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Winter Wanderings Day #12, Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL.

Well, Friday was the day I had been hoping for, sunny, and 64 at lunchtime. Hallelujah! We hiked on the Campground Trail, to the Armadillo Trail, to the Middle Lake Overlook. The lake was gorgeous with the sun glistening, like diamonds, on the surface. Wiley and I sat at the overlook picnic table with the puppies lying on the dock, all basking in the glorious sunlight, soaking the warmth in after weeks of cold. It was just what the doctor ordered!

On the hike back, there were several people gathered around a small waterway in the campground. They were looking at a gator sunning itself on the far bank. I got a little to bold for Wiley’s liking and went to the closer bank’s water’s edge to snap a picture. Wiley asked, that I please not get “gatored” and get away from there, so I obliged, but only after I got my shot. Yea gator!

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Winter Wanderings Day #11, Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

Thursday morning was gray and chilly. The rain was not predicted until 3:00, so at lunchtime we layered up with hats and gloves, hitting the trails towards the “Dog Pond at Lake Shelby”. We took some dirt and some paved trails to hike the 1.5mi to the dog park. The park was definitely more biker friendly, than hiker. The signage was confusing with no long length dirt only trails, but 27mi of paved bike trails.

We first hiked to the Canal Trail Observation Dock for a nice view of Lake Shelby and the Lakefront and Eagle Cabins across the lake. The canals, we hiked by in the park were fascinating. “They were dug 600yrs ago by the Mississippian Indians. These canals made it possible to travel from Mobile to Pensacola to borrow, sell, and trade stuff with their neighbors. Connecting the park’s lakes to the back bays kept the native travelers safe from the dangers of open water”.

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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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