I didn’t have much in the way of expectations for Mobile, Alabama, but I was pleasantly surprised – in both directions. Let’s go over the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The RV park we stayed in was beautiful and very well maintained. When we arrived at All About Relaxing RV Park, the office was closed, but the owner met us at the gate and showed us to our site, and helped us get backed in. In the morning when I went to the office to register, they were practically bending over backwards to make sure we were happy and had everything we needed. I got recommendations for restaurants, sight-seeing, you name it. She told us to call any time, day or night, if we needed anything. The campground is relatively small, just one straight road of sites. At the end of the road is a pool (not heated), two gazebos with tables and porch swings, a fire pit, dog park, and the showers/laundry room. Along one side of the park are more porch swings, a giant chess set, a badminton net, etc.
We thought we’d be perfectly happy here, but there was a downside. They are NOT kid-friendly. When I inquired about their rule that says they reserve the right to block internet access if you stream too much, the owner said I should tell my kids not to use the Wi-Fi at all, because there are adult guests who really need it. The rules also state that children are not to be out of their RV without adult supervision – which you can read to mean that they can’t even be out in your site without an adult watching. So, okay, whatever. We follow the rules. However.. one of my children posted a review on Google saying that he was unhappy with the rules (not dishonest or rude, just stating his opinion), and I got an email from the owner complaining that I didn’t explain the rules to him and that I should supervise him better, and that his review would hurt his business. Then she posted an incredibly condescending response to his review. So.. I don’t mind if there are rules that we dislike (our fault for choosing that campground), but that was really an inappropriate response to an accurate, if unhappy, review.
Our other problem with this campground is that we got spoken to several times about exceeding the speed limit (5 mph) – even though we weren’t. I’m not sure if it was our liberal bumper stickers or what. But campers beware! (Seriously, though, if you don’t have kids and don’t advertise that you’re anything other than a right-wing Christian, I’m sure you’ll have a great experience!)
This little museum was a fun find, and we got in for free with the ASTC reciprocal program. The Exploreum is, in some ways, geared towards younger kids, but they did have several things in the health/body exhibit that were definitely meant for kids Colwyn and Lachlann’s ages. We easily spent two hours there, but probably couldn’t have stretched it to three. However – there was quite literally one other family there when we were, so if the kids had to wait turns for things, it would probably take longer. And speaking of the lack of crowds – early afternoon on a weekday is the way to go, confirmed by museum staff.
Originally, I was very excited about getting to go to the Sea Lab Estuarium, but then I read a few reviews that called it, “a little aquarium” and my expectations fell a bit. However – it was awesome! Now, to be fair to the reviewers, it is, in fact, a little aquarium. But that label just doesn’t do it justice.
We headed straight inside when we got there because it was quite chilly. I chatted up the lady at the desk while she scanned my Groupon (always check Groupon – we got a good deal!) and she offered to give us the worksheet-type packets they give to kids on fieldtrips. Those worksheets actually made a world of difference because they added a level of focus and engagement that might not have otherwise been there. The short film at the beginning was worth watching, and then they hit you with my favorite – turtles! Seriously, there were so many turtles here. I was in heaven.
There were a lot of different tanks/habitats, all well thought-out and complete with thorough, informative displays. Aside from the turtles, the tank with the rays and horseshoe crabs was a big hit – everyone liked getting to touch the rays. There was a fun table with all sorts of other artifacts to touch and examine as well. We all learned quite a bit from our time there and had a lot of fun doing so!
There are boardwalks outside with interpretive signs, but in January, there wasn’t a whole lot to see.
I did not personally go to the USS Alabama because I woke up feeling under the weather. I was really disappointed, but as soon as Doug started sending me texts after arriving, I quickly changed my mind. If you’ve seen our videos (and if you haven’t, watch them!), you’ll know that I’m on the larger side. I’m perfectly capable of taking long walks – we go on hikes several times a week. But there was no way I could have done as many ladders as poor Doug and the kids had to go up and down, and I honestly think I probably couldn’t have fit through many of the hatches. Doug said that even Fiona had to duck her head a few times (that may have been in the submarine, the USS Drum). So while Doug and the kids had a fantastic time – even if they came home a bit sore – I’m so glad I didn’t go!
This little free museum is at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. When I say it’s little, it really is little – I think it took us about a half hour for the kids to check out everything they wanted to. However, if you take the time to read every interpretive sign, it would probably take longer. What the museum really excels at, though, is bringing history to life. There are several large displays with life-size mannequins in different settings. There’s even an inn that you can walk into, with two rooms and audio of the French-speaking proprietors in the background. It might not sound like much, but we found it to be worth our time.
And now that we’ve talked about me being overweight, let me tell you about where we went out to eat! (where’s that lol-ing emoticon??) Anyway. We’ve been trying to sample the food that exemplifies the culture of the area we visit, and Dick Russell’s seemed to be a good choice. We had intended to go to breakfast, but we just can’t manage getting up that early. So we went for dinner one night, and it was pretty good! It was definitely a southern-type BBQ joint. Doug and I got the gumbo and some BBQ, while the boys got a seafood platter to share. We also tried fried pickles for the first time – boy, did Fiona like those! Anyway – while the food wasn’t haute cuisine or anything, it was definitely yummy, and the service was wonderful.
We’ve uploaded two videos of our time in Mobile – check them out! And don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe, and share!