How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part IV

The last of our summer vacation has come and gone.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

We started the week and ended the week letterboxing around Baldwin County.  Some friends joined us each time.  Monday we found a box at Alligator Walk; Tuesday we located the one at the welcome center in Spanish Fort; the following Monday we went to  the Foley airport and the Foley Train Museum.  That last box we found had a hitchhiker which is always fun; an extra stamp for your book. 

There was supposed to be a box in Historic Village Point Preserve but we couldn’t find it.  Instead we found the Jackson’s Oak and the D’Olive Cemetery.  Village Point Preserve is  “one of the most historic sites in Alabama”, at least that’s what the brochure says.  It is the site of an Early American cemetery, one of the largest and most historic Live Oak trees in Alabama, the site of seven Alabama State Champion Trees, one of the largest remaining undeveloped bayfront areas on the Eastern Shore.  It contains nature trails and picnic area.  Somewhere I read or heard there is an Indian mound on the grounds but it is not on the brochure I have. 

Letterboxing at Alligator Walk

Letterboxing at Alligator Walk

Searching for a letterbox at Jackson's Tree; never did find it.

Searching for a letterbox at Jackson's Tree; never did find it.

Jackson's Tree, Daphne AL

Jackson's Tree, Daphne AL

 The train museum in Foley was a blast.  The clues take you through a rose garden that was beautiful.  After searching for the two boxes on the clue (one was missing and the other had a hitchhiker) we went to the museum.  The boys (5 in all) looked around and were enjoying themselves.  The lady who works there  told us she would open the room with the O Gauge train set which is only open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  She said she couldn’t run the train but would let us see it.  Oh, you have to make the trip there on a day it’s open.  The set was just more than amazing.  Apparently the man that owned it had willed it to the museum.  He said it had to be set out on one level and free to the public.  Volunteers assembled it and run it.  The city buildings are so cool; the traffic lights are set; one building is on fire (fake of course); the fire station operates but the truck doesn’t make it to the building; a car gets a car wash; the drive in diner is open; behind the circus tent is a drive-in theatre that shows movies of the era; the list of cool stuff goes on.  You have to visit and see for yourself.

Looking for the letterbox

Looking for the letterbox

Stamping the book

Stamping the book

The train garden

The train garden

playing on the train engine

playing on the train engine

In the museum we saw an old time vacuum that is pumped by hand, an old washing machine, typewriters that I used in highschool to type my papers on (I’m just shy of 50), old cash registers and other really cool stuff.  The restored trains sit outside the museum (an old train depot) and the Caboose is open on Saturdays.

THEN…we went to Stacey’s Drug store for ice cream at the old fashioned soda fountain/ice cream shot/pharmacy.  So cool.  Even the prices were old-school.  After ice cream the boys congregated around the jukebox.

Tuesday we played mini golf in Spanish Fort and ate ice cream.  The three of us had way too much fun and consequently we didn’t take pictures of our best shots.  Travis got a hole in one, I got a hole in one and Austin took the most tries to get the ball in the cup on one hole.  We stopped counting at 13 but he took longer.  I gave him a 9 on the score card.  That’s the most I allowed on the card.  We laughed too hard at some holes and just couldn’t make the shot.  Anyway, I won, Travis came in 2nd and Austin followed at third.  We just love minigolf.  Next time we’re heading to Gulf Shores and check out their minigolf.

When the boys were really young we lived in Myrtle Beach: home of miniature golf.  I don’t remember how many there were in town but we attempted to play all of them.  We fell short (not by many) but had a great time.  The boys were under 7 years old when we left, so as youngsters I’d say that had a fun time.  Minigolf is in their blood.

On another day we went to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear.  We had been there before and wanted to walk down along the bay but a storm was coming and we didn’t get too far.  We tried again this week but still didn’t make it all the way.  At the end of the walk is Punta Clara restaurant (which means Point Clear).  That’s a long walk.  Maybe if we had taken water and bug spray we’d have lasted longer.  We fed the ducks at the hotel and then to went to the Historic Confederate Rest Cemetery located on the hotel grounds.  If it’s haunted we couldn’t tell.  I suppose all the dead are at peaceful rest.  We looked around at the names, dates and other info.  There were some infants, youth, and some that lived long lives.  In the center is the Confederate Dead.  With all the crosses lined up, some had markers and some didn’t.  Apparently the names of the buried dead were held at the hotel, until the hotel burned along with the names.  We’ll never know who’s there.  The story of the cemetery is really quite fascinating so if you want more info call the Grand Hotel and ask them to send you the yellow brochure on the cemetery.  251-928-9201

