Cruisin’ the South

So we wanted to tour the Tiffin Motorhome factory in Red Bay, Alabama. Upon going “off duty” for the last time at Rock Island, we punched south into Alabama and over to Red Bay which is on the Alabama-Mississippi border. We had heard about the Tiffin service center with the full hook-up sites (120 give or take) but when we got there, they were full up.  There was one space remaining at a nearby self-service “overflow” campsite so we jumped all over it.  The tour was interesting to see how RV motorcoaches are made, at least by the Tiffin family. We are still interested in the 40’ Phaetons but will still take our time on making that final “leap” into the motorcoach world.
Trim boards waiting for install

A chassis waiting to be loaded up.
Next stop was another short stop-over at Gunter Hill Campground, a COE campground. Holy cow, this was one of THE most towing friendly RV campgrounds we have been in. The relatively new Catoma loop had fully paved, wide interior roads, all sites were concrete slabs, some of which you could park 5 buses end to end on, and there were many waterfront sites, the campground sitting on what is called the Alabama River Lakes. Very nice campground site-wise, but no store, pool, clubhouse, or other similar amenities. It did have a boat ramp and it definitely had spiders! If I take another mouthful/lungful of spider web, I’m gonna scream! The banana spiders here are HUGE and spin a web seemingly out of steel covering large distances from tree to tree and tree to ground.  We did a couple of days here to burn time until our reservation at our Florida stop.
Home at Gunter Hill COE campground.

Here’s one of our new friends hanging around between the trees.
We moved on to Topsail Preserve State Park near Destin, FL. This was the only State park in the area we could find with spaces available for our stay of 4 days. Reservations are a MUST here at the Florida panhandle at this time of year, since the snowbirders are inbound for their winter stake-outs. The campground is a little tight as far as maneuverability, but the sites are OK.  The beach was about seven tenths of a mile walk or bike ride to, or the campground ran a tram/shuttle every hour on the hour from camp to beach, until 1800 hrs. daily. The beach area was fantastic, not crowded, white sand, but the only drawbacks were the amount of jellyfish the first couple of days, as well as the amount of the small clumps of seaweed floating in the water.  The last couple of days the jellyfish disappeared and the seaweed cleared up.  The water was hotter than bathwater, and the last couple of days got a bit rough for being Gulf of Mexico, due to the hurricanes/storms pounding Mexico. While here we cruised into Destin and checked out the Destin Commons outdoor mall. It is a large shopping mall laid out like a city so you can drive through and around it. We also ate dinner at a restaurant called the Marina Cafe.  Very fancy/swanky restaurant with indoor or outdoor dining overlooking the Gulf and excellent staff and service. For those with a taste for an occasional cocktail, their Bloody Mary’s are very tasty. The food was awesome and plentiful! We also found the Henderson State Park here in Destin. We would recommend Henderson State Park for anyone heading this way, if nothing else the rates were cheaper ($30 night vs. $42 night at Topsail). And Henderson was right on the beach as well.
The white sand beach at Topsail.

C’mon, let’s go swimming!

The sun sets on Destin, FL…
From Topsail, we decided to try a stay at Ft. Pickens State Park on Santa Rosa Island outside of Pensacola, FL. We were having rain/thunder/lightning off and on because of the Mexico storms and it continued as we set up at the Fort, planning to stay for 7 days.  Between storms we went into Pensacola and toured the Pensacola Lighthouse, then the National Aviation Museum.  Very cool sights to see. The beach at Ft. Pickens again was not crowded, but the water was rough, there were tons of large jellyfish and parts and pieces, and it looked like a huge drop-off just off the beach.  We did walk looking for shells and stuff, saw a large turtle, a very large stingray, and many crabs scooting along the ocean floor. The fort had a self-guided tour and was interesting to see.
A couple of the Blue Angels from the top of the light tower.

The Pensacola Lighthouse.

Inside the Nat’l Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

One of the cannons at Ft. Pickens.

Ft. Pickens architects used the arch for added support in the sand.

The beach at Pensacola.

We cut our stay at Ft. Pickens short due to nasty incoming weather and the fort tends to get cut off from the mainland in bad weather, Gulf of Mexico waters coming over the road from one side, Pensacola Bay coming over the other. So we packed up and headed west to the SKP Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama. That is a very nice park with huge sites on grass. The Gulf Shores  was a short drive away with nice beaches and warm water. We got to check out Fair Hope, Foley, and some of the other small town areas. And when in the area, a must stop for breakfast is the Biscuit King. They have the “Ugly Biscuit” which is breakfast all rolled into a large biscuit, mmmm tasty! And for dining on the Fish River, Big Daddy’s is the place to go. The locals here don’t drive well either, cell phones glued to drivers’ ears or up in the texting position, weaving ALL over the place.

Well, time to move, onward and upward…

About rvrrat520

Recreational wanderers just livin' the dream while we can still get vertical.
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