Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mobile Church Street Graveyard - Free!

(Another catch up post)

The last two free places we visited in Mobile were Church Street Graveyard and Magnolia Cemetery. Church Street Graveyard is very easy to find. It's tucked away on a side street, just behind the Mobile Public Library.
The graveyard was opened in 1819, to replace an older Spanish cemetery that used to exist where a cathedral now stands. William Kennedy sold the land to the city, which divided the cemetery into three sections. One for the Catholics, one for the Protestants, and a potter's field for 'strangers'.
The cemetery is 4 acres and at first glance, appears to be pretty empty. There are actually at least 1,000 people buried here. In fact, the graveyard was closed in 1898 because it was already full. One of the reasons was a yellow fever epidemic that hit Mobile shortly after Church Street Graveyard opened. It's estimated at least 250 people, about 10% of the population at the time, died.
Although the cemetery is officially closed, the city has continued to inter bodies that have been found during different construction projects in Mobile. They have also allowed a few of the city's more famous citizens to be interred here.

The most popular grave is that of Joe Cain, who re-established Mardi Gras after it was banned during Reconstruction. Edward Walter, a well-known Mobile Renaissance man, who worked to have Joe re-interred in Mobile, is buried next to his friend. One of Mobile's Mardi Gras traditions is to leave beads on both men's graves.
Douglas Smith's grave. He was a well-loved member of the Comic Cowboys, a (controversial) Mardi Gras tradition in Mobile.
Most of the gravestones are Neoclassical, and although the graveyard is not attached to any one church, it's plan follows the older tradition of having the graves enclosed by a wall. 
After Magnolia Cemetery was opened in 1836, the graveyard became less and less important. In 1993, the Historic Mobile Preservation Society stepped in and created a new organization to protect and preserve this cemetery.
Boyington Oak (in the back, by the wall) is quite possibly the most famous tree in Mobile.  According to locals, this oak is haunted!
Charles Boyington was a printer and gambler.  He and Nathaniel Frost, another gambler, became friends. In 1834, Frost's body was found in the graveyard. Boyington was suspected, and he was eventually executed for the murder in 1835.
Boyington went to the gallows proclaiming his innocence. According to legend, he told the people of Mobile an oak would grow from his grave to prove he didn't murder his friend.
 Boyington couldn't be buried in the cemetery, since he was a murderer, so the gravekeeper buried him in his own garden at the very edge of the cemetery. Soon after, an oak began to grow from Boyington's grave, and locals began to hear footsteps and and crying sounds coming from the tree. 

We didn't see any ghosts, and Boyington's gravestone has disappeared (if he was ever buried here at all), but it does make a good story! 

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Free State of Jones!

(Yep, another post!)

 After two weeks of boondocking, we decide its time to move on and find a laundrymat and restock the fridge. More importantly, we're almost out of animal chow! We drive an hour west, cross into Mississippi, and stay at a Walmart in Waynesboro. The next morning, we continue west to Big Creek 10, one of eight parks managed by the Pat Harrison Waterway. The agency was established in the 60s to control flooding in the Pascagoula River Basin. We're staying here until Friday, when we'll head south to Louisiana.

Big Creek Park is in Jones County, which is famous for two things. Leontyne Price, a well known opera singer, was born here. It's also where Newt Knight and his men fought a guerrilla war against the Confederacy. There's a really good article about Newt and the Jones County rebellion here, by the Smithsonian.

And now we are finally caught up, here's some pictures of Big Creek!

Staying at Rainbow Plantation

(yup, we're still catching up from having no internet!)

We stayed at Rainbow Plantation for two months, January and February. The cost per month is $350, plus electric. You do need to be an Escapees member. The park is split into three sections, leased/ERPU sites, RV sites, and residential lots. The park is large, but fills up quickly in the winter months. The park offers many activities and social events, and also has inexpensive dinners during the winter months. Oh, and this park is known for it's LARGE lots - look at all that elbow room!
Address: 14301 Co Rd 28, Summerdale, AL 36580

Dog Friendly: There is a fenced dog yard behind the boondock area (which is next to the large Red Barn). We would urge people to use caution when walking their dogs at this park! The park does have a leash rule, but does not enforce it. Many residents allow their dogs to run free, and we had several confrontations with loose dogs while walking our husky. We did complain after our dog was bitten by another dog, but we didn't see any change in enforcement.😢
Motorcycle Friendly: This park's roads are all paved and fairly wide.

Cell Service/Wifi: Verizon was 2-3 bars, without a booster. We experienced Verizon throttling cell services several times during our stay. The park has Wifi, but charges it.
Amenities: The park has two unisex bathrooms with showers behind the office. There are washers and dryers in the clubhouse, but be aware its a bit of hike from the rv sites to the laundry room.
Getting There: Reaching the park is very easy - it's just minutes off Highway 59. 
Know Before You Go: If you need propane, we recommend stopping at Gulf Shores Building Supply, 2401 E 2nd St, Gulf Shores. There is a large pull through area for RVs away from the main parking lot, and you can immediately pull out at a traffic light onto Highway 59. There is also a Walmart directly across the hardware store, and this Walmart does allow overnight stays.
Local Stuff: Where do we start? This park is around the corner from Foley and Fairhope, within 30 minutes of the beach, less than an hour to Mobile, and about 90 minutes to Pensacola. 

If you need groceries, there are several Walmarts, Piggly Wiggleys, and Publix in the area. While we didn't have a chance to shop at either place, we heard that the Aquilla Seafood market in Bon Secour is very good, and Rouse's Market, in Gulf Shores, has a good selection of specialty items. We also noticed there are two farm markets in nearby Loxley - which we will definitely check out next time!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

RV Kitchen: Our New Coleman Stove!

Continuing our blog catch up...

We pulled out of Rainbow Plantation on Thursday and headed north on 59. The original plan was to get groceries and spend the night at the Walmart at Bay Minette. That plan changed when we did our usual perusal of the clearance aisle...
Yup, a three burner Coleman stove for $30!

We had looked at buying a camping stove before leaving Austin, but decided to spend our money on a portable grill instead - this one here (Which, yes, we got on sale, and with an additional 20% off)
First unpacking!
Initial impressions? The three burners makes a nice, stable cooking area, especially if you are using a grill. The wind screens are a nice design, but feel a bit flimsy, especially for a Coleman. 
We also suspect the starter button will eventually break - it's very inexpensive plastic. For the price we paid, we'll happily enjoy the feature while we have it.

Oh, and if you are wondering about our 'grill', we just bought an inexpensive grilling pan at Walmart and took the handle off. It's the perfect size for cooking for two people, and very lightweight!
Oh, and Crockett did a taste test and gave it the husky stamp of approval!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

There Is No 'Alli' in Gator

Hi! We finally have reliable internet again! Yay!

So where have we been? The last week of February turns cold and rainy - and the cell towers become cranky. After a couple of futile attempts to post, we give up on trying to blog and start packing. We leave Rainbow Plantation on March 1st, just as the weather warms up. It's a beautiful Thursday and we're on the road again!

We have plans to be in New Orleans the last week of March. Instead of driving straight through, we turn north. Our plan is to drive through Alabama, grab 64 to cross the state line, and then take 55 down through Mississippi. We stop at a Walmart for the first night, then head to Old Lock One Park, a free Army Corps of Engineers park, where we boondock for 14 days.

We'll post several more catch up posts in the next few days. For now, here's some pictures from Old Lock One - but sadly, no pictures of the 'gators. Thanks to the spring rains, the water is too high for them to stay. A local did tell us around 20 'gators have been seen hanging out further downstream. Maybe next time we'll get to see those 'gators!