Thursday, 6 April 2017

Everything Old is New Again

 

When our service at Gaffney was complete by noon we decided to get on the road and head south towards our Georgia campground.  Our drive through South Carolina’s countryside, passing many small lakes, cabins and trees in Spring bud made us reminisce about canoeing and cottaging in Ontario.

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No helmet laws here!

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The inevitable rows of billboards; how is on supposed to watch the road?

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We knew we would be hitting Atlanta, one of America’s busiest transport centres, around rush hour.  We were determined to push through it anyway.  Of course there was a huge accident on the main highway into the city so the bypass  we were on was full to the max and more.  We assumed the yoga position, hummed ‘Ohm’ and crawled along for over an hour. 

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Just after sundown we pulled in to a Welcome Centre for the night that was recommended in our Allstays App.  Although there was a transport truck parked there and some folks inside the centre said that ‘people stay there all the time’, there were signs posted for No Overnight Parking.  We were really tired and did not relish a wake up call with police knocking at our door at two am so summoned our last bit of energy and drove to a nearby Walmart.  We found a quiet lot beside a field and had a great night’s sleep.   In the morning we stocked up on groceries and beverages and headed out to begin our vacation.

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Awwww, this is the way we like our roads for travel.

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The Pecan orchards will soon be in full bloom.

 

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The earth is very red to orange in the south.

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Farmers never sleep.

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Spring seedlings growing under plastic.

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Spring blossoms were plentiful in the towns close to Eastbank Campground.  The weather was so warm when we arrived that we sat outside enjoying the view of Lake Seminole, ate dinner at the picnic table and stayed out to watch the moon rise.  We spent three lazy days there, hiking, and biking.  There are advantages in being somewhere a second time, knowing the trails, the best spots to camp and places to visit.  Spring was more advanced than during our last visit, trees were more lush, different wild flowers were in bloom and of course there were different folks and their dogs to watch.

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Jim Woodruff Dam

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Cormorants explore the concept of symmetry.

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Our campround is in Georgia, the Dam (on the other side of the sign) is in Florida.

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Catch of a local fisher family caught in Lake Seminole.

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Winner of the smallest trailer at the park award.

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Knowing that we could not check in to Gulf Shore State Park until 2:00 pm., we had a leisurely start to our day, leaving Eastbank for a relaxing three hour drive through Florida into Alabama.  Once again, we were returning to a place we had stayed last year but with different weather and in a campsite that was more private and wild so our experiences were all fresh. 

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A pair of Mockingbirds serenaded us daily as they collected twigs for the nest they were building.

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A Blue Heron regularly hunted in our “backyard”.

Late afternoon one day we experienced high winds and major thunderstorms.  We were lucky though as to our north, a few tornadoes touched down.  The sun came out after and set as if nothing had happened.

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We often saw interesting aircraft fly by with Pensacola Airbase nearby.

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This was the saddest looking trailer we have seen in a park on our travels.

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Another sunset at Gulf Shores.

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Regular readers will remember the beautiful beach beside Gulf Shores State Park and this time we observed the “March Breakers”.  One cold day while we wore three layers, young people waded in the waves and sunbathed, determined to get their vacation’s worth of rays.  Luckily there was a stretch of beach that was farther from the resorts for us to enjoy in peace.  The weather warmed up and we enjoyed Orange Beach, Gulf of Mexico at different times of day, some with soothing waves listing in and other times violent waves pounding the shoreThe soft powered sand, shells, dolphins and shore birds are alluring.  The local Pier was a favourite for fisherfolk, site seers and pelicans.

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They are such posers!

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We watched this pelican struggle for a long time to swallow the large fish proving that its beak can hold more than its belly can!

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Always something happening at the beach!

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Churned up seas followed the storm.

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Gull’s lunch fights back.

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Beach conditions fair today (yellow). Not sure condition of America!?!

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St.Patrick’s Day beach wedding.

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Last year we put many miles on the bike trails and this past year, Gulf Shores has doubled the number of their trails.  We rode past the marshes, through the treed parks, beside the grasslands and to and from the beach.  Amazing!  Always saw birds, small lizards and often visited the Mama Alligator who had six babies and the larger alligator in another pond plus many turtles and a couple of Gopher Tortoises.  Chris saw an Otter run across the path, lucky him!  One overcast day we rode to the beach through a new housing development whose colourful homes splashed some cheer into the pale grey skies.  The trails are well used by walkers, runners and bikers at all hours o the day.

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Selfie.

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Belted Kingfisher

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Mumma with babies top right corner.

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With the sea so close, we had to eat our share of fresh fish and shrimp.  We dined out a few times and Chris created an amazing Jambalaya at home using Shrimp, Scallops and Cobia that we picked up at the local fish market. 

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Chris was able to set up his portable Ham radio and make a few local and trans world contacts.  We were lucky to snag a second week at Gulf Shores just two sites down from our first so we ended up staying and enjoying the park for seventeen days.

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One day we drove to Pensacola, Florida to the National Naval Aviation Museum.  I visited there a few years back when Chris’s back pain left him too sore for such adventure.  We had a marvelous tour of the great facility!

As well as wandering about the planes, we experienced the Aircraft Carrier Simulation.  Participants watch planes and helicopters take off and land; fold up their wings and park on the deck of the carrier.  Vibrating seats, high winds and loud engine noises really make the experience real.

We also saw a class of young women and men who were assembling for their “Get their Wings” ceremony beneath the Blue Angel display.  The museum covers the history of flight, development of various planes and restoration of historic aircraft with an emphasis on signature events of American Aviation, Space and Naval history.

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To look at some aircraft, one wonders how they get off the ground let alone fly about.

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You are not only allowed to but are encouraged to touch the planes.

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It was really cool to see a couple of airships at the museum.

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The docent above explained that this plane had actually been at Pearl Harbour.

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Congratulations to the grads!

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Many scale models of famous aircraft carriers  have been crafted by enthusiasts with lots of patience.

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I am always drawn to the old gauges and controls.

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The gallery level allows guests to view aircraft from above and head on.

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Hangar Bay One is another mammoth building featuring the Apollo Space Exhibit, a Women in Navel Aviation display, Vietnam POW exhibit, a Navel Aviation display featuring the Gulf War and many more helicopters and aircraft.

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Artwork shows in the posters, commemorative portraits and sculptures all around the museum.

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The pennant stretches throughout the hangar.one foot in length for everyone on board.

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What a fabulous visit to a great museum!  There is no entrance fee charged but donations are appreciated.  Veterans and members help maintain the space and its artefacts and lead guided tours.   Thanks!

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