April 21 - 22: Alabama

4/21 - Dauphin Island (42 miles 2371 total)
42 miles from the la font inn in pascagoula, LA, to the dauphin island beach condos on dauphin island, AL
breakfast was served buffet style in the motel's dining room....eggs, bacon, sausage patties, grits, fried potatoes, french toast, biscuits & gravy, juices.... but it was hard for the cooks to keep up with a horde of hungry biker women. the waitress kept saying "they told me that a few of you would be eating here early this morning" as she bustled around trying to fill coffee cups & looking generally harried.
people were anxious to ride those first 8 miles east on hwy 90 to the alligator farm....the gulf coast gator ranch. our staff had alerted the folks at the gator ranch that we'd be arriving around 7:30, so they opened early for us. by about 7:45, those of us in the first group piled into the airboat, then held our ears as the huge fan propelling the boat reached high pitch.
here's a photo of several white- & gray-haired biker women headin' down the bayou to hunt gators!
during the excursion out on the water, our guide, jeremy, told us lots of interesting facts about alligators. he said that he sells many alligators to circuses. he pointed out a couple of alligator nests; the nests are built in different locales depending on whether the mother wants to produce females or males. if females, the temperatures around the nest must be lower than 90 degrees; for males, 90 or above.
jeremy pointed out a large beaver dam. he said that sometimes the baby beavers are eaten by the alligators. he also related an incident that occurred a year or so ago when a nearby presbyterian church was constructing a carport near its building. evidently, one morning the presbyterians found the roof of their carport on the ground; the beavers from the gator farm had gnawed thru the bases of the posts, toppled them, & brot them back to use in constructing their dam. jeremy said that it looked as if lowe's had dropped off some lumber for the beavers' construction job.
after our airboat ride, we walked along the raised walkways above the green-surfaced waters where many alligators sluggishly swam around (tho' they would've been more active if it had been hotter). we had picked up some sacksful of alligator food in the office; donna was standing next to me & started throwing handfuls of the alligator (dog) food into the water.
in this photo you can see one of them snapping at the food. those are the backs of other gators milling nearby.
as we wandered on to look at the many gators in another pond, we noticed that several of them were flopping around somewhat & making deep grunting sounds. we asked the young woman in the office what this behavior meant. she said that mating season begins next week, & that the loud noise of the airboat gets the gators into an amorous mood. (you learn an awful lot about alligators at this gator farm!)
after about an hour, we were ready to bike on eastward. in about 2 miles, we crossed the border into alabama. here are bev, sari, & roma at the official alabama sign. the big rock nearby has a plaque on it indicating that this is the jefferson davis highway.
pedaling on, we came to the little town of bayou labatre; it proclaims itself the seafood capital of alabama. there were lots of fishing boats in the inlets we passed by.
here's mary (from boston) snacking on a banana while stopped on a bridge to check out the boats parked along the shore; the one on the right is under construction. (mary says she's taking the flowers off her helmet after today; they cover some of the helmet's ventilation slots.)
nearby we had just passed over a bridge when a loud alarm went off. we stopped & look back in time to see the entire center section of the bridge rising into the air; a bit later a tall-masted fishing boat passed underneath.
here's a photo showing the bridge's midsection high above our heads on the right & the fishing boat chugging along below. notice the gray clouds. rain had been predicted for today. a few riders got lightly showered upon early. but by late morning, the sun was shining.
this evening, some visitors cooked part of our supper. in the photo, from left, are alex (vicky's brother), vicky's dad, haywood (vicky's husband), & vicky (even tho' she said she didn't help with dinner). haywood made some delicious grits & sauteed shrimp.
our condos are on different floors of a very large 3-story building along the beach a bit west of the little town here on dauphin island.
i took this photo looking down from our 3rd-story balcony as dusk was approaching. below you can see one of the fresh-water pools here & the gulf of mexico on your left. the folks sitting near the swimming pool are from our group. we had dinner downstairs in the staff's suite.
speaking of dinner, i forgot to mention last night that we had some wonderful easter treats at suppertime. carolyn had ordered some see's chocolate eggs (scrumptious); she said we couldn't do easter without chocolate eggs. & loralee's daughter had sent some boxes of chocolate truffles. we were in chocolate heaven.
tomorrow i'm guessing that many of us will spend lots of time on the beach....tho' i'm sure laundry & bike-cleaning will intrude on our day of leisure.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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