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Away We Go (Issue No. 4)

Howdy Folks,

Welcome to the 4th issue of Away We Go. In this issue, I’ll be chatting about our stay in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

After leaving Kerville, TX, we headed east on the lovely highway I-10. Yes, let that sarcasm soak in.

Dear Texas, Why are your roads so horrible?

Every time we hit a pothole, which was about every five minutes, my heart leapt into my throat. Did every drinking glass in the fifth-wheel break? Yes, yes they did. Note to self: glass and moving homes don’t mesh well.

After a thrilling journey down our favorite highway (there’s that sarcasm again) we pulled into Katy Lakes RV Park near Houston, TX. So where are the photos of this lovely establishment? They’re not on this blog, my friends. Why? The place was an eyesore. I think I could have reached out the window and touched our neighbor’s RV. The chain linked fence gave it a cozy penitentiary vibe. Thankfully, we only stayed there for two nights.

Bright side: I got to see my best friend while Justin and Emerson explored the Natural History museum.

After our brief stay at Katy Lakes, we continued down I-10 into Louisiana.

Dear Louisiana, Why are your roads worse than Texas?

I mean, how hard is it to make even lanes? Are massive potholes required? Is it a rite of passage to ride for hours with bated breath, hoping your fifth-wheel doesn’t detach from your truck? Anything is possible in the Pelican State. And yeah, I can be critical because I grew up in Baton Rouge. ;-)

Luckily, Cajun Palms RV Resort in Henderson, Louisiana made up for the disastrous roads. Emerson lived his best life, running after Justin at the water park, playing at the arcade, and braving the haunted dinosaur trail. I couldn’t take part in the fun because of my broken foot. Bummer. At least we got to have a lovely Cajun meal with my grandfather and aunt.

We then headed to my birth state, Mississippi. Biloxi Bay RV Resort & Marina is a newer park, so the landscaping crew was just getting started during our stay. I imagine that in the future, the park will be lovely. The view of the bay made up for the lack of amenities. My beloved husband had a minor incident with his pride while backing our RV into a tight spot. He’s usually a champ with back in sites, but this one presented a challenge thanks to a neighboring vehicle. After 45 minutes of holding our breath, Emerson and I hopped out of the truck and headed to the bay while Justin cooled off.

My father and stepmother visited us during our stay at Biloxi Bay. We had a great time playing games and eating BBQ.

Our next stop was our final destination and home for the next three months: Gulf Breeze RV Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Now, this isn’t an RV park that screams aesthetics or amenities, but its charming residents and staff welcomed us with open arms. We got lucky with a beautiful shaded corner site that gave Gunner plenty of room to chase after Emerson. And did I mention we were only ten minutes from the beach?

Visiting Gulf Shores at the end of the season was fantastic. It’s still warm enough to visit the beach and get a suntan, but we didn’t have to wait hours to eat and the traffic was virtually non-existent.

So what did we do while visiting Gulf Shores? Plenty. Our family loves the beach, so we took advantage of the warm weather and spent our days lounging in the sun, boogie boarding, exploring tourist traps, building sand castles, collecting shells, and biking in the gorgeous Gulf State Park.

As fall blew in, we frequented the local zoo. The animals were quite lively. I’m pretty sure a baboon wanted to fight my mom when she visited.

Alligator Alley was a wonderful sanctuary to see gators thriving in their natural habitat.

The Bellingrath Gardens and Home was gorgeous with its Christmas light display, and the indoor tour of the 10,000 sq ft home blew our minds.

The interior was stunning. It felt like we had traveled back in time.

The Factory catered toward my boys, both big and small, love of rock climbing.

For Halloween, we dressed up as zombies, as per Emerson’s request, and visited OWA.

The unremarkable theme park was overpriced, and Emerson didn’t appreciate the terrifying clown who chased him around the park. Personally, I found it hilarious. Mom of the year right here.

Our visit to the USS Alabama near Mobile was exceptional. I highly recommend the self-guided tours of both the battleship and the submarine. The battleship’s history is remarkable.

One of our favorite parts during our stay in Gulf Shores was our proximity to family. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with my father, stepmother, and stepsisters, enjoyed a quick visit with Justin’s parents, and another visit with my mom and stepfather after the new year. The five of us took a day trip to Pensacola, Florida.

Now let’s chat about restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping. Gulf Shores is a tourist destination. I repeat, Gulf Shores is a tourist destination. If you’re looking for farm-to-table restaurants or exquisite cuisine, then Gulf Shores isn’t the place for you. When I found out we were heading to the beach, I thought, “Awesome. I can’t wait to indulge in fresh seafood.” My mistake for assuming a beach town would serve mouth watering feasts.

The Steamer Baked Oyster Bar was literally the only seafood spot we liked.

Everything else was overpriced and tasted like Red Lobster on a mediocre day. The Safari Club at the zoo, the famous Lamberts, and Woodside were our only saving grace. Let’s just say that we ate at home—a lot.

I really started missing HEB while living in Gulf Shores. Publix is a nice grocer, but the prices are exuberant compared to our beloved Texan grocery store. Walmart was the best option to save a few bucks, but don’t get me started on their poor produce and questionable meat selections. We never made it to Rouses Market. Perhaps we missed the diamond in the rough.

Shopping runs included the local Target, beach and surf shops, and Books-A-Million. Ahh…it was so nice to pick up a physical book. I’ve been reading on a Kindle since we sold our home.

Speaking of books, I held off on book tour stops because, honestly; I was having too much fun living life. I put work on the back burner and soaked up some much needed quality time with my beautiful family. To all of my readers who follow this blog, yes, I am working on GLIMPSE OF TIME, but I’m taking my sweet time. I have zero desire to publish a new series in the current political/social climate. With that being said, my current plan is to release GLIMPSE OF TIME ten years after the release of SEEKER OF TIME. Yep, you heard that right. GLIMPSE OF TIME, the first book in the new series, will release in 2027 followed by book two in 2028, and book three in 2029. I’ve been reading a ton of books, digesting them, and taking notes. I have big plans for the CAPTURING TIME SAGA. Trust me; it’s worth the wait.

I hope you are all doing well, staying healthy, and enjoying life. I’ll reach out again soon with issue number five. Keep your inboxes open!

Much love and God bless,

J.M. Buckler

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