After years of good and fond memories in our high wall pop-up camper, it was time to say goodbye. We loved the ease of the set-up and take down, the sense it gave to being outdoors with fresh air surrounding...but we knew our dream rig was out there. In an effort to set ourselves up for retirement we began our search.
We finally found her! The Open Range Ultra Lite 2710RL. So we said farewell to our pop-up, a chunk of our savings and set the Open Range on the open road.
In desperate need of a break from pubescent boys and girls, and King Ralph in need of a break from life, we chose an escape to Dauphin Island, Alabama.
We were ready to experience some new firsts--Walmart parking lot over nights was certain to be one. We've seen RVs parked overnight in our local Walmart for years and figured it was worth a try. King Ralph downloaded an app that tells which Walmarts allow over night stays, even rates them. How does one rate a parking lot? Well, it's more about the safety of the area.
We found ourselves overnight at the Walmart in the upscale city of Madison, Mississippi. When we arrived at nearly midnight there was already three other RVs parked. We all lined up across the rear of the parking lot, creating an impromptu mini-campground. With the exception of the nightingale's song sung most of the night, I rested comfortably in the parking lot, in our queen size bed.
Before hitting the highway again we bounced into Walmart to pick up a few items--bread, milk, donuts (travelers breakfast treat), RV toilet blue stuff...but, what we really needed was a cup o'joe.
Standing in the parking lot to the left stood a coffee hut named "Mocha Mugs." I turned the drive-thru into walk-thru ordered a large coffee w/ cream and a large Earl Grey hot tea. The young ladies working in the hut gave truth to the sentiment of southern charm--they were both warm and friendly. They bid me safe travels and a fun week.
Upon arriving at Dauphin Island Park Campground I knew it wasn't going to be my favorite. First, the gals at the check-in station could really use a course in smiling and welcoming. "Do you think you're going to stay the whole week?" Hmmm, well, ya! We did make reservations for a week. Way to make us feel like maybe we shouldn't stay. We were then given the option to check out a site different from what we reserved. After checking it out we decided the full-hookup site wasn't worth the hassle it would take to jockey our new rig in the spot. We stuck with our water and electric site. Where oddly enough our camping neighbors lived down the road from our sticks-n-bricks home.
The sign as you drive into the campground that says "DO NOT DISTURB OTHERS" made us think someone was crushing the stereotype that campers are the friendliest folk around. It didn't scare us!
It was evident that this campground was full of snowbirds escaping the northern winter, leaving King Ralph and I the "teenagers" of the campground. But, that's not what turned my nose up. It was the cable cords running across the roads from site to site and the campground's lax on there own printed rules. The guy behind us had a few appliances outside his camper, along with a lot of other miscellaneous nonsense. It's those things where you lose the camp-esque feeling. However, most sites were kept tidy.
The campground bathrooms need some sprucing up and really could have used my elbow grease. They where, however, sufficient for the needs. There are no fire rings available and ground fires are permitted (seems crazy and Smokie Bear wouldn't approve). Smart campers created or brought portable fire rings. The community building offered up a plethora of puzzles, books and a wood burning stove for those chilly rainy days/nights. There was wifi available in the community building--which was both a plus and an inconvenience. Mostly because it was spotty at best. The few children in the campground wasted no time inhabiting the decent playground. There's a large fish cleaning station...fishing is a favorite past time on Dauphin Island.
What makes this campground nice is its location to the bird sanctuary and bike trails. The trails of the sanctuary start inside the campground and made for a peaceful and relaxing stroll to start our Sunday.
The paved bike trail that stretches the length of the island made for daily leisure rides and island exploration.
We grew to like the campground more as the week went on, so we give the campground two and half stars and the island three stars. You're pretty isolated from services on Dauphin Island (shopping, dining, etc.) which is the reason for only three stars, but it is great place to go to just kick back and do nothing but relax. We don't count out a return.