Life on a barrier island in Alabama- where the protected waters grow the sweetest shrimp, and the waters are lit up at night with the lights of big rigs out in the bay- not oil like in the gulf, but natural gas, and where monstrous ancient midden shell mounds (oysters) rise above the horizon, left behind from the very very old indians-And trails snake across the mounds amongst giant live oaks with weeping moss hanging from them and we climb them and sit in her branches like Mother Willow in Pochahontas.
We’re circling Mobile Bay- not doing terrific miles and we were even slightly laughed at by some hard core cyclists when we exited the ferry today as we crossed the mouth of the bay- they can do what we are doing in 2 days , but we are taking 6. It isn’t just about exercise (altho we all like that part),it is also about the experience. It’s also about visiting shipyards and watching them work on the actual Pirates of the Caribbean boats and stopping in Forest Gump’s buddie, Bubba’s hometown, (where the actual author lives & wrote) …Bayou La Batre, and watching shrimpers come and go, and stopping in at a bait shop where there are 2 doz replicas of a scaled down wooden shrimping boast for sale that some captain in prison makes to support his family while he is in jail (the clerk did not know why he was in jail altho we were all curious) ,and you also can buy a Bubba Gump baseball cap.
It’s also about visiting Fort Gaines at the mouth of the Mobile Bay and learning about war and listening to canons being shot off by reenactors, and while crossing a long bay bridge watching pelicans dive staight down like torpedos to spear fish, and dealing with 2 1/2 gallons of water in their jowls. Its also about visiting an Estuarium (an aquarium on the estuary) and feeding baby shrimp to the underside mouth of a helmet crab as it slowly pulls it in like a conveyor belt; and stopping along roadside stand to eat boiled cajun peanuts which taste like a cross between a fava bean and a potato, and cycling along muddy bayous near the bay where there are tons of dead boats- turned upside down or swamped with actual marshgrass growing in them, for the life can be hard down here.
It’s also about visiting the beautful Bellingrath Gardens where we walked dizzingly and intoxicatingly amongst 250,000, 100-yr old azeala bushes in full bloom- like 16 foot high walls of solid pink color. And can you really eat too many shrimp and oysters – for we don’t have to worry about mercury down here like we do in the Chesapeake. And oh, we ride our bikes too- and let the warm southern sun kiss and tan our faces and walk the sandy beaches and listen to the kids giggle like youngsters and every now and then,when I pull out my notebook to take notes, I am reminded that I am really working. So that when Todd reminds me at tax time that I only made $15,000 last year, times like these come back to me- cycling around the Mobile Bay- and I really could care less about money.