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Winter Wanderings Day #10, Fort Pickens Campground, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Beach, FL, Orange Beach, AL, Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

We left Fort Pickens really early, stopping at the Pensacola Beach Dog Park for a quick playtime on the beach, despite another cold, blustery morning. It was so chilly, Pippa was extra frisky, doing zoomies all over the beach. She does not typically do that, so it was so cute. I was glad to get a short video of her in action. Nigel did his regular ball fetching with Wiley, which makes him a happy puppy. We left after a little bit to head to the Alabama Coast, just over an hour away.

On our way to the next campground in Gulf Shores, AL, we stopped at the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach. We had gone there, because they had a dog friendly beach. Gulf State Park, where we were headed, had a no dogs on the beach policy. We worked in the van in the parking lot until lunch, then went on a quick walk down to the tiny Bay beach and through the gorgeous grounds of the very impressive Arts Center. Nigel played ball. At almost 50 degrees, he got in the water a little bit, even though I did not want him to. Pippa hunted under some tree roots on the shore. Wiley and the puppies returned to the van for a phone conference. I toured the beautiful, mansion art gallery then popped into the first studio building, where there was a painting class going on. The second building was a pottery studio, where some folks were also working. The final building, called “The Hot Shop” was a glass blowing studio. There, I met the artist and his high school senior apprentice, who had been training with him for four years. They were working together to create a stamen and petals for a glass flower. They made two of them while I watched. The artist told me they were to be part of a larger piece that would be a vine with these flowers along it. I enjoyed talking to him and watching his process. He was a great guy!

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Winter Wanderings Day #5, Chewacla State Park, Auburn, AL

Friday morning, I awoke to a beautiful pink sunrise through the trees in the campground at Chewacla State Park. It was a lovely way to start the day.

At lunchtime, we started to walk towards the dam and falls, but there were construction or quarry trucks beeping, so we headed to the other side of the lake towards the creeks for some peace and quiet. We decided to take the Troop 30 Boy Scout Trail on the opposite side of Moores Creek, than we had hiked, the previous evening. It was a very challenging, technical trail on the steep river bank and side of a mountain. The trail was up and down and very rocky with lots of roots too. Loved the scenery along the rushing creek, but not a big fan of the treacherous trail. I think the Boy Scouts were trying to do us in. We found a big flat rock in the river, we thought would be a good spot to play with the puppies. Sadly, after one toss, Nigel’s ball got swept down river and Pippa got stuck, hunting in the riverbank. Wiley had to reach in and pull her out, because her harness was stuck on roots underground. Daddy saved the day, pulling a red clay covered puppy out, thankfully, without her wiggling out of her harness and leash. Whew! It would not be good to lose a puppy in the riverbank. We have had that happen with Nigel before, and it was not fun. After two hours of him popping in and out of holes in the river bank, he finally, got tired and sat on a rock down river for Wiley to come get him. Thus, our puppies are always on leashes. That and all the times Nigel has run away at campgrounds after hikes, when we were exhausted, and he should have been, but we then had to chase him and catch him in a strange place, fearing we’d lose him and never see him again. Nigel is the reason we can’t have nice things! LOL!

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Winter Wanderings Day #4, Chewacla State Park, Auburn, AL

Was so happy to wake up at beautiful Chewacla State Park in Auburn, AL in private, wooded, campsite #31. Grateful for Wiley, who drove through the dark in dense fog and slow traffic, as I slept in the back of the van, to get us here, the previous night. When I awoke, it was not raining and was warm, so everything I was hoping for. Thank you, Chewacla!


At lunchtime, we took the puppies for a hike from the campground across the road to the lake. We hiked around the lake past the fabulous CCC bathhouse and cabins on the Falls View Trail. We spoke to a fisherman, who like us, was removing his long sleeve top, under the full sun. It was actually, hot, but I was not complaining. We hiked down past the dam, along the rushing falls and river. We then hiked up and over the mountain to get to the quieter, shallow part of the river, so Nigel could play ball and Pippa do some hunting. Nigel was over the moon with the shallows and rocks, that were such fun for him to jump through to retrieve his ball. Pippa enjoyed hunting on the steep river bank. She got half her body in a fallen tree, snorting and digging to get something, that may or may not have been in there, but she believed it was. We’d seen a lizard earlier, so her switched was flipped. She thought there were critters in every hole and fallen tree. That’s my huntress! After a little bit of play time, we returned to Happy for lunch and to get back to work.

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Chewacla State Park, AL 2/25/18

Left Rocky Bayou SP and Florida on Friday. Spent one night in Auburn, AL at Chewacla State Park, which proved to be a wonderful stop over and most pleasant surprise. Great park with more trails than any State Park, we’ve ever been. Most of them are really mountain bike trails, but they’re mixed use as well. The Auburn University Mtn Bike team practices there. The trails, jumps, and trick areas, were impressive.

Chewacla is another of the fabulous CCC era parks with historic buildings and cabins. It’s really nice and will be our new halfway stop from the Panhandle to the mountains for sure. Good campground with large wooded spots.

We hiked the Sweet Shrub Trail upon arrival. It followed along the lake, to the stream, and beaver pond. It was a nice little hike to stretch our legs after traveling. The puppies were glad to be out and to get some exercise. They’re not big fans of travel days. They’re used to their routine midday and afternoon hikes. When that’s interrupted, they pout.

We woke up Saturday morning and took at quick hike around the lake, to the Falls and river, on the Falls View Trail. We just thought the falls would be the result of the lake dam. We had no idea until we got to the dam that there were huge boulders, cascades, and a river beyond it. It was absolutely gorgeous! The spring trees, flowers, and grass, were just peeking out and made me so happy! Great hike before hitting the road to Greenville, SC to see our Bee.

We drove through Auburn University and downtown on our way out of town. Couldn’t be in Auburn and not see it, our first time there. Beautiful university and really nice town. I sent Miles a text after seeing it and said, he should consider it. He just texted back, “I’m not going to college in Alabama”. I guess that’s the end of that. 17yr olds have definite completely baseless opinions…