We left Vicksburg heading for Orange Beach, Alabama. Orange Beach is just to the east of Gulf Shores, probably a more well known name. Both are on the east side of Mobile Bay on the gulf coast. Pensacola, Florida is about 40 miles to the east. In between are a lot of condos and beaches.
Gulf State Park.
We have been trying to get reservations at Gulf State Park for several years but it always seems when we check there is nothing more than just a few days or maybe a week at a time. It is surprising since it has a campground with 500 full hookup sites. Maybe that was why … it is a popular winter destination. So while in Orange Beach we went to the park headquarters to find out what the secret was. Call on November 1. Last year on November 1, 2019 reservations opened for November 1, 2021 through April 30, 2021. The gal at the desk said it was all booked in just a day or two.
We rode bikes in the park on every nice day and the camp sites were quite nice. Many were large with big grassy areas and trees were all over. 50 amp electric, good park wifi, water and waste hookups at every site.
Maybe 2022 will be our year.
Pandion Ridge RV Resort.
Pandion Ridge RV Resort is just to the north of Gulf State Park. They share a common property line. One of the popular bike/hike trails in the park cuts across the corner of the Pandion property. Our friend Rudy Legett has been here with the Prevost Community for an UnRally and with his friends from the Newell Gurus. Rudy reported that it was a nice park so we signed up for a month. If you sign up for three months it is less per month than for just a single month but it is a new place to us. Testing the water.
It has about 150 sites, each 45 ft wide by at least 100 ft deep. We were in a pull-in corner site along a row of big pine trees that was wider and maybe 125ft deep. Another 20 ft to the trees made it feel very roomy and private. The concrete driveways were wide enough for two cars and there was a generous patio area with a picnic table. There are two swimming pools, a big hot tub, two laundries, two common area gas fire pits, golf carts to rent, two pickle ball courts, two dog runs, two horse shoe pits and a nice sand volley ball court.
Pickle ball seems popular, sort of tennis on a smaller court with paddles and a whiffle ball. So it all goes a bit slower. Lots of pairs of couples playing. You can check out the necessary equipment to play or it looked like many had their own toys.
One of the pools was adult only and at a therapeutic warm temp. It was 4 ft deep, just right for short laps or as we saw many just walking laps back and forth. It looked very familiar. I did that for a few months after back surgery before starting to swim laps at the YMCA in Hastings where the water was in the low 80’s.
We signed up for Feb and got a bonus day. It is Leap Year. Feb 1 to March 1. The price does not include electricity so they charge you for how much you use. When you include that it is just slightly more than the state park.
Almost every morning we walked around the park down every road and one complete loop was just under 1.8 miles. Most of the time we did a few extra roads in the section to get to two miles. If we rode our bikes around the park there was an extra section we did and 2 complete laps was 4 miles, often we did 6 miles and never left the park.
We often rode to the end of the resort and through the woods, across a raised wooden boardwalk that crosses a marsh area and along another trail through the woods to the paved trail in Gulf State Park. One way went around a few lakes, the campground, some marshes, a fishing area, the park store and laundry, the park headquarters, a restaurant and connected to pedestrian/bicycle bridges across the coastal road to the beach. The other way was more remote but went by the community ball fields, a butterfly house, more rustic hiking trails. Either way looped around to cross park trail and back to near where we started.
Either way was almost 12 miles. If we rode through the park campground, which we did more than once, looking for perfect spots it could be longer.
So in a month we probably rode close to 50 miles and walked 40 miles. Susan is my fact checker on this and she agrees this is about right.
Gulf Shores, Orange Beach.
These are side by side communities sharing a very long white sand beach. Gulf State Park along the beach front interrupts the string of beach front condos. At the west end of the long skinny island is Fort Morgan, a military fort dating back to the Civil War. There is a ferry across the opening to Mobile Bay to Dauphine Island. From there a causeway connects to the west side of Mobile Bay.
Heading east the highway follows the coast line and the endless condos towards Florida and Pensacola.
Pandion Ridge is on Canal Road which follows the intracoastal waterway. There were often large tow boats and barges moving one way or the other along the intracoastal waterway from Mobile Bay heading east. Downtown Orange Beach is east on Canal Rd from Pandion Ridge. There is a big shopping center and the old down town which is not at the beach.
Heading west on Canal Road led to connectors to the State Park, Fort Morgan (20 miles away) and the beach. There was plenty of free, easy parking right at the beach. With people watching, sitting in the sun and walking right there. There was a huge beach volleyball tournament one day. There was always wind and kites flying. Some days it was windy enough for the kite surfers. Something to see and do every day.
Some folks I know from Habitat back home have been coming down here in the winter for 20 years. It took a bit to connect with them but we did and we joined Bob and Kathy Hamer for lunch at the Sea N Suds. This is right on the beach, further out towards the water than the condos. It has been a family owned local spot since 1975. Nothing fancy, not real expensive but really good food.
More to come. Much love,
Roger and Susan