Those of you who follow our blog know that it has been a chaotic year. More than once we had to cancel plans and campground bookings and scramble for a place to park. While we may not have been able to always book the place we wanted. I can’t say we have had a bad experience anywhere yet. But sometimes you get lucky.
We were not able to make plans for the winter until early October. We were also hampered by restrictions from my work as far a places we could stay that long and the need to be able to get back to our hometown in a reasonable amount of time. We knew we wanted to go south but Florida was out for a long stay. We did stay in Florida for 6 weeks.
So I started trying to find a place to winter in Alabama, Alabama has approximately 35 miles of beach. There a numerous RV resorts and campgrounds in this area. Most of them full for the timeframe we wanted to stay. Then I come across the beautiful, brand new resort in Foley, Al. 8 miles from the beach. The owner had just really gotten the resort finished and had not been advertising much. We mostly had our pick of sites. The monthly rental fee was extremely reasonable and I booked it.
Cathy and I talked about this place a lot before getting here. It kind of became a goal to get here for our first ever wintering experience. All of our stays prior to Blue Heron were one to three week stays so just enough to sample an area. Parking for four and a half months was going to be something new. Similar to our time home before we were able to start our adventure.
Before I get into the resort, If you haven’t read my Sweet Home Alabama post you should check it out. I spend time musing about the experience of wintering.
Blue Heron Escape has very nice sized sites from side to side. The outer ring of sites are a bit short but this is negated by backing up till your rear stabilizers are near the back edge of the concrete. Not too close of course or you will damage the pad. This easily leaves you space to park your truck in front of your RV. The center pull throughs are huge. You can park a large 5th wheel and have room for a car to park on each end. They can also be split to accommodate two RV’s. one on each end which can make for a nice buddy site.
The resort is well manicured with most of the grass firmly established. The last few sites were sodded in the last month. Grass on our site is in great shape and mowed regularly. So far there hasn’t been any issues with ants as we have seen at many campsites. I use my Oculus in the grass without worry of stepping on an ant bed.
The pads are all concrete with a patio area in front. There are no fire pits on site. You can have your own gas or wood burning but it has to be raised. Think deck style fire pit. Currently, there are no picnic tables, I haven’t asked Scott, the owner, if these are planned or not. The road is an asphalt loop and wide enough for maneuvering your rig onto you site.
The facilities are new and well maintained. The Laundry has three washers and three dryers. $2.00 to wash and $1.50 to dry. All are clean and efficient. One dry cycle usually does it, even with jeans and towels. There’s a folding table, an honor system access to change and an ironing board and iron. Mailboxes are also in this room. You can’t forward your mail directly here but you can receive mail forwarded from you traveling mailbox, Amazon, Fed-ex etc.
The clubhouse is a nice size with Dining/gaming areas, TV area and a full kitchen. It’s eclectically furnished with antique furniture, affordable estate sale finds, that somehow mesh to give the room a consistent feel. It feels more homey than an array of folding chairs and tables that most public area’s have. I guess another way of saying it would be that it doesn’t have that fellowship hall feel.
There is a nice covered patio area between the clubhouse and the pool. The swimming pool is nice sized and shallow, deep enough but not over most adults heads. There’s plenty of pool patio area and appropriate furniture. Cathy and I spent a nice day by the pool and she has gone over several times to work from there or hangout with the other ladies.
The most impressive part of Blue Heron’s facilities is by far its bathhouses. There are a couple bathrooms in the breeze way to support the clubhouse but on the outside of the building are four bath houses that are kept immaculately clean. They are all good size with the toilet and sink in a separate area from the showers. The showers have a dressing area with plenty of hooks for tools and clothes. The largest is handicapped equipped and has a portal shower seat. The shower heads are multi-select. They have a rain head, shower head that is also handheld and a frontal head.
The resort is also dog friendly. There isn’t a dog park yet but it would not surprise me to see one soon. The owners are very open to input on how to improve the resort.
Blue Heron sits about a block and half off of Alabama highway 59. This is the main road through Foley and dead ends at the public beaches of Gulf Shores. The resort sits eight miles from the beach which is generally depending on traffic a drive of less than 10 mins. We are about five minutes from the Canal where many of the good restaurants and night life are. We are less than five minutes from the “growing” part of Foley that contains restaurants, outlet malls, Wal-Mart, Home Depot etc. Eight to ten minutes and you are in downtown Foley.
Nearby are Fairhope, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach, Perdido Key and Pensacola. All offer something interesting and different with a thirty minute of less drive. Mobile is about forty-five minutes away.
The world famous Flora-Bama is a short eighteen minute drive, Gulf State Park is about fifth-teen minutes away. New Orleans can even be a day trip from here. Basically, it’s hard to beat this location for a long stay.
One of the things Cathy has struggled with most since we started this adventure is missing family and friends. We lucked out here. A group that has been wintering together for years moved over to Blue Heron and they quickly helped the owner setup regular activities and brought with them a since of community and inclusion. Just yesterday our resident Nova Scotians wanted a community fire pit and Scott had the items needed and several of us picked a spot and built one. Last night was the inaugural community camp fire.
There are weekly card games, corn hole tournaments, Thursday burger night and Saturday breakfast in the clubhouse. This week they asked Cathy and I to setup our karaoke machine on Wednesday for a bonus pizza night. I guess I’m master of ceremonies for the evening. We now have a new group of friends that we can look forward to seeing every year when we winter. I had not even considered that this existed when decided to try this wintering thing.
Scott and Gayle, the owners also provided a dolphin tour boat for the Fat Tuesday boat parade down the canal. This was an amazing experience that included some dolphin watching. More on this in an upcoming post.
Most of the folks that winter in this area are from the midwest. Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Canada, Wisconsin, and Missouri make up the bulk. There are a few people in the park from Georgia and Tennessee but we are a definite minority as people from those states don’t normally snowbird. When it was mid sixties here the other day it was -20 in one of our mid-western friends hometowns.
This is probably the most I’ve ever been exposed to people from the mid-west and let me say that I’m a fan. The bonus is that we are headed to the mid-west this summer and hope to see a few of these folks when we are near there summer homes.
When we arrived at the resort it was probably twenty percent full. A few more arrived in January, then in mid February it started filling up. More families and children and short time folks as we are moving into spring break time. The Resort is full and it’s nice to watch how welcoming the long term folks are of the, as one person called them, the transients. The camping community is just so welcoming most everywhere you go.
We are seeing people arrive that have been referred by other parks that are full and the word about Blue Heron is getting out. So I recommend you book in advance as I don’t think next year it will be an easy reservation to get.
This is not a big corporate owned resort. Scott and Gayle Taylor are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They took a piece of family land and created this resort and they have done a great job with it. They participate in many of the weekly events and they add to the sense of community. They have been open and receptive to the needs and wants of their customers and they maintain the resort fabulously. I’m excited to see where Blue Heron is by the time we return next winter.
I want to point out that this is not a sponsored blog. These are just my own musings about the resort and at the time of writing this. Scott and Gayle don’t know I’m writing about the resort.