Orange Beach, AL Early December 2020

I apologize for being tardy getting our blog posts out. I will catch up.

There are lots of routes that go from Maumelle to Orange Beach. If we chose to stay on the interstate highways all the way it is about 850 miles. For us, three days. The more direct way was about 200 miles less and about 60% interstates, and only two days. We chose that route.

East towards Memphis and around the bottom of the metro area then head south towards Jackson, MS. It seemed like a long way around Jackson to get to US95 SE towards Hattiesburg and on to Mobile, AL. We stopped in Magee, MS at a camp Walmart for the night. That left us less than 4 hours the next day. We called ahead to the Walmart to make sure overnight parking was OK and it was. Most (all) of the 24 hr Walmarts are now closed at 10 and some that used to allow overnight parking now do not. Best to call ahead.

They suggested over on the garden side of the parking lot. When we got there there were no other RVs or trucks. By after supper we were surrounded on all four sides by semi trucks, in some directions two deep. Half of them had refrigerated trailers that run (on and off) all night. Several others left their engines or generators running all night. We thought there was no way we were going to get to sleep. I thought of a friend who was an engineer on an ocean going tug hauling barges up the Pacific Coast into the Columbia River. Those engines run all the time. Well, we crawled into bed and were fast asleep in no time. In the morning there was only one truck left, we never heard any leave.

This route takes us to the west of Mobile and then along I10 along the north side of the bay, through a tunnel under a ship channel and on a very long bridge over Mobile Bay. We passed next to the Battleship Alabama. Over the bay and another 20 miles or so and then south on the Baldwin Beach Expressway and then the Foley Beach Expressway. This leads right to the island where Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are located. You have to go over the Inter-coastal Waterway on high bridges to get to the island. The Expressway Bridge has a small toll. The other way has all of the traffic, stoplights and congestion but no toll.

We are staying at Pandion Ridge RV Resort which is about 1/2 mile west of where the expressway bridge reaches the island.

This area suffered from Hurricane Sally which came ashore right here at Orange Beach. And then only a short while later another Hurricane, Zeta, came ashore here as well. Most of the way down the expressway there were damaged buildings and enormous piles of tree remains and building rubble. The closer we got the more damage we saw.

Just across Canal Road from the RV park and out to the Inter-coastal Waterway there is a large area where they are collecting the rubble. Huge long piles of trees. Giant piles of concrete remains. And massive piles of the remains of buildings, fences. roofs and building materials. Huge trucks arrive all day with more rubble and it gets sorted out and put in the proper piles. And at the same time big machines are loading it into other truck to haul it to disposal sites. The tree piles are getting ground up into mountains of mulch.

Behind the rubble piles are rows of large damaged boats, most will be scrapped. And on the waterway, towboats are moving barges full of fuel, propane and riprap, boulders used for erosion control. The boulders are getting off loaded near the waterway on the other side of the piles of rubble. It is a busy place.

Lots of unhappy boat owners.

We got moved from site 19 to site 17, closer to the lake. Some folks whose home had been damaged were in 19 for several months. They expected to be gone but repairs are, well rarely finished on time.

We moved in. Our bike shelter tent gets set up in front of the coach. Very little damage in the park other than a few smaller trees blown over and several street signs that are no longer vertical.

There is a small lake south of us and a area of large long leaf pines in front of us. This site has a driveway that almost 100 ft long. The site is on the corner of the roadway and along the trees it is more than 80 ft wide. Very generous. Warm on the patio side in the sun.

The beach is a 10 minute drive away. The wide flat white sand beach goes both ways for miles.

In the distance over Susan’s shoulder you can see the robust concrete fishing pier at the Gulf State Park. Last year we walked all the way to the end. And then over the summer they did a $25 million dollar restoration. And then in the fall two hurricanes tore out a big section almost to the end.

There are high rise condos east and west of the State Park, most suffered damage, several are still being repaired.

The island we are on goes 28 miles to the west to Fort Morgan at Mobile Bay and the ferry to Dauphin Island. Near the fort end it is just a couple hundred yards wide on either side of the highway. Almost every home out that way is damaged, very few have been fixed. The cost of everything has skyrocketed, materials and supplies are hard to find, repair crews have all they can do at premium rates. The homeowners wait.

So we are settled in, starting to decorate for Christmas.

We are glad that we are not home where we would have been forced to get out the plow to deal with the snow.

So – More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

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