Edit Blog Post
Published: April 8th 2008
Posted by Onaxthiel: I wouldn't really say we “woke up” with the coming of dawn in our campsite. It would be more accurate to say that we “chose to give up” when the clouds first started to light up. The whole night had been hot, moist and filled with insects. It was not an experience I would care to repeat. After a shower in the campground facilities, the insects really noticed us. It reminded me of why I don't like the south once it starts to warm up. Between swatting at gnats, Obfuscator and I elected to move out of the area as quickly as possible and fled for the sanctuary of the car. Our next move was to try to see some of the historic forts that Mississippi has all along the gulf coast. I'm not sure if it was the still lingering Katrina affect, or if it is the recent rains and flooding, but we were unable to find several of the listed forts, and the remainder were listed as closed before we even left the highway. The positive part of this was that we able to quickly move on towards Mobile, Alabama.
Soon after crossing the border,
you lose the feel of swamp and start to feel more like you are in the kind of territory you would want to live in. With that in mind, we headed towards a seashore. Mobile Bay once hosted one of the more famous battles in U.S. Naval history. After several unsuccessful attempts to take the port over the years of the civil war, Admiral Farragut brought a mixed fleet of traditional ships and ironclads to bear on the bay's defenses and famously gave the order to his helmsman “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” This did result in the sinking of one of his ships, but he was able to isolate and destroy first the Rebel fleet, and then each of the three Confederate forts guarding the bay in turn. The fort that we ended up seeing was Fort Gaines.
Like most of the coastal fortifications we have viewed on the drive, Gaines was built in stages in the years following the war of 1812. Like Fort Sumter, after the Spanish American war it was updated to mount large caliber disappearing guns behind thick concrete walls. Obfuscator and I clambered all over these mounts for most of the morning
and reveled in the cool breeze coming off the gulf. Inside the walls, we talked to a blacksmith that worked at building tools and decorative flairs for the fort and for his own private sale. It turns out that he has been doing this job for about twenty years, and learned from a set of local blacksmiths that made their livings building farm implements and shoeing horses for the local farmers. Back before it was an art, it was a practical job. By the time we finished talking to the blacksmith, it was early afternoon and we decided to continue driving towards Mobile proper. The only stuff we really wanted to see was the historic downtown, particularly the Cathedral. Our lack of interest in further exploration was somewhat enhanced by the on and off rains that we began to experience in the afternoon, and wanting to head a bit further into the state before stopping for the night.
We were sidetracked on our way to the cathedral square by a strange looking ship's hull poking its bow out of a large hanger towards the harbor. Its large size and odd design captured our attention, so we walked over to
a point across the river from the ship's assembly building. Inside was a narrow hull, shaped almost like a racing boat's, leading back towards a much wider superstructure guarded by a small gun turret mount. Obfuscator and I have been speculating whether this is an example of one of the new classes of littoral warfare vessels, or if this is a prototype design. Amazing things the military is coming up with these days.
With the mystery ship viewed, we moved on to the Cathedral (Obfuscator adds: Like every Catholic church and cathedral in the South, I think this one was named the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception). The Church has been recently renovated, just completed in 2004, and the interior is lovely. It also is home to a rather unusual crypt. The spiral stairs down to the crypt can be found on the left hand side of the church, in the middle of the pews. The crypt has a small chapel in it, though it is gated when not in us. All alone, seeing this subterranean place of worship would have been worth the stop.
Down the road, only a block from the Catholic Cathedral, stands a Masonic
Temple. Unusually designed, the Temple resembles some ancient Egyptian structure, down to the sphinxes that guard its main entrance. Of course, the large chain and padlock that reinforces their wish to not be intruded upon is a better way to ward off intruders. To back up the sphinxes and chains, the Masons also pulled the necessary strings to locate a small police station right across the street to keep an eye on things. One of the police cruisers even had a little masonic compass hanging from his rear view, just to make sure that everyone knows that the car's allegiance lies with the secret masters.
The last point of interest we saw in town was a memorial to Semmes the Captain of the raider Alabama, one of the world's most famous vessels. After his ship was shot out from under him by the USS Kearsarge, he was promoted to Admiral and put in charge of the James River Squadron. Finally, we drove on to our destination for the night, a small town called Evergreen. It's the kind of place we go just because it had an internet connection and a roof to keep the rain off. All in all,
not a bad day.
Tot: 0.158s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 21; qc: 100; dbt: 0.0212s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb