Alabama Getaway… Getaway

Hey! Want to go to Alabama?

I have to admit, if someone had asked me that question ten years ago, my first response would have been:

“No.”
or
“What???”
or
“Yeah sure. But maybe we can swing through Appalachia first to pick up a banjo? Will they let us in without a confederate flag decal on the back window of the car? Why are you even asking me this question?”

But a lot has happened in 10 years. Some of the most recently influential things being 1) living in New Orleans and 2) finally having a car and being able to leave that 5 mile walk/bike/bus radius that has been my only world for the past 11 months. Frankly, if someone said “Want to go to the moon?”or “Want to have a quiet little getaway in romantic downtown Detroit?” or event just “Want to cross the river and see New Orleans from the other side?” I’d say “YES.”

I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s better not to knock it unless you’ve tried it. So it was time to try a little Alabama.

Start by listening to Alabama Getaway.

Then, in case you need a quick refresher on the whereabouts of Alabama, you’ll find it here,

Alabama

between Mississippi and Georgia. You might notice that Florida somehow snuck in and pretty much hogged the whole gulf coast. Way to be a team player, Florida.

So in late September, we got in our shiny new recently purchased 2008 Honda with damaged paint and amazing gas mileage and drove 165 miles from the tip of the Louisiana boot to the camel toe of Alabama until we got to this place:

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which had a huge screened in porch and overlooked Weeks Bay. We did a little kayaking in the bay and the channel,

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where we paddled past people’s boat docks, crab cages, and fish cleaning stations.

Then we headed down towards the Gulf coast to see what other nature we could get ourselves into. Now, a few weeks before this adventure, we learned on a swamp walk outside of New Orleans that it’s a good idea to stop into the ranger station and ask a few questions before flinging oneself into unfamiliar wilderness. Had we not asked the ranger about the condition of the trails, we wouldn’t have learned that 1) it was spider season in the wetlands, which means HUGE SPIDERS making HUGE WEBS all across walking paths and 2) these spiders are not poisonous. Armed with our new knowledge, and each with a web-catching stick in front of our faces, we carefully stepped our way through the arachnid obstacle course.

So when we arrived at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on the Alabama coast, we stopped in to talk to the park rangers. The trail we wanted to walk was rated as “Moderate to Strenuous” and given our experience with Colorado hiking, we wanted to get a better idea of what that meant, so we could be sure to have enough food, water, and daylight for the hike. Was the trail tight and narrow? Was there a lot of brush and poison ivy grown in? Would boots and pants be more appropriate than my chacos and exposed legs? What was the likelihood of snakes and gators?

The rangers told us that the path was clear of spiders, the brush was back far enough from the path to pass easily without leg contact, and that there hadn’t ever(?) in their recollection been a gator sighting on the path. Good to know.

And then we saw the trail.

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It was a packed sand/gravel road with some tree cover. If this is “Moderate to Strenuous” does this mean the “Easy” trails do the actual walking for you? Ha! We absolutely had enough food, water, and daylight for this “hike.” No worries here.

So our “Moderate to Strenuous” stroll started out in the woodsy wetlands…

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gradually got a little swampy…

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then turned into gusty sand dunes…

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It was so nice to be on a beach again! Even if it meant having sand blow into our lunch. In fact, that autumn-cool sideways wind was a lot like January in Todos Santos, minus the whales. And the tequila. And the mountains.

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This park was really gorgeous and we’d definitely go back. Though if we go in the summer, sun protection and head coverings are a must.

OH! one last thing…

The local Piggly Wiggly.

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Mission accomplished.

The next time someone asks Hey! Want to go to Alabama? I’m pretty sure my answer will be YES.

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