In Gulf Shores, Alabama
Jan 21, 2008
|Gulf Shores, Alabama by Diane
For those of you that are RV'ers, will know that sometimes our perception of an area is colored by the RV park that we have chosen to stay in. So, with that in mind, we really liked this area. But that could be because of the Gulf State Park. If anyone is traveling to this area, please make a point to stay in this park. It was one of the best state parks that we have stayed in. The sites were very large, it had full hook-ups, and the views were great!!! You also couldn't beat the price.
Now on to what we saw.... While we were there a week, we saw many things, but not many as a group. So here is what the Evan's did and saw.
We toured the USS Alabama and the USS Drum in the Mobile harbor. I loved the tours and it was quite different from the aircraft carrier we saw in Texas. But, I will let Larry write about that as most of it was beyond my comprehension.
Probably the best thing we did while we were in Gulf Shores was to eat dinner at Lambert's. If you had watched the Food Channel, this is the restaurant they have featured on one of it's programs. It is known for it's thrown rolls. They make the best dinner rolls and then the waiters walk around with them hot out of the oven and if you want one, you just hold up your hands and they toss them to you from across the room. They are pretty accurate, as we didn't see anyone drop any while we were there. They also have what they call "pass arounds" and these come with the price of your meal. During the time you are there, they walk around with various bowls and pots full of different items and if you want them, you just ask and then will spoon you out some, and you can have as much as you like. Some of the things we sampled were, fried okra, pasta and tomatoes, fried potatoes, black eyed peas. As you can see from the pictures, our meal was ample on its own. In fact, Larry and I made three meals out of the food we ordered that night. The prices were ok also. I think they ranged from about $13 to $25 per plate. Of course we all had those on the low end of the spectrum. The drinks were huge and you could also have as much as you wanted. They were served in a 32 ounce mug . All in all, it was a fun place.
The girls and the guys split up one day to do some shopping. They boys went to a Coleman outlet, a tool store, and an outdoor store. The girls hit a pottery store and then we hit the regular outlet stores. Several purchases were made, but I am under oath not to reveal what they were or who bought what. It was a fun day and good to split up with the guys for just some gal time. Sometimes these rigs get really small!!
Larry and I also went to a fabric store that was called "Fabric by the Pound". What an interesting place. They had tables of precut fabric that was sold by the pound. Most of it was about $4 per pound. The fabric that was sold by the pound was mostly upholstery and drapery fabric. Of course, I purchased some quilting fabric, but that was sold by the yard. A good price though, and one can never have too much fabric!!!
I think we all drove around and saw the sights. Some of us drove farther than others. We did see lots of rentals and condominiums there. The folks we talked to told us that it is a popular area in the summer for tourists looking for some relief from the heat . The beaches were white and the sand was soft and you could walk for miles. There were lots of small shells on the beach. I did put my toes in the ocean, and it was cold!!! We didn't see anyone swimming in there.
The State park did say that there were alligators there, and had signs posted warning you not to annoy them, but we never saw any. We couldn't convince Dick to let us stake Rocky out in the swamp to try to chum them in. We wouldn't have let them get Rocky! Rocky may have found a new buddy to play with. Too bad, we will have to wait till Florida to see them.
Our tour of the USS Alabama was self guided by way of a brochure that was given to us at the purchase of our tickets. Three different tours leading to below deck forward, below deck aft, and upper decks all the way up to near the top of the superstructure. Colored arrows and station numbers corresponding to our guide explained each section of the ship.
This being a battleship, it was of course considerably different than our tour of the Lexington, an aircraft carrier. Some statistics for the Alabama are: 680' long, 108' wide, 194' high, weighing some 90 million pounds. She normally carried a crew of 2500 men, earned 9 Battle Stars and shot down 22 enemy warplanes during WWII. The ship is powered by 4 steam turbines, developing some 130,000 horsepower and has a top speed of approximately 28 knots. Her main guns are 16" and she could propel a 1650 lb shell some 21 miles. (About the same weight as a Volkswagen Bug.) Her maximum armor thickness was 18".
This WII Submarine was our next visit after passing through a large airplane hangar displaying many early war planes as well as a SR-71 Blackbird. These planes were extensively damaged while inside the hanger during hurricane Katrina. It must have made the many volunteers who work here sick when they were allowed back to the museum. Some planes still show some of the major damage, even after two and a half years have passed.
The USS Drum is the oldest surviving US submarine in the world. Commissioned on November 1, 1941 after only 9 months of construction. It is about half the length as the Alabama being 311' in length, 27' wide and displacing 1526 tons. Her crew was 7 officers and 65 enlisted men. She was powered by four 12 cylinder Fairbanks Morse diesel engines while surfaced and banks of batteries while submerged. While on it's 13 patrols, the ship sank 15 ships, ranking 8th in the total tonnage sunk.
An interesting note is that 1 out of every 5 submarines on patrol were lost, for a total of 52.
As we toured the submarine, I was constantly aware of what the life of a submariner must have been like, although I would have been much too tall to have been chosen for submarine duty. I had trouble just getting from section to section through what seemed like impossible sized waterproof hatches, some only about 3 feet high. But then I don't bend as easily as I used to either. The submarine seemed roomy, but many of the sleeping hammocks had been removed, as obviously had lots of other equipment. I could only imagine the heat, smells and noise that would have been endured by the crew. The depth gauges were still intact showing a maximum of 160 feet. The anticipation of hearing depth charges exploding all around while everyone aboard is being as quiet as possible so the enemy can't find you must have been frightening.. These guys were true heroes in every sense of the word, as were all who served in World War II. It is overwhelming to go to these old ships and museums and look at the technology that won the war almost 65 years ago. The war effort is sometimes beyond comprehension, and these exhibits are just a reminder of all the sacrifices made by the men and women who served in the armed forces as well as those made by the civilian population as well. (Larry)