We woke up this morning to another glorious day. Today we started our day back on US98, took a short detour outside of Daphne, Alabama onto I10, then I65, back onto US98, then we got off on I59 to find a place to settle for the evening. We deviated today just a bit because Randy decided he did not want to stay on US98 through Mobile, Alabama.
The weather report the night before and this morning warned about a strong rain storm to hit sometime mid-afternoon right where we were heading. So we decided to try to get where we needed to be as soon as possible. It was very humid today and we watched clouds accumulating in the skies as we rolled along.
One of the things I have really enjoyed about our ride this trip is the bridges we have traveled over. It reminds me of the time we traveled down to the Keys in 2000. The first bridge we crossed this morning was the Hathaway Bridge that connects Panama City and Panama City Beach. As we were crossing I found myself looking at shoreline on the other side of the bridge when we started you could see buildings stretching high into the sky above the trees. As we reached the middle of the bridge the buildings started to slowly sink behind the trees until at the other end of the bridge the totally disappeared from view. Fascinating.
As we rolled along we came into Destin, Florida. I have both happy and sad memories of Destin. My happy memory is Randy and I visiting Destin some years ago to be DJs and guests at our dear friend, Anna Klein’s wedding. We had a fun time at the wedding. We stayed at the Hilton on the beach and spend a few hours before going to Anna’s for dinner and took a walk on the beach. If I close my eyes I can still feel the snow-white confectioner’s sugar sand coming up between my toes and looking at the beautiful emerald green waters of the Gulf. It was just a wonderful experience. Now the sad memory is our friend Anna passed away and now resides in heaven.
We rode through many small coastal areas until we finally arrived in Pensacola and I loved the architecture of the old business district. But what really caught our eyes were these wonderful pelican statures at the entrance to a small parks. There were five pelicans each reprenting the five branches of the US military. We loved the thought of these pelicans so turned around and drove back to get some pictures.
The next bridge we crossed that I just loved was the Pensacola Bay Bridge. Evidently it is also called by locals the Three Mile Bridge and runs between downtown Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. As we crossed my attention was grabbed by both right and left. On the right were the most beautiful stretches of snow white sand dunes speckled with vegetation. On the left was a number of watercraft of varying sizes. But what really caught my attention was one odd looking floating craft. It was, from my perspective, a small, flat, square floating platform. Randy and I were trying to decide if it was a boat or perhaps a diving platform. Whatever it was the other thing that made it interesting was the Jolly Roger flag fluttering the in the breeze. As we passed through this area I saw a sign the Gulf Islands National Park and wished we had time to stop. The park will definitely be a stop on our next trip to this area.
We spent a little time going through Alabama and as we rolled through we decided we would stop in Daphne for lunch. We had agreed that one meal a day would be in a local restaurant. We rode for quite a bit with both of us looking and for the most part saw many, many chain restaurants. All of a sudden we were passing a little shopping area called Jubilee Point and I saw a restaurant called Bangkok Thai. Randy and I love Thai so we pulled in. Oh, my once again we found the perfect restaurant. The inside of the restaurant was filled with beautifully carved teak furniture.
There was a luncheon special menu that was quite amazing. For the small price of $7.95 you had a choice of soups, appetizers and main dish. I ordered the Tom Yum Gai (spicy chicken soup), fried wontons for my appetizer Green Curry with chicken as my main dish. Every bite was yummy. The soup was hardy with just the right amount of spices but not overwhelming with tiny strips of chicken, mushrooms and green onions. The wontons were crisp but not greasy with tiny bits of pork pocketed inside and a lovely dipping sauce with tiny flecks of red pepper. The Green Curry with chicken was perfect. What I really enjoyed about this dish was the lightness of the curry. Again the curry was spicy but not overwhelmingly so. The vegetables were cooked just right adding a delightful crunch to the meal.
After lunch Randy decided to hop onto I10 instead of driving through the city Mobile. On our way across the Jubliee Parkway (bridge) we saw the Battleship Alabama docked at USS Battleship Alabama Park with its big 16” guns just before we went through the Bankhead Tunnel. We traveled around the south end of Mobile and then hopped onto I65 and headed north. We eventually got back onto US98 west to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
This stretch of US98 had some bad points and some good points about it. The bad points are for long stretches all you see are trees (and not very pretty ones), telephone lines and not much else and not many gas stations. The good points about this stretch of US98 are seeing many miles of beautiful trees, some farm land, small bodies of water just beyond the tree line and no telephone poles. A real plus about the road is that it is in good condition and not a great deal of traffic making it possible to maintain a steady 65 miles per hour without a great deal of slowing down and speeding up.
We decided to stop in Hattiesburg and found a lovely room at the Hampton Inn. The hotel was having a manager’s reception this evening for all the guests. They provided hot dogs, chili, salsa, chips, queso and soft drinks. Now how great is that? It was finally time to take a dip in the pool. We dried off and took a walk up the hill to Wendy’s a got a small Frosty. How perfect is that?
Tomorrow we are heading to Natchez, Mississippi.