As I reluctantly left the Gulf Shores of Alabama, I read that psychologist Michelle Shiota said “Awe is a response to things you don’t have a mental template for.”

Our team of worldly, and often world-weary travelers, are sometimes struck by surprise in a moment of beauty or the unexpected. This week, in “Sweet
Home Alabama” I felt an ecstatic sense of wonder each day.

Readers of Where and What in the World, and our other travel columns, will learn the details of where to walk the pristine beaches, complete with sugar white sand, tangerine sunsets and bright stars. We will tell you about the innovative chefs, their recipes, and fish so fresh it was dancing on our tongues. Beyond the beaches of playful dolphins and delectable seafood, we discovered a sense of place filled with natural beauty, nature, art, family fun, and live music that surpassed all of our expectations.

For today, before I unpack and return to my busy life, I want to sing my praises to Alabama’s villages and shores along the Gulf of Mexico. This is a very special place not far away, that I knew existed, but had not taken the time to experience with all of my senses. I know for sure that I will return to authentic and awesome Alabama, perhaps for a vacation, maybe longer.