Sunday, March 30, 2008

Exploring the neighborhood

WHEN? Sunday · March 30

WHERE? Fairhope, Alabama · find us on the map

A lovely Sunday drive! Our first stop along the Scenic 98 route was the beautiful St. Francis At The Point Protestant Episcopal Church in Point Clear.

St. Francis on the Point

On down the road, we stopped at a mansion on the bay that was for sale and couldn't resist taking a few pictures of its tall azaleas. Robust azaleas similar to those at Bellingrath Gardens are common around Lower Alabama, and oftentimes grow up to the eaves. Everything just grows bigger down here because of the warm weather and plenty of rain.

Mae Dean's size comparison to the azaleas
Toldja they were big!

Next, we stopped for a walk on Fairhope's bayfront park pier and had lots of company on such a beautiful day. Some were just enjoying the pleasant weather, like we were. Others were fishing, including several with fairly large collections of fishing gear on wheels. When they have that much equipment (half a dozen or more fishing poles), I classify them as professional fishermen. Yardarm Restaurant & Marina, a mom-and-pop restaurant, is located along the pier. Although it's closed on Sundays during the off-season, it was recommended by a Point Clear resident that I know from working at the bank in Jackson, and we expect to try it one day soon.

Yardarm Restaurant

We could barely see Mobile's skyline from the end of the pier. Our stroll turned out to be some welcome exercise, since there's no way to get back to shore except to turn around and walk back.

I was surprised to see the Ole Bay Mercantile doing business on a Sunday afternoon with their open door beckoning me inside. It's the kind of shop I just love to browse in similar to visiting a museum.

Invitation to come in and browse at Ole Bay MercantileThey had some battery-operated votive candles, along with a group of cute nose holders for eyeglasses. Maybe one of them would help me keep up with my specs. I expect to return and purchase several items after giving myself a night or two to sleep on it. (Avoids impulse-buy regrets.)

To see more photos that both Wendell and I took today, visit:

Sunday afternoon in LA on flickr

  • By studying the stunning photos in Flickr's Fairhope photo pool, I'm hoping to identify things I can improve in my own photography (or at least copycat). Photos by Flickr member Jeremy Charles are among my favorites.
  • Also on Flickr, this Ole Bay Mercantile Christmas display reminded me that lights were strung on the trees in downtown Fairhope. I can hardly wait to go back later this year to see it dressed up during the holidays.
  • Honorable Mention: A website dedicated to photos of Beautiful Fairhope

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Welcome to the Elberta Sausage Festival

WHEN? Saturday · March 29

WHERE? Elberta, Alabama · find us on the map

Today we went to Elberta's German Sausage Festival. Founded in the 1970's as a fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department, the festival is supported by various local organizations and includes live polka music, dancing, craft booths and carnival rides. Lots of food vendors too, including sausage and sauerkraut served on big ole buns by the fire department, along with all sorts of imported and domestic beer vendors.

fur das gute leben

Elberta water tower
Elberta for the good life

Polka Shuffle
Polka Shuffle ...
Polka Twist
Polka Twist ...
Polka Swing
Polka Swing!

Smitty and I arrived shortly after the party started at 8 am, and dug into a hearty red beans and rice breakfast. We both enjoyed the shopping and found various items to purchase as we browsed, including a few things that'll be perfect in our new home. After Smitty was nearly five-dollared to death, we joined several thousand others in line for sausage and sauerkraut.

WHEP Talk Radio - The voice
of Baldwin County since 1953

WHEP's unique booth
What guy could miss
this beer-tent photo op?

St. Pauli Girl photo op

As we departed around 1 pm, traffic continued to stream in along Highway 98. We'd been warned that the sausage supply can never meet the demands of 30,000 hungry festivalgoers and were glad we weren't standing in line when it ran out.

See more Sausage Festival photos on flickr

Maggie's first toy!

Our favorite festival purchase is this hand-crafted sock doll for our first great-granddaughter, who's expected in June.

Maggie's first doll

Monday, March 24, 2008

Que'd up for food and fun

Morton, Mississippi · Home to the state's poultry farms and Roosevelt State Park

WHEN? Thursday · March 20 through Sunday · March 23

WHERE? Morton, Mississippi · find us on the map

What Q-Fest is:
It's about the Q – How to prep it, tenderize it, marinate it, season it, grill it, serve it, even how to eat it! When our mouths aren't full of food, they stay busy jawboning about food: What we've cooked, how we fixed it, who ate it, and ideas for improving our already-perfect recipes. If you love to cook out – or love someone who does – it's a weekend of food and fun in which you'll never go hungry.

What Q-Fest isn't:
No pressure – It's not a contest, not a cookoff — just lots of bragging from the diners during mealtime.

Mississippi Q-Fests began about ten years ago, after stories of a similar event in New Mexico began circulating on Internet BBQ forums. New Mexico's annual Q-Fest was inspired by Q-Man Danny Gaulden, a native Louisianan whose outstanding pit barbeque outsold ice cream at the Carlsbad Dairy Queen.

