We woke to a beautiful misty morning in Apalachicola. We wandered around the deserted streets which seemed even more steeped with Americana by daylight. It really is a pretty little place and I'd suggest a visit seeing it if you ever have the chance, although it's in such an unlikely location that maybe it's an odd thing to recommend.
As we drove out of the town, the morning light revealed a pronounced change in the character of the buildings and the geography. Plantation-style houses abound and the landscape is getting greener but more wild, with sweeping, moss covered boughs swinging out over noticeably rougher roads. As we pushed back out onto the interstate the more verdant greenery of the coastline was replaced with farmed pine trees and the topography is allowing much more water to stretch further inland. It's starting to feel much more like the southern states as I'd imagined them.
Given that we are on the Scenic Coastal Highway, we haven't actually seen much of the sea, so we decided to try and find some sand before we leave Florida. Finding it was simply a matter of turning left and heading south until the tyres got wet, so we stopped at a partially constructed yet immaculately presented apartment development and walked down their board walk to the beach. I'll let the images speak for themselves.
Driving on, we cross our first state line of the eleven we'll be visiting and head into Alabama. As I've said before, food is important to us both, so we've picked a few locations from the Man vs Food TV show and are trying to get to them if we can. Today's venue is the Brick Pit Barbecue in Mobile, a loose collection of what I can only really describe as shacks, one of which had smoke pouring out of its roof, right in the middle of a suburban street. The walls of the restaurant itself are covered in the scribbled messages of thousands of guests and everything feels well-loved.
We were greeted by Pit Master Jerry in an otherwise empty restaurant, and ordered up some of their 30 hour smoked pulled pork. It was really tasty, especially the barbecue beans that accompanied the pork, but not quite to the level we'd expected. It turns out it was our fault because the pulled pork isn't what you should order - you need to get the ribs. They are genuinely amazing, and we shared a plate of them over Texas Toast - which is just sliced bread, in case you're wondering.
We had a good chat with the owner, whose niece studied in London, and he was telling us that most of his customers are foreigners now - on cue, three Norwegian guys walked in - although it was said without any hint of prejudice. It did make me think of the risks associated with gaining fame through the mass media - we didn't specifically mention their TV appearance and it felt a little like the elephant in the room, as it's obviously changed his business considerably.
We also talked Jerry into showing us his smokehouse - which turned out to be another shack with a large metal trailer inside that was stuffed with coals and meat. The smell was incredible in there and Jerry showed us his process (which starts at 5AM everyday) and pulled out huge slabs of pork and tiny smoked chickens to show us - they might have been normal sized but scale was difficult when you're being presented with bits of pork that are larger than your head. The ribs were the most impressive - giant stacks of them, wrapped in tinfoil and leaking fat over a trestle table. I think we were so dumbfounded that we forgot to take any images, but needless to say I think it's somewhere to add to your itinerary if you're ever in Mobile.
Full and happy, we headed on into the evening and Mississippi, arriving at Biloxi, a casino town on the short stretch of coastline that the state has on the gulf. Nick's made good progress so we're a bit ahead of schedule and can spend a night outside of New Orleans. After we'd arrived at our hotel, we went to Adventures, a local bar, upon the recommendation of the guy on the Best Western reception. It turned into a really fun night, drinking craft beers with increasingly intoxicated regulars and chatting to whoever walked by. It was great and we ended up staggering cheerfully back to our hotel, having been chased out of a couple of the casinos and after Nick managed to secure a chicken and bacon sandwich at 2AM. It was an auspicious start to what promises to be a couple of nights on the tiles, and certainly left us with a few memories - tomorrow is New Years Eve and New Orleans so I'm signing off. Have fun tomorrow night all.