextdoor neighbors.

The week spent in Florida’s panhandle was very enjoyable. The Emerald RV Park was centrally located in between Destin and Pensacola Beach. The sunsets from the park’s dock were very pretty.

If we returned though we might pick the Santa Rosa RV park, just down the street from Emerald. It has a nicer pool to sit around and larger patios. Another good option is the Pensacola Beach RV Resort. It is on the island, next to Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are a number of waterfront lots facing the inner waterway. It is close to Pensacola and within walking distance to a number of shops and restaurants.

We spotted this unique ‘Martian’ house not too far from the Pensacola Beach RV Park. Pretty crazy:

Our final stop in Florida’s panhandle was in St. Joe, and that was just for lunch. We were working our way to Tallahassee for an overnight stay and visit with friends. The drive along the coast to St. Joe was picture perfect. We drove through numerous quaint beachfront towns. For lunch we ate at Sunset Coastal Grill, along the water in St. Joe. It was fabulous.

We look forward to returning to the area in the future.

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