Japanese Magnolia
A young Japanese Magnolia in bloom

This year's cookout was attended by 27 people from eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Its permanent location ended up in Roosevelt State Park because it suits the group's needs so well. Besides being easy to travel to, its natural beauty is a welcome change of scenery for city dwellers, and those from further north love to come see the area's early Spring color. Fishing, hiking and other family-friendly activities encourage folks to bring the kids along, and plenty of overnight accomodations are available, including rustic cabins and lakeside rooms for those who'd rather not camp out. A large covered pavilion means we won't get rained out, and lots of picnic tables save everyone from hauling their own — which allows more space for bringing lots of food.*

Wendell waves from the Official Pavilion of Mississippi Q-Fest
Howdy from the Q-Fest pavilion!

Most of the credit for organizing Mississippi's Q-Fest goes to Big Jim from Florida, whose love for cooking and visiting with other bar-b-quers gets the ball rolling. Since hauling in the large cookers and meat (sometimes even a whole hog) requires a group effort, lots of fellow Q-Festers pitch in to help.Big Jim
Big Jim

*And I mean lots of food!

  • Friday morning brunch included biscuits and gravy, Brunswick stew, gizzards and rice, assorted dips and chips, fruit and coffee ... too much to remember! As if that weren't enough, a local church group drove by selling Krispy Creme donuts (mmmmm) to raise money for their Summer mission trip.
  • Although Friday evening supper is called a fish fry, this one was much more. Along with fried fish and hush puppies, we also had deep-fried gator and something they called frogmore stew, which is similar to a crawfish boil but with shrimp, sausage, potatoes, onions, catfish nuggets and mussels. (That's right, there's no frogs in it.) When it's ready to serve, the ingredients are strained from the boiling liquid and spread out on the table for people to help themselves. And for those who saved room for dessert: Banana pudding and Ginger's decorated Easter cake.
  • Frogmore Stew
    Now serving: Frogmore Stew

  • We rolled out of bed the following morning for deep-fried farm eggs, old fashioned stone-ground cheese grits, red beans and rice, biscuits, and fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice. And I'd sure like to know who to thank for those boxloads of delicious fruits and vegetables.
  • Our excellent cooks worked all day preparing Saturday evening's supper: Brisket, pork, chicken and ribs. Lots of side dishes, including baked beans and slaw. Leftover banana pudding and cake satisfied anyone with a sweet tooth.
  • Each QFest has its own twist. This year the Deans brought various cheeses from Wisconsin. After tasting my first-ever cheese curds, I'm now trying to figure out how to buy some myself. We also had oysters, either fresh-smoked or raw on the half shell (and those who couldn't decide simply had some of both).
  • Oysters fresh off the smoker
    Smoked oysters

  • Since I'm married to such a fine cook, I don't do lots of it myself. Trying Buzz's fried bread, though, has inspired me to try his recipe.

Since all Q-Fests I've attended have been fun, I'm hesitant to pick this one as my favorite. Q-friends from years past who didn't make this one were truly missed. The only downside to these gatherings: They're over too quickly! Like the after-Christmas blues, the same is true when people start saying their good-byes as they travel on to other places or return home. I hope to see them all again at another time down the road.

Shadow Lake sunset · Roosevelt State Park
Mississippi sunset
See more 2008 Q-Fest photos on flickr

  • Q-Man Danny Gaulden's restaurant is no longer a Dairy Queen. He now serves his famous mouth-watering barbeque at Danny's Place, located in the same Carlsbad location as the old DQ.
  • Since returning home to Alabama, Smitty has made his first ever Brunswick stew.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wearable souvenirs

Carrying brochures and other travel mementos around in an RV can become cumbersome, particularly for full-timers. Wendell has adopted a convenient souvenir badge that even keeps his head warm:

Wherever he laid his hat was his home ...

Most of his hat pins were collected on our travels, although a few were gifts from friends and fellow tourists. So far, there's 20 pins on it.

Souvenir hatSouvenir hat
Wyoming - Devils TowerSouth Dakota - BadlandsSupport America's FisheriesKentucky - Abraham Lincoln BirthplaceMinnesota - Spam museumKentucky - L&N Railroad Museum

For pin closeups and the stories behind them,
see Wendell's Travel Hat on flickr

The grommets on this hat make it look like maybe I've begun a souvenir hat like Wendell's. I don't have plans for one though, since I have my own wearable souvenir collection of t-shirts.Mae Dean's wearing a travel souvenir too

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Move-in day

WHEN? Tuesday · March 11

WHERE? Foley, Alabama · find us on the map

Busy day! The U-Haul trailer's been emptied and returned, and there's only a few items remaining in the carport to be moved indoors ... tomorrow! For now, though, we're tired and calling it a day.

