Winter Stop in Gulf Shores Alabama

It is 45 degrees outside and cloudy which is good weather for staying inside to catch up on our past five weeks on the road. We are currently stopped at Island Retreat RV Park in Gulf Shores Alabama, having arrived on 12/2/20 for a two month stay. Our plans include leaving here on 2/2/21 for Florida with a couple stops before arriving at Stagecoach RV Park in St. Augustine on 2/15/21. The only other stop we have booked so far is near Mayo Florida on 2/4/21 at Suwannee River Rendezvous. We are still researching a stop in Ocala. As usual, towards the end of the post I have added a couple RV topics to include a unique fifth wheel build.

Alabama has less than 40 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Lots of traffic in this area because of few major highways. Foley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are the main towns. All have easy access from Interstate 10 which can include a bypass around Foley. Winter temperatures should be days in the low 60’s and nights in the 40’s.

We stopped briefly at the Okatoma Resort in Hattiesburg Mississippi on the way to Gulf Shores. Not much to say about the place other than it is well off the road and quiet. Our site was along the bank of a large pond. While stopped we hung a photo in our bathroom using 3M Command Strips. This is the first photo we have hung with more to follow. Our daughter had it framed and I have to say it really makes that room more like a home. I replaced the glass in another photo with plexiglass, custom cut at a hardware store, to be hung in the living room. A neighbor commented they had left Command Strips on the walls of their trailer for a number of years and when removed the wallpaper came off with the strips. They recommended heating the area with a blow dryer before removing the strips. No one else has told me they had any issues when removing the strips.

It’s the side of a tree facing a path in the woods! Picture really makes the bathroom feel like part of a home.

Passing through Mobile Alabama from the north was part of the route. I added an extra five miles or so traveling southwest of town to setup directly through on Interstate 10 thereby avoiding any lane changes in the city. We added another first which was traveling through a tunnel. In this case 40′ below the water of Mobile Bay. Forum posts suggested taking the 1/2 mile tunnel at 35 miles per hour. I was down to 28 by the time we left the other end. I had a little anxiety on the drive but know that can be worked out with more experience.

Yup, I had a little tunnel vision on this one. I just watched the taillights ahead which seemed to help. This is the Interstate 10 tunnel which is two lanes in each direction and 16′ tall. Don’t take the other tunnel on US98/90 if you have a tall rig. That’s our TST tire monitor on the windshield.

Island Retreat RV park is two miles from the beach on the Gulf which is far enough not to be among the heavy traffic areas.. The main drag through Gulf Shores is partially lined with tall resort buildings. There is recent hurricane damage but they have done a great job getting everything opened back up. I understand this is a popular spring break area and for charter boat fishing. Shopping at the big box stores is easy to get to. We were greeted with a white sand common area at the resort surrounded by well done landscaping. The pool is open but not heated. Plenty of winter snowbirds here. I’ll have more photos of the area in my next blog post.

Back-in site #224 with full hookups and partial concrete- our spot at Island Retreat. The new Landmark fifth wheel on the left is our adopted family, Mark and Patty. They moved on to Florida a week ago and we have already planned a meet up.
Christmas included a get together at the club house with snacks and a fire outside later. Management had a friend come and play music at the fire. It was a wonderful night. Wyatt also had fun tearing open presents. Thankfully he only destroys what he is allowed to destroy.
Darn, the dog is growing fast. At eight months he is having trouble fitting on the table. In his adolescent period, unless sleeping or chewing on a toy he wants us to keep him entertained. One massive ball of energy!

Sixteen miles east of the RV park is Fort Morgan which, in one form or another, guarded Mobile Bay for hundreds of year. Made of brick and increased in size to hold huge shore artillery. Mobile Bay is where Admiral Faregate said “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” Torpedoes being mines. I captured a brief video of soldiers loading and shooting a large gun as shown in the visitors center. Here is a link to the video if you are interested.

Most important, Fort Morgan has one of just a few beaches on the Alabama coast where it is legal to allow your dog in the water. We found a couple other locations but none are on the actual Gulf of Mexico.

Entrance to the fort was interesting. Through a tunnel in the wall.
Dog friendly beach at Fort Morgan. In the same area you can catch a 45 minute ferry boat ride for a fee over to an island.

Located on the east side of Mobile, with easy access on and off the highway, is the USS Alabama Battleship Museum. The parking lot is definitely large enough for smaller RVs in case you want to stop during a trip. However, it took my adopted family member, Mark from Washington State and me about six hours to see enough of the park. Not only is the Alabama moored there but you can tour a very clean World War 2 submarine, an air museum and lots of tanks and guns. This is a fantastic, must see site. I can now check of a bucket list item which was to tour a battleship. The Alabama was known as the Lucky A. The only damage it sustained from battle during the war was when a sailor accidently lowered the barrel of one of its 129 guns and blew a hole in a shield. Can you image going to the Captain with that one. The park even has dog kennels at the museum! The view of the Bay and downtown Mobile was appreciated. Mark treated me to lunch at a fancy seafood restaurant down the street as the museum chow hall was closed because of the virus thing.

