Alabama, Where We've Been

USS Alabama, Flight Works Alabama, Fort Gaines, Sea Lab at Dauphin Island

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USS Alabama

A small portion of Alabama borders the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. Within Mobile Bay lies the USS Alabama. This battleship was commissioned during WW2 and originally assigned to helped strengthen British forces in the Atlantic. In 1943, it was transferred to the Pacific to help fight the war against Japan. The ship was designed for providing shore bombardment and anti-aircraft defense for aircraft carriers.

The ship is decked out with a grand total of 129 guns. With weaponry like that it’s not hard to see why the USS Alabama came out unscathed after many battles.

Down inside the belly of the ship is the living quarters. Sailors would choose from a selection of sausages, cereals, fruits, and other selections for breakfast. It didn’t look too appetizing to myself or the kids. Maybe it was just that they were props, but I think we would just as soon skip breakfast or head out with just an orange in hand. 

Sleeping quarters weren’t much better. In different sections of the ship, these cots hung from the ceiling to provide a night’s sleep for the crew. Ellie did try sleeping in one and said it was surprisingly comfortable. 

While wandering the ship, we found a rather vacant room with only a few metal shelves. Ellie asked if this was the ballet room. Nope! Definitely not.

After finishing the USS Alabama tour, we went to the USS Drum located at the same Battleship Park. The USS Drum is a submarine from the same WW2 time frame. It has also since been retired and is on display for tours.

Down inside the submarine, claustrophobia can soon set in. The spaces are much smaller than the USS Alabama, doorways shorter, and walking spaces much more narrow.

Jaden played with some of the gauges on the wall to see if he could figure out how they worked.

These are the torpedo tubes. There are two tubes located in the front and the rear of the sub. Torpedoes were loaded from the sides, placed on the rollers, and loaded into the tubes.

Flight Works Alabama

Flight Works Alabama is a little hidden gem we didn’t find until later in the week. They are an Airbus education center for learning about flight and planes. During certain times of the year, they open up the manufacturing facility to tours letting you see what’s involved in the final assembly of an A320 aircraft. We didn’t happen to hit the tour at the right time of year, but if you’re interested in the tour, check out their website for when the next one will be.

Both kids got to try the flight simulator and learn how to fly a plane. The first take off didn’t go so well as they ended up veering off the runway, but once they learned the controls, they found it quite easy to control. They also had a virtual reality (VR) simulator. I even took a turn at this one looking down on the earth and flying by the other planets in our solar system. That was a lot of fun!


The kids had fun ordering and serving on the plane as though they were flight attendants. I’m not sure what they ended up ordering, but Jaden doesn’t look too happy with the selections.


Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines is located on Dauphin Island, just off the coast of Alabama. Established in 1821, but completed in 1861, its military importance wasn’t realized until the Civil War and the Battle of Mobile Bay. 

The original canons are still in place at the fort looking our over the bay.


Sea Lab at Dauphin Island

There’s not a misspelling there. It is not Dolphin Island, but Dauphin Island if you’re searching in Google. The only way to access the island used to be by boat, but a bridge has since been built that connects the mainland to the island.

I signed us up for a homeschool class at the Sea Lab on Dauphin Island to learn about the marine life that inhabits the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We saw all kinds of specimens, like sharks, sea turtles, octopus, sea stars, baleen whales, and many more too numerous to list.

Jaden really liked learning about the sea turtles. He learned about their shell actually being their backbone and ribs, not just connected to the shell like a hermit crab.

Neither of the kids were too interested in touching the squishy, slimy specimens. I had to bribe Ellie with ice cream, but she eventually held the slimy octopus. “That was so gross!” she said.

Of course we went out to the beach, but the waves were so small I don’t think you could really call them waves. They were more like ripples. Not enough to enjoy with a bodyboard like they did in the Pacific. The sand was different here also. It was much more compact and when you walk on it, it makes it sound like your shoes are squeaking!


Bay Palms RV Park

Bay Palms RV Park is located only about 10 minutes from Dauphin Island and about 30 minutes from Mobile, Alabama. It was rather packed when we were there. It had been raining all day when we arrived so we backed up into a rather soaked area.

Over the course of the week it eventually dried up, but very reminiscent to the southern coastal areas as we’ve seen so far. Lots of low lying land with pools of water. I can only imagine the mosquitos in the summer.

There was plenty of room to maneuver around the park. There is a heated pool, but the pump had just broken when we arrived, so no swimming for these kiddos. They did have lots of fun with the foosball table though. They also have a gym which Ben made use of.

Nice neighbors, but also loud ones who loved their late Friday nights. 

I didn’t record the Starlink speeds, but we had coverage and everything ran fine. AT&T and Verizon were also good.








Solar Panel Mishap

Upon arrival to Bay Palms, we were told that our solar panel looked like it was flapping. Ben went up and took a look only to find that the front solar panel had been snapped backwards and took out both the panel and the Winegard antenna. The Unistruts that hold the panels in place was still fine, but what we surmised happened is that one of the screws came loose and with enough jarring caused the other screw to also loosen. With the force of the wind, it threw the solar panel backwards, twisting and warping the metal. We never lost the panel off the roof as the back two screws were still secured, but it caused enough damage that we had to throw both the panel and the Winegard antenna away. 

Since we use a lot of power, we really needed that panel to generate electricity for us to use while boondocking. So we ordered a replacement panel and 2 more to upgrade. Hopefully we’ll be bringing in more power once they arrive.