Sightseeing is fun. But sometimes I just want to be somewhere, to sit and absorb a place for a stretch of leisurely days unmeasured by timepieces.
The big Gulf Coast vacation towns don’t so much light my fire. For some ungodly reason, we Southerners have a tendency to view beautiful destinations as potential moneymaking extravaganzas and turn them into golf cart track/pulled taffy hellscapes. #Gatlinburg #Pigeon Forge #Panama City
A few notable exceptions: Cedar Key, FL and Apalachicola
That’s why I’ve mostly steered clear of Destin, Panama City, and their like. But if I’ve learned anything from Hal, it’s that fun can be had in a rockfight, and even in the Redneck Riviera, if need be. And so it was that we drove to Ft. Morgan, AL for a week and passed 7 long, lazy days in a tiny cabin on the bay, with expansive views of the sun’s entire arc.
While I’m still not a fan of the heedless development in Ft. Morgan, the spot Hal found was the perfect place to watch sunrises and sunsets while finishing a fantastic Michael Chabon novel. Meanwhile, Hal read Travis McGee novels and cooked up delicacies (like this fantastic shrimp boil).
The trick to enjoying a place that maybe isn’t your dream destination seems to be this: figure out what the place does best, and seek that out. In the case of Ft. Morgan, that meant shopping at the local seafood markets and cooking delicious meals as the sun sank into the gulf, right outside our big window. The quiet little cabin seemed 100 miles away from the strip-mall bustle of the beaches and condos. And the only reason to move around much was to move the Adirondack chair over a bit to chase the shade of a live oak.
Most travelers eventually adopt some sort of philosophy, which informs the kind of journeys they chose to make and what they do once there. Some prefer the checklist-of-landmarks style of travel, which can certainly be fun. Our philosophy is still a work in progress, but it goes something like this: if you can, stick around somewhere long enough to feel like you belong. Sit a spell. Eat well. Take long walks. And ideally, make friends.
It’s worked pretty well for us so far.
Related link: On Being a Regular