July 9, 2014:
Today’s destination, the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi, a.k.a. the Redneck Riviera, a.k.a. the Jersey Shore of the Deep South. Redneck Jersey Shore? Sign me up!
Before hitting the beach, we wanted to get as bloated as possible. That meant stopping for lunch not once but twice. Our first feast was in Mobile, Alabama for some shrimp and grits, the same dish we’d had the night before and couldn’t get enough of. While eating we were told, “y’all’s server’s gone be right wit’ y’all”, an unprecedented double-y’all! This trip never stops opening my eyes to new realms of possibility. The other highlight of lunch #1 were the jokes and sayings that covered the walls, many of which would certainly lead to uproar, protest, and new reports. Here are a couple of examples:
Another forty minutes down towards the Riviera we arrived at lunch spot #2, Lambert’s. One foot inside the raucous monstrosity of a restaurant that is Lambert’s, and it was immediately apparent that we made a mistake by wasting stomach space in Mobile. We were in for a feast. Along with your meal – typical Southern Barbeque – servers would walk by Brazilian rodizio-style offering dollops of sides they called “pass-arounds”. Pass-arounds included macaroni and tomato, fried potato and onion, black eyed peas, fried okra, buns, apple butter and molasses, and boiled cabbage. A lot of stuff. Adding to the experience, the buns were “throwed”. Instead of politely placing the bread on your plate, a 14-year-old kid walked around with a tray of hot buns and hurled them, sometimes over long distances and clearing many occupied tables, towards people who’ve signaled their interest. Gord and I caught some buns, gorged on pass-arounds, downed our main course of pulled pork sandwiches, and drank one-liter bottomless hot chocolates until we were sweating. All for $9.99. Exito!
Our bellies successfully distended, we headed on to the beach. Not knowing what to expect, were pleasantly surprised. The beach was endlessly long and very wide (like in Rio), the sand was very soft, and the water was clean and refreshing. It was also quite busy for a weekday afternoon, with very few unoccupied patches of sand. Maybe contributing to the shortage of unoccupied sand was the general size of the people. As they say, they were all in shape, and that shape was round. Unlike the beaches of Vancouver, these people did not spend their winters getting their beach bodies prepared. They were still ready for hibernation. We also noted that curiously, unlike everywhere else we’d been, there were very few black people. Gord and I exchanged theories as to why that may be, but couldn’t agree on a good explanation.
Following some time lazing about the beach, we hopped back in the car, took a ferry ride across Mobile bay (cool experience, and at $20.50 not a bad price), somehow worked up the appetite for a yummy dinner in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and settled into a motel in Biloxi.
- It annoys me to no end that the style here is for sporty guys to wear socks with sandals. The socks are always pulled up tight mid calf, and the outfit is always completed with a plain t-shirt and basketball shorts. What is the point of the socks? Sandals are intended to let your feet breathe! Incomprehensible.
- The female equivalent to this aforementioned style is running shorts and baggy t-shirts. There were packs of young girls all sporting this same style. At least they don’t complement their look with socks and sandals.
- The downtowns of these Southern American cities are eerily quiet and lifeless. It’s just office buildings and nothing else. No major retail and very little residential space. The place we ate in Mobile was right downtown, yet we could easily get a free parking spot right in front mid-day.