The Lubbock to Destin roadtrip inched closer to its destination. Leaving Mississippi behind, Llama and friends headed to the Alabama coast.
Our main target destination for the Alabama coast was Dauphin Island and Fort Gaines.
After a remarkedly pleasant and uneventful drive through rural Mississippi which included a stop at a family roadside, fruit stand, we ended up at the Alabama coast.
Since we are from Texas much of the coastal view is unencumbered by trees and vegetation being coastal plain. Not so in this area of Alabama and Panhandle Florida. Pine trees and vegetation go pretty much up to the coast. That, along the the houses and condos, pretty much obscures the views of the Gulf Coast. You can drive along the coast and not even realize the water is just “right there” until you get a glimpse of it through the trees. Very different experience for Llama. You can be kinda shocked with “Oh, the Gulf is right there!” So there are no real, from the car, coastal view pictures.
So, Dauphin Island, Alabama is small and charming. Maybe a little too small for Llama. To be fair, we didn’t stay there more than a few hours but Llama gets itchy hooves pretty quickly. The group discussed if they would want to spend a week here (like they did at South Padre). From just a few hours there, he didn’t think that it would be on his list of places to spend an extended amount of time. It was, however, beautiful and green. It is probably someone else’s idea of a great place to stay. Each to their own.
Our main goal of visiting the island was to visit Fort Gaines. Several years ago when our friend Chuck passed away, his wife arranged a ceremony to have some of his ashes fired from one of the canons in a ceremonial goodbye. Llama wanted to visit this place not only for the history but to honor Chuck and his wife, Sara.
Fort Gaines was built in 1819 to defend Mobile Bay for the new United States of America and was used throughout the Civil War until being surrendered to the Union in 1864. As you stand at the cannons, you can see why this fort was set here. You get a great view of the bay and can picture yourself watching out for enemies.
“Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” – Admiral Farragut
One of the coolest things Llama learned about was that side canons could be lowered and lifted as needed. This made it look like the fort was not defended until the very last minute when it would be too late of the attacking ships to move off. Ingenious.
Llama and friends moved on and drove through Mobile and checked into their hotel in a suburb of Mobile, Daphne, Alabama.
Having eaten from the car cooler all day, they wanted something hot and served to them. Michael wanted shrimp. Not having any recommendations from friends and really not wanting a crowded restaurant (CDC had JUST lifted the mask restrictions for vaccinated folks), Llama turned to Yelp. Llama is not really all that impressed with fancy restaurants and everyone else really didn’t want to get showered and dressed up (didn’t have extra nice clothes anyhow), so they searched for something simpler but good.
A bit of a surprise, but what popped up was a “fast food” shrimp place not too far from the hotel: The Wacky Shrimp. Both Yelp and Google reviews were excellent and it didn’t disappoint.
Michael had the Jumbo Shrimp Platter, grilled, and Karol got the kid’s shrimp plate. They mixed and matched with LOTS of food. The shrimp, both grilled and fried, were HUGE and perfect. Llama couldn’t have asked for more. It was a pleasant night and there was a little outdoor patio. A great, satisfying meal. Really don’t think a stuffy restaurant could have done much better. This is one of our biggest travels tips/suggestions, sometimes the best food is found at the most unassuming of places. One of the best lasagnas we have ever eaten was at a restaurant gas station in Utah. Technology has really made it even easier to find these places, we used to rely on crowded parking lots only, and never let the outside fool you.
After dinner, the crew drove around Daphne and Fairhope to check it out and see if they could find a look at the bay. The first thing that surprised them was Fairhope. Daphne reminds Llama of most middle class areas but Fairhope, well that is a different story. It’s has a swanky central area with shops and restaurants. It kinda reminded Llama of an area outside of San Diego he stayed once.
They found a place to park near a marina and it was just at sunset. The evening was stunning and Karol grabbed a postcard quality shot. This gentlemen was enjoying the evening and fishing from the dock. It was actually very peaceful to watch him toss in his net and pull it in. The night would have been “romantic movie” perfect if it hadn’t been for the 30-something “making deals and influencing” very loudly on his cell phone. Don’t know who he thought he was impressing but it wasn’t Llama or the fish. Luckily he finally shut up, went back in the marina, and the night was quiet and beautiful. Sigh………
The next morning continued the drive to Destin, Florida, the ultimate destination of this trip. It was at this point, we made probably our only bad decision of the trip. Gas prices were up and there had been a few empty pumps, thanks to the Russian hacking of the pipeline the week before, but we really hadn’t had a problem. We had taken the opportunity to fill up when we could and never really saw major shortages (that was further east in the Carolinas).
In Daphne, the car was at 1/2 full. Llama considered filling up, but we really only had a short way to go. Michael suggested we could fill up at Destin, our next stop for the wedding. Well, we were ding dongs. We know better, just out of travel practice after 2020. Gas prices on an expensive tourist island — 30 cents higher. They should have filled up in Daphne. Oh well, that’s not too bad of a mistake. Could have been far worse.
Good bye Alabama. Next stop Florida Panhandle.
Llama travel hacks many of his adventures. He was blessed to be able to take this road trip and attend this wedding thanks to travel hacking.
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