Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012-7 Destin Florida To Mobile Alabama

Destin/Miramar Florida
Mobile/ Theodore Alabama

Mobile Alabama

Campground:  Johnny's RV Resort, 6171 Hwy 90, Theodore Alabama, 36582 Local: (251) 653-7120, PA rate: $17.50, Normal Price: $35.00. Full hookups/ w about 100 cable tv channels. Sites are gravel with grass and large shade trees throughout.  On site log cabin restaurant (very good).  Train noise across from the small pond, but no train whistle.

Destin/Miramar Florida

While spending the week in the Destin area I’ve been learning more about the area.  One couple has spent two winters in the area, this past winter from Sept till March.  They tell me they really didn’t like the cold winters here and that the heavy fog that can last for days at a time in the area is quite depressing.  Had no idea they got fog like that along the Gulf Coast.  On my last day in the area, I got a chance to experience that fog.  I mentioned in the last report that the traffic is quite heavy in the area.  Not something I’d care to be around for any length of time.  The only beach parking in the area is street parking and a few small beach parking lots that hold approx 10 cars.  If you don’t get up early, you probably won’t get a spot.  One of the reasons the area is so much more congested than say 4 years ago, is that the city/county approved short term leasing of all homes/apartments and condos.  So now every room is practically available for all those vacationers and spring breakers.

However, with a bit of exploring, I’ve discovered not only Henderson Beach State park but also part of the National seashore or possibly what is part of the Eglin Air force base where one can enjoy the beaches in a much less crowded and more natural setting.  With the congested condos and high-rise apartments off in the distance instead of right on top of you.

Air force planes have been fly over on a regular basis.  Usually two in formation at a time.  Fighter jets, large dark green helicopters and a few of those hybrid types that fly like a plane and then the blades rotate so the plane can land like a helicopter.  The helicopters were really flying close to each other and also appeared from my vantage point to come in close to all those tall condos by the sea.  Quite an impressive show for all those beach goers.

The Destin/Miramar area is all new construction.  No history here. New Condos, new stores and outlet malls, big oversized buildings with neo-classical designs.  Lots of Pillars, arches and if there is any land around the buildings, it’s heavily landscaped.  Every bush and shrub is immaculately trimmed to geometric shapes as sharp as a razor.  The grass is trimmed to an inch of its life.  And of course all of this has been built so people can come to the beach and lay on the sugar white sand, soak up the sun and splash in the emerald green waters. And yes, the water is emerald green eventually going to shades of deeper blues the further out one goes.

Theodore Al (Mobile Alabama)

$9.00 Toll over bridge.  Surprise, there was a toll going over the 293 causeway heading out of the Destin area.  But it saved me tons of stop and go driving along the 98 beach corridor.  143 miles down the road and I’m at my next stop in Alabama just outside of Mobile.  Hoping to do a bit of touring of course, but I’ll relax after my two and a half hour drive.   Whew… don’t rush me.

Bellingrath Alabama

My first stop outside Mobile Al area was to the Bellingrath home and gardens.  Walter Bellingrath was a workaholic and his Dr prescribed more relaxation and a slower pace.  The gardens were created first then the home came later.  It was originally a fish camp retreat for the owners.  Our tour guide is related to the that Dr. as well as the designer of the homes interiors so we were able to get some behind the scenes stories about the home and it’s creation.  The home was featured on the PBS special, Americas Castles.  Our guide told us no photography is allowed since Alabama enacted a bill that prevents photos to be taken of significant places throughout the state after the 9/11 attack.  Hmmm.

Bellingrath Gardens

The Bellingrath home has been exceptionally maintained with all the original furnishings.  Perhaps a bit much since the owners would not have used half of the furnishings currently on display nor would they have displayed all their do-dads all at once.  Many of the items would have been stored in the basement and rotated throughout the year.  Many sets of dishes and other household items were purchased from locals in need of extra money to get by after the great depression.  Sometimes they would hear of a neighbor in need of money and would go and purchase an item from them but never go back to pick it up.

The gardens are exceptional in that there are many water features, fountains, pools and streams.  All created from many artesian springs throughout the property.  A great day and a great way to get a bit of exercise walking around the many acres of property and gardens.

The next day found me in downtown Mobile the hometown of Jimmy Buffet.  It’s a city on a comeback from the 60’s when everyone had abandoned the downtown area like so many other cities across the country.  After demolishing dozens of blocks of old run down buildings, the city is coming back.  I visited the Mobile History Museum where they had an exhibit on  gadgets and things.  Pretty cool, just wish they had more audio segments throughout.  Even though Mobile experienced desegregation to a degree in the 60’s it still felt the effects of segregation into the 1970’s and I’m sure it’s still pretty fresh in the minds of many of the local residences.  And even up until 1980 when the Ku-Klux-Klan lynched a black man.  Sometimes you can’t pretty-fy history.  It is what it is and we should learn from it.

After touring the museum I came across a Red Cross sponsored Gumbo cook-off.  It was being held in a downtown park and for $12 I was able to sample dozens of gumbo recipes and listen to a pretty good black musician play guitar and sing.  Wow, lots of good samples, southern ice-tea and even bankers tea, some popcorn to cleanse the pallet between tastings sure made for a fun afternoon.

and tons more pictures on PICASA.


Writers on the Road said...

Hi Doug
Mike and Cyndy here from 'TPR.' We have been to Bellingrath Gardens in the past but didn't have time this year so we greatly enjoyed your story and pictures. Keep enjoying your travels as you are one Happy Camper for sure.

Douglas Palosaari said...

thanks for posting a comment, enjoyed our stay at TPR but love being on the road