Historic Marker

Historic Marker

outside the Confederate Rest Cemetery in Point Clear, AL

outside the Confederate Rest Cemetery in Point Clear, AL

unknown soldiers

unknown soldiers

unknown Confederate dead

unknown Confederate dead

 We spent another day at Weeks Bay Estuarine Reserve.  They have a great interpretive center with fossils, a diorama, live creatures including an alligator, snakes and a hermit crab tank that you could get your hands into.  There was a fabulous education room with nature specimens in drawers, glass cabinets and pictures.  Then we took a boardwalk trail, identified trees and spiders.  We saw skinks, dragonfies of all colors, and birds on the river.    We drove over to the pitcher plant bog but, in the middle of nowhere with no one around us we decided to come back later with Gary.  I can’t wait to see the pitcher plants.  Hope they’re in bloom.

Alligator in the interpretive center

Alligator in the interpretive center

Speckled King Snake likes following Austin's finger

Speckled King Snake likes following Austin's finger

Weeks Bay Estuarian boardwalk trail

Weeks Bay Estuarian boardwalk trail

View from the end of the boardwalk

View from the end of the boardwalk

Our summer vacation in Alabama is over.  Tomorrow we begin homeschool.  “Darn,” says Travis.  “I kind of like school,” says Austin.  There will be days off because we like “doing stuff” so stay tuned the “Adventures of the Saunders Family.”

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, part 1

We are taking the whole month of August off from our homeschool and the boys will return to their learning September 1.  Lucky for them we have signed up for an all day nature field trip with the Fresh Air Family group that just started a chapter here in Lower Alabama (LA).  Meanwhile, we’re on vacation.  The boys did have tennis team practice on Monday, but that’s our only obligation.

This week we hung out with some friends.  After a relaxing weekend with Gary (bookstore, farm market, hangin’ out) we got together with another family in the neighborhood (homeschoolers who  just moved here from Wisconsin) and just enjoyed ourselves.  Their two children and mine get along really well.  I think the kids spent most of their time this week playing with mega-sized Nerf guns and eating popcorn. 

Wednesday was the usual pool day with the Lake Forest homeschoolers.  It was the last day of this activity for the summer because,  I’m told, the pool will now only open after 3pm when the schools let out.  There goes our pool swimming.  But the boys had their hydro-therapy and enjoyed it.  We’ll head to the beach next time.

Today we did two things: found the historic post office location for Montrose Alabama and went to Bellingrath Gardens, on the Mobile side of the bay.  It was the 141st birthday of the founder/owner of the gardens and house, and the Gardens staff celebrated with free admission to the gardens to all Mobile and Baldwin County residents.  You had to pay extra for a house tour.  There was also free cake and ice cream, which the boys both enjoyed. 

Bellingrath Gardens: beginning of the garden path

Bellingrath Gardens: beginning of the garden pathOne of two lily ponds in the rose garden

Bellingrath Rose Garden
Bellingrath Rose Garden

The gardens are beautiful.  The variety of plants, flowers and arrangement of the gardens made it enjoyable to view.  There was a hot house, a butterfly garden, plantings surrounding various  waterfalls, pools, and lakes. 101_3485

 101_3489The property is on the Fowl River and there is even a boardwalk through the salt marsh area with posted information about various types of birds, reptiles, fish, plants etc.101_3495  The walk took us probably just under 2 hours.  It was hot and at one point we hastily walked on to the end for refreshments.   A cooler day would have been ideal; we could have rested along many of the sitting areas.  Few were shaded and most had black chairs (hot) so we passed on the resting spots. We’ll go back again in the fall or winter when family comes to visit.

101_3502 

As for the post office:

 101_3474101_3475101_3473I live on the far north end of Fairhope, really a stone’s throw from Montrose, Alabama so when I go to the post office I use the Montrose one.  It is small, cheerful and very short lines, if any.  Its a modern building but the original one was down the street and is now on the historic register.  The sign reads that retired riverboat Captain Thomas Marshall and his family moved from Mobile to Montrose and he was appointed post master.  When he died his widow became postmaster and had this little building built on their property.  Mail came by boat from Mobile.  She would take mail not picked up during the day into the house where neighbors could stop by, during the evening hours, for their mail.  It was used as a post office until 1913.  During the 1940s it was a lending library for the community and was placed on the historic register in the 1970s.

This weekend we are off to New Orleans.  Stay tuned for more adventures.