Before I get to the photos of the Battleship Park, I want to add an interesting comment pointed out by a navy guy who volunteers at the ship. At the beginning of WW2 the Alabama was being built with just the hull having been laid out. Female workers were brought in who learned to weld on the job as they did not have time to send them to a fancy welding school. Others have commented some of the welds are less than perfect. Personally, I would not know the difference. Well, as stated by the sailor, after battles to take Japanese-held islands in the Pacific from 1943 to 1945 the ship is still here, floating and in good shape. The ship led the U.S. fleet into Tokyo Bay the day after the formal surrender documents were signed on September 2, 1945.

USS Drum. The oldest WW2 sub still on display. This boat was immaculately clean inside. They pulled it out of the water after a hurricane for repairs. It was fascinating to walk inside and around it outside.
That’s a U2 spy plane!
Of particular interest were the display cases scattered around the battleship with various WW2 and older memorabilia.
The battleship can shoot these 2,000 pounders 22 miles inland. The ship was also credited with shooting down no less than 22 kamikaze planes.
Powder used to shoot those large projectiles

I’ve been referring to our adopted family during this blog post. Mark and Patty are from upper Washington State and camped next to us for a month. What a fantastic couple. There came a point in time during this pandemic when we decided it was worth the risk to spend time around the fire, eating food, shopping or running our dogs together. We may keep our distance from 95% of the people we meet but not in this case. None of us got sick from the other and I think I can speak for all when I say it was nice to get back to a most important aspect of RVing which is meeting new people and spending time with them. It was special to watch Karen and Patty dangling their feet in the cold pool water while sitting next to each other talking about who knows what. It was special to take a trip in the truck with Mark to the Alabama, tracking down a load of good oak firewood one day, shopping in town and much more. We will see you in Mayo Florida in a few weeks!

Our friends Mark and Patty with their dog, Benson. Mark’s Llewellin Setter, Gus is not shown. I probably should have taken Mark up on a bird hunting trip or a charter fishing trip. Next time for sure. They travel fulltime for work.

And Now Some General RV Information

The Tiffin family recently sold out to Thor. Too bad to see another family owned business joining a massive corporation. I read the press releases, such as Bob Tiffin will remain running the company and this will allow for building a stronger company. Time will tell if there are any changes beyond making others more wealthy or building a better product. Thor has already commented the profit margins at Tiffin are less than what they expect. At this point I would still not have a problem buying a Tiffin/Vanleigh product. I know Bob Tiffin may want to retire someday and I’m not sure if his family has the want or not to keep running the business. Tiffin owns several of the companies who build materials, such as windows, fiberglass, doors and more, for their RV units.

Palomino RV, established in 1968 and now owned by Forrest River, is building an interesting fifth wheel beginning with 2021 models. The trailers are for sale now. Their River Ranch 42 footer is built with no stairs up to the front portion of the fifth wheel! To gain access you walk up the outside stairs to a set of stairs inside at the front door, similar to a motor home.

I clipped the above photos from the Palomino website. The fifth wheel is 13’6″ tall. They moved the air conditioner to the basement area to keep the height within legal limits. It has no drop frame but adds basement space similar to a motor home. This is a heavy unit. What will they think of next?

Here is a quick tip – We have discovered how fine sand seems to get in the trailer along these coast line communities. Even though we have a concrete pad we place the common outdoor camping rug on the concrete where sand is trapped, falling through the perforated rug material. This makes a big difference in reducing the amount of sand that makes it into the trailer from our shoes. I bought a pair of slip on Skechers relaxed fit memory foam shoes that are very comfortable that way I’m more likely to wear them daily and take them off outside.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

17 thoughts on “Winter Stop in Gulf Shores Alabama

  1. We loved touring the USS Alabama! We didn’t an entire day there! Nice to make more friends! doggie is getting big! Where will you be after Fl? We will be in be in Orlando area for a month I’m May/June Ghent heading back to CA via lower Midwest states.


    • Hi Debbie, we have to be back in Kansas City by the end of April through 2nd week of May. Will have to head out of north Florida mid March. Chances are we will head back through Mississippi, Arkansas route. Should be in Michigan in June. There is a chance we may just put the trailer in storage for a few weeks down south, drive to KC then back. That way we can tow north out of Florida on the way to Michigan into new territory.


