Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Frustrations

January 23rd, 2012

I disliked Mobile. A few wide leafy boulevards. Smart Convention Centre. Well-kept. But surprisingly arrogant drivers. Two spotty young men in a pick-up shouting abuse. Tooting on the horn. All talk but no trousers. Children on a school bus tossing an apple out the window at me. Poor anticipation by other road users of my presence – tens of yards – amongst the worst I’ve ever seen. Hassled for directions by another motorist whilst clearly engrossed in conversation on my cell.

Seeking a short break from the frustrations of the road, I’d stopped at a gas station and ordered a freshly made sub. Clearly enunciated what I wanted. Slowly. But the sandwich artist wasn’t listening, too busy swapping tittle-tattle with her co-workers. Even when I repeated it, albeit with a few teasing changes. Live squid with petroleum jelly on Sourdough. Outside I sat watching cars come and go from the disabled bay. Profiling the occupants. Little evidence of physical impairment.

I’d left Dauphin Island after an early lunch. GulfView Cafe down on the golf course. One of just two such establishments open. And I’d visited the other the previous day. Bright day but strong winds. I’d waited to see if they’d subside a bit. Forlorn hope the ferry might run. But it hadn’t. Few oil rigs out in the bay. Gulf of Mexico. Some just miles away, others dots in the distance.

Retracing my steps off the island across the causeway hadn’t been as bad as I thought it might have been. Windy, but steady and on the port bow rather than the perfect cross wind I’d feared. Blowing across the carriage way afforded me some protection, and meant I’d not be pushed into the traffic if caught unawares.

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Deja vu… again

January 23rd, 2012

Ken’s back at Alabama Port. Less than forty eight hours since he’d passed through on his way to Dauphin Island and an aborted attempt at a ferry along the coast.

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Upwardly Mobile

January 23rd, 2012

Three options scribbled in my pocket book. Run north, back over the exposed causeway from Dauphin Island, through the city of Mobile and around Alabama Bay to Pensacola. Or wait for the winds to drop and the ferry across the mouth to start running once more. Reaching Pensacola the same day, or stopping short at Gulf Shores. Dependant on daylight.

Quick check with the ferry company ruled out the last two options. They’d not be running today. And the forecast didn’t bode well for the next day. Safer option was to head for Mobile. Night there, then on to Pensacola the following morning. Little shy of one hundred miles.

I’d pondered riding for Pensacola in a single day but decided against it. I’d struggle to complete in daylight, even if conditions were good. Which wasn’t the case. Winds of around twenty five miles per hour, compounded by being from West-South-West – perfect crosswinds on the causeway. If I needed to walk in places, so be it.

So I settled on two days around Alabama Bay and on to Pensacola. Forty miles or so to Mobile, then a further sixty the next day. A relatively short run north to Mobile had the advantage of a delayed departure from Dauphin Island and the chance to exploit the predicted afternoon drop in wind strength. It might not be much, but it could be just enough.

I reflected a while on the plan. It’d work of course. And it was the only realistic option. Kicking myself a little for not having headed for Mobile in the first place, rather than dropping down to Dauphin Island. But it’d seemed a sensible move at the time. Spilt milk. Costing me two days and consuming much of my margin for reaching Miami and a flight back to the UK. Felt comfortable I could stick to the schedule, but I’d need to be pretty slick with packing up my trusty steed and all the kit. Lots of strong coffee.

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Island bound

January 22nd, 2012

Tasty alternative to tuna I’d said. Smiling. She appeared unimpressed. I’d asked what Catch-of-the-Day was. Mahi Mahi. What was it, I’d asked. Dolphin. Subsequently adding it was the fish, not the mammal. Sounded good, I said. And it came with fries I thought looked a lot like proper chips. Thick. Crinkle cut. Lightly salted.

I was stuck. Dauphin Island. High winds preventing the ferry across Alabama Bay to Fort Morgan from sailing. Retracing my steps over the causeway and heading inland around the bay would cost a hundred miles or so. No choice but to wait it out. For now.

The island was largely deserted. Out of season. Small supermarket, couple of gas stations and a seafood cafe the hub of the community. Steady rain but warm. Dreary rather than depressing. Left pondering what I’d do the next day. Winds gradually increasing.

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Dauphin Island

January 21st, 2012

Ken heads for Dauphin Island. Lots of water but not the Atlantic. Yet. But getting closer…

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Oar House

January 21st, 2012

Just past the ’oar house I thought she’d said. Brief pause. Asked her to spell it. O-A-R, she replied, quickly adding that it was a restaurant. I was relieved. In all probability I’d spent the odd night in one of those places, quite by accident. Question of mistaken identity. Cheap hotel. But I’d told my Mum all about it. The story even featuring in the latest edition of Adventure Travel Magazine. So no chance of blackmail.

I’d crossed into Alabama earlier in the day. Brief foray, planning to reach Florida roughly twenty four hours later. Humid. Not oppressive, just a bit clammy. But unexpected. Memories of northern Australia. I’d half planned to stop for lunch at Grand Bay but found it uninspiring. On to Bayou La Batre. Brief late afternoon visit to Subway. Then push over the causeway to Dauphin Island before dark. Calling ahead for directions.

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