Bear Lake campground was really a very nice place. The sites were spacious and the views were gorgeous. The Blackwater Forest area had an abundance of things to do and see. Having no cellular service is a plus for someone seeking to just relax and unwind. I can see us returning someday to enjoy more of this beautiful area…but for now we must move on.
Westward we traveled to site 45 in the Davis Bayou campground at the Gulf Island National Seashore. We are near Ocean Springs, Mississippi about a twenty minute drive from Biloxi. Our site is on the outside of a loop bordered by a thick growth of trees. The parking pad is paved and fairly level but it was narrow. The ground quickly sloped downhill from the pavement. There was not much level ground to set a chair beside the camper. There was water and electric hookups. We didn’t have the scenic views of the last couple of locations but for eleven dollars a night what else can you ask for.
That evening we walked around the loop stopping to chat with other campers. We met a couple from South Carolina that was on a two week trip. We told them we were on a four month adventure prompting the wife to turn to her husband and say, “That’s what we should be doing”. She said they were retired but her husband took on two part-time jobs so now they don’t have much time to travel. We met another retired couple with a class “A” diesel pusher who were on their way home from a baseball tournament. They said they are part of a group of friends that follow their Auburn Tiger baseball team and have been doing so for years.
In the morning we drove to Mobile, Alabama to visit the USS Alabama. The park is located on Mobile Bay and offers a variety of exhibits. Scattered around the park is interesting military exhibits like tanks and old airplanes. There are covered picnic tables and a long pier. An admission fee is charged for the three main attraction, the USS Alabama, the USS Drum and an aircraft museum. The entrance is through the gift shop where you receive a map for a self guided tour.
Aboard the USS Alabama, we walked the decks and climbed the steep ladders to the different levels. We sat in the gunners seat and tried to imagine what it must have been like to live aboard this ship. We spent several hours on board, much more than we anticipated. I don’t think we missed a thing . We saw the captains quarters, the mess hall, the kitchen, the bakery, the brig, the armory, the laundry, the engine room, and so much more.
We watched a short movie that told the history of the ship. We learned the USS Alabama has the distinction of never having received damage from enemy fire despite being in several important battles and sailing her all the way to Japan in WW2. In the words of one of the veteran sailors interviewed, “They say we were a lucky ship. We weren’t lucky, we were good”.
We ate a picnic lunch at the covered picnic tables. We try to eat a healthy diet, so most of the time grammi packs a lunch so we can avoid fast food. After lunch, we walked out on the pier for a view of the starboard side of the battleship.
Continuing with our on tour was the submarine USS Drum. It was a bit difficult passing through the compartments without hitting your head. Aboard was a man taking questions. I asked if there was a height limit for sailors on submarines. He said there was not and in fact an officer serving aboard the USS Drum during the WW2 was 6’-7” tall. Life aboard a submarine is obviously much different from a battleship. I think it would be tougher living aboard a submarine but regardless it was tough no matter were you served.
The aircraft museum housed many aircraft from WW2 up though more modern day. Grammi and I tried the flight simulator for a training mission. We took off from a carrier, went on a bombing run through a canyon, got involve in a dog fight with an enemy bogie, then landed back on the carrier. If you like being tossed around inside a closed up container while watching a low tech move, this is for you. Otherwise I don’t recommend it and don’t feel it was worth the five dollars per person.
We spent nearly the entire day at the park. We left around 4:00 PM and went to the Ford dealership in Mobile for an oil and filter change and have the fluid levels checked on the truck before heading back to the camper. It was an adventurous day with a lot of walking. So with achy feet I went to bed early.
The next day was Thursday and we spent our time in Ocean Springs. There we visited Shearwater Pottery, then walked along Washington Street stopping in at many of the shops. We found one shop called Love Ivy that grammi just couldn’t pass up. Maybe it has something to do with our granddaughter being named Ivy.
We spent time at a tapas bar using their wifi while enjoying local craft beers and sampling the tapas. We spent most of the afternoon in this cute little town. When we finally walked back to the truck grammi was carrying just one small bag. One thing about shopping while in a camper is you really have to think about what, how big and how much stuff you buy because there just isn’t room to put it. We finished the day by driving into Biloxi to see the light house. The Biloxi Lighthouse built in 1848 still stands today as a landmark.
On Friday morning we just hung out around the Gulf Island National Seashore exploring some of the bayou. We saw a very large alligator in the water near the road. We went to the visitor center and saw the wildlife displays. We talked with the ranger and learned more about the area
In the afternoon we went to the laundromat. It’s a less exciting adventure but a necessity when camping. We just kind of stood looking around when we first walked in. Grammi said that it’s been a long time since she’s been inside a laundromat. It took a little bit to figure out how many quarters each machine took. We took advantage of our time there though. We did research and booked our next four campgrounds.
That evening we went to a triple-A minor league baseball game to watch the home team Biloxi Shuckers take on the Tennessee Smokies. It was an exciting game to watch as the home team came from behind on a three run homer to take the lead and ultimately the win. The fans sitting in the stands went wild and stood on their feet to cheer as the hero trotted around the bases. After the game was a spectacular fireworks display. A high quality show of continuous burst lighting up the night sky with a full palette of colors. I have always enjoyed going to minor league baseball games. The ticket prices are affordable. They are fun and entertaining. The players are talented and play hard as they all have aspirations of playing in the big league. It is my plan to visit more minor league ballparks as we travel.
On Saturday, we drove one hundred miles to New Orleans. Grammi and I have never been to New Orleans before and grammi had her heart set on visiting the French Quarters. “We can’t come this close and not go,” she said. So we got up early to have a breakfast of beignets and coffee at the famous Cafe du Monde.
We walked along the bank of the Mississippi River, strolled through Jackson Square with local artist displaying their work, visited the St Louis Cathedral, rode a streetcar through the Garden District, and walked on Bourbon Street. We ate lunch at the Gumbo Shop and had a drink while listening to a jazz trio at Music Park. As evening grew near we started to see some interesting people appear. Thinking this was our cue to go back to the camper we headed for the truck.
Tomorrow is a travel day. We should have made more time for this area. We could have spent a couple more days in New Orleans. We didn’t go to any of the casinos in Biloxi that I’d hope to see. However, it was a good first visit and we plan on returning to the area soon for more adventure.