In spite of calling Foley home now, we've spent so many vacations here that it kinda seems like we're still visiting for fun-and-sun. With the motorhome parked nearby, the easy access will help us organize it for upcoming roadtrips. So we certainly do consider ourselves perpetual vacationers.

Read more about today's move-in at:

Moving in

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our easiest move ever

WHEN? Monday · March 10

WHERE? South Baldwin County, Alabama · find us on the map

Spending the night at: Rainbow Plantation

After moving our household at least eight times since we married, neither of us was looking forward to doing so again, and we're both pleasantly surprised that this one's been easier than expected. We managed to retrieve our belongings in Jackson and haul everything to Summerdale in a single day. After a good night's sleep, we expect tomorrow's move-in to go smoothly, too.

I heartily recommend getting rid of the bulk of one's belongings prior to moving. It makes all the difference!

As I followed the motorhome down the highway, I couldn't help but think it looked as though these two monsters were vying for first place:

Gas guzzlers

Friday, March 7, 2008

New Home Base

WHEN? Friday · March 7

WHERE? Currently in Jackson, Mississippi

After toying with the idea of retiring on the Alabama Gulf Coast for twenty years or so ...

And after hanging out on the Alabama Gulf Coast for a month or so ...


We're moving there next week!

Surprised? We are too! An unexpected opportunity landed in our laps that was so attractive we'd have felt like fools to say no. It's a perfect fit!

The new place has a screened-in porch like I've always wanted:
Inside looking out

And ...

The kitchen has a built-in spice rack like Wendell's always needed:
A cook's kitchen

More goodies:

  • Just the right size for two
  • Rural scenery in a retiree community
  • Furnished, including appliances
  • Attractive landscaping and covered parking

Peaceful neighborhoodDining for twoWheeee a laundry room!Landscaping and parking included

Click on the trailer door to see how much extra elbow room we'll have in our fancy new place!

And before I forget...
we prefer the term
affordable prefabricated manufactured housing.

Y'all make yourselves at home!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Craftsmanship for a cause

WHEN? Thursday · March 6

WHERE? Appearances, a Baptist Hospital boutique specializing in products for cancer patients at Hederman Cancer Center

Family members and longtime acquaintances are familiar with my weakness for attractive dish patterns. My husband and daughters grew used to cabinets full of various table settings, both formal and informal, some that mix-and-matched, others that didn't.

While I collected plates and platters, Wendell developed his own penchant for pots and pans. By the time we were ready to downsize our household from condo to motorhome, we had accumulated enough cookware and tableware to feed and serve several armies!

My dish addiction was passed along to a daughter who insisted that our RV adventure would begin with a new set of lightweight-but-durable Corelle® dinnerware. I dutifully chose a pattern from their large virtual showroom and managed to part with all but a few sentimental items.Corelle® Country Morning

Two of my "keepers" were pottery pieces by renowned Mississippi artisan Gail Pittman. Although I'd collected only a few Gail Pittmans, I'd long admired her charming designs.

So with a few minutes to spare before yesterday morning's appointment, I strolled through the hospital's gift shop and was naturally drawn to an attractive display of pottery by (TA DA!) Gail Pittman. The Hope pattern, designed exclusively for Baptist Cancer Services, benefits cancer patients by providing funds for which other resources are not designated.

Hope pattern - Pitcher and Mug
Hope pattern - Deviled Egg Tray and Lasagna Pan
Deviled Egg Tray
Lasagna Pan
Hope pattern Clockwise: Hummingbird Feeder - Ruffled Platter - Dip Dish
Hummingbird Feeder
Ruffled Platter · Dip Dish

Hope items not pictured above:

Yet this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21-23

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


WHEN? Wednesday · March 5

WHERE? Jackson, Mississippi · find us on the map

Reason to celebrate: Normal results from Wendell's recent PET scan, blood work and oncology visit!

Bearer of good news

After sharing our good news with friends at Tom's Bar-B-Q, we treated ourselves to a celebration feast at Char in Highland Village, a favorite steakhouse at which we've had excellent prime rib, tasty seafood and fond memories.

Been there, rung that:
This celebration gong at Jackson Oncology Associates takes a beating from patients upon completion of their radiation treatments.

To counteract the fatigue of intensive radiation therapy, Jackson Oncology Associates encourages Qigong, which promotes ideal biofield postures, along with yoga and other moderate activity to regain lost strength.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Trip to Texas

WHEN? Saturday · March 1

WHERE? Arlington, Texas · find us on the map

Airstream parked at: Timberlake Campground at Mississippi's Ross Barnett Reservoir

After this week's Texas visit to catch up with family and friends, a new Websters Dictionary entry may be in order:

A get-together with such intense chitchat, reminiscing, pleasure and thrills that even a shutterbug like Mae Dean doesn't stop to take photos.
The Lone Star State
Now that's intense visiting!