With the nuptials to attend later in the day, we figured we’d do some sightseeing in the morning followed up by a hike, then return to the house to relax and clean up before heading to the wedding. Our first stop on the way to Fort Morgan, our focus for the morning, was at the second of the three food concepts under the Cosmo’s mantle, Buzzcatz.
Being mid-morning, the parking lot was nearly empty so finding a spot was easy. We entered the shop and were confronted by a large display case featuring fresh baked rolls and buns, a vexing but good problem to have. We settled on a couple of cups of coffee, a cinnamon roll with candied bacon and caramel glaze, and a Breakfast Sandwich with split link Conecuh sausage and egg.
Given our penchant for splitting things, this would turn out to be a substantial amount of food for the two of us and would hold us over throughout the day’s activities, the hearty and tasty sausage providing the base layer. The drive out to Fort Morgan took about 30 minutes, much of it traversing the same route we had followed the day before on our bikes. We entered the park grounds, paid the $12 parking fee and parked outside the visitor’s center, which sits directly across the parking lot from the fort.
Fort Morgan is a historic masonry star configuration at the mouth of Mobile Bay, named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan. Built on the site of the earlier Fort Bowyer, construction was completed in 1834. During the Civil War it played a key role in defending Mobile for the Confederate Army, providing protective fire for blockade-runners. During the Battle of Mobile Bay in August of 1864, Union naval forces were able to get past the fort and enter the Bay, defeating ships of the Confederate Navy and capturing Fort Gaines across the bay.
This freed the Union land forces to besiege Fort Morgan and after two weeks of bombardment from sea and land, its commander, Major Richard L. Page surrendered on August 23, 1864. Once it was in Union hands, it was used it as a base for reconnaissance raids, and then as a staging area for the battles of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, which occurred days before General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
The fort would also see action during World War One (training men of the Coast Artillery in modern weapons) and Two (protecting the coast line ) with the War Department turning it over to the State of Alabama in 1946.
It was a beautiful spring day as we roamed the grounds, walking through the first floor passages, climbing up to the parapets to view the gun emplacements and gaze out at the bay. Later we would walk outside the fort and down to the siege line established by the Union Forces during the Civil War, imagining the cannon fire as those troops kept up an almost constant bombardment of the fort.
We took our leave and drove back towards Orange Beach, stopping about halfway at the trailhead for the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge where we parked and did a four mile out and back hike on the Jeff Friend and part of the Gator Lake Trails, to get in a bit of exercise before cleaning up and heading to the wedding.
At the appointed hour, we arrived at Heron Pointe, the Wharf for what would turn out to be a fine evening, witnessing the union of two folks truly in love, bumping into some former fellow employees from UNC Charlotte, drinking Contratto family champagne from Italy and chowing down on burgers, soft tacos and the best French fries from the Bleus Burger food truck, the kind of reception food every wedding should feature.
The next morning we arose fairly early and hit the road for the six-hour drive to Huntsville, having cancelled our originally planned last night in Orange Beach so that we could instead drop in on Jessie and Dave, who had recently moved from San Antonio. They are renting an apartment while they wait for a new house to be built and soon after meeting up with them the four of us drove over to the trailhead to the Aldridge Creek Greenway.
We rode out and back, about fourteen miles, stopping for a moment to view the lot where their house will go, a nice location backed up against the greenway and the stream that borders it, shielded from the rest of the small development by a tall grove of trees. We returned to the cars and after a brief stop at their apartment drove over to Yellow Hammer Brewing for beers and food.
Located in a large open building with indoor and outdoor seating, it’s a nice environment and one conducive to spending time in. While Joanna ordered our beers, for her the Belgian White and I the Black Lager, Dave and I went over to the adjacent Earth Stone Wood Fired Pizza (they share the same space) to stand in line for food. I ordered a small (10inch) Greene Street (Red sauce, mozzarella & provolone, fresh baby spinach, fresh baby portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced red bell pepper, thinly sliced red onion, and Kalamata olives).
We sat outside enjoying our drinks and just before our pizza was ready I returned to the bar to order the 1819 Belgian Dubbel, a fine version of this style of beer. Our pizza’s arrived and they were delicious, more so as a mistake was made on Jessie and Dave’s The Hammer (White sauce, mozzarella & provolone, bacon, thinly sliced red onion, baby arugula, and spicy pepper olive oil drizzle) as Dave had asked for the spicy drizzle to be left off and it wasn’t, so we ended up finishing off three whole pizzas.
Feeling full and happy, we settled up while I picked up a 22-ounce bottle of the Barrel-Aged Cherry Miracle Worker Tripel to take home with us. We said our farewells to Jessie and Dave and looking forward to a return in the future, departed for our hotel and a good night’s sleep before hitting the road for home the next day.
It had been a great week, full of discovering a new town in Memphis, drinking in culture and history, getting in a fair amount of exercise and being able to spend quality time with people we like. Not sure if we’ll return to Memphis soon, and if not, our memories will carry us forward. And given our recent history, we’ll likely be visiting Huntsville and Mobile sometime in the next year or so to connect with friends. It’s a good way to travel.
Conecuh Sausage: http://www.conecuhsausage.com/default.aspx
Fort Morgan: http://fort-morgan.org/
Fort Gaines: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Gaines_(Alabama)
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/bon_secour/
Bleus Burger: http://www.bleusburger.com/
Aldridge Creek Greenway: https://www.huntsvilleal.gov/environment/parks-recreation/parks-and-nature/trails-greenways/
Yellow Hammer Brewing: http://www.yellowhammerbrewery.com/
Earth Stone Pizza: http://earthandstonepizza.com/