After we decided to end our trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway we camped in Mississippi, the next day we started our trek out to Pensacola, Florida. As I mentioned in the last blog post, we changed up our route a little bit so we could see some of the upcoming Mardi Gras parades in Mobile, AL and New Orleans, LA.
We camped at Fort Pickens in Pensacola. Fort Pickens used to be a military fort on Santa Rosa Island. The campground is located on an island between the Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. To get onto the island you have to pay a $15 fee because it’s protected by the National Park Service, but with an annual National Parks pass you can get onto the island for free. Camping was pretty inexpensive, there were restrooms (showers!) and direct access to both beaches. Since we were only staying for one night, seeing a sunset was a must.
After we enjoyed the sunset on the Gulf we walked over to the opposite side of the island to see the Pensacola Bay at night. It was still a very nice beach, but it was so much brighter and windier. We stuck it out for a bit but ended up walking back over to the gulf side so we could cuddle under the stars. It was really cool because naval helicopters kept flying overhead throughout the night so we had something watch. While it wasn’t the warmest night, it was a lot warmer than back home that was being pummeled with 12 inches of snow… So we enjoyed it!
The next morning we packed up and headed towards Mobile, Alabama. We decided to take the scenic route and take a ferry across the Pensacola Bay, it was an it longer, but it was worth it. We got to drive down Santa Rosa Island and see some different things then see the water where we saw lots and lots of birds. By the time we made it to Mobile it was getting pretty close to parade time so we found a parking lot and got ready to watch the parade. And by getting ready we mean, making drinks and stuffing some food in our faces. It’s legal to carry your own drinks around within the entertainment district in Mobile, so we took advantage!
The parade was a great time! Everybody knows New Orleans for their parades, but very few people realize that Mobile is where Mardi Gras first got started! The parade we saw was called “Conde Cavaliers”. It had several floats, high school bands from the area and of course some awesome throws. Some of the throws included moon pies (Mobile is where they come from!), stuffed animals, footballs, Ramen and of course… BEADS!
After the parade everybody flocked to Dauphin Street for the bars and the food stands, because we knew we’d be stuck in the parking lot due to the immediate steet clean up and the traffic we decided to check out their night scene too. We didn’t drink at the bars because we had a bit of a drive, but the people watching was awesome. It looked like a pretty neat area to hang out in. That night we camped in Mississippi again at the same spot we did before Pensacola because it was free, it was safe and it wasn’t far from New Orleans for our trip the next morning.