Fort Gaines and Dauphin Island

by William Mclaughlin April. 12, 2014 1435 views

The rainstorm we sat through in Biloxi hit the entire Gulf Coast. This was our campsite on Dauphin Island in Alabama the day we arrived. By the end of the next day all the water was gone.

The weather was nice the whole time we were there, and the campground had beach access. This isn't some secluded bay … it's the Gulf of Mexico! We couldn't believe how calm it was.

There were kids playing on the beach. (With oil rigs on the horizon.)

Mandy likes the soft sand. The beach seems to be her favorite place to be.

Bill likes it too!

Our campsite was only a couple of blocks from Fort Gaines, at the east end of Dauphin Island. This is another 1820's-era brick fort … a contemporary of Fort Pike, which we had seen a few days earlier.

The walls seem to be in better shape here than at Fort Pike. The walls of Fort Gaines are shaped like a square with a roof. The “peak” of the roof points out to sea.

When we came out into the interior of the fort, we both literally gasped at the sight of an Endicott Battery inside the old brick fort! This concrete section is about 80 years newer than the original fort, and it sits along the inside of one of the sides of the “roof.” (I hope that description makes sense. If not, Google Fort Gaines, and you'll see what I mean.)

Here's another shot showing how the concrete Endicott section sits inside the older brick walls.

Here's the sign explaining the Endicott Battery's purpose.

The rest of the place was much as it was in the 1800s.

Bill liked the cannon on the wall. That little sliver of land on the horizon to the right is Fort Morgan, the subject of our next blog.

Tara liked the beautiful tree growing out of a former gun pit. (Bill likes the swords, Tara likes the ploughshares.)

Fort Gaines is used for Civil War reenactments, and there are bunks in several of the rooms.

The other attraction next to our campground was an Audubon walk.

Bill got up one day at sunrise and enjoyed the wetlands while Tara slept in.

This is the Sand Island Lighthouse at dawn.

Later in the day we both went back. It was a beautiful place!

We saw a lot of birds, but mostly they're pretty far away. Bill caught this little yellow guy in amongst some reeds.

There's a lake surrounded by tall pines.

We hiked a loop around the lake.

We saw lots of Sand Hill Rosemary. This is just like the rosemary you grow in your garden. The blooms are the same, but the needles are quite a bit shorter. And when we got to Pensacola, the woods were literally full of this beautiful herb! There was one place where there was a carpet of rosemary nearly as far as you could see.

There's a ferry that runs from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan on the other side of the mouth of Mobile Bay. We were going to take the ferry over and save ourselves the drive all the way up to Mobile and back down to Pensacola. When the tide levels vary too much though, they don't allow RVs on the boat. We did quite a bit of research to figure it out, and as it turns out, they think a two-foot tide is huge. We just shook our heads and drove around the Bay. This is a view of Mobile coming north along the western side of Mobile Bay.

Driving around meant we got to see the Battleship Alabama.

We saw a lot of these fishing piers on the shores of inland waterways. This was at the far northeast end of Mobile Bay.

Welcome to Florida! This was our turnaround point. We stayed at the Blue Angels Naval Rec Area for three days. The weather was beautiful, and we got to see lots of fun stuff. We'll update the blog again soon and tell you all about Fort Morgan (yes, another fort!), and Bill's trip to the Naval Air Museum.

Check back again soon … we're on a roll!

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