As I said previously, after a pleasant lunch and good conversation with Pastor Strong of Brown’s Chapel, I set off into the Alabama summer heat, south toward the coast. The ride was uneventful, which is sometimes a good thing. Punctuated by a couple of light rain sprinkles and otherwise intermittently sunny roads with little traffic, I made it to Panama City Beach in good time and found my hotel. After placing my stuff in the room, and declining an invitation to dinner with friends, I went out to get a pizza, brought it back to the room, and enjoyed it in the solitude knowing that would be the last solitude I would have for a week.
The next morning I rose knowing I had plenty of time due to the buses not being close to town yet, and due to my requesting the late check out time (as everyone with time to do so should always do, imho). I read some, wrote some, packed up, and finally rode over to the camp to start my time with the campers, as that was, after all the reason for the trip. Panama City Beach is a beach town, obviously, and that means there are teenagers and adults alike riding little rented mopeds and miniature crotch-rockets around up and down the beach. Several of these had the unadulterated audacity to give me the biker wave. Now I don’t consider myself a snob, but I’m simply not giving the honor of the wave to some dude riding a rented moped. Sorry not sorry.
I arrived at the camp as students were getting their luggage together, and we found our bunks and settled in. From there, for the next few days, what happens (or more importantly, is confessed) at camp stays at camp.
So, skipping forward a couple of days, Thursday came quickly and it was time for me to head west to Orange Beach, Alabama to spend the night at some luxo accomodations with in-laws. The Bradleys of Orange Beach – and their friendly dogs – treated me to good conversation, a comfortable bed, ice for my swollen ankles, and a wonderful dinner, and then I got going going early the next morning in order to catch the Mobile Bay Ferry from Fort Morgan to Fort Gaines. Along the way, we came within sight of a littoral combat ship cruising Mobile Bay.
This means it is a battle ship built for areas close to shore. It is generally armed with anti submarine and anti ship torpedoes and missiles, as well as being equipped with a flight deck for helicopters and a cargo bay which can carry smaller boats and humvees. Further, it is faster and more manueverable than its predecessors. Not a common sight for an Arkansas guy.
Once I rolled off the ferry, I rode through the calm curves and shadowed straight-aways of southern Alabama until I found myself stopping for gas in a small town called Bayou La Batre. There, docked close to a bridge over the bayou was a shrimp boat cleverly named “Miss Jeanette.” If I have to explain the humor of this, you haven’t seen the movie.
Anyway, I did not stop for any shrimp there, regardless of how it might have been prepared, because I had an appointment in New Orleans that I did not want to miss.
After crossing the state line into Mississippi though, I did stop at a place called “The Shed” for some quick barbeque. I had seen glowing reports of this place on the Food Network, so I had to stop in. Upon doing so, I found a large shed decorated with lots of old signs, sans air conditioning or proper toilets. I’m afraid that the food did not make up for the lack of comfort, but then I had recently enjoyed the culinary delight that was Jayme Jean’s smoked pork butt. No competition. Plus, a port-a-potty in 100 degree heat can ruin a person’s lunch. Nuff said. Trust me.
After this somewhat negative experience, I moved quickly along I-10 to the Big Easy for an interview with a voodoo priestess named Sallie Ann Glassman. This was quite the educational and eye-opening experience. We found several common denominators, but that’s a story for the next post.