Hello everyone, another week has past and it’s time for another edition of This Week on the Road. It’s been a pretty great week out here in Southern Alabama, beginning with a much needed and well enjoyed visit to the Gulf Coast and a few minutes on the beach. I also spent some wonderful time in beautiful Mobile, a city which I really enjoyed. The week ended with a long drive across the south of the state heading east, through rural farmland and quaint little towns. It’s been a great first week here in The Heart of Dixie, and I’m looking forward to everything the state has to offer in the coming few weeks. HERE is this week’s map if you want to follow along as we go!
When I finished posting my This Week article last week, I did, in fact, get out of town. I love New Orleans, and it’s always hard to go, and it was particularly hard with French Quarter Fest starting the following day, but it was way past time for me to get out of Louisiana. I scooted down to the interstate, and took Route 10 all the way to Alabama. I hate the interstate and its never-ending monotony, but it’s great when you have places you have to be and a limited time to get there.
When I got to Alabama, I headed southwest on 188 to beautiful Bayou La Batre. You may remember the name from Forrest Gump, as it is where Bubba was from and where Forrest went to start his shrimping company. It really is a shrimping town, and if you’ve been following along with me on this journey, you know I’m a sucker for old shrimping boats. The fleet there was really beautiful, and I stopped off to have a look and take some photos. While I was stopped, a young man of maybe 9 or 10 named Matthew pulled up…
This week has been a good one and a busy one and my last one in Louisiana. I traveled a bit across the North Shore area, north of Lake Ponchartrain and then ducked back to Baton Rouge for the wonderful 3rd Street Songwriters Festival. After a great weekend of music and new friends, I headed back to my former home city of New Orleans to get some work done and prepare to move on to Alabama, which I plan to do the minute this post is published. It’s been a great two months here in The Pelican State, but it’s long past time for me to be moving on, and I’m looking forward to it.
After I finished writing last week, I did indeed go for a couple of beers at the Abita Brewpub in Abita Springs. I had forgotten how cute a town Abita Springs is, and I enjoyed a little walk around before ducking into the brewpub. The bartender was Rita. Rita at Abita! She was very friendly and I enjoyed talking with her as I tried some of the Abita beers I haven’t had the chance to taste yet. When I was done there, I headed down the road and stopped by Ruby’s Roadhouse for a nightcap. This is a great old dive bar and music venue in Mandeville, and if only they’d make people go outside to smoke it would be even better. It’s a cool place though, and I’ll have to get back some day when they have live music on.
I woke up Thursday to torrential downpours and thunder so I made the command decision to stay in bed a little longer. I made a cup of coffee and watched some TV from the cozy confines of the back of my van. It wasn’t what I had planned, but that kind of weather isn’t great for taking photos or really much of anything, so I took advantage of it in the best way I could think of. I may have to do that more often…
Greetings from the Conch Republic, the farthest south you can get in the United States by car (or van). I’m writing to you this week from the wonderful public library here in Key West. It’s been a great week for me in South Florida, full of fun in the sun. It’s been windy but warm and I’ve gotten to see some really cool places this week. I had a few nice days in the parks south of Miami, and then made my way down the Keys. I’ve been on some great excursions this week, seen some beautiful sunsets and spent some great time with friends old and new. Life is good here in the Keys, and it would be hard to complain. In addition, the days are getting longer and spring is not too far away. Lots of things to be grateful and happy about this week.
After I posted last week’s This Week on the Road, I did indeed go to Coral Castle. Coral Castle is an astounding place - the product of one man’s dream, innovation and hard work. While “castle” may be a bit of a stretch in the literal sense of the word, the fact that every man’s home is his castle makes it okay to use the word in my worldview. My castle is 100 square feet on wheels. Built by Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin over the course of many years, Coral Castle is a fascinating structure to visit. I don’t think it is worth the $19 entrance fee to be quite honest, but it is Florida and this is one of the area’s oldest tourism ventures. To see all my photos and learn more about Ed and his dream, see my full post HERE.
I had just finished my workout at the Planet Fitness in Lexington, Kentucky and walked back into the locker room to get my things and head out and face the day. When I walked around the corner, I found Bill Thomas sitting in his wheelchair directly in front of my locker. He was waiting for me. Although we had never met before, there is no doubt in my mind that he was waiting for me. He looked up when I walked over and asked me how I was. I told him I was doing well and asked him the same question. “Every day I wake up is a good day, a blessed day” he responded. He offered me a granola bar, but I declined. I was in kind of a rush, but for some reason I felt like what Bill had to say was something worth listening to. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my instincts and that day, as usual, they served me well. He leaned back in his chair and looked up at me and told me this story:
It was Sunday, May 5th, 2013 and he was just waking up. At 57 years old, he had his aches and pains, but nothing out of the ordinary. He figured he’d get up, make some breakfast, have a shower and maybe watch his favorite church programs on TV. He sat on the edge of his bed and pictured his quiet Sunday morning unfolding as it always had. He went to stand up and begin his day when everything went blurry and lost its shape. He closed his eyes and tried to shake it off but when he opened them again nothing had changed. He went to sit back down and collapsed.