Vacationing in sunny Alabama

Here is the view from the deck of the beach house we’ve rented with friends in Alabama. Why Alabama? Why not, I said to myself when I found the place on the Web. Sure, Alabama’s coastline is puny compared to, say, Florida’s, but it’s on the tame gulf coast, perfect for the younger members of our group. A similar place in Florida would have cost twice as much. And there are still pelicans here, and seagulls, and plenty of sunlight. Plus it’s just a three hour drive from New Orleans, so we can sample some great food at the end of our trip.

beach photo

What I wasn’t prepared for was the oil rigs. There are at least six of them visible from here (they are only hazy blotches on the horizon in this photo), and at night their lights boldly remind us of what it took to get us here. It was about a ten-hour drive from North Carolina, and the side trip to New Orleans will add another six hours to the trip back, for a total of 26 hours of driving. At about two gallons an hour, that’s over fifty gallons of gas. It has to come from someplace, right?

Over on Martha’s Vineyard, the NIMBYists are protesting the construction of a cleaner way to generate energy, a wind farm off the Massachusetts coast. Though it would generate hundreds of megawatts of “free,” ozone and carbon-dioxide-free energy, the wealthy vacationers there are using their clout to put a halt to its construction. Apparently they don’t want their view spoiled as they drive their H2s along the cape towards their summer homes.

Someday, I’d like to come back to the Alabama coast, and my dream is, that there wouldn’t be any oil rigs out there this time. I’d drive my fuel-cell-powered car, charged from Martha’s Vineyard windpower, or maybe solar panels on my roof.

If there was any wind here (there’s only been the slightest breeze the few days since we arrive), I wouldn’t even mind seeing a few windmills off the Alabama coast as well: that slight break in the otherwise perfect horizon would remind me that my vacation was now costing me — and my planet — a little less.

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