Volunteer Tuesday in the Park

Tuesday. December 22, 2020

Another beautiful day in Gulf Shores Alabama.  This morning we met with about 15 others to volunteer to assist with further cleanup of the park from the hurricane damage.  Today we were asked to work in the area of the primitive tent sites putting up a fence by a creek.  We were using repurposed materials and new poles for the fencing.  We didn’t get it completed so it will probably be the project for next Tuesday too.  The purpose of this fence is to keep people out of the creek and away from the critters in the creek, i.e alligators.  They also seem to think the fence will discourage the gators from coming into the camping area.  Yep.  Makes you want to rush right out and buy a tent to camp here.  NOT! Santa, please do not bring us a tent!!

Lunch of steamed royal red shrimp
Lunch of steamed royal red shrimp

After working this morning we were hungry and went to a local seafood market to treat ourselves to some royal red shrimp.  We had them steam them for us and then it was back to FRED for a delicious meal.  It was probably the best shrimp we have ever had.  There will probably be a repeat of this meal in our future.  After a quick trip to the grocery store, we spent the rest of the day walking and riding our bikes.  No eagle visit today but maybe tomorrow.

Beautiful Monday in the Park

Monday, December 21, 2020

It rained most of Saturday night with strong winds at times.  FRED was moving around a bit so even though we knew there was no severe weather in our area we still didn’t sleep very well.  We of course watched our worship service at Lester Memorial Sunday morning.  The church has gone back to no in-person worship again since the COVID numbers are so bad in our area.  We know too many people who are sick now.  Please, everyone, wear your masks, wash your hands and keep your distance!  After the long day of hiking Saturday, with the gloomy and rainy weather Sunday, we rested and watched some movies.

Today we enjoyed sleeping late and having a leisurely breakfast and then walked around the campground.  We picked up the new weekly schedule of events and looked over the pool and tennis/pickle ball courts. After that we drove to the marina to see the replica of the Pinta, one of the ships that sailed with Columbus.  We drove to the area of the eagles nest and walked the trail a way to take a look.  Unfortunately, the eagles were not visible so we made our way back to FRED.  We got our bikes out of the truck and started riding the trails – great social distancing.  The trails here are so nice!  This afternoon we rode back to the eagles nest and this time we were in luck.  Both eagles were perched on the branches above the nest.  They insisted on perching where there was a limb between us and them but we took pictures anyway.  We never tire of seeing these beautiful birds.  Tonight we of course made sure we saw the “Christmas Star” that has been all over the media channels for weeks.  We have been watching Saturn and Jupiter getting closer and closer for at least a month.  Something that comes around so rarely must be noticed.  It was another wonderful day.  Thank you, God.

Alabama For Christmas

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Friday after saying goodbye to our team, we were on the road again for a short day’s drive.  We opted to drive US 98 and stay off the interstate most of the way.  We had an easy and relaxed drive on a road in much better condition than much of I-10.  We stopped at Buc-ee’s for our first time – the world’s largest gas station convenience store chain recently opened in Robertsdale.  It was pretty crowded and we really weren’t very comfortable with that, but we are happy to say all but two people that we saw had on masks.  We were only inside a few minutes but it certainly looked like a fun place to look around on a non-COVID day.  It’s definitely a huge convenience store and supposedly has the cleanest restrooms anywhere.  We didn’t visit those so can’t comment.  We really just stopped for a short break and a little walk and were then back on our way to Gulf Shores.

We arrived at the state park mid-afternoon, found our site and got set up.  We didn’t realize how much we have missed this place and how happy it makes us until after we arrived. It’s been about five years since our last visit.  We had hoped to spend Christmas here but when we made reservations there were no sites available after 12/23.  So, we made plans to spend Christmas in the Everglades.  However, Max just happened to look on-line last night and found our site was now available for four more days, meaning we could stay until 12/28.  We hurried to the office to extend our stay.  So excited!!  We will celebrate Christmas here.  We love all the hiking, biking and nature trails.  Alabama has spent a lot of the BP oil spill money making improvements in the park and this is one thing they have gotten right.  Today we decided to hike and ended up with over 9.5 miles.  This park has 28 miles of trails through 9 different ecosystems.  We are hoping to cover most of them while we are here.  It was a great first day!

The wildlife we saw on our hike today:

Another Project Completed

Friday, December 18, 2020

Wednesday morning began with devotional time led by Jim.  He shared with us some of his late wife’s published writings – very touching and thought provoking.  She was quite the woman.  We all really appreciated Jim sharing these insightful and personal writings.  It was a great time of sharing.  Thanks Jim.

We then all went back to our work at the Wesley Foundation and Evelyn’s house (we finally learned our home owner’s name).  At Wesley Stel, Jim, Chris (Volunteer Coordinator) and Max began the arduous task of cleaning up the “Big Room”. The grinding made such a mess.  The dust oozed out into the entire building.  It was a bit overwhelming.  Over at Evelyn’s house, Jodi, Kevin, Suzan and Anne did a lot of cleaning too.  Then they decided they needed to paint one more ceiling – a small one in the ½ bath.  They completed our checklist for the house shortly before lunch.

After lunch the entire team returned to Wesley to continue the clean up process.  We were hopeful we would complete the cleanup by Thursday afternoon.  Somehow when we got the entire team back together and began working, an amazing amount of cleanup was done.

Thursday morning after another wonderful devotion led by Stel and Jodi, we all hurried to Evelyn’s house for our Bible presentation.  We also had a reporter from one of the local TV stations come to do a story on the disaster recovery.  Click here to see the video.

Next, we had a Bible presentation at the Wesley Foundation.  It wasn’t exactly DR work but we just wanted to give Eric and Albert, the director and assistant director, a little love so we all signed a Bible for them as well.  After that we did the final cleaning at the center and with our work done the Hattiesburg DR came to a close.

This week we were treated with lunch Monday and Wednesday by some of the R3SM staff.  Wow, it was two more great meals!  Everyone we have worked with in Hattiesburg (our third time here) has always been so generous and welcoming.  Hopefully, they will never need us again, but we would be glad to return.  It was a great time with a great team.  We are so blessed.