My route to Summerdale was spectacularly easy.
Basically 98-west until reaching Route 59 -- then, head north.
Because it was Sunday, the drive through Pensacola was also effortless.
I soaked in the local bay and drove slow enough to smell and taste the brackish mist. I passed through another air force area (not the Tyndall Air Force Base, but Hurlburt Field). I also zoomed by a large naval hospital prior to my arrival to Alabama.
Two remaining Florida counties (Santa Rosa and Escambia) disappeared; finally, we had made our way to a new state. (That is... my motorcycle and me.)
Alabama represented herself well.
Both bays and bayous.
Ubiquitous red dirt roads.
(Paul DiMatteo this video's for you -- could not resist the opportunity.)
Because I had arrived so early, and I knew the Summerdale cottage would not be ready until later in the afternoon, I stopped in a little town called Fairhope.
It was quaint and well-manicured.
As I strolled around parts of it, I imagined city planners meticulously laying out every specific zoning designation to ensure its distinct Southern charm.
The only place I found open was the local market where I purchased some hydration and shortbread lavender cookies. Tables and chairs were located outside, so I took the opportunity to rest.
As I relaxed, a few phone calls trickled in from friends and family. It was nice to hear familiar voices (thank you Emily and Ada).
Later, I found a park and walked down a pretty large dock overlooking the vast Mobile Bay.
The afternoon sun began to take its toll, so I headed back to my motorcycle.
Upon departure, I realized my airbnb host had sent me a text saying the cottage was ready (three hours before official check-in time).
I was relieved.
Using GPS, I made it to the cottage close to 2 p.m.
The curvy, rural route to Marjorie's place was picturesque... and to my surprise... paved!
When I parked the bike in the carport, I found another text: "The cottage is open so go on in."
I opened the door to find a beautiful kitchen to my left, a living room and fireplace to my right.
Either the bedroom looked like something out of Southern Living, or maybe it was the bunk-bed residuals.
All I know is that I was glad to be alone in a queen-sized bed.
Moments later, I meet Marjorie.
A lovely, genuine woman.
Her monochromatic beige outfit reminded me of a safari.
With the energy of a 20-something, she showed me around her Alabama paradise: the cottage, a large husband & wife-built compound, an art studio/workshop, the gardens, two docks, a pontoon boat, kayaks, an outdoor and indoor kitchen and Fish River.
She invited me into her beautiful home where she shared various stories with me which made me laugh and laugh.
It was this kind of laughter: the crying kind.
The kind where you want to finish what you're saying, but you're laughing so hard and in tears that you can barely spit it out.
That kind of laughter.
I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard.
My favorite story was the one where her now deceased husband -- at that time heavily medicated with morphine -- made 10 grown men move a tent around the yard until it was in the perfect spot.
Marjorie who was 28 before she married.
She was 21 when she walked for several months along the agricultural landscapes of Australia. Follow that up with a year-long (maybe more) Thelma and Louise road-trip around the United States (including Alaska) and Mexico.
Only later did she settle down with a man who took her fishing, yet simultaneously managed to sink their boat along with her purse, wallet, and keys.
Needless to say, I had a wonderful evening hearing her stories.
We made plans to go kayaking the following morning.
I walked back to the cottage; I showered; the night stormed; I fell fast asleep.
Dawn breaks at nearly 5 a.m.
I awaken with it and make a cup of tea and some instant brown sugar oatmeal.
By the time I meet Marjorie at her dock (close to 7 a.m.), she's already moved the kayaks into the water.
In other words, she's done all the work, and she's waiting for me.
We board our own kayaks and paddle out into the very calm Fish River. As she and I meander along, I hear more stories about the environment, the people, the houses, and the history. When we return, I help her load the garbage to the front of her property, and she offers to cook me a real breakfast. We eat together and talk some more.
Because she made plans to get her truck worked on (in town), she offers me use of her laptop. Hence, why I was able to record these words (and my last post for that matter).
A fierce rain struck around noon and let up a few hours later.
Marjorie and I planned another kayaking venture on Tuesday morning.
I will miss her warmth and her humor.
Later in the day, I am motorcycle bound for Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
There, I will meet another airbnb host named Jessie.
Distance: 92.8 miles.
Until we meet again, my friend.