From Mardi Gras to Seaside Defense - Our Journey along the Gulf Coast
After a drenching in Texas, we had a brief reprieve in Lake Charles, Louisiana as we continued our journey along the Gulf Coast. Time enough to make a short trip south of the city and stretch our legs on Holly Beach to enjoy a little sun. Sun we hadn't seen since Goliad.
We also discovered that Lake Charles has the second largest Mardi Gras Celebration in the United States. So we paid a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu to find out more. Here's our video of the visit.
We had a great time at the Museum and want to give a big thanks to David Faulk for the tour. If you would like to find out more about the museum, you can see their website HERE.
Read about the fascinating history of Mardi Gras in the U.S., and see our Mardi Gras Slide Show in our article HERE.
After time with our friend Ann (thanks for the use of your driveway), we pushed out of Lake Charles to begin our exploration of historic forts along the coast.
First established as Fort Bowyer during the War of 1812, the strategic location on the coast of Alabama, some 20 miles west of Gulf Shores, proved advantageous for America as the British suffered a humiliating defeat here. Construction on a new fortress began in 1819, and years later, in 1833, it was named Fort Morgan before being completed the next year.
Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsInside the walls of Fort Morgan. Standing guard where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August, 1864 during the Civil War. Falling into Union Hands, it was used it as a base for reconnaissance raids, and then as a staging area for the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely, which occurred days before General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonPhoto by Dave Alexander. Read about the history of the Fort Morgan National Historic Site Here.
This is worth a stop and price of admission, but our relationship with Mother Nature was still on the rocks as the Alabama coast was experiencing an unusual bitter cold blast with enough wind to numb your nose while we were there. If it had been a nice day, there's a ferry just outside the fort grounds that we could have taken over to historic Fort Gaines, but not this day. We also missed historic Fort Conde in Mobile due to rain. Still, we captured the moment at Fort Morgan.
Fort Barrancas was built on the site of numerous previous forts, including Fort San Carlos de Austria, which was constructed by the Spanish in 1698. The British used this site as a harbor fortification, building the Royal Navy Redoubt in 1763.
Pensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas Entryway During the War of 1812 between the United States and the England, the fort was the scene of the American victory at the Battle of Pensacola in 1814. When the United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1821 the U.S. Navy selected Pensacola Bay as the site for a United States Navy Yard.
Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Cannon Fort Barrancas was deactivated in 1947. The U.S. Navy then incorporated the site into Naval Air Station Pensacola. In 1971, Congress authorized the establishment of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which included Fort Barrancas National Historic Site. After a $1.2 million restoration, Fort Barrancas was opened to the public in 1980.
Fort Barrancas is located on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola but they are both managed as historic properties by the National Park Service. Access to Naval Air Station Pensacola by non-Department of Defense affiliated personnel may be subject to homeland security and military force protection concerns. Oh, and make sure you go to the right entrance. We got a little lost trying to find our way in.... you want the West Entrance to the base. Take my word, don't go to the East entrance..unless you belong there of course.
On the way in to see the historic Fort, stop in at the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, established in 1859.
Pensacola, FL - Lighthouse The Lighthouse overlooks three historic forts and the historic Naval Yard, and provides some spectacular views. Just across the street you'll find the National Naval Aviation Museum, the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world and the most visited in Florida. Historic Fort Barrancas is right around the corner from the museum.
For more about Fort Barrancas and the area, read about it HERE.
Also read more about Florida's Maritime History HERE.
During our travels we were spending quite a bit of time in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Fort Massachusetts, MSFort Massachusetts by the National Park Service Stretching for miles along the southern coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and the northwestern corner of Florida, this National Seashore helps tell the story of the development of the United States as an independent nation.
There was plenty we didn't see and do, and at some point we'll need to come back to this area and explore more. Additional heavy rains changed a few of our plans again, however, by the time we got further into Florida, we made peace with Mother Nature. On our last stop before our primary destination of Crescent City, we sighed a bit of relief and enjoyed the Sunset of this leg of our journey.
Keaton Beach, FL - SunsetPhoto by Dave Alexander. During this portion of our Journey, we stayed at:
Pass Christian RV Park (Pass Christian, MS) - We gave this overnight stay 4 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, primarily for friendliness. No wifi here, and a bit off the beaten track, but a pleasant overnighter. (P.S. Don't believe your Tom Tom for directions here, unless of course you want a scenic tour of a neighborhood before coming back out only to turn just a few hundred feet into the park).
Foley Sunchase RV Park (Foley, AL) - We stayed 3 nights at this one while exploring history and gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews. To be fair, the manager we dealt with indicated he wasn't there much longer, and I would say that's a good thing as he was a bit odd (roaming around the outside of the trailer when he thought we weren't there, having his dog piss on our truck, etc). Great new Community building and lots of planned activities, and overall great people, including who I believe was the incoming new manager ready to take creepazoid's place. Wifi had issues due to a recent storm, but otherwise would be adequate, with the typical exception of peak traffic times.
Old Pavilion RV Park (Keaton Beach, FL) - We stayed overnight before pushing on to our month long stay in Crescent City. Gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews. Mostly sandy sites right by the beach, although the beach seemed a little unkept. Also noticed standing water smells and a tinge of sewer, however it did look like they were working on something while we were there. Location is the key on this park (Sunset photo above taken from a campsite we weren't on). Hard to find the office, but the owners were really nice. Couldn't attach to their wifi during our brief stay.
Keywords: Fort Barrancas, Fort Morgan, Lake Charles, Mardi Gras Museum, Pensacola Lighthouse, historic gulf coast forts, photo, video
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