We've driven through and over Mobile on I-10, but commitments prevented us from stopping. Today we finally had time to rectify that. We read that the down town area was picturesque and historical so we headed there, hoping for something like Savannah or Charleston. While it is clear that Mobile shares its architectural history with these cities as well as New Orleans, it has not been as disciplined in maintaining the architectural integrity of the central city. Some of the buildings were beautifully maintained and restored and others were in need of serious TLC. And there were some empty lots where things had obviously been torn down. The gas fired lamps were surrounded by beautifully tended flower boxes and many of the wrought iron balconies were festooned with Mardi Gras decorations.
Mardi Gras seems to be a big deal here. There is an extensive parade schedule. Once we have attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans it could be fun to come back here and compare. To prepare for our Mardi Gras experiences ahead, we went to Toomey's, a highly regarded Mardi Gras supply retailer. The store was enormous and thronged with people. It took us over an hour to look at it all. It was a bit like the huge Christmas decorations stores we have at home and featured shiny green, gold and purple items we didn't know we needed until we saw them. So now we have gear to wear to the parades and gear to decorate the motor home. And probably when we finally get to New Orleans we will see even more great gedunk.
After all that frivolity we stopped at a more serious spot - the USS Alabama historic site. This battleship was commissioned in 1941 and was almost as large as the cruise ship we just sailed on. It could shoot 2700 pound shells almost 21 miles and had a crew of 2500. Fortunately the self guided tour brochure was well marked and we wandered around the multitude of decks and saw what life was like onboard during World War II. Even the tiniest little spaces were hung with bunks. Privacy must have been at a premium. There were some areas we were not allowed to go, but groups like the Boy Scouts can stay onboard for overnights.A surprising amount of deck space was devoted to to an ice cream shop and giant freezers to keep the product icy. Bet the Boy Scouts will enjoy that.