So, on we drove deeper into the south. To places that had seen the ravages of the Civil War which was not civil at all. Thankfully, many of the little towns were bypassed and were not destroyed by the Union soldiers.
One little town was welcoming Spring. It seems Spring was late almost everywhere this year.
Over tall bridges over rivers running throughout our country.
Until off in the distance we saw another bridge we were going to cross onto an island.
We are getting closer.
Ocean on either side of us.
Up and over and we landed safely on the other side!
Here we were in Dauphin Island, Alabama. I had never heard of this island until a few weeks ago when David and I were discussing where we were going on our road trip. He asked me if I wanted to go to dolphin island. “Dolphin Island!” “No, it’s spelled D-a-u-p-h-I-n Island. We can drive to it.” “Okay,” I said and now here we were. I did not get a picture of the motel in which we stayed. It was called Gulf Breeze Motel and was your quintessential island home away from home. Painted an ocean blue and white on the outside. The bed was covered with a comforter with shells and fish on it. The dresser had shell carvings on its front. Island birds and animals pictures were on the walls. The windows were open with the ocean breezes blowing in. It was indeed magical. Right across the road was the beach, but would you believe, we never got to that beach. Not once. But we did get to a beach. One less traveled. One you had to walk a two mile round trip to get to.
The first day I made new friends.
Just a few feet from our motel’s front door was a little pier and these guys were gathered there. I just happened to have some crackers in the car and they loved them. And they called their friends.
Soon we had several seagulls flying around us.
They posed for us. Seagulls are one of my top five favorite birds. They are really what I miss the most about the beach.
On an island? There has to be a flamingo somewhere.
We wanted to go to the beach and we were told if we parked at a bird sanctuary on the island we could walk to the beach. We weren’t told it was a two mile round trip, but it was worth it. Although we heard not one bird while walking through the bird sanctuary we did enjoy the peacefulness of it and we seemed to be the only people there. When we finally got to the beach, it was almost empty. David played in the water and I laid on the sand and listened to the ocean. We walked a way down the beach and saw a dead crab, a child’s shovel and a few shells. Away out in the distance we could see oil rigs. Oil rigs surround the island. It was so wonderful. Not the oil rigs, just being at the beach with the sun and the sound of the waves. I have always been in awe of the ocean. But we are northerners with very white skin and soon we were both showing a little redness and remembering horrible burns we got years ago on a South Carolina beach, we decided to head back.
The second day on the island we left the island and drove a few miles north of it to a wonderful place called Bellingrath Gardens.
Heading there we got on this road.
Surely these gardens were not on this road. Miss Garmin!!!!
All we saw on this road was this fancy rooster who acted like he very seldom saw other humans except his own. The music from Deliverance was running in my head at this point.
And David would NEVER admit he was lost. Until we came to a dead end and had to turn around. But we did find the garden so all was well.
Land purchased by a Coca Cola CEO in the 1930’s held only an old fishing shack, but he and his wife built a magnificent house and planted wonderful gardens on 65 acres and opened the gardens to the public. The gardens were opened to the public off and on until Mr. Bellingrath died in the 1950’s and has been open to the public ever since. What a gift they have given to all of us. For a fee you can tour their house(we didn’t because we knew it would take us all day to see the gardens even though we were told it all could be seen in a couple of hours) and tour the gardens spread out along the Fowl River. Here are some of the flowers we saw….
These look like cyclamen, but I am not sure. I was entranced by them because I have never seen flowers like this. So sweet.
Orchids in the green house.
Even pineapples were growing.
Fountains all around.
The smell of roses filled the air.
A little mermaid.
More live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. That always says the south to me. Always.
Mrs. Bellingrath was a woman of faith and had a chapel built on the property. Weddings are sometimes held there. The windows were exquisite.
Everywhere you looked there was eye candy.
The house was indeed grand and overlooked the river. But it took us hours to go through the gardens. I’m not done yet.
There was a wooden walkway you could walk around an estuary. Of course it took us a while to walk it as we had to look at everything.
We were surrounded by scenes like this.
A lookout built above the estuary.
Lots of fish. This guy looks about right for frying up in a skillet!
And look at the claws on this guy.
Bamboo grew abundantly.
Two old lions making friends.
Trumpet flowers falling on my head!
David called this the Medusa log. Looks like Medusa’s head, doesn’t it?
We saw this plaque on the way out.
It’s Rebekah at the well giving water to a servant sent to find a wife for Isaac. It’s a story in the book of Genesis. Another of Mrs. Bellingrath’s homages to scriptures.
It was a totally wonderful day and it did take us hours to go through the gardens. Everywhere there were people working on the gardens planting new flowers and mulching. It’s a never ending job. The only part I found that seemed to not belong was an Asian garden. I don’t think it’s original to the gardens. It was poorly kept and had very few if any flowers. I don’t know if it was under construction or something or was not as popular as all the rest. It just didn’t fit in. But all in all, if you are ever in this part of the country, Bellingrath gardens is really worth seeing.
We went through the gift shop and David bought me the prettiest umbrella. I had been complaining to him a while back when it was raining, that I could never seem to find an umbrella. Now I have one of my own.
On our way back to the motel we passed this.
An old fashioned tent revival. I would have liked to have gone, but David was tired so we passed on by. Next, we visit a Civil War fort and head back north. Bye.