Exile at the Beach

The owners of our wonderful little shotgun cottage in New Orleans said we could stay all winter—except for Mardi Gras week. They like to come back to their hometown to celebrate. That was fine with us. We were there for Mardi Gras last year. This year, we saw lots of parades as Carnival season began weeks ago. We were ready for quiet. 

Last week, we drove just a couple of hours to a hotel we like, the Malaga Inn in Mobile. It’s got style, a shabby elegance with a fountain in the courtyard. 

Our room opened onto a balcony with a filigreed wrought iron railing. Now, to get to it, we had to pry open the tall, heavy sash window and use the stick provided to hold it open so we could climb out. But there in front of us was a magnificent live oak tree, branches loaded with resurrection ferns. (They have that name because they look dead when it’s dry and immediately turn green when it rains.)  

The Malaga is why we like to stay in Mobile. And the fish joint, Wintzell’s Oyster House, not far away. 

Moon Pie Gras

Mobile says it invented Mardi Gras, and there were parades that night, 10 days before Fat Tuesday. Like New Orleans, people on the floats throw gifts to the crowds. But there weren’t that many of the beads we expected in the parade we saw. Instead, we kept catching packages of Moon Pies and Ramen Noodles.

To the Riviera

Next day, we drove less than two hours to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We rented a beach cottage. In a hike in the maritime forest, we saw an eagle swooping around. We’ve eaten grouper. We watched the rain on the dunes with the Gulf of Mexico beyond. I lured Steve out to the beach on a sunny midday promising shade. I built a big sand hand. 

We are at one end of the Gulf Shores, a spit of land called Fort Morgan. It’s not as overdeveloped here as many beach towns. Here, some 15 miles from the town of Gulf Shores there are houses, not big condos, and there are long stretches of coastal forests along the main road. But plenty of building is going on. 

The threat of hurricanes and sea level rise is no match for the lovely white sand beaches and clear waters here. People will build and build and come and visit. Including us.

After Fat Tuesday, we will return to New Orleans. We’ll be all fresh-faced and burnished on Ash Wednesday when every one who stayed in the city will be hungover with crosses on their foreheads. 

We’ve seen plenty of wonders of the Mardi Gras season. Here are some more parade pictures from the weeks before we came on our vacation from our vacation. Our friend Miriam, who loves Mardi Gras, enticed us to keep on going to parades and begging for beads (she’s with us showing off her throws in the photo lower right, below).

People who haven’t been to Mardi Gras think it’s crowded and dangerous. No. The parades are extravagant, noisy, musical, and exciting. People who line the routes are friendly and only step on you accidentally. (I wore sandals one day. Don’t do that.) Kids are everywhere. They get bags and bags of toys and beads. It’s really fun. Go.

Click on photos to enlarge them.

11 thoughts on “Exile at the Beach

    1. Oops. Just erased my comment. Thank you for keeping us connected with the wonders of your joyful American travels. Can’t wait for the next installment. 💫


  1. The window started at the floor and was six feet high. It took two of us to lift it and jam the stick below it so it wouldn’t crash down. If it had fallen while we were climbing out, we’d be smushed like a cartoon character. But we remain unsmushed cartoon characters to this day.


  2. Pat, these reports you’ve been sharing over the past couple of months would make a wonderful New Yorker article.

    I’m glad you guys are having such a good time.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


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