Our first camping trip was with seasoned campers, and after it, we felt ready to try it alone. Even though it was getting a little cold for camping, we wanted one more trip for 2016. We only had three days, so could not go far. We decided to try Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I called to make the reservation and they were able to provide a spot on the water and near a bathhouse. We arrived just before dark and quickly set up the Little Guy (LG). We brought along an EZ 10X10 tent and stored our table and food bins under it as there was a very slight chance of rain.
We had dinner on the way, so no cooking required that first night. We did not do anything special, just listened to music and talked till sleepy. We slept wonderfully in the LG. We have learned that it is important to keep the cabin ventilated, so we kept the fan vent on the top open. It was not cold at all under the covers, even though the temperature went down to the mid-forties!
We awoke the next morning to the wind howling and when I checked, winds were at 19-20 MPH. We quickly took down the EZ tent as we were afraid it would blow away and perhaps do some serious damage. It is quite heavy and though we had it staked, it did not seem adequate. We were down to just our LG on our campsite. It was a few days before Thanksgiving and the campground was filled with many large RVs. Next to them, our little spot looked barely populated.
We had a fantastic view! We were there for two full days and three nights and each day was filled with abundant sunshine and deep blue skies. Again, we had chosen a time with a cold front. While we were there, it became colder and after we left, it became warmer. At least no rain though! Below are some photos taken from our campsite.
The first day, we had a very simple breakfast of instant oatmeal and then went exploring the area. The park is very nice and there are many trails and sites to see. We had lunch at the Oyster House in Gulf Shores. I have always been a fan of raw oysters, but these were perhaps the best I have ever had. Two factors, I think, contributed to this: the cold weather and the nearness to the source. These had to be very fresh and they were large.
A nice pier and beach access is provided by the park. There is also an outdoor swimming pool. This will be a good place to take grandchildren later. We visited the pier and walked on the beach. A few seagulls posed for some photos. If you are into fishing, this seems to be a good place to go as well, however, according to some fishermen we met, they were not biting on the day we were there.
We went shopping in Gulf Shores that evening and saw the movie, Hacksaw Ridge. It was a great movie! When we arrived back at the campsite it was getting quite cold, so we pulled out our new electric blanket.
It was very cold outside when we awoke the next morning. I believe it went into the mid-thirties the night before. The idea of preparing any kind of breakfast in that cold was very unappealing, so we went out for breakfast at Another Broken Egg in Orange Beach. It was a first for us and we really enjoyed it. By the time we returned to the campsite, it was much warmer and the winds were calmer. We went to a small Sunday service at the Education Center with some people we had met the day before. After that, we rented bikes. There are many trails in the park and we had a great time! Much of the trails were paved and shaded with beautiful trees and Spanish moss.
We planned to cook some spicy sausage on the grill that night and went to the nearby Walmart for charcoal. However, we were lured by Auntie Annie’s pretzels located within Walmart, and that killed our appetite. Consequently, there was practically no cooking on this trip. We sat outside for a couple of hours with our new electric blanket over us. It was not enough! However, for sleeping inside the LG, it did a great job. All three nights at Gulf State were great sleeping for us–no cold and no discomfort.
We awoke the final morning to a Lab puppy whimpering just outside our door. He had gotten loose and wanted in our LG. Greg could not get out because of this. Eventually, he crawled over me to get out on my side to avoid the puppy jumping into our cabin. The puppy was very friendly and followed Greg to the bathhouse. Greg found a tag with a phone number on him and called the owner, who was frantic to find him and came to get him right away. He was very grateful and had been looking for him since daylight.
We returned home that morning, but there were some lessons learned:
1) Buy high-quality water hoses and fittings. The cheap hose we had leaked and we had to find a hardware store to be able to hook up to the water without leaks.
2) Alligators are not a likely to come into your camp if you are near a lake in November. This may seem silly, but the website stated to beware of alligators and I was a little concerned about getting up in the middle of the night with an alligator nearby. A ranger told me that it is very rare for them to get out of the water and they are not very active when it is cold. I had stressed about this a little.
3) It’s not so bad to not have a toilet in your camper if you are near a bathhouse. This was no problem.
4) Lastly, and more importantly, Greg and I can go away camping for several days and totally enjoy each other’s company. Our first trip was with friends, which was great fun and helped to keep us entertained. We now know that it can be great fun for just the two of us as well!
We are looking forward to 2017 and more adventures.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!