One of our favorite aspects of RV life is the wonderful friends we’ve made already in our first year. We met Lance and Flo Wende this past January at the Xscapers Annual Bash in Lake Havasu, AZ. We followed up the bash with some boondocking down in Quartzsite, and the Wende’s were part of the group of friends we corraled with during the latter part of January. We went our separate ways in February, but we had a chance for an extended stop on our way to Georgia in late March, so we took that opportunity to be neighbors with the Wendes where they were camped in southern Alabama.
This was our first time in the Mobile area, and we were excited to see what the city had to offer. With Mobile being on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, we knew we wanted to enjoy some seafood. There are numerous local seafood establishments to choose from. We enjoyed two waterside meals, one at the Pelican Reef Restaurant in Theodore, AL, and also R and R Seafood in Spanish Fort, AL. We tried many local delicacies including crawfish as well as filling up on some snow crab legs. In addition to getting our seafood fix, we had some great camp site cookouts with the Wendes.
Lance and Flo had been wanting to see the USS Alabama and were kind to wait for our arrival to tour this battleship museum. Scott and I grew up in the Air Force, and we’ve been around planes, flight lines, and air shows all our life, but we never experienced a Navy environment before. The battleship is actually part of the USS Alabama Memorial Park that includes access to the USS Drum submarine, an aicraft pavilion, as well as static displays of tanks and artillery pieces. There is a large gift shop that sells a variety of memorabillia with a snack bar / grill that offers drinks and lunch. Navigating around the ship and park will require a lot of walking and stair climbing. We recommend wearing comfortable shoes and devoting the bulk of your day to this destination. We were so impressed with the USS Alabama and the restoration efforts that have brought to life how our Naval forces lived during their time on the ship. We will definitely be going to see more of these Naval memorials.
After dinner and getting some liquid energy at a local coffee shop, we set out to explore the historic downtown district of Mobile. Our first mission was to find the venue where Kyle from Drivin’ and Vibin’ was playing. We were hoping to hang out for a while to enjoy his performance, but the venue was packed, and there was not even a place to stand and watch him. So, we waved to say Hi and decided to see what other kinds of trouble we could find. Just so happens that it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and not too long after Mardi Gras, so there was plenty of action and interesting activities just walking down the streets. Did you know that Mobile used to be the capital of Louisiana and that the Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile is the oldest in the country? We just may have to make it a point to be there for that event sometime in the future.
On the advice of our friend Donna Clark, from Runaway with the Clarks, we visited the Bellingrath Gardens and Home south of Mobile in Theodore, AL. This is the former home and property of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. The couple made their fortune after buying a Coca Cola distribution franchise in the early 1900s and created the home and gardens out of a love of gardening and antiques. The attraction is now run by a non-profit foundation dedicated to maintaining the property as a memorial to the Bellingraths. The gardens are truly works of art and are spread across over 60 acres. There are distinct areas that showcase various kinds of landscaping designs and all of them are very well groomed. The house is wonderfully maintained with original furnishings and collections of decorative treasures throughout the home. We were fortunate to be there in late March when the spring blooming plants were in full display, and we spent several hours strolling through the grounds and taking in all the beautiful settings. There’s a fine gift shop and a cafe that serves lunch. Of course, there is a lot of walking involved in seeing an attraction like this, and we recommend bringing some water with you as you wander the property since it’s a long way back to the cafe.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring the Mobile area with Lance and Flo. It’s so much fun to discover new places with friends and make shared memories. We’re already planning to spend time with them again this winter in Florida and the Southwest. Can’t wait :-).