Ten-codes are brevity codes used to represent common phrases in voice communication, mainly by law enforcement and CB radio users. We’ve all heard 10-4, meaning understood- first entered into pop culture in the mid-1950s in the popular TV series Highway Patrol. Moving onto the 1970s, 10-4 further entrenched its relationship with the open road through the C.W. McCall hit song “Convoy.”
With all that said, 10-4 Day has us thinking of road trips, and specifically day trips you can take from a Festiva destination. It’s a fun way to explore the area and maybe see new things if you’ve vacationed to that destination many times before. Let’s take a look at three great day trips from three great Festiva destinations.
For a nature lover, Cape Cod is a playground of 560 miles of coastline, 115 beaches, 365 freshwater ponds, miles of thickly-wooded as well as seaside hiking trails, and the spectacular 27,000-acre Cape Cod National Seashore. Let’s highlight just a few of the natural areas you can see on the Cape while on a road trip north to eclectic Provincetown, a historic tourism destination that has become very hip and fashionable.
Start out heading east to Chatham Lighthouse Beach, a wide stretch of sand where seals tend to congregate in the winter, and people tend to get sunburned in the summer. This highly walkable beach boasts soft sand and blue water, and of course the cherry on top- historic Chatham Lighthouse, standing guard on the point above the beach. Check out the great views overlooking the beach and ocean from up there.
Next, time your visit with low tide to Rock Harbor, located at the “inner elbow” of the Cape. If the tide’s out, you can walk out almost a mile on the rippled, sandy bottom, with calm seawater swirling about up to your knees. Keep an eye out for little ocean critters trapped in the tide pools below. The salty air, seabirds, and magnificent, clear water at your feet makes for quite a moving Cape experience that everyone should be a part of.
Jaunt across the peninsula East to Fort Hill Trail in Eastham, passing the Edward Penniman House, built in 1868 for the successful whaling captain. We promise you won’t miss the house, with its bright paint job and whale jaw bone gate. It now lies within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore, and serves as a museum of New England whaling. Continue onto the trail and you’ll soon be rewarded by sweeping views of Nauset Marsh. Traverse the perimeter of a rolling field reminiscent of an Irish sheep pasture, with low rock walls and gentle sea breezes cooling you off. The one mile loop trail is hard packed and gentle, with the option to break off into the Red Maple Swamp Trail into the woods. Keep walking and you can walk down several small paths toward the marsh, a unique hiking experience that has you walking over seashells and crab claws on the trail, leftovers from the outgoing tide.
If you’re still thirsting for adventure, Provincetown beckons with the Pilgrim Monument, a 252-foot-tall observation tower and the tallest all granite structure in the U.S. Stroll the eclectic and LGBT-friendly downtown, with narrow colonial streets that ooze local character. Grab a drink at the divey Old Colony Tap, with nautical trappings on the wall and a jukebox in the corner, and stroll the aisles of Marine Specialties Store, a local trove of salvage, military surplus, closeouts and spare parts. P-Town also has a great selection of seafood joints to round out your day and fill your belly. Catch the sunset at the endless dunes of Herring Cove beach, a prime spot to see the end of another perfect Cape Cod day.
Take the two hour day trip from Charleston, SC to another Southern gem: Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is a coastal city where southern charm is manifested through art, architecture, boutiques, cuisine and cocktails, all set amidst a backdrop of alluring history and walkability. Envelop your senses in this city that shines, any time of the year.
Enjoy your morning at Forsyth Park and its magical Spanish moss-draped oak trees and classical fountain. The park also features a fragrant garden for the blind, two playgrounds, a café, and Saturday farmer’s market. Savannah’s art scene is on display at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where student work is exhibited and rotated based on the academic term, along with its own store on Madison Square. Continue your cultural stroll with Architectural Tours of Savannah, a walking tour showcasing the city’s history throughout 300 years. For dinner, try The Grey, a former Greyhound Bus Station that’s been turned into a highly-acclaimed restaurant.
Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama
This day trip is simple- travel west to land’s end at Fort Morgan, stopping at the wonderfully natural Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge for a brief beach hike, then hop on the ferry to Dauphin Island, a narrow spit of land at the mouth of Mobile Bay that had a channel cut through its sandy shores from the power of hurricane Katrina. From the island, drive north onto route 93 across the Dauphin Island Bridge to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, before traveling around the city of Mobile and completing the nearly 130-mile loop circling the bay. You’ll travel along Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway much of the way, a route designed to highlight culture and beauty of the Gulf Coast.
The Gator Lake Trail at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a one mile out and back flat sandy trail that passes through maritime forests and ends at a tranquil and secluded beach with crystal clear water and white sand. Halfway there, you’ll pass freshwater Gator Lake, separated by a thin strip of land to the adjacent saltwater Little Lagoon. The wildlife area, translated to safe harbor, showcases the region’s transitional, wetlands, and frontal dune habitats, as well as dozens of species of migratory birds and other endangered wildlife.
Continuing on, Fort Morgan was built by 200 slaves leased to the government in 1819 and took 15 years to complete due to the isolation of the area. Slaves manufactured all 30,000 bricks that comprise the fort, which was built to protect the coast from foreign enemies. Cannons, gun emplacements, and defensive positions characterize the fort, which has a great view into the windy bay.
As I toured the compact yet open site, it just oozed history from the walls. I noticed there were few areas that were off limits, meaning visitors can explore the claustrophobic catacombs of the ammunition storage bunkers. (Flashlight recommended!) Historic photos showed civil war era soldiers standing in brick archways that looked exactly as they do today. I could imagine the fort bustling with soldiers and gun emplacements, ready to defend the bay against attackers. (Which it didn’t always accomplish, as the fort was surrendered to union forces in a siege in 1864.) There was also further tragedy of times past: from March to July, 1837, 3,500 Creek Indians were removed from the interior of Alabama and sent to Fort Morgan to await forced relocation to Arkansas. Ninety-three people perished from disease and exposure while waiting transfer.
The 30-minute long Mobile Bay Ferry service, which will take cars, RVs, motorcycles and bicycle riders to Dauphin Island is scenic and fun. ($16 one-way for a single driver car.) Feel the vibration of the engines, and count the oil rigs and seabirds as they go by in the sunshine in this unique part of the country.
Driving off the ferry, Dauphin Island feels like a tight knit community that managed to preserve all the good things from the past. It has a breezy, very laid back vibe, but the Estuarium definitely injects some serious scientific chops into this beach town. The indoor and outdoor marine educational building is part of the public aquarium of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alabama’s marine education and research center. Tour the exhibit hall, living marsh, boardwalk exhibits, ray touch tanks, and more to learn about the area’s sensitive marine ecosystems. They also feature an extensive exhibit about the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig operated by BP just south of Dauphin Island that suffered a wellhead blowout in 2010, killing 11 people and dumping 5 million barrels of oil into the gulf. This was the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, and the photos and diagrams detail the effects and cleanup of this environmental disaster.
Steer onto the long, flat bridge toward Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, Alabama, 16 miles to the north.
The country estate, created by Walter and Bessie Bellingrath in 1927, evolved from a summer fish camp the Coca-Cola bottler had bought on the Fowl River. The 15-room home sits on sprawling garden grounds which house a rose garden, great lawn, live oak plaza, Asian American garden, and mirror lake, among many other attractions. The gardens stay lush year round in the mild gulf climate, and the well maintained house offers a glimpse into American history, as well as displaying vintage Coca-Cola memorabilia that would make collectors clamber.
On the way back to Orange Beach, Route 10 will take you right past the city of Mobile, and you can choose to hug the bay and visit the eclectic small towns of Daphne and Fairhope if you choose. The day trip itinerary was certainly packed, but could be adjusted for a more laid back day.