The Gulf


Big Lagoon State Park. We’re on our way towards New Orleans, ambling west along the Gulf.


A little further along the trail from that sign we hit the ocean where we could swim again. Unfortunately, there were a million huge, pink, moon jellyfish. They were pretty harmless, but still, nobody wanted to jump head first into one. We didn’t notice them at first, thus the excitement.

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School desk at Meaher State Park, just down the road from Mobile, and the USS Alabama.

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As I was taking this picture, with the kids and Ali a block ahead of me, a homeless man walked up to me smiling. My mind immediately started running through whether I was going to answer his inquiry with a shake of the head or a dollar. Signs had been all up and down the road saying not to give money to the homeless, but to instead give to the boxes collecting for the organizations that help them. Anyway, as he came up to me, smiling, he asked, “Did ya’ll get a picture with Muhammad back there?”

So much for jumping to conclusions.


Ouest loves herself a good town square with lots of vermin to feed.

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One of those moments that, as a parent, you think, “This isn’t going to end well.” But you let it go anyway. Remarkably, no tears were shed.

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We’re too late in the season to really see any gators in the wild, so we stopped in at a gator farm to get up close, and to take a ride on an airboat. Those things seem like they’d be a lot of fun to get behind the controls of. The driver was one of those guys that leaves us Northerners wondering if Southerners just lay the accent on extra thick around us, or if that is really their slow, easy drawl. I sometimes wonder how a Yankee can ever come down here and fit in. Which is funny, because I never really think about that in Mexico. The South often feels like more of a foreign country to me than those across a border.

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Davis Bayou. Kind of cheating to call this seeing alligators in the wild, but I suppose it is—National Park with a nice little visitor’s center.


Magnolia trees make good climbers.



19 Comments on “The Gulf”

  1. You just haven’t developed an ear for Mexican accents, is all. There are equivalents to the Alabama twang, for sure.

  2. Ahhh…still want to be aware around salt water for gators. I was fishing off Palm Bay point, about waist deep in brackish water when a gator went swimming by. Never got that deep again.

  3. After I graduated from college in New Orleans, I moved to NYC and toyed with the idea of being an actress. But, in those days, very few people made it without being able to speak like a Mid-westerner. So I enrolled in speech classes. I only remember one day from those classes. I had been listening to people with strong New York and foreign accents read lists of words and feeling smug because my list was going to be easy.

    I didn’t notice, as I read my words, that my drawl was stringing them out: rehhhhhd, dehhhhhd, sehhhhhd, fehhhhhd. Until the teacher told me, “Not too bad, but can you get them out a little quicker: red, dead, said, fed?

    Still, while people asked me where I was from when I traveled, they usually figured I was American, even with a strong Cajun accent. But after practicing my elocution every chance I got, I finally gave up after a cab driver asked me what country I was from.

  4. Panhandle area is considered “Southern Alabama” with the wonderful syrupy accent that goes with it. We “notherners” fit in just fine. Raised my New England kids down here and they don’t know they’re from the “north”. BTW – how did you know the guy was homeless? He cuda been a sailor…..or an RV’er or just a ‘good ole boy’. Happy travels.

  5. Venture below I-10 around the Houma, Lafayette area in Louisiana for yet another foreign country experience. Cajun country is like another world altogether. In Breaux Bridge, Arnauldville, Chauvin, Abbevile or New Iberia you are as likely to hear French as English spoken. Avery Island should provide plenty of alligator viewing experiences. Lots of great state parks to explore in south Louisiana too.

  6. You guys are probably long past Southern Alabama but if not, tune in WHEP 1310, my cousin Clark owns the station! This is the same station that Jimmy Buffett grew up listening to.

  7. great great great pics, you guys are definitely an inspiration to us, we hit the road Feb. 1st.. just had a garage sale to sell everything… keep inspiring us with your amazing stories

  8. I’ve wondered the same thing about the accent! As a native French speaker, I really struggle to decipher the drawl… At the garage near New Orleans with the bus right now and I believe it was easier to understand the garage guys in Costa Rica than here! It was great meeting you quickly in Big Lagoon!

  9. Pat and Ali, Rusty Sitton here. If your around New Orleans this weekend stop on by. We live in Covington La. On the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. Linda and I live less than a mile off Highway 12.

  10. Once, riding an old BMW R80G/S, I stuck to the southernmost road I could find, going West to East, from Galveston, TX to Florida, and then to Daytona later home to NC.

    I am glad I did, too. A lot of it is just plain gone now. Hurricanes, rising tides, kids moving off never to return. A lot of those places are only memories now.

    Most poignant, by far, was riding through Biloxi, MS when all the old Mansions were there. I had to stop to wipe the tears out of my helmet riding through 2 years after Katrina hit. Nothing but the pads where the grand old houses, they had weathered countless hurricanes in years past. Just completely gone, and only one lane open as sand covered the road and most of the driveways to the no gone grand old mansions.

    But…all the new casinos where open, and their roads where clear. I wanted to hurl, but I rode on, to greener, higher climate.

  11. I’m sure you’ve gotten a hundred offers like this, but if you want tips on enjoying Nola with kids email me.

  12. You guys are in the land of buy-any-beer-you-want and you’re drinking Coors Light? We are in Ajo, Arizona through May. If your path to Mexico takes you through, we’d love to see you again and we’ll show you a place we’ve found with great craft beer.

  13. Hi, there. We are also here in Galveston. Pat, Ali, and kids if you happen to come this way we should all get together. The Wagners

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