We were beginning to think we were the magnets for rain and thunder storms in Florida. Seems wherever we traveled the rain followed. When we left Tallahassee it was to be an easy trip to Foley, AL. Just get on I-10 to Pensacola, down to SR-98 and straight into Foley. We were on I-10 when the skies opened up and dumped buckets of water on southern Florida and all along I-10. We managed to get into a rest area to wait out the storm. There were 2-4 inches of water running across the parking lot. Our friend, Mike McFall, calls these rains ‘frog stranglers’. We decided if we have to stay the night that would be fine, we have everything we need in our cozy home on wheels, and we have lots of diesel for the generator.
If only the hail doesn’t come next. 6-8 inches of rain fell in the hour we waited; then let up enough that Tom felt it was safe to travel. We went to Pensacola and had just turned onto SR-98 when we saw the road was under water as far as we could see. All cars and trucks were turning off the highway and turning back. We followed them and saw that all the streets that headed west were flooded. We backtracked to I-10 and took the high and mostly dry roads into Foley. We did not know the conditions of the park where we had planned to stay and the office was closed by the time we arrived. When I called the owner and told her we would be late, she said just drive down the road to the back and park anywhere there. Tom was more than a little apprehensive about the “down” the road and “to the back”, but we said we’ve made it this far, we will be OK. It’s an adventure… right?
This park, Hideaway RV and Golf Course, probably has the nicest graded cement pads with wide lawn sections between pads we have stayed in. It did rain while we were there and it drained perfectly. We will definitely stay there again. It also is a Passport America with no length of stay restrictions nor cash or check only requirements.
We hung out in our house on wheels for 2 days while the roads dried up. Not knowing much about the area we set the GPS for Perdido Beach. That was a mistake as this is an area that is a beach but no way to go east or west, only back the way we came. We did see some pretty interesting ‘local’ views of how people live right on the gulf. I don’t know how they survive the hurricanes and storms we have seen recently.
Then we drove down to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. This, to me, looked like Palm Beach on the Gulf. There were so many huge high rise hotels and condos right along the water and people everywhere. This was not the nice laid back sea shore that had visited south of Tallahassee.
We drove back to Foley and on to our RV park. We travel through the little town of Magnolia Springs. This is a beautiful quaint settlement along the Magnolia River. It was settled by Creoles from across Mobile Bay before the Civil War. Today it has beautiful tree lined streets, Magnolia Springs where children used to swim, Bed and Breakfasts, and where the mail is still delivered by boat along the Magnolia River. In fact we found a geocache at the Springs.
While in Foley we saw an engine, a couple of railroad cars and a caboose at the corner where we turn to go back to the RV. There just had to be a cache there… yup there was. It was late in the day and there was no one around so it was easy to spend some time looking around. We decided to go back the next day.
We first had lunch at the restaurant recommended by our RV park hostess, Fish River Grill #2. She said all the locals eat there. That was an excellent choice. Tom had a seafood BLT. It had big shrimp, bacon, lettuce and fried green tomatoes. I had Crawdad Rolls. The best!!!! The rolls were stuffed with crawdads in a creole sauce then lightly fried, We were also served their signature Swamp Soup. I wanted to take home a quart, but we never got back that evening to buy some.
The small Foley railroad museum is located on the exact spot where the depot was originally built. In 1971 when the railroad stopped running to Foley, John Snook, who owned the Gulf Telephone company bought it for a dollar, moved it to Magnolia Springs and used it as a warehouse for the phone company. Then in 1992 he donated it back to the town of Foley, it was moved back to its original location in 1995 and is now run by volunteers 3 days a week. The small museum is nice, but the best part of our visit was the model railroad setup in the ‘annex’ of the museum. These are just some of pictures I took of their setup. We could have looked all day and not seen all the details: hobos at the edge of town, a gas station where a Ford Mustang pulls in and rings the bell and is filled up with gas before backing out, working street lights, even a burning building with fire trucks and firefighters going up ladders, and the list goes on and on.
We’ve seen a lot of model train setups and this is one of the very best. It is free, but they take donations so we gave them ours.
The museum closes at 2 p.m. and we drove out to Fort Morgan. This was one of 3 forts that protected Mobile Bay. Many battles were fought here and until Sherman’s march to the sea and Grant’s fight south in 1865, Mobile Bay was successfully held by the Confederates and heavily mined. Admiral Farragut took Mobile Bay with his famous saying, “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.” The torpedoes were what we call mines today. The fort is a pentagon shaped fort like many built before the Civil War. One of the problems facing these forts today is water leakage. With the rains we have seen recently, the dripping water was evident.
As we drove back we again were amazed at the beautiful homes along the gulf coast.
We ended our very busy day at Lamberts, famous for their Throwed rolls. We had a 30 minute wait but the time flew by watching all the people coming here to eat. They seat about 1000 at a time the waitress said. It is huge. We ordered dinner. Tom had meatloaf and I had chicken pot pie. These come with 2 sides; we both had corn and baked sweet potatoes. THEN the waiters and waitresses walk through the restaurant with pots of ‘walk-arounds’ that they dish onto your plate: fried okra, fried potatoes, boiled cabbage, macaroni and tomatoes, and of course the rolls that are thrown from across the room.
We took 2 full take-home boxes of what we could not finish and had 2 more complete dinners the next night. The total caches in Foley – 7. Pounds gained – ?. Miles walked – lots.