Finally, on the road
Mobile Travel Blog› entry 2 of 7 › view all entries
The evolution of Eric has begun. I swore I'd never be a certain guy, but here I am....that guy. Which guy, you ask? I am "Sits at coffee shop with laptop guy." Yes, this is me. I tried to avoid this scenario, but the library in Mobile doesn't have wi-fi, so I was forced to venture through the city looking for wi-fi access. Most places looked strangely at me when I asked if they had wi-fi, but in Tampa, every Library and fast-food place seems to have wi-fi; definitely not the case here in Mobil. So, after driving around for 45 minutes looking for a place and repeatedly getting strange looks from people, I decided that I must become the "Sits at Coffee shop guy." You would think that I'd like this scenario since I love coffee, peace and quiet, and I need to use the internet, but I guess I have always had this preconceived notion that most people in these places were pretentious.
I asked for a large, but I could see that I was making myself the center of attention by speaking English in Starbucks. "Ok, Ok, give me a Venti please." I'm not sure if I heard applause out loud or if it was all in my head, but that was the moment of conformity for me. I am now "Sits at coffee shop while working on laptop guy" ......and you know what? I enjoy it!
I suppose I should actually write about my trip.
After 9 hours of driving, I finally arrived in Mobile.
Michael Whinery was my couchsurfing host. He is a 28 year old bagpiper who lives in Mobile to help take care of his mother and sister. He spent many years in Tucson and still longs to return out west. He misses the mountains, which is something that the Gulf Coast has nothing close to resembling. We talked about his Great Grandfather who made kachina dolls.
His great-grandfather spent six months living with an Indian tribe in Arizona. His art was obviously inspired by his love for the southwest. I'm sure he must have had some good stories about living with the tribe. Michael told me that his mother would have been the better one to tell these stories, but unfortunately, she had become very ill and didn't want to infest us with the "bug."
Michael is a grade two bagpiper, which I had no idea that they even had grades, but they do, 1 to 5 as matter of fact. One being the highest and a world class level. My ignorance of things is truly only surpassed by my curiosity. Not only do they have grades for bag piping, but they also award college scholarships for them too. He received a scholarship to St. Andrews in North Carolina where he played pipe in the band. He now teaches, travels to competitions, plays weddings and funerals.
I enjoyed staying at Mike's place as we were able to talk about a few of my favorite things: politics, music, and the idea of experiencing life outside of the box that our day jobs would allow. He is clearly an intelligent person who is well diversified in his knowledge and was very welcoming to a total stranger staying in his house. Before I began this trip, I wondered what the people whom I'd be staying with would be like, but after one person, I think I already have a slight idea. They are people that are curious about the world, life, and the human spirit. While this theory isn't tested as of yet, we shall see if this hypothesis stands correct.
Since I arrived in Mobile late last night, I was hoping today I would see the sites, play tennis and meet with the reporter that was interested in doing a piece on me.
Well, the sites are unattainable due to the flooding roads near the gulf and tennis isn't on anybody's mind when wind gust are 40+ miles an hour. I think the replacement news reporter couldn't care less about my story either.
I had a few conversations with the original reporter, Darwin Singleton, on the phone and he mentioned meeting up with me to get some good footage to go along with the interview. The "bug" has gotten a lot of people here in Mobile and now it seems to have gotten Darwin too. Besides, I think that downtown flooding is probably a little more important than my story. The weather has been less than desirable and I can't say that I'm surprised. Hurricane Ike may be heading for Houston, but the storm is enormous and much of the Gulf states are experiences bad conditions.
I kept hearing how the battleship is a must-see here in Mobile, but when I drove down to the harbor to visit it, the road was closed due to the surf flooding it out.
I think I'm going to chalk a victory up to Ike here in Mobile. He hasn't done me any "real" damage, but I can't stay around town with nothing to do. I'm going to pack it up, leave the comfy of this coffee shop and head to New Orleans where I will spend a couple of days. I hear there is much to see there and I hoping Ike is just about done with the gulf region.
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