November 19 - Gulf Shores, Alabama

I'm lying in my tent at a commercial campground alongside the Intercoastal Waterway. I just had a tasty dinner at Lulu's, a restaraunt across the highway, which is owned by Jimmy Buffett's sister. Everyone is required to mention that Jimmy Buffett's sister owns Lulu's. I think it a city ordinance. Lulu's appears to be an exercise in spending her brother's money. It's a huge, elaborate place, with a high-fi sound system in the parking lot, and live music. They serve fried seafood in baskets. It's cheap. I can't imagine how they cover their overhead. I ate and fled when the guys with guitars came on before they could start playing Jimmy Buffett songs.

This campground is, at the moment an itinerant labor camp for redneck construction workers. It's packed with beat up old RVs full of guys trying to make a buck doing hurricane repairs. They are playing southern rock on boom boxes all over the place. Combined with the highway next door, and the barges going by on the IC, it's really loud. There is a state park four miles away, which the lady at the gas station said was really beautiful, but it's closed due to hurricane damage.

I have dealt with the evil Mobile detour. I right where I would have been if the Dauphin Island ferry had been running. I did this by riding 102 miles today. I feel like quite the dude, let me tell you. There were tailwinds, and it was still pretty flat, though. It's not as flat as before, though. Now you usually do down a hill before going over a bridge, instead of up like in Louisiana.

It was raining right before sunrise, and it was very foggy in the morning. I was doing back roads to make a short cut between Pascagoula and Mobile. There were a lot of pecan groves.

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There were also cotton fields, and some beef cattle. It got progressively more developed as I got nearer to Mobile. On the outskirts of Mobile, there were some nice neighborhoods with streets lined with huge live oaks, but the lack of a shoulder and the traffic were making me pretty sad about the ferry being out.

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The Adventure Cycling alternate route through Mobile is, in fact, quite a horror show. You go straight into the center of the city, which appears to be a core of utter blight surrounded by heavy industry. I stopped for a Gatorade at a convenience store in the center of town at around 10:30. There was an unending line of black people buying 12-packs of cheap beer. From there, I followed what I thought were the instructions to go on US 43 to the bridge, but I found myself on I-165. I was really sad the ferry was out.

I did get to talk to another bike tourist, who was similarly tricked. We had a nice conversation on the shoulder of the interstate as semi trucks blasted by at 70 mph. He was an Australian, and he started in Vancouver, did the Great Divide route, and then decided he might as well go coast to coast too. He was pulling a very heavily loaded BOB trailer with a mountain bike.

Then I got to go over the giant bridge, on the shoulder weaving around the piles of trash. I was really sad the ferry was out right about here.

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Here's the view of Mobile from on top of the bridge.

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Right after you get over the bridge, you come to the USS Alabama battleship memorial. Here is the battleship.

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There are also a bunch of naval aircraft. I built a model of this one when I was a kid.

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Cool old rescue helicopter.

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A WWII Corsair

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A Harrier jump jet

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An A-10?

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An F-18

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There's also a bunch of stuff that I can't figure out what it has to do with a battleship except that it looks cool. Here are a bunch of tanks and armored personnel carriers.

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What does a B-52 have to do with a battleship? They both blow stuff up?

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Weirdest of all, they have an SR-71. What's that doing here? I think there were less than 50 SR-71s ever built. Now I'm wondering where they all went. Is there an SR-71 sitting in front of an American Legion somewhere in Nebraska? At least this one is not sitting on an aircraft carrier.

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I this is one of the most amazing things ever created by man. It is the fastest airplane ever. The plans were destroyed and it can't be replicated. Imagine this thing flying 2000 miles an hour with the leading edges of the wings glowing.

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Here's another view of the USS Alabama from my table at the tasty seafood restaraunt where I had lunch.

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On the other side of the bay, it's really nice. It's all quaint historic towns and nice bayfront homes. I bet they have guards on the tunnels under the bay to make sure all the riff-raff stays on the Mobile side.

Here's the route for today. It sure would have been a lot shorter if the ferry had been running.

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