At dinner on our last night cycling Mobile Bay, in the pretty little town of Fairhope, whose downtown trees are completely covered in gold fairy lights, a white-haired man in a long trench coat, pulls a pitch pipe out of his pocket and inserts it into his mouth. Suddenly, he belts out an Italian opera at the tops of his lungs and we almost spit out our tomato bruschetta, we are so surprised, yet delighted. Throughout the course of our wonderful closing meal at Pinzone’s, we were serenaded, and concluded with a toast to yet another successful adventure. Our friends, the Pennel’s, from Michigan (originally from Maine but living in exile), have accompanied our family on cycling trips around Lake Champlain (230 miles) ,
across the Erie Canal for 363 miles ,
all around Maine’s Acadia National Park’s carriage trails
and this is just cycling adventures. Like I said in my previous blogs, Beth Ellen & I go back to our beginning days on the Appalachian Trail in 1979.
But back to this current adventure- we took our two families on the Alabama Coastal Connection- (www.alabamacoastalconnection.com- a 130-mile scenic byway highlighting the authentic resources and attractions on the southern tip of the state. Back in 2009, it was designated a National Scenic Byway. Of course, you can drive it in a car, but we don’t do things the easy way and wanted to have as long and as authentic of an experience as we could- therefore, we cycled it. The Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau helped us tremendously and put new meaning into the term, “Southern Hospitality.” We left there with not only a vast storehouse of knowledge about this beautiful and rich area, but also made some great friends of these Alabamians.
To finish off our 6 day cycling adventure, we toured the USS Alabama Battleship and the USS Drum submarine in Mobile and got to chat it up with a Navy vet who actually manned this particular sub when he was 17 years old. He told us great stories and noted that sailors believed there were only two kinds of ships in the Navy, “subs and targets.” They were a brotherhood, a fraternity down there, for after all, they were exchanging the same air and molecules. Every 24 hours they had to surface to get more. We saw torpedoes hanging right alongside their hanging bunks and tried to imagine what it would be like living in such close quarters w/o the light of day.
On our transport to the airport, our last new Alabamian friend, the driver, in his incredibly thick southern drawl told us stories of two geezers in a nursing home who resorted to making meth to pay for their high room and board??? but got caught, and the local man who got mad at his wife and to spite her, threw their four little kids off the Dauphin Island Bridge that we cycled across on our first day from Mobile. “I’ve seen it all out here driving,” he explains. Okkkay!
My plane seatmate was the cutest however- blondie, perky, 30-something- heading to Denver for the first time. “I’ve never seen a real live mountain,” she reveals. “I’m not much of an outdoors girl, but I sure do hope I get to see a real mountain.” I hope she does too. We got to see a lot of real live Alabama and its peeps as we circled the beautiful Mobile Bay. I encourage you too to go check it out too- a real undiscovered jewel in our beautiful country. And contact the delightful and extremely helpful tourism- they can help make your trip as memorable and as easy and fun as ours was. www.alabamcoastalconnection.com
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