Thursday, February 11, 2010

The South will freeze again

We are at the Bass Pro Shop in Spanish Fort, Alabama (map), just across Mobile Bay from Mobile.

This is a bit further than we had originally scheduled to go -- I had planned to stop just west of Pensacola, after putting 50 gallons of diesel in there at $2.679. (We knew we'd need the diesel furnace last night, and had to keep the fuel level above the dip tube, even though we'll see cheaper fuel today.) But free parking with a restaurant is always tempting, and we always enjoy browsing Outdoor World. This time, Louise managed to find some shoes she liked, too. So, maybe parking is not so free. We also had a light dinner at the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant in the store.

Bass Pro here is surrounded by brand new strip-mall type buildings, all empty. We imagine they were built in anticipation of a housing boom on this side of the bay, one that never came once the market tanked. It did mean we had our pick of parking spots. Bass Pro itself seemed fairly empty, too, but it was a Wednesday night. We hope they make out OK here, because it's a great stopping spot.

The Atlas-V launch was ultimately scrubbed yesterday, making us doubly glad we did not stick around for it. It finally went this morning, and our friend Chris said he could see it and hear it 30 miles away in Melbourne. I watched it on NASA TV. I expect we'll get a chance for another one on some future visit to Florida.

We have been marching to a game plan of being in New Orleans tonight, to visit our friend Anne and perhaps catch a pre-Mardi Gras parade. Tomorrow, we'd planned to head west through Baton Rouge, stopping somewhere around Lafayette or so on our way to Beaumont. Two things, however, have conspired to change that plan.

The first is that Louise realized quite suddenly yesterday that she is teaching a class by conference call tonight, so we would not have time to visit. No problem -- we thought we'd just slow down a bit, and spend tonight at the Isle of Capri Casino in Biloxi, about the half way point and along our planned route that involves another fuel stop in Gautier. We'd spend tomorrow night in New Orleans instead, and just do some extra miles on Saturday to keep to our scheduled arrival in Beaumont.

All of that changed once again this morning, after the Weather Alert radio woke us in the middle of the night. It turns out that our entire route from here to New Orleans will be pounded by sleet, freezing rain, and snow. Here, on the gulf coast! Dire warnings were issued by the national weather service about hazardous driving conditions, and we are further concerned because gulf coast cities tend to be short on snow removal equipment. Moreover, the heavy precipitation this evening will likely knock our satellite off line, which means Louise needs another way to get to the Internet to teach her class.

So, the new plan is to drive all the way to New Orleans today, as originally planned. Louise will teach her class tonight, using either Internet access borrowed from our friend, or an air card that the local Red Cross chapter can lend her -- it helps that we know the IT guy at the chapter, from our work on Katrina. We'll just stay through tomorrow night, as well, when we can visit with Anne and maybe catch a parade, assuming the weather does not cancel them. And we will resume our journey on Saturday when all is supposed to melt.

We will leave here shortly, make a brief stop at the Bienville Club in downtown Mobile for lunch, then head west on US-90 through Pascagoula and into Gautier, where my resources show diesel for $2.499 per gallon, the cheapest we will see all the way to Tucson. Time permitting, we will take US-90 all the way to New Orleans, for the first time since 2005. On all our interceding visits, one or both of the major bridges between Ocean Springs and Bay Saint Louis has been out.

1 comment:

  1. Well, that makes the Gulf coast officially colder than Vancouver, BC, Canada. We could use colder temperatures and some snow here for the Olympics. Instead we have +8°C and rain.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!