Our time here at the Escapee's Rainbow Plantation RV Park is growing short. With that in mind we thought we'd venture out and try to find lunch at a restaurant on Mobile Bay, that big body of water just 8 miles west of us. We didn't have anything particular in mind, just to wander, explore, and hope we happen upon the right place.
And we did... at the Fairhope, AL. municipal pier, a gathering place for locals and tourists since the 1920's. About half way out this historic and storied public pier is the Yardarm Restaurant, a somewhat "pricey" place but with the clear advantage to us of being right on the water.
|From Fairhope, AL|
We choose to dine alfresco and thoroughly enjoyed the views of birds and boats while we ate and soaked in the day. The bay waters were particularly brown, even muddy, the apparent result of all the rain we've had recently. But the skies were mostly clear and we could see the buildings of downtown Mobile about 15 miles across the bay.
After lunch we drove south along the beach road, past Point Clear, and down to Weeks Bay on Hwy Alt98. At Weeks Bay we stopped at the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Administered by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it's goal is to establish and manage a national system of reserves representing the different coastal regions and estuarine types that exist in the USA. Now that sounds like big government at work, doesn't it?
An estuary is a semi-enclosed body of water where fresh water from rivers mixes with salt water from oceans. It's in these places that vigorous interactions among land, sea, fresh water, and air take place. They're among the most productive environments on earth and great places to study life and the effects of mankind on our ecosystems. There are a bunch of exhibits in the main visitor center to see and numerous self-guided nature trails to take. One of the highlights of the visit is seeing Pitcher Plant Bog. It's one of the last surviving bogs that are home to an unusual plant called the Pitcher Plant. The Pitcher Plant has tubular leaves that are death traps to insects and other small creatures. Inside these hollow tubes are stiff hairs which point downward. These hairs, called cilia, make it easy for insects to crawl down into the tube, but difficult to crawl back up and out again. Insects eventually die and fall into a pool of liquid at the bottom of the tubes which contains enzymes that digest the insects and allow the plant to absorb minerals and nutrients from their decomposed prey. These plants eat meat!
|From Fairhope, AL|
After that shocking discovery we headed home to a light dinner and to work on the website and photo collection.