The Gulf region is full of some pretty special places….everything from natural and scenic beauty, to civil rights landmarks, to bustling and interesting cities. Over the last few weeks, we were able to experience several of these great places, including Montgomery AL, Gulf Shores AL, Mobile, AL, Pascagoula MS, and the “Big Easy”….New Orleans LA.
In Montgomery we went to see the first Confederate white house, Martin Luther King Jr.’s house, and ate some AMAZING BBQ (of course:). I liked Montgomery. The area we were in was very nice and the BBQ was absolutely spot on! My favorite part of Montgomery was seeing Martin Luther King Jr.’s house. We toured his home, Dexter Parsonage, which was where he lived between 1954 and 1960. So many important Civil Rights era events were talked about within the confines of those walls, you could almost feel it oozing out of them! The Southern charm and style was just amazing in the First Confederate White House, and although Dr. King’s house was extremely cool, we weren’t allowed to take pictures:( You’ll just have to take our word for it!
Gulf Shores was really special to me because it was a beach town, and I am very much a beach girl. So I really enjoyed Gulf Shores. While we were there we visited a state park called Gulf State Park. There were so many little cute outlets, coffee shops, surf shops…everywhere (which was my very favorite part!). I loved just driving around looking for little stores to check out while the windows were rolled down and Ann was blasting music! My toes being back in sand was the highlight, though!
Ann’s Note: You may notice that, in one picture, Dad was playing with the sand. Aside from the fact that it was incredibly fine and bright white, he was so hungry he was contemplating if he should try a bit of the “sugar snow”. We are proud to say that he refrained from eating the sand.
As we got further down south in Alabama we realized that we needed to be educated on the whole Mardi Gras celebration season, for we were smack in the middle of it! First, we did not know that Mardi Gras was a season…it begins in January and lasts until the Tuesday right before Lent. Us being from Florida and then living the majority of my life in NC, Mardi Gras was a mysterious, often frowned upon event by people around us. We thought it was just inappropriate partying one day out of the year for people who went to New Orleans (more specifically Bourbon Street in NOLA). That is completely not the case! We learned that, not only is it a season, but it is a whole deep south regional event. Mostly family-friendly, too!
Mardi Gras is all about family, food, extravagant balls, and serving the community! Which brings me to the second thing we learned about this strange holiday…there are TONS of Mardi Gras parades throughout the whole season, they are everywhere-happening many nights out of the week-and their parades are not like any other you have ever seen. There are multiple “Krewes” that put on these elaborate parades. These krewes are mostly civic organizations, some are secret organizations, that do things for the surrounding community throughout the year. In Mobile we went to a parade and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!! This particular parade was put on by the krewe of “The Order of The Polka Dots”. It is the oldest (meaning longest-running), all-female krewe in Mobile. It was incredible to see all the different bands marching different ways, all the unique and AMAZING floats, and all the crazy things they threw at you! To get the throws, tradition says that you have to yell “Throw me something Mister!”, or in our case, “Misses”. But we do have some advice for y’all about going to this kind of parade…when I say they throw things at you, I don’t mean they lightly toss something at you. They CHUCK things at your face!! So my advice to y’all if you ever get a chance to go to a Mardi Gras parade is bring some padding for any exposed skin; Dad got pelted with beads and moon pies….My second word of advice to ya’ll is bring bags to hold your loot ’cause you’re going to need them. And if you get a doubloon, you have received a very special “throw” from someone on the float. Not to brag, but we got five;)
(With love from the Retty girls; Mrs. Tomberlin, the Charlie Brown float photos are specially for you!)
The last thing we learned about Mardi Gras was that the mysterious “King Cake” is actually pretty good! Think cinnamon rolls made into cake with filling. We got one filled with cream cheese (Thanks for the recommendation, Madison Lee!), but you can get one filled with all different sorts of fruits, nuts, or just plain. Inside of this delicious king cake is a plastic baby. Apparently, whoever gets the piece with this creepy detail of the cake has to buy the next cake and throw the next Mardi Gras party. Now, they don’t put it inside the cake because too many people were choking, so now you’ll find it inside the box and not the cake.
Mobile was super, super fun, I enjoyed every second of it! Although we went to see the Mobile Mardi Gras parade doesn’t mean we were staying in Mobile. We were staying in a campground in Pascagoula, MS that’s called Presley’s Outings. It was a very nice campground that featured a fantastic kayaking lake and a BBQ pit that’s only open on the weekends. I really liked Mobile and Mississippi a lot!!
The lastest stop we made was New Orleans/Louisiana. From an RVers standpoint, the Retty’s weren’t too fond of Louisiana. The terrain was swampy, and after witnessing several campers get stuck in the soft earth, we became unenthusiastic about staying there. Some of the things we did enjoy were the beautiful, historic buildings and architecture, and the beignets! They were mouth watering, but those pastries weren’t the only NOLA classics we tried. While everyone else got a burger, Ann and Dad sampled the fried shrimp po boy and gumbo. Delicious!
Note on the NOLA pics: some of the photos in the gallery were taken horizontally, but did not load as such. Click on the photo and you should be able to enjoy the entire scene:)
That pretty much wraps it up! Thanks so much for reading, and stay tuned for next post coming soon: The Lone Star State!