Saturday, April 23, 2005

Gulf Trip - Saturday Day 1

We've arranged to take a five hour drive to the gulf and stay at a fancy place in Alabama. Yeah, I know it sounds a oxymoron, Alabama and fancy, but it's true. There is supposed to be a three star down there somewhere. Ruth has made the arrangements. We're taking the Boxster and since the weather looks to be in the mid-70s we'll traveling top down.

The place is Point Clear, near Fairhope. There is the Marriott Grand Hotel that our friends have been to each year. They've been going even before Marriott bought it out some years ago. The place is situated right on Mobile Bay. I know what you're thinking, Can anything good come of Mobile Alabama? But it's supposed to be the, what do they say, The Cat's Meow.

Our friends also have a Boxster, in fact in the same color as ours. It's a couple of years older but you really can't tell. It'll be fun to tear up the roads going down.

As I sit here I remember that I'm supposed to make the breakfast for us all. They'll be here in minutes.

Yesterday I took some time, for the first time, to wax the machine. There is one great advantage of having a small sports car -- less to wash and wax. And it's important to do it. You really get to know your car up close and personal when you spend the time to wax it. You have the chance to explore every nook and cranny, and gently work out all the blemishes.

I'm not sure what the Internet connection will be down there, it is Alabama after all but we'll try to post something over the next few days.

At 9:00 we were off and driving. Our plan is to drive down to the gulf, Point Clear, in about five hours, stay a few days and come back on Tuesday.

Our average speed was 75 and it took us five and a half hours to make it to Point Clear in Alabama. I got 26.7 mpg which is good for a little sports car I guess. We went with our friends who have an identical Boxster. As we drove down 85, we could see people pointing at the little thing whiz by and then do a double take at it's twin following behind.

Point Clear is cute little town with flowers on every street. The gardner must be busy here. You should see this. The streets are popping with color. What's unique about these planters is that the flowers hang over the curbs. They line the streets and are even planted at each corner. Everywhere you can turn you see a swatches of color. It's like looking at the paint selection cards in a home improvement center.

The sun was just setting and casts an afternoon glow on the little antique stores. We pull up in, what I call, "a fishbone parking space" to one just to peek in the window. (You know, you don't parallel park but pull up at a 50 degree angle to the curb.) Every ten spaces or so is a tree, a bench or some flowers. Very artsy.

On one of the brick walls someone has painted a mural in blue hues. It's great to drive into a town with the top down. You see so much more. And the fragrance from the trees and flowers wafts over you in blankets of warmth that you'd never experience in a air-conditioned can.

At 6:00 though, everything seems to shut down here; a typical pattern for southern areas. They just don't seem to get what tourism is all about. I walked into a pharmacy that was about to close and asked if the little town had any restaurants still open. They directed us to a small pink building that was packed. So we ordered steamed crab claws and shrimp. The sauce was excellent but the claws were small. I think they were just the pinky fingers of the crabs. Odd looking crabs I'd guess looking at this plate. Ed ordered boiled craw fish whole, heads and all. Then he had to shell them. Look, if I want to fish I'll bring a pole. I want to eat with a fork. I don't want to do that much work.

I big guy in a leather jacket sat behind us. His girl wore a black striped shirt something like you'd see in prison only the stripes were going across her chest. They both arrived and put their helmets on the table next to them. I winced. Who wants to sit at a table where someone placed their hairy helmets? But being a former biker, in a previous life, I understand the reason. A good helmet costs $500! If the thing slips off the chair onto the floor and cracks, you can kiss that puppy goodbye, it's worthless then. Funny thing was they arrived after we ordered our meal, ordered their meal and ate before we received ours. It's kind of like choosing the fastest checkout line in the grocery store, it's just impossible to predict the fastest one.

We stayed in a three star for Saturday evening since The Grand was booked. We were quickly asleep by the time our heads hit the pillows.

I live my life a quarter mile at a time. For those ten seconds or less I'm free. -Vin Diesel (The Fast & The Furious)