Dauphin Island, AL to Pensacola, FL
185 ft of climbing
Sunday began at an easy pace. Knowing we had a short day, we didn't hurry. We got to the breakfast table and were treated to eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, fruit, biscuits, and pancakes. It looks like allot when I see it in writing.
Some other guests were at the table when we arrived. We had met Michelle and Jimmy, and Les and Tommy the afternoon before when they asked us about our ride while offering us a couple of cold beers.
The weather was dry when we woke up but the night before I stood outside our room, about fifty feet across the lawn from Mobile Bay, and watched a big electrical storm come our way from the Western shore (the East side of the bay).
We talked with our new friends and some guests we hadn't met prior joined us at the table. We learned there was a fishing rodeo going on at Dauphin Island that weekend. Eighty percent of the guests were fisherman and women in town for the rodeo.
The rodeo consists of various competitions for the largest catch of various types of fish. Red Snapper and Amber Jack among them. They told us there was a kids competition too and anything they pulled out of the sea counted.
We didn't realize how huge the deep sea fishing was here but we did by the time we finished our ride. It seemed like every other business we passed offered fishing charters.
After breakfast we said our good-byes and rolled out. Carol was a lovely hostess and made me promise to come and visit her again. I'd love too.
We planned to take the ferry from the island to Point Morgan on the mainland. We arrived at the dock about half an hour early and took the opportunity to ride to Fort Gaines. Being a barrier island to Mobile Bay, Dauphin was the site of guns defending the bay. Fort Gaines is most famous for its role in the Civil War's Battle of Mobile bay where from his flagship, The USS Hartford, Admiral David Farrugut spoke the words, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". I thought that was a cycling term first uttered by Captain Kirk speaking about Klingons.
The ferry ride was about a half hour long and ten minutes or so from arriving the skies opened up and it poured rain. I said to Chris, know the closest shore or oil platform at all times and don't try to swim with the bike if anything happens. I said this jokingly.
We rode off the ferry into moderate rain and on down the highway we went. Point Morgan is the home to Fort Morgan and at the end of a peninsula extending approximately twenty miles into the bay from Gulf Shores, Alabama toward Dauphin Island. The ferry ride was probably six miles or so.
The rain eased and stopped after fifteen minutes or so of riding and we had dry skies the rest of the day.
We rode along the shore through Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The strip between the highway and the water was full of high rise time shares and on the opposite side souvenir shops and assorted theme restaurants. From the looks of things you either go fishing, eat, or buy souvenirs when you visit the area.
We stopped for a lunch of butter and fish (a bit more rich than intended). Down the road another couple of miles in Lost Key, we stopped at the first coffee shop we'd seen for hundreds of miles (no Starbucks sightings for over a week). Inside they had a desktop computer with an internet connection and I was able to upload a few recent pictures.
My friend Michael was planning to drive down, from Atlanta, to meet us in Pensacola. He initially thought he would drive himself, ride with us, and then ride back to his truck a day or two later. We had arranged that I would call him, on his cell phone, once we found a place to stay.
When we were talking to our new friends at the breakfast table, earlier that day, they unanimously agreed that the most beautiful beaches in the world were found in the Pensacola area and the ride up Scenic Highway was spectacular. Chris and I decided to find a place to stay before that stretch so we could begin our ride with Michael there the next day. We saw a Residence Inn and a Courtyard by Marriott next to each other, one block from the route and decided to stop there.
We rode up to the Residence Inn first and Chris went inside to check rates and availability while I called Courtyard from out front. The woman at Courtyard quoted me one hundred and nineteen dollars per night for a king single with a sleeper sofa. Chris came out of Residence Inn saying the woman acted annoyed by him asking questions and we agreed, based on attitude, that Courtyard was a better choice.
We went across the street and inside the hotel and were helped by Ryan Albertson. I figured two rooms would suffice with Chris and I staying in one and Michael in the other. I gave Ryan my credit card and as he was registering us he said, "the rate will be one hundred and fifty nine dollars per night". I said I had called and a woman quoted one hundred and nineteen. He explained I had probably called the other Courtyard, an older property in another part of town. I asked if there was anything he could do to help with the rate since I was getting two rooms. He said he would give us a rate of one hundred and thirty nine. I thanked him for helping us out. The hotel was new and fresh feeling and very well appointed.
As he continued registering us we began talking. Ryan is a runner and competed in School. I talked about how running requires effort for me but I do it competitively in triathlons. We talked about running stores and had a nice conversation. He asked about the ride and I told him what we were doing. By the time he handed me the registration to sign he had changed the rate to one hundred and one dollars saying he thought it was a good thing we were doing. I expressed my appreciation and took the keys.
I called Michael to tell him where we were and found out his daughter Jessica, and her boyfriend Allen, had driven with him so they could pick him up down the road after two days of riding with us. They planned to spend Monday and Tuesday at the beach.
I took a quick shower and went downstairs to meet them. I took a Livestrong card with me that I wrote the blog address on and thanked Ryan again for the help on the rate and gave him the card.
Michael had already arrived and extended their room one night. I went back upstairs and greeted our new rider and saw Jessica for the first time in at least twelve years. She and my daughter Ashleigh had gone to preschool together. She has become a beautiful young lady and greatly resembles her mom.
As we were getting ready to step out for dinner, the phone rang in our room. It was Ryan from the front desk. He said, "Kirk, I'm sorry but my manager, Jennifer, said I can't give you the one hundred and one dollar rate". I thanked him for trying and he said, "I can't give you the rate because after we looked at the blog she insists on providing you the rooms on a complimentary basis". I was speechless. As evidenced by this journal, that's rare.
I thanked him profusely. He told me that his manager Jennifer's mother had died from cancer and his own mother had beat cervical cancer when he was a very small boy. I told him that's what LAF wants, for everyone diagnosed to survive.
We know we are doing something good because it always feels right but the kind of affirmation we receive from people like Michael Beach at Fort Davis Drug Store, Nena Artl at Nena's Café in Leakey, Texas, Lenore Prud'Homme at the Outpost in Round Top, Texas and now from Jennifer at Courtyard by Marriott in Pensacola is very fortifying.
Thank you all for your contributions to our efforts. We deeply appreciate it.
At Ryan's recommendation we walked across the street to Maguire's Pub for an authentically Pensacoline experience and had a very nice dinner and great conversation.
More fun and love tomorrow.