Ask the Driver to Find Out What’s New in Mobile

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We touched down in our needle-thin regional jet at Mobile’s airport, where drive Bill Hyde met me and the group. It’s all women, I noted, and as I sat up front, I kept my attention on Bill, peppering him with those questions I like to ask when I first arrive at a new city. Behind me the women talked about Media Bistro, and NATJA and press trips to Dallas and Ireland.

How far is the ocean, I asked. “Gulf shores is about and hour fifteen from here. Beautiful sand, gorgeous beach, he said. “Who’s the biggest employer here in Mobile?” He said that there are two shipyards here, one called Austal where they are building a new class of stealth ships for the navy. I saw one right outside my window, it looks like something Darth Vader would like if he wanted a ship…grey and sinister. Next to the stealth ship is a 2nd Hawaii car ferry. A court battle in Honolulu has temporarily docked the first ferry that was operating between the islands now.

Bill took us on a detour down a lovely street lined with Live Oak trees, their branches spreading out and providing shade up and down the street. The houses were Victorian gems, ornate with fancy latticework and turrets, and he pointed out a rare yellow Azalea bush. The bush behind it was an orange Azalea. “You won’t see many of those,” he said.

The big news, he told us, is that 12 miles from here, Thyssen Krupp is building a new steel plant, which will open this year and bring 2600 jobs. “I might be applying for one of those jobs,” he joked. He pointed out another street called Government Boulevard, that runs all the way down right to the Mobile River. It too was lined with huge houses many of which had been converted into law offices.

It’s time for a hotel tour this property has been lovingly restored, and we met the PR chief Bill Lang in the lobby. He’s proud of the place so I better not be late for my tour!