On an Alabama Trek

Embed from Getty Images

 

Time is 8:02 AM (my pedometer reads 425 steps)

As I do most of the time, I walk down nine stories in anticipation of the known and unknown of what lies ahead.

In minutes I’m at the beach. The sun is bright. The sky is blue with wispy white streaks. The air is brisk, but the wind is strong – much stronger than I hoped – plus I am walking into the wind.

Within a few minutes, I cross into Florida. There’s the Flora Bama. (1,100 steps)

 

The sand is packed. I’m close to the water, but wearing shoes. I start a 15-minute stretch of familiar landmarks: Pharaoh, the Green-Eyed Lady, and Olives.

Time is 8:18 AM (2,072 steps)

Pharaoh stands guard over the beach. He tells me, “You can have my crown if you make it.”

Suspicious of his offer, I nod as I walk past.

This is something I wanted to do last year, but didn’t – and to think the weather was better then.

 

Conditions haven’t changed, but it’s early.

There she stands – “Green-eyed lady, ocean lady. Soothing every waves that comes. Green-eyed lady, passion’s lady. Dressed in love, she lives for life to me.”

She always wonders where I’m going and when I’ll return.

I smile at her presence as I walk by.

 

There’s that cool sand sculpture I saw the artist doing yesterday!

Several days ago would have been better because it was warmer and less windy – but the fog would limit the view.

The sand is no longer easy walking. I look for hardpan.

There stand the Olives.

Time – 8:34 AM (3,941 steps)

 

The next landmark is the USS Eden aircraft carrier with a flight deck at the end of a stretch of houses.

Head down, I maintain my pace into the wind. I encounter company for a short distance.

 

Time – 8:53 AM (2.5 miles/4 km) at Eden, a typical turnaround point

Eden is not a carrier, but a proud falcon or eagle perched to display its wings – much like the eagle on the back of a US quarter.

 

After Eden is a string of 6-7 houses, followed by a long stretch (2.5 miles/4 km) of no housing units for it is a Florida state park. My next destination is the first tall tower.

 

Fortunately, I know the locations of the bathrooms.

My pace is slower than normal. The strong headwind is a factor.

The sand remains difficult, so I continually search for a packed surface.

I’ve walked this lonely stretch before. I could listen to a podcast, but I want to conserve my battery.

The tide appears higher than normal, so low tide must have been earlier than I thought.

Should I turn around?

…. but then I find a stretch of packed sand that delays the decision.

Time – 9:52 AM (12,525 steps) 5.5 miles/ 8.8 km

At Windemere, the first tall condo outside the state park. I’ve been here before. I stop to empty my shoes, drink water, rest, check my phone, and think.

Walkers assure me that better sand lies ahead.

Before continuing, a man passes where I sit, and he turns left as if he will serve as my guide. I chose to continue to where my feet have not gone before and to reach the point at the end of the national shoreline.

 

The sand is better here, but the wind seems a bit stronger.

Condos are a few stories taller than our location – but not as wide. I marvel at the beauty of the expansive, curved balconies.

 

The man continues to serve as a guidepost as he walks ahead of me.

A collection of pastel houses are sandwiched between condos. For whatever reason, I smiled.

I imagine the first part of my destination lies ahead – and the man still sets a good pace and direction – but I’m gaining on him.

Time – 10:30 AM (12,525 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km

I enter the Gulf Islands National Shoreline. The sand is hard and level.

 

A half mile into the national protected area, I catch the man. We talk.

I asked the location of the point. He says, “Another 5-6 miles.” (98-9.5 km) – I laugh and think about Pharaoh’s words.

Time – 10:50 AM (16,284 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km)

One mile into the national shoreline we turned around. This is near the location where I thought the point would be – but little did I know it was still so far away.

We separate as I stop at the pavillion for restrooms, eating a banana, rest, water, texting my wife, and emptying my shoes.

Lunch is about 45 minutes away – a place just before the long stretch of the state park.

Ahhh … the wind is finally at my back.

Lunch was wonderful – a plate of red beans and rice.

Before heading back to the beach, my windshirt comes off to expose my arms.

The wind is at my back, but soon I notice a chill on my neck. My windshirt goes from my waist to my neck. Much better.

The state park stretch is generally lonely. I’m tired. I chat to two fisherman about their day.

I keep my eyes focused ahead for the next landmark.

I finally pass Eden as the eagle stands proud.

Olives appear as a martini toasting my survival.

