A day in New Orleans really isn’t enough time to see all the sites, but I need to continue down the road. If I had a personal anthem for where I am in my life right now, it would probably be Free and Easy (Down the road I go) by Dierks Bentley. But I digress. On with the post.
In a bid to stay as close to the gulf coast as possible and stay off the interstate, I opted to take US-90 across Mississippi and Alabama, and into Florida. There’s not much to say about US-90. It’s pretty straight though there are some scenic locales along the way.
As I was passing though Pascagoula MS, I decided it was time for a lunch break. I usually opt for breaks at truck stops or gas stations outside of, or on the edges of towns. This time I stopped at a place on the eastern edge of Pascagoula. I chose this place mostly because they had a Subway. I filled up the bike’s tank then took a few minutes to fill up my tank with a 6″ roast beef sub and some lemonade.
Now that Overkill and I were both fully fueled, it’s time to get back on the road. As I’m putting my helmet on, this little old lady comes up to me and says “You look like a nice young man. Can you help an old lady?”
I had to chuckle a little bit. In my bare feet, I stand just shy of 6’6″ and I probably weigh at least 3 times what this lady did. When I’ve got all my riding gear on, I can be somewhat imposing, or so I’m told. People usually at least do a double take when they see me coming, and quite often they will change course so that they are well outside of arms reach as we pass. But this little old lady wasn’t afraid of me at all. It was nice.
Of course I helped her. She just needed help adjusting the seat in her van. It took all of 30 seconds. We stood next to her van talking for another 5 minutes or so. She said that I reminded her of her son, who also rides. And that all the biker’s she’s ever met were nice people. Well, that explains why she thought I looked like a nice guy when I was decked out head to toe in armored riding gear. So, good deed done for the day, I got back on the road.
USS Alabama (BB-60)
As I was passing through Mobile AL, I came across a big sign saying USS Alabama turn right. With less than a half second deliberation, I hit the brakes and turned right. The USS Alabama was a pleasant surprise, I had no idea she was here. Compared to the USS Texas, the USS Alabama is in much better repair. She’s also 30 years younger than the USS Texas, and she only served in one World War. If the number of visitors is any indication, the USS Alabama also has a much larger budget than the USS Texas.
Battleship Memorial Park where the USS Alabama is docked is huge. Obviously the main attraction is the 680ft long USS Alabama, but they also have a myriad of military hardware on display. Not the least of which is the USS Drum (SS-228), a WWII submarine along with a P-51 Mustang flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.
The USS Alabama is the last of the South Dakota class Battleships, of which 4 were built. At 680 feet long, she is a little over 100 feet longer than the USS Texas. Her displacement is also considerably higher than the USS Texas. 35,000 long tons vs 27,000 long tons respectively.
As massive as the USS Alabama is, she is dwarfed by the USS Iowa class battleships. At 887 feet long, the Iowa class boats are over 200 feet longer than the USS Alabama. That extra 200 feet is used to good effect. Both classes of ships carry 9 16″ main guns in 3 turrets of 3, and 20 5″ guns.
In their WWII fighting trim, the Iowa class ships were equipped with nearly 4 times as many 40mm guns. 80 compared to the USS Alabama’s 24.
She may have been out gunned by the Iowa class ships, but the USS Alabama wasn’t a pushover.
She was commissioned in August of 1942. By November of that year she was in the Pacific, supporting US Marines with shore bombardment as they engaged Japanese forces. She also served as a carrier escort.
While on active duty during World War II, the USS Alabama earned 9 battle stars. In January of 1947, she was decommissioned and in June of 1962 she was struck from the Naval Register. Two years later she became a museum ship and the focal point of the Battleship Memorial Park.
I’ve been hanging out at my friends place in Tampa for the last week or so. I’m pretty sure it’s rained every single day that I’ve been here. I did get some riding done while I was here though. I’ll cover Florida in a few days. It’s time to get on the road though.
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