  2. Taking my own sons to Alabama-seeing Mobile Bay, USS Alabama, and Ft. Morgan were many of our special memories. We visited 4 times-3 of which were in R.V.’s. Our last trip we stayed right on Daulphin Island in a rented Winnebago we used at the time. I’m glad to know you’re all safe and I enjoyed your pictures and post very much. Your dog is a cutie. I sold my R.V. at Christmas and moved into a tiny house in SW MO for the time being. It was the right decision for me at this time. However, I look forward to the future with another R.V. and traveling. The four years I had in mine I’ll never forget and look forward to that lifestyle again one day! Stay safe and blessed!


    • We still need to take the ferry ride to Daulpin Island. Maybe Thursday when it warms up we are heading over to Florida for a day trip. You must have really like the area, coming here 4 times. We are enjoying the stay but wish the weather was warmer. Although it seems like this year, everywhere, is a bit colder than usual.

      Thanks for following the blog and nice to hear about your journey as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you’re enjoying your stay! I have heard from multiple people that it seems colder everywhere this year. We definitely loved that area indeed. Stay safe on your journeys!


      • I have heard the same thing about it generally being colder everywhere. A guy in the park says he is moving to Florida sooner than later. He has been here several times and says the weather is not typical. Funny how when you live in the colder north during the winter anything over freezing seems warm. And now anything under 70 without sun and with wind seems cold.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What an awesome trip ! Love that your adding personal touches to make the rig more like home.
    Can’t wait to see your trip to St Augustine! I of course highly recommend the tour of the fort, lighthouse, dolphin watching boat ride and absolutely recommend the city tour on the trolley I think?? Look it up, it’s a guided tour where you get off at certain historical places to tour them.
    Stay safe and healthy!!
    Love you, Deanna Shervington (your sis)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the tour idea sis. There is a trolley stop at our campground that might come in handy. I was watching some YouTube video of the area and looks like the streets are narrow for a big truck. Probably will park somewhere and do a lot of walking around. If we head north from Florida I might hit you up on some highway ideas back to KC. Although there is a chance we might leave the trailer for a couple weeks out east while we drive back to KC for end of April, first of May commitments. Karen has to see the eye doctor and I got what is hopefully my last trial forever.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow. Gulf Shores must be somewhat chilly, no? We are in Central FL and have been experiencing some very cold (not chilly) nights. When you say Ocala, I am wondering how close to there you are looking. We are currently at the Escapees Sumter Oaks RV Park just south of Bushnell and about 50 miles south of Ocala via I-75. It’s a nice place and the folks are very friendly. We have met some really nice people here despite the fact that their activities are scaled down due to the Covids. It’s a good spot, and if you are an Escapee member (you don’t have to be a member to stay, but do get a discounted rate), IMHO I think it would be well worth considering for a stay. We are here through the end of March.
    Safe travels!


    • Peter, we will probably try and get something close to Silver Springs or just a little further east as the purpose of the stop is to see the springs and forest. We cut that stop to four days. We are Escapees. Decided not to go too far south in Florida as we only have five weeks to spend in the area. I checked the map and you guys will be close to us even if we are a few miles east of Ocala. I’ll post our exact location near Ocala in the next blog, before we leave, as we have not booked it yet. Would have loved to spend more time in Florida but we have obligations back in Kansas City.


  5. We spent a week in Maher State Park on Mobile Bay, we toured the USS Alabama too, Dave really enjoyed it, I found a geocache there. Not sure about the Palomino floor plan, one of the things we like about the 5th wheels is their height in the living room. Gulf Shores is crazy traffic, we stayed in the area a couple of times.


      • Yup. Time will tell. From what I’ve seen in other ‘s who sold to Thor, I’m not certain it will change anything. Although Thor made the comment the profit margins at Tiffin were lower than expected. The price of these things just keep going up. Hmmm… Maybe better resale for us later. Wish we had the name recognition of your Solitude.

        I’m also getting a few reports that dealerships are not wanting to deal as deep on discounts as before. But that could be isolated incidents.

        Seeing more Vanleighs at campsites lately. Glad to see the brand is getting out there and lots of folks come by and said they wanted one when they toured it before buying their current rig. Just out of budget. And we are meeting folks saying they are going to upgrade, most recently from a Jayco Pinnacle to a Beacon. Will have to see if that becomes a trend.


    • Congrads on the new truck guys! Read your last blog post. Is nice not to have to worry about that part of it all. I agree on the Palomino. I just thought it was an interesting twist for a fifth wheel floor plan. Wish we had made it to Aransas Bay this year but glad to experience Gulf Shores for the first time.


  6. Pingback: Twenty Nine Days in Alabama – Been There Before… | Our Future in an RV

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