Time is running so fast! When I first announced our upcoming move from Alabama to Washington state a few weeks ago, it seemed to me like this day would be far away, and yet here we are! Next week on Tuesday, April 8th, we will leave the South, which has been my home since I moved to the US eight years ago, and embark on a new adventure of living in Seattle, WA area.
I am incredibly excited about our move, especially since I firmly believe that all changes in life are for the better (even when we don’t see that ‘better’ right away, which is not the case with our move). And yet it wouldn’t be true to say that I won’t be missing Alabama. We might have had different opinions on some subjects, but all in all Southern Alabama is a lovely place.
Today I’d like to show you a few pictures from the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay – the place that’s been my home since 2011.
Fairhope, the true gem of the American South, is alone a great reason to visit Southern Alabama. The city was founded in 1894 by a community of free thinkers who had come from Iowa. They believed in single tax theories of Henry George, an economist and social reformer of the 19th century. The single tax ideas are still practiced to some extent, and a special ‘demonstration fee’ from taxpayers goes to support local parks, the public library, and a free museum of history.
Many artists and writers have called Fairhope home at some point, and a lot of creative people choose to retire in this area. Winston Groom, the author of Forrest Gump, has lived here for a long time.
One of my favorite things about Southern Alabama is the fact that something is always blooming here year round, even during the winter. In spring, azalea bushes are in full bloom all over the place:
In fact, the area’s largest running race, a 10k that’s been held in downtown Mobile every March since 1978 , is called Azalea Trail Run. Lots of world-famous elite runners have participated in this race over the years, including Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit-Samuelsson and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom. I’ll be taking with me two age-group medals for running this race twice, in 2012 and 2013.
The South is well-known for its beautiful live oak trees (I wrote about them in this post about Savannah, GA). There are also lots of pine trees in this area that sometimes produce pretty big pinecones:
Speaking of Fairhope, it’s impossible to omit its true gem – the Municipal Park and the Pier. This is what it looks like in early March:
There is actually a quite steep bluff right behind the sea horse (a creation of a local artist – you can see more of his work all over the town). The pier goes about a quarter of a mile into the Mobile Bay. On an average day, you’ll see lots of people fishing off of this pier. Do they catch anything? Hardly ever, although we once saw a small shark having been caught there (a rare case – the Gulf of Mexico is still about 30 miles to the south). That also was a week before Rob was supposed to participate in Grandman Triathlon that takes place every year in the Municipal Park, so it was kind of unnerving to see a shark there.
Here’s a closer look on the Fairhope pier from the summer of 2013:
Man, I can see the the heat and the humidity in the air in this picture! Those two go hand in hand in the Deep South: every summer, the air outside feels like a hot sauna, and I could hardly ever leave my house without sweating buckets as soon as I was out of the door (kinda gross, sorry!). That’s one thing I sure won’t be missing in Washington!
Right at the beginning of the pier, there is this beautiful Rose Garden with a fountain, an American flag and the whole shebang. Every year from early spring till winter the garden has numerous varieties of roses pleasing the eyes of Fairhopians:
Right behind the fountain there is a steep hill that the participants of the above mentioned triathlon have to conquer first on their bikes, and then while doing the 5k run. It was never a problem for Rob, who’s a thousand times better on the bike than I am right now (in fact, I never learned to ride a bicycle until Rob taught me a couple years ago!), so I blame that hill for my lack of courage to ever sign up for that triathlon 🙁 .
The spirit of Fairhope is definitely laid back and friendly. Rob and I have spent countless evenings and weekends walking the streets of this peaceful city, enjoying the scenery, figuring out the art of eating at Southern restaurants as vegans, and occasionally hopping on a swing in the park:
All in all, the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay (as well as all of the Southern Alabama and Northwest Florida) will forever stay in our hearts, and we’ll always be grateful to Alabama for bringing my New Yorker husband and my Russian self together.
On to the new adventure in Washington!