By Wednesday we had almost made it to Alabama, but found ourselves a nice cozy Walmart to settle in for the night near Perdido Key where we had spent the day at the state park. The park provided a nice span of undeveloped beach front. Not a resort for a mile in either direction! Before crawling into bed Danielle was browsing through emails and found this:
“hey, I just saw you guys pull up to the walmart here in Pensacola. I couldn’t believe my eyes because we saw you parked in front of sunset isles in cedar key a week ago when we stayed there for a couple of nights. And just the other day, we saw you drove by seaside, fl as we were walking around town. We are in the Airstream on the other side of the gas station at the same walmart.
Of course we replied and arranged a rendevous in the morning before we went on our way.
In the morning we met as planned for a good ol yarn! Dan and Marlene have been on the road full-time with their three children (between 6 yrs and 8 months old) for 6 months now and have done shorter journeys previously. This is an amazing thing for a young family to be doing, and what an experience to have when you’re so young! We thought we were among the youngest on the road but it appears not. We had a great chat with them that morning. They are awesome people and we’d hoped to meet up them along the way again… little did we know how soon it would be.
We parted ways, them going to catch the ferry across Mobile Bay on the coast and us taking the bridge to Mobile. We bid farewell to Florida that day. It was the longest stay in a State we’ve had and we feel we really got to know it from top to bottom, the good and the bad, for better or for worse… the truth is that we loved it mostly. We decided to get a spot at the Maeaher State Park ($10.60 a night!) just across the bay from Mobile and get some showers before the weekend. On route to the State park, driving down… some road, there was a huge, gigantic sign reading “The Boot Store”. This is normally where Drew would holler “Blinders!” and Danielle would cover her eyes, but this one couldn’t be resisted. The next thing you know the wild rovers are shopping for cowboy boots… well, window shopping.
Not long after the boot pit stop we arrived at the Maeaher State Park, and you’ll never guess who showed up while we were backing into the campsite, the MaliMish Airstream! Apparently the ferry they were taking won’t allow RV’s on board, and they were forced to take the next closest route across the bay. As fate would have it, this was the same route we were taking. We were unaware at the time, but they were actually in line behind us as we were checking into the state park. Later that evening we made a campfire from some rare firewood we scavenged and invited our new friends over to roast some marsh mellows, and hot dogs, and of course there was beer. It’s no surprise that Danielle was instantly befriended by Ava and Mila (a way with children, she has). We continued our chats from that morning which ran on into the evening. It was awesome to hang out with those guys, and by the way things seem to go, we might just cross paths again! Check out their travel blog http://www.malimish.com.
Friday morning we left for Mobile, and our first Mardi Gras experience. That afternoon in a Starbucks, while fighting with our dying computer we overhear, “Sooo what does Mardi Gras even mean?? I studied French, like, forever but I don’t even know how to translate that!” We had a laugh and forgot about our computer problems for a second.
The first parade was at 6:30pm and we went in early to find parking, which we found on Dauphin St. Right in the thick of it! We got some supper at a very unique place called the Bicycle Shop. The Bicycle Shop is a bar/restaurant, with bicycles for sale hanging from the ceiling, and they serve a combination of Mexican and Japanese foods. Yes, interesting, but delicious. Drew finally got the sushi that he had been craving for so long, and it was well worth the wait!
After dinner, we headed over to the parade to get a good spot. There were hundreds of people waiting with their families for it to begin, and we could hardly wait. Looking around, we noticed that all the people around us were carrying giant empty bags to catch goodies thrown from the floats. The parade was incredible. So much work and detail goes into creating the floats, and we were very much impressed. We also caught tons of beads to wear, a plastic cup, and a MOON PIE to share. We had never tried a Moon Pie before, so we were pretty excited, and not let down at all. It was deeelicious.
We had an ingenious plan to try and stay overnight on Dauphin Street in our camper. Since it was Mardi Gras, we felt like we should party like the locals for a bit. So, we enjoyed a few drinks in the camper, with the blinds on the window so it looked like no one was inside. We had a good laugh while people walked by, because we could hear them saying hilarious things about the truck and the camper. The pair received a lot of attention that night.
We ventured out to a bar called Haley’s, which we had heard through the grapevine that a lot of locals go to. It was a hole in the wall bar, stuffed in a corner, and not a lot of people were there. However, we toasted to our first Mardi Gras night with some whiskey shots, and beer. Later on that night, as we headed back to the camper, we met two interesting fellows at a hot dog stand. We were starving, and contemplating buying one, when a guy named Matt called us over and told us he was getting us each one. We learned that Matt was actually a football player, and was one of the athletes that would be playing in the Senior Bowl the next day. Matt’s friend, Gary, told us he was having a private party the next night above a bar called Veet’s, and that we’d better both be there! We agreed, and bid farewell until the next evening.
The next day we strolled around the various sites again, and got another great parking spot on Dauphin Street. We grabbed some pizza, and then went to go watch our second parade. This time we were ready to catch things, and we each got a moonpie! We also caught “Dauphin”, a stuffed elephant from the Alabama football team, who is now our new pet in the boler since Stink has gone a-wall.
We retreated back to the boler to enjoy some drinks before the party, and headed over to Veet’s around 11. Unfortunately when we got there, the party had just ended, but we caught Gary on his way out. They had been going all day since the tailgate parties after the game, so they were pretty tired and heading to bed. We cruised around until we found another bar, and challenged each other to a game of shuffleboard. Whatta night.
We woke up bright and early the next morning, because we wanted to get an early start to our next adventure: The USS Alabama Battleship. This was so cool to see, complete with a submarine and an aircraft museum. We got to explore the entire battleship, and the entire submarine, both of which Danielle had never been on anything similar before. Drew had an Engineering work term in University where he got to work on the Canadian navy ships and submarines in Halifax, so it was especially interesting to him. He was able to understand and explain some of the engine room stuff, so we definitely got more out of the self-guided tour than most people.
We’ve since crossed the Mississippi border, and we’re now in… NEW ORLEANS! This is one of our most anticipated spots, so we’ll have plenty to tell you about in the next post.