11 years ago today, Day 57

Here I sit with the heat running, after our first big fall storm of the season.  The high today was 46.  It’s been raining since Sunday.  And eleven years ago today I reached the Gulf of Mexico and was enjoying what I, after seventeen years near Seattle, think of as a nice, warm summer day.  Around eighty degrees.  On the 26th of October.  Sigh.

Anyway, the Gulf was really dropdead gorgeous.  I’ve never seen so many lovely shades of turquoise in my life:

These were taken from where I first encountered the Gulf, near Fort Walton Beach, Florida

I rolled up  my pant legs and waded a bit here.  The water was as warm as a comfy bath, there were no waves to speak of, and the slope was so gradual that I must have walked the length of a football field before I was in up to my knees.  A great blue heron standing on a sandbar further out and I kept an eye on each other as I splashed around. 

You have to understand.  I grew up on the West Coast, and the ocean I am most familiar with is the Pacific, which does not generally live up to its name.  My mother’s reaction to the family’s first trip to the beach after we moved from New Orleans to suburban Los Angeles when I was three was that it was far too cold and rough to be a swimming ocean.  And, of course, here in western Washington, beaches are for walking on, not swimming.

I had to go inland a bit to get past Pensacola, then made my way out onto the barrier island road, which ended up at a ferry that goes across Mobile Bay:

I took this while waiting for the ferry to arrive

A pelican and a couple of seagulls on the ferry dock pilings

From the ferry

The ferry ride was wonderful.  It was cooler on the water, and the views were lovely.  That was the second time I’d seen pelicans on my Long Trip, too (the first was on Lake Yellowstone, so quite a contrast — I don’t know if they’re even the same species of pelican).  I got slightly lost making my way from the ferry landing through Mobile proper to I-10, where the motel I was looking for was, but I did eventually find it. 

All in all, a very good day.  And the next day I was headed for New Orleans, the city where I was born, which I hadn’t visited since I was three years old!