We have been to Orange Beach and the Gulf Shores area before and keep coming back. We have reservations for next year as well. The following link will show other posts from Orange Beach.
We ask ourselves why and the answer is pretty simple. 1) The weather is much better than at home in Minnesota. 2) The Sun Outdoors Orange Beach RV Park is nice and we like the row against the tall pines. When you stay here for 90 days or more there is no state or city lodging or hospitality taxes. That saves about 16% or so. And the long-term stay discounts are almost 60% off the normal daily rates. 3) The RV park is adjacent to Gulf State Park and has direct bicycle trail links to the State Park’s paved bike trail system. This gives us easy access to about 40 miles of trails in the park and to the trails in Gulf Shores which lead to the beachfront park.
And the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area is on the gulf side of the Inter-Coastal Waterway making it an island. Gulf Shores bill itself as a “Small Town, Big Beaches”. There is more of each city on the mainland too but it is the small-town aspect of this area that we like. Everyday life on an island means everything you need is close by, ten minutes at most. That part of life here really appeals to us.
Maggie’s First Bike Ride
We brought along a basket that attaches to the rack on the back of the bike. It is about 14” square when opened up and folds flat when not in use.
We put a towel in it and loaded Maggie in it with a tie-down to make sure she didn’t jump out and tried it out in the RV park. It took a few trial runs for her to figure it out. She was close enough that I could reach back with a treat when needed. And we needed to understand her new signals that she wanted to stop for a potty break.
It didn’t take long before she was good at riding. She would stand up in the box on her hind legs and put her front paws on my shoulders and let her ears flap away.
We rode all over the State Park this way. Lots of people would comment that it was cute. We did discover that if Susan rode in front of us Maggie would start whining. If Susan was behind us it was fine. Maybe she wanted to be in the lead or if she saw Susan ahead she thought we were being left behind.
Even if Maggie was just going for a ride she seemed to get very tired. There was always time for a nap. It is interesting to note her color at this point. Much darker than it becomes later.
Maggie was growing quickly. The picture above shows just how much in only a month since she came to us.
A Day at Dauphin Island
One of the things we wanted to do while we were in Alabama this winter was to take the ferry to Dauphin Island and explore a bit. There are two RV parks there that we wanted to look at. And it turns out that the beaches on Dauphin Island are dog friendly.
The ferry across Mobile Bay leaves from Fort Morgan on the far west end of the island. It is 31 miles from Gulf Shores. There really is a Fort there that dates back to the 1830s.
The Ferry docks are right next to the Fort. We paid for our tickets and got in line.
It didn’t take long and the ferry was coming into the docks. It goes either way, loads, and unloads from either end.
Maggie has graduated from her box in the back seat to just the back seat. She has her own seat belt and usually just sleeps while we are driving.
It was a nice sunny day, the bay was calm. There is ship traffic and oil drilling rigs in the bay.
The ferry ride is about 45 minutes and arrives at the east end of Dauphin Island. Fort Gaines is also at the end of the island. Together with Fort Morgan, the two forts protected the opening to Mobile Bay.
We followed the road around the east end past Fort Gaines to a big beach. We wanted to give Maggie a chance to run.
It was a big beach, with lots of white sand and we were by ourselves so Maggie got to run off-leash and dig holes in the sand, and just play in the sun.
There were two RV parks to check out, one was a pretty full city park. Narrow winding roads connected the close-together sites. Most of the RVs that were there were trailers or fifth wheels. Just a couple of motor homes, maybe one that was 40 ft. Parking for tow vehicles was limited. Probably not a place we would stay at for a couple of months, maybe for a week or so.
The other was a park behind a small convenience store across the street from a beach. It had about 10 spots in the rear parking lot. Ugh.
We went to the Pirate’s Cove Bar and Grill for lunch, a place that said it was dog friendly. There was a line and the person taking names said that the outdoor patio was wet from the rain the night before and they weren’t seating anyone out there. Bummer.
So our next choice was Miguel’s Beach’n Baja, a take-out Southern Mexican place. The food was great, the outdoor picnic tables were dog friendly, and the owner had diet cherry Coke. Something we have never seen before or since. It was good, sort of like a diet Dr Pepper.
Lunch in the sun at a picnic table with Maggie was perfect.
You can drive from one end of Dauphin Island to the other in about 15 minutes. We talked to a couple on the ferry who had left their car at Fort Morgan and brought their bikes to ride around the island. Their fare was about 1/4 of the price for a car and 2 passengers.
The main road runs east and west, much of it is a divided boulevard. A north-south road heads north to a causeway over part of the bay to the mainland.
I was last here on Dauphin Island in 2010 while working on Habitat Homes on the west side of Mobile Bay after Hurricane Katrina. On the weekend, we drove down to Dauphin Island for the Mardi Gras Parade. It went down the main east-west boulevard and it was pouring rain, a hard rain. It stopped nothing, the route was lined with people on both sides of the road, and most were wearing garbage bags with appropriate holes for heads and arms that were handed out by the parade organizers. The parade went on, baubles and beads were tossed, and moon pies bounced across the pavement for anyone brave enough to eat them. The time before that was in 1976 when Susan and I ended up here at a campground on part of the island that is long gone from later hurricanes. It was our first RV trip together. And we are still doing it together.
There is a nice dog park in Orange Beach. We went there a couple of times every week with Maggie. Just like at the beach, she gets to run, chase the ball, and dig holes. Sometimes there are other small dogs there to play with as well.
A Day at the Beach
We liked going to the beach but they are off-limits to pets. But the lawn areas along the beach sidewalks are not. We visited the lawn several times, often bringing lunch.
Goldendoodles have hair that grows and needs to be trimmed regularly. Maggie has a wavy coat that is not as tightly curled as a curly coat. It is easier to brush and can be trimmed a little less frequently. It was time for Maggie’s first trim. It would still be a puppy cut with the teddy bear look, just shorter.
She got a bath, a trim, and some cute bows.
A New Biking Experience
Maggie is getting bigger, she doesn’t fit so well in the box on the back of the bike. So we got a dog cart for her.
We started with several rides around the park to get her used to it. She did pretty well. At first, she didn’t like being further away from us, the cart fits on both of our bikes and just like with the box, she didn’t like it if the other person was in front. We got in a lot of miles with Maggie in the cart. We rode to a nice dog-friendly restaurant in the State Park for a late breakfast one day. We brought Maggie’s breakfast with us. She is curious and wants to check everything out but minds her manners when we are out with her.
There is lots more to come, it seems like it is all about Maggie and it is. We knew we were taking on a big task, a growing puppy traveling in our motorhome. It was all new for all of us.
More Later, Much Love.
Roger and Susan and Maggie