East Coast Fall 2021 – Mobile, Al

November 9-10

A good day’s drive of seven hours took us along familiar territory, west on I-10 across the Florida panhandle to land in Daphne, Alabama, sitting across Mobile Bay from Mobile itself.  Originally we had planned to camp closer to town for three nights at Meaher State Park which we used in 2016 (https://3jmann.com/2016/05/07/south-east-spring-swing-mobile-part-one/), but that fell apart when we had to add extra days to our stay in Durham.  In addition, we cancelled a three night stay in Galveston, buying back enough days to keep us on schedule to hit Death Valley the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Fernandina Beach to Daphne

Lodging for the next two nights would be at the Best Western Plus Daphne Inn, just off the I-10 where we unloaded the car and killed time for an hour or so before driving across the bay to meet longtime friends Leigh and James, who many of you are now familiar with from our many stops in  Mobile.  Tonight, we’d be dining at Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks, a smallish establishment in the older part of downtown.

We arrived first and started off with drinks, a Catawba Evening Joe (Coffee Blond) for Joanna, and a Manhattan for me, both helping to clear the cobwebs after a long day in the car.  Leigh and James soon arrived, got drinks as well and after some conversation we proceeded to order, the Chronic Pork Chop Sandwich (fried pork chop, tomato, shredded lettuce, red onion, pickle, sweet peppers, spicy mayo, yellow mustard on a potato bun) for me and a Power Salad (Lentils, Kale, quinoa, charred cauliflower, sweet potato, cucumber, avocado, craisins, crispy chickpeas, with sweet soy vinaigrette) for Joanna. 

The sandwich, a bit unwieldy to eat with any kind of decorum, did get consumed with gusto and Joanna did significant damage to her salad.  We finished up by splitting a Stone Xocoveza Tres Leche Stout, creamy smooth with so much flavor going on dessert wasn’t even necessary.  Before we knew it had gotten late and so we bade farewell to our favorite Mobile couple and made our way back across the bay to Daphne. 

Leigh, James, Jerry and Joanna

The next morning was an early one as we needed to get Joanna to the Mobile airport for her flight to Durham to coordinate her Mom’s move to the facility that agreed to take her.  It was a long commute as the airport is located on the far western side of the city, but we made it on time and Joanna got to her flight.  I returned to the Best Western and soon thereafter took off on my bike for a 26-mile ride in the direction of Fairhope.

Daphne to Fairhope

It was a nice day to be on the bike and even though I had the best intentions I didn’t make it all the way to my intended destination, as I got hit with a bout of the lazies on the way and so turned back at mile 13.  It’s a shame as I was looking forward to another visit to Fairhope, which we had been to during our 2016 stay. 

Eastern Shore Drive

It was founded in 1894 on the site of the former Alabama City as a Georgist “Single-Tax” colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa.  Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony:

“to establish and conduct a model community or colony, free from all forms of private monopoly, and to secure to its members therein equality of opportunity, the full reward of individual efforts, and the benefits of co-operation in matters of general concern.”

Downtown Fairhope

In forming their demonstration project, they pooled their funds to purchase land at “Stapleton’s pasture” on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds.  The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.

Fairhope

The Fairhope Single-Tax Corporation still operates, with 1,800 leaseholds covering more than 4,000 acres in and around the current city of Fairhope.  Despite the ideals of the corporation, the town has transitioned from utopian experiment to artists’ and intellectuals’ colony to boutique resort and affluent suburb of Mobile.  White flight from nearby Mobile has caused the population of Baldwin County to almost triple since the 1940s, and particularly since desegregation, contributing to the mostly White demographics of Daphne, Fairhope, and Spanish Fort.

Back at the Best Western I cleaned up and killed time with a few of the routine chores that need tending when on the road, that is paying bills, plotting the road ahead, corresponding, and maybe some work on the blog.  The time slips by and soon I’m getting ready to head towards Mobile for dinner with Emil, who I chronicled in one of the 2016 blog posts, at Felix’s Fish Camp

Felix’s Fish Camp

Joanna and I met Emil here in 2016 and here is a section of the post from that trip about that encounter:

Emile and a friend of his, Sharon (names have been changed to protect the not so innocent) had just arrived as well, and we greeted each other warmly.  Back at ASUCLA, he had supervised the custodial crews that cleaned all of our 350,000 square feet of facilities, reporting to me for a few years.  We’d made a good team and it was a delight to see him, he having moved to Mobile a year or so after Joanna and I left Los Angeles.

Emil was alone this time and after greeting each other we ordered drinks, for me the house chardonnay, and for he a Stella Artois.  And from there the evening passed in the blink of an eye as we brought each other up to date on the five years that had elapsed.  In between I ordered a grilled Red Drum (how I love this fish native to the Gulf) with a side brown rice and a Caesar Salad to start and another glass of wine. 

A Good Caesar Salad

It turns out that “Sharon” had been a major disturbance for Emil, taking advantage of his good nature she seems to have invaded his life for a period of time and it took him some amount of effort to extract himself from her influence.  I recall that dinner we had and how Joanna and I both came away from it with an odd feeling about her, as she controlled all of the conversation at the table, ordered for Emil and paid for the bill with his credit card.

Regardless, it was great to reconnect with him and see that he is doing well, no surprise as this is a guy who always seem to land on his feet.  As for the food, it was as good as I remember from our first visit here, a Caesar that sets the standard and fresh fish cooked to perfection.  I’d be facing two straight days of 7-hour drives by myself starting tomorrow and having gotten used to Joanna as a driving partner, wasn’t sure how I’d hold up.  We’ll cover that in the next post.  See you then. 

Emile and Jerry in 2016

Links

Best Western Plus Daphne Inn: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/daphne/hotel-rooms/best-western-plus-daphne-inn-suites/propertyCode.01120.html

Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks: https://squidinkeats.com/

Fairhope: https://www.fairhopeal.gov/

Felix’s Fish Camp: https://www.felixsfishcamp.com/

Fairhope attribution: By KevinmageeMagee, Mississippi –

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