Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Alabama Coast

I headed into Mobile, Alabama ... the big boats, sky scrapers, and battleship tried to woo me but the water lapping at the stop sign at the bottom of the exit ramp keep me moving.  Next time.   I headed to Gulf Shores to see if I could connect with road buddies I hadn't seen for a while.  We did at Gulf State Park where they were spending their second winter.  

Gulf State park is a big park, has a campground, 2 lakes, golf course, many walking and biking trails and multiple places to access the beautiful white sand beach.  It has been rebuilt since being hit by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  Many of the park and area trees have been wiped out.  It is still a neat place.

I had considered staying at Dauphin Island Campground to have easy access to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary adjacent to it before catching up with my friends but had skipped it.  Dauphin Island is one island to the east of Gulf Shores.  I still wanted to check out the Sanctuary so I caught the Mobile Bay Ferry between Fort Morgan and the island.  This is about a 40 minute ride across Mobile Bay.  (You can take RV's on the ferry.)  I chose the cheap route ($5 rt) and walked on with my bike.   I saw lots of sea birds, lots of oil rigs and lots of interesting people on the ferry.  I took a chance and approached a couple with safari hats, cargo pants and binoculars also on bikes hoping they might be birders.  My hunch bore out and I scored up to date info on what birds were where on the island.  I headed to Shell Mounds instead of the sanctuary and saw some good birds and made some new friends.  I toured the Campground before heading back and decided I had made a good choice on my campground at the State park.  

Gulf Shores is a tourist area.  It has high rise hotels along the beach, all the restaurants and souvenir shops you find at any other beautiful beach.  The State Park offers some buffer from this but you an see the high rise hotels from the Park.  Still at night the park was quiet with a chorus of frogs singing their hearts out.  The people I met here where extremely friendly.  I was on the move again after three sleeps, but could have easily stayed a month and not been bored.  There is plenty that I did not do or see here this trip. There were several birding sites on Dauphin, between Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores and between Gulf Shores and the Florida line that I did not get to.  I do hope to return.

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