The Green-Eyed Lady smiles with approval and my safe return.

Pharaoh nods in approval, then sheepishly smiles as a reminder that the crown is still his – but my walk is slower than normal.

I stop again to visit a sand sculpture done by an artist I talked to yesterday. (This is a morning picture)

 

There’s a log – I stop to sit, remove my socks and shoes that I stuff into a bag.

Ahhh … the sea refreshes my feet. My pace get faster. I hear the steady bass drum of my steps.

The Flora Bama tempts me to stop for a celebratory drink, but I press on to Alabama.

A final foot splash in front of the condo. I wave to my wife on the balcony, head inside, find the elevator for the ride to the ninth floor.

I stand at our door checking the final stats.

Time – 2:20 PM (38,185 steps) 16.8 miles/27 km

An interesting day – and I imagine the rest of the day will involve several thousand more steps.

As for the point that I did not see, hopefully next year – but then I will drive to the national shoreline, park the car, then start the trek to the point and back.

Advertisements

60 thoughts on “On an Alabama Trek

  1. That was a very long walk Frank – on sand and with the wind blowing! Very impressive.
    I haven’t done more than two hours into the wind in years – and usually keep it to an hour these days! You have a lot of tall buildings along your seafront, are most hotels and timeshares? It is so interesting to see where you walk , thanks for sharing that.
    I love a good sandy beach, but they are hard to walk in when the sand is soft even though it’s so good just to be out in that fresh air. I bet you slept well that night 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline,
      Showing where I walk was one of the purposes of this post. Most of these buildings are condos (not hotels) … and not timeshares. From what I understand, most of these buildings have been built in the past 30 years.

      In general, the sand here is great for walking … usually firm and relatively level. On this day I walked with shoes, so I finding firm sand wasn’t easy – even when walking close to the water without getting wet. As you know, the beach is different every day.

      This was a long walk because I was on a mission to get to the point. Unfortunately, the point wasn’t where I thought! On the other hand, I got to where I thought it was. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW! This is great walking dear Frank, as if I was there too with this post and photographs, Thank you, have a nice day and enjoy your day, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merril,
      Thank you. Rumor has it that the person who did the sculpture is a competitor – but that’s not verified. This year I saw several others in the same area. Maybe I’ll find out more next year. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite a trek, your long day at the beach, and what a terrific follow-up to your ‘senses’ post. The vital search for hardpan, restrooms, and landmarks kept you focused, and Well Done avoiding the siren song of the Flora Bama. Lucky You that on the day you describe, science had yet to invent a long enough lasting battery to allow you, without worry, to cancel out your senses with a podcast on stuff which you would have warned me against overthinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim,
      On this day, I was on a mission. Although listening to podcasts would have been wonderful, having an active phone was more important. I almost celebrated by stopping in the Flora Bama for a Bushwacker, but being so close to home, I avoided the lure.

      Like

  4. Wow, well done Frank, that is a lot of steps.. but walking one of the best forms of exercise 🙂 that and swimming.. 🙂 Loved your tour as you ‘paced’ yourself.. I loved the view, but cannot get over how those skyscrapers are on the level with the beach.. no storm barriers in place.. I guess I am used to the English coast where there is either a cliff or huge concrete barriers to stop the storm surges in winter..
    Sending warm thoughts from rainy Britain while the rest of Europe bakes in Tropical temps.. 😀
    Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend Frank 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cincy,

    You’re speaking my language with this one. I loves me some steps, and I really love how you logged your step chart in intervals with a narrative. And to hit 38,000 steps on sand? That has to be worth a cool 50, at least!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo,
      Absolutely .. so I’m happy this was able to add to your step count! 😉 … The wind made it a challenging day – and then to be disappointed by not reaching the point.

      Like

  6. 27km?!!!!!!!!! My goodness! Some distance you covered! Most I’ve done [lately] was 45km in one day but with breaks. But it’s a great feeling crashing on a sofa after a cold shower, afterwards!!! Beautiful walk and I see where your beach walks come from. Best meditation too! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a fan of condos on the beach, I prefer the pastel coloured homes, though it is mostly the rich that seem to be able to live in the homes on the nice beaches. Maybe if they painted the condos with pastel colours I’d be more of a fan? The beach itself, I love, the water, and whatever lays beneath it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s one heck of a walk, Frank. And 40K for the day? I feel like it’s been a good day when I get to 26K. I love the combo of steps, description and photo, Really creative.

    Like

Comment with respect.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.