Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fire Ants & Frigid Alabama

The night we stayed at the campfire until 1:00am, right near the end, all of a sudden Janice felt like she was being stung on her feet by bees. By the time we were in bed they were extremely itchy and hot. In the morning her feet had what looked like pimples all over them. We Googled the symptoms and were pretty sure that she had been attacked by Fire Ants. The pharmacist confirmed it. The ants actually bite and inject a poisonous sack under the skin. The bites become extremely itchy, but you’re not allowed to scratch because they can become easily infected and scratching them drives the infection deeper. We got some Cortisone Cream, which helps slightly but still, they’re driving her crazy. Some people react to the bites the same as they would to wasp or hornet stings, with their throats closing and all. In North America, Fire Ants are only found in the Southeastern United States.

Pictured are Janice’s feet and the Fire Ant Bites.

We left Mexico Beach under sunny skies, once again heading into the storm. By the time we got to Pensacola and stopped for lunch, near the Florida/Alabama border, it had turned decidedly colder and a tide of dark clouds had overcome the sunshine. The forecast was for snow, freezing rain and even ice storms for the northern regions of the deep south. Luckily for us we were below the real danger zone.

The sand at Pensacola is unbelievably white. It must certainly be the cause of the odd case of snow blindness on sunny days. I never got a picture because of the bitter cold and wind.

At Magnolia Springs, Alabama, we pulled into the RV Hideout Park at around three o’clock. The wind had whipped up there too and the temperature had dropped to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so we hunkered down in the trailer and watched some NFL playoff action. The RV Hideout is attached to a Par 3 golf course and campers can golf all day for $10.00. Too bad it’s so chilly because it just doesn’t look very inviting right now.

Pictured is the golf course at the RV park after the clouds cleared.

It was a good thing our neighbours in Zephyrhills convinced us to buy the $50.00 membership to Passport America because being a member reduces the fee at member RV sites by 50%. So far, in two weeks, we’ve saved about $200.00 and the book that accompanies the membership has brought us to some parks that we never would have found otherwise.

We went to a meet and greet at the clubhouse in the morning, over coffee and donuts, to find out about what there was to do around here. We were informed that there’s a place called Lambert’s, famous for Throwed Rolls, where they make fresh dinner rolls and throw them out to patrons, with a lot of fanfare. We also learned of The Fish River Grill that is famous for huge helpings of swamp soup, catfish, fries, slaw and cake, all for $9.95. There’s Lulu’s Restaurant, owned by Jimmy Buffet’s sister, and there’s the huge National Naval Air Museum back at Pensacola that has three different Imax shows. The museum is supposed to be the best of it’s kind, and it’s free. It’s also the home base for the Blue Angels.

We had already decided to drive to Gulf Shores that day, where we witnessed some of the clean-up from the BP oil spill. There are literally hundreds of machines working on this five mile stretch, sifting all of the sand and replacing it. It’s hard to imagine how many people and machines are working the coastlines in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. No wonder the price of gas has spiked so high, and so rapidly. You didn’t think the oil industry was going to pay for all this did you?

Pictured is one of the hundreds of the machines working along Gulf Shores. You can see some of the oil on the hillside in front of the excavator.

On the way back from Gulf Shores we spotted The Fish River Grill and split one of the $9.95catfish orders, which was almost more than the two of us could put away.

In the evening I joined some others in the clubhouse to watch Auburn University, which is in Alabama, beat the Oregon Ducks, in the final seconds of the football game, for the National Collegiate Championship.

On Tuesday we returned to Pensacola and the National Naval Air Museum. We decided on The Hubble show at the Imax theatre. Is it ever a big universe when viewed through the eye of Hubble and exhibited on an eighty foot wide by seven storey high Imax screen! We perused the rest of the museum before being talked into parting with ten bucks getting into the Blue Angels flight simulator. There were just the two of us in it and when the hydraulic door closed, leaving us in a small, dark, space, I freaked momentarily. When the simulation began though, I loosened up and got into it.

Pictured are some of the exhibits at the Air Museum. I don’t know if the Blue Angels simulator shot is fuzzy because I was shaking or because of the darkness - probably a little of both.

On the way back from the museum we visited Perdido National Park where the sand dunes look like snow drifts. Oil cleanup is going on there too.

Pictured is the beach at Perdidio National Park. Imagine - they've sifted through every grain of this sand to a depth of three feet because of the oil spill.

I wouldn’t have thought that the coast of Alabama would be such a tourist Mecca but, after having seen Orange City and the Gulf Shores, I now know differently - not because many people are around now, but because of the thousands of towering condos that line the beaches.


  1. Oh, Janice! My feet are itching for you. The bites look so painful. I had 17 bed-bug-bites once from a classy place in Arizona...ouch, ouch. I took 48 to Lambert's one time...great fun. Tim your photography is so excellent...but then we expect that. I really enjoy your blog and happy when I see a picture of the two of you. hugs, cuz.

  2. Janice, I forgot to suggest you soak your feet in baking soda and water to help get ride of the sting (like for the measel ) or maybe dab with calamine.
    I'm surprised you were allowed to take so many pictures inside the air Museum as a lot of places feel this is a threat to security.
    More beautiful beaches.