When I want to get a somewhat small touch of Carmel, CA., I just head some 75 miles east.
The real Carmel is some 2,000 miles to the west. It takes planning to get there, and more money and time.
Not so with this little jewel on the east shore of Mobile Bay in Alabama.
No, its not Carmel, nothing can be, but hey, close your eyes, feel the cool winter air and breath that salty sea air (OK, Mobile Bay may not be salty, but we're just trying to conjure up a feeling here).
Carmel is almost a must visit when we trip out to the West Coast on jaunts that include mainly San Francisco.
The Pacific Coast town just beckons. And when it is not in the cards, well, Fairhope, AL helps to bring a little satisfaction.
Fairhope doesn't have tree lined medians down the main street, but city fathers (or either the Chamber of Commerce), keep flower boxes along the streets full of whatever is pretty for any particular season.
This southern city offers an abundance of shops, restaurants and coffee houses. My wife likes the shops, I like the restaurants and coffee houses.
|Panini Pete's courtyard|
The scenic drive south from Interstate 10 to Fairhope offers a winding and hilly experience. Houses on both sides of the road probably once reached into the half-million dollar valuation before the recession hit. Those on sloping land that borders on the bay probably are worth that and more.
The landscaping is more verdant than out west because California is basically a desert state … lots of sand and heavy winds blowing off the Pacific. Thereis a lot of moisture here, and plenty of vegetation.
Just like the West Coast experience, one leaves downtown Fairhope heading west with the road going downhill until it ends at the bay where visitors are greeted by a city park and a roundabout on which there are two restaurants, one sitting over the waters of the bay.
On our recent January trip, wifey decided she wanted to do as we have done in the past, and that is get some sandwich fixings at the local grocery store and picnic in the city park that runs along the shoreline.
During high season, when someone is on duty, the posted entry fee is $8. There was no one collecting money, so we drove on in only to find out that the major section of the park was closed. We managed to find a place to park adjacent to a picnic table.
The temperature was coolish, the sun was shining, the wind was blowing and seagulls were piercing the air with their shrieks.
Upon closing my eyes for a moment, my thoughts traveled westward, it was just like . . . well, not quite . . .
But enjoyable just the same.
Next post: February 1, 2011