Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gulf Coast

On Saturday I went down to the Alabama Gulf Coast beaches to see them before they were destroyed by the oil spill. It's a good thing I didn't wait any longer. I heard on NPR tonight that the oil has already reached Alabama.

The first stop on the trip was Flora-Bama (which is on the Florida-Alabama border). It's a beach bar that’s proclaimed to be the “Last Great American Road House.” It’s a collection of shacks with bars, stages for live music and port-a-potties. It attracts a wide variety of locals, tourists and even celebrities.

Take a look at the pictures; there’s also a wiki article about it.

Electrical Code be damned!

That's a Phillies t-shirt. I said to the guy, "what's going on with the Phils?" He responded by saying, "I don't know. This was just the shirt I had with me today."

I don't know what this is about.

Views from the beach:

There must be other Phillies fans at Flora-Bama.

It looks like the tourist/vacation industry on the Alabama beaches is relatively new. The length of the Alabama coast east of Mobile Bay is 32 miles. Running along it is (Perdido) Beach Blvd.
Beach Blvd.

On one side of Beach Blvd. there is the beach and monster condos/hotels, all of which look no older than 20 years. On the other side of Beach Blvd. there is virtually nothing. There are a few houses, motels, stores and patches of land where real estate developers are planning on building vacation communities (a few sample houses have been constructed), but there are no commercial corridors with retail and restaurants (except for Gulf Shores Parkway). It’s just the beach and the condo towers on one side, and wide open land on the other. Further, despite there being a state park that weaves its way through the beeches, except for a state owned fishing pier, there were no public bathrooms.

New Construction.

A major difference between the gulf coast beaches and beaches in the Northeast, is that alcohol is permitted. I was pretty much the only person on the beach who was not walking around with a drink in my hand. And so many people were drinking that few people were actually in the water.

To give you an idea of how few rules there are, these are the rules for Belmar Beach in NJ, none of which apply to the Alabama beaches:
  • No Smoking
  • No Admission to Beach Without a Beach Fee
  • No Alcohol or Glass Containers
  • No Pets
  • Ball-playing and Frisbee Only in Designated Areas
What I really found surprising about permitting alcohol, was that there were no concession stands on the beach to buy food or drink. It seems like a missed opportunity to make a ton of money. Everyone at the beach had a cooler and brought their own alcohol from home.

The Gulf water was already as warm as it gets in the Northeast at the height of summer. I did go swimming and I have to say that I was brilliant enough to bring shampoo and soap with me so that I could take a shower afterwards at a condo tower’s outdoor shower. People gave me looks, but I didn't want to walk around with the residue of salt water all over my skin for the rest of the day.

I also went parasailing. The boat operator told me that I got over 600ft up in the air. From up there I could see just how much of the area north of Beach Blvd. was undeveloped. I could also spot oil rigs westward out in the Gulf.

Final picture:

Looking towards the coast line on a fishing pier 1,200 feet out in the Gulf.

No comments:

Post a Comment