Lynn, who was on the next boat to us at Dog River had given us a useful piece of information. Mobile Yacht Club, only a short walk away, would let you in as a guest for dinner if you were staying at the marina, and so Ian booked a table. After a run of scratch dinners on the boat, it was a pleasant indulgence to sit at a table with a cloth on it and be waited on, in a friendly club atmosphere. The food was great too. The building itself is unprepossessing and rather overshadowed by the Dauphin Island Parkway, but the dining room has an all-round view of the expanse of Mobile Bay
We took an Uber into Mobile, and Kathleen, our driver, suggested that instead of just going in on the freeway, we might like to go the back road way to see more of the old parts of Mobile. Government St, the main road through the town, was an avenue of old, spreading trees shading gracious old houses. Some are still privately owned, but the Government has bought others to preserve them. We walked through the downtown, a mix of modern high rise and older buildings, to see the Richards DAR House in the De Tonti Square Historic District.
The house was built in 1860 for Charles and Caroline Richards, and owned by the family until 1947, when it was sold to the Ideal Cement Company for use as offices. The company gifted it to the city of Mobile in 1973, and it’s now administered by the Mobile Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The intricate wrought ironwork has recently been restored at a cost of $85000.
We were given a guided tour by Lisa, a retired teacher, and joined by Greg and Tammy, visiting from upstate New York. The tour included tea afterwards – hot, spiced tea which tasted like mulled wine, but without the alcohol.
Our waiter at Mobile Yacht Club had recommended the Dauphin Restaurant, on the 34th floor of the Trustmark Building. Lunch was excellent and very reasonably priced, and the views made it unmissable.
People in Alabama have been so nice. In the lift on the way down from the restaurant, a man asked us where we were from, and what we were doing in Mobile. Ian launched into the usual explanation about the boat. At the mention of the Tombigbee River (we were out on the sidewalk by this time), the man, who had introduced himself as Clark, said that he had grown up close to the river in a rural area, 70 miles north of Mobile. ‘So I guess that makes me kind of a redneck.’
Ian wasn’t sure of the proper way to respond to this confession. He politely mumbled something about being under the impression that ‘redneck’ wasn’t a very complimentary way to describe someone.
That was right, Clark said. But he wanted us to know that not all rednecks were bad people. Some were ok, and welcome to Alabama. And thank you very much for visiting.
This last sentiment was repeated to us many times. I hope we’ll be able to go back again and see more of the state and its people.
We left Dog River the next day to start our journey towards the Florida Panhandle.
Mobile Bay was the first stretch of open water that we’d done for some time. The crossing took about five hours in reasonable conditions. At Bon Secour, we joined the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which would lead us between the barrier islands, through lakes and canals back to Florida’s west coast, where we started the Loop five years ago. There were dolphins and pelicans and it was starting to feel as though we were nearly there. We passed through Wolf Bay and moored at Ingram Bayou, where for once, the anchor set the first time to Ian’s satisfaction.