Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another year coming to a close

WHEN? Friday · December 24

WHERE? Lower Alabama

Here we are in Paradise (Lower Alabama) nearing our third year as 2010 is coming to a close. It seems many things have occurred since we settled down here. Here's what I have to say about that. It's the same thing I've mentioned before. If you are doing lots of things to write about, you don't have time to write about them. If you aren't doing much, what do you write? One of those quandaries. What results is one never really fully shares the exciting, newsworthy happenings because there is not time for that. When there is time on your hands and you'd like to think of something to share, the feeling is, it's not worth sharing mundane happenings. Perhaps we can just sum it up by saying –

We still love living in LA

This time of year beginning with Thanksgiving and running through the last day of the year and rapidly moving into New Years Day, has so much to do and be energized by that I am seriously thinking of taking off January of 2011 as a vacation from blogging. I've threatened this before and couldn't stick by it. Maybe, just maybe, next year I'll succeed.

Recently I have noticed TV shows such as Oprah, run their shows more than once, so I am going to refer you to some reruns from both of our blogs.

As I looked over previous blogs, I found this one from this blog in 2007: Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum

This reminded me of one of my projects I plan to complete before the Christmas decorations are stored away. I want to scan the Little Drummer Boy Christmas cards we have sent and received. Most people would probably think that's a waste of time. Well, that's the kind of priorities I set, so the really important things don't get done while a project like this does. If you are curious enough to check back, I plan to have them in one album on Flickr:

As I looked over previous blog posts, I discovered that some of the links I gave you in previous posts no longer work. At first I thought I'd try to correct that, but life is just too short to spend my time on that. Most of the videos that do not work are from YouTube and the account has been closed because the user was infringing on copyright laws, etc. So, just let me apologize for the fact that they don't work and be done with it. If you want to mention a particular one to me, feel free to do so, and I'll see if there is something else I can substitute that does work on the post.

The other posts I wanted to run by you are from the LIVING... MAEDEANS STYLE blog:

One is also related to THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY:
Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

The other is related to Wendell being the one who said "Christmas Eve Gift" first today on Christmas Eve:
Christmas Eve Gift

Here's one more I almost forgot:
O CHRISTmas Tree

By now, if you have been paying attention, you probably realize I like THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY. Yes, I know there is nothing in the Bible about him, but it was published in 1857 by James Pierpont, so we'll just say its a fictional legend, sort of like Rudolph and dare we even say the fat man in the red suit? All I know is I really think Jesus likes him too.

This is my final 2010 post, so let me send this wish to you from our house:

Merry Christmas and
Happy 2011!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Magic Christmas in Lights

WHEN? Friday · December 3

WHERE? Bellingrath Gardens and Home · Theodore, Alabama

Our youngest daughter treated us to the Lights Show put on each holiday season at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. It had particularly been recommeded to us from a long-time resident and friend from Mobile, so we knew it was well worth the trip to view it. We had not seen it already because we really don't like to drive at night. With Carla doing most of the night driving on our return home, we sprung for an unbelievably entertaining evening as we strolled the gardens decorated everywhere with seasonal light decorations while Christmas songs played from many speakers in the gardens. The weather could not have been better with calm winds and only the need for a jacket while leisurely walking all the paths.

  • An early disappointment: We left our camera at home. Carla had hers, though, and snapped lots of photos as long as its battery allowed.
  • A pleasant surprise: The area's frost-free autumn encouraged spectacular blooms on the gardens' flowering plants. The cascading chrysanthemums were fantastic, and the rose garden was prettier than when we visited last April. Although there were fewer roses today, the December blooms seemed invigorated by the cooler temps. We recommend arriving long before dark to see the beauty of the blooming plants, then stay for the lights after nightfall. The only negative about approaching it this way is that old joints tire before that much time and walking. Perhaps a better recommendation is to make two visits: one in the daytime and one in the evening.
  • A clever plan: We arrived before dark and missed heavy traffic, some by the busloads, attending the special lights display. As we departed, vehicles were streaming in to enjoy holiday lights.

More photos would have been taken and probably some videos if we'd had our Canon camera. The reason we were unable to bring it finally unwound after lots of searching back at home. We theorized the camera had fallen out of my unzipped purse sitting on the bedroom floor and slid under the end of the bed out of sight.

Leaving our camera behind certainly didn't deter all three of us from enjoying our visit. The photos that Carla took with her camera illustrate what an impressive and entertaining evening it was:

Christmastime at Bellingrath Gardens

This Bellingrath Gardens video reveals more about this premier Christmas lights display:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving of 2010

WHEN? Thursday, November 25

WHERE? Magnolia Springs, Alabama · find us on the map

When we first came down to Alabama in January of 2008, we had no idea we would find a second home at Magnolia River Bar and Grill. Today we enjoyed our third Thanksgiving there. To make this a short blog post, just let me say I had the best food there I have ever eaten at any time or any place.

Not only is this a nice, relaxing way to enjoy Thanksgiving, but, when compared to all the Thanksgiving holidays when most of the food preparation was done by a few people, these past three Thanksgivings have been a cooperative effort like a potluck. I would not want to give the impression that it was not a much bigger effort on the part of some people. In the first place, this restaurant and bar always goes out of its way to decorate for holidays, and this was no exception. In a few days the beautiful Christmas tree will be decorated with many other decorative touches as the season quickly follows on the heels of Thanksgiving.

Most of the photos taken today were of decorations with only a few of some people. If you could have seen the place as more and more dishes came out to be set on the table, you would have had no doubt many people worked very hard to make this its usual success. The Flickr photos taken today may be seen at:

Thanksgiving 2010 in LA

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Third Annual Oyster Cookoff

WHEN? Saturday · November 13

WHERE? Gulf Shores, Alabama

We had heard about the Oyster Cookoff at The Hangout last year, but it may have been after it had already taken place. This is not to be confused with the Oyster Fest in Bon Secour, which we did attended last year.

Anyway, if it had not been for a phone call from Diane Saturday morning, we would have missed this one, too.

This was actually the first time we had really participated in any event at The Hangout, located at the "T" intersection of Highway 59 and Beach Boulevard. It is set up for entertaining all ages with it's own sand mountain with a tunnel running through it for youngsters to romp and play on. The outside Beer Garden was where teams were set up in booths cooking oysters to vie for some kind of honors with judges and all. For us it was just a chance to get out and enjoy the gorgeous weather while "people-watching."

The three categories for the competition were: Oyster Rockefeller, Cajun Oysters, and Chief's Choice Raw. I had a couple of the first two categories and one raw one, which was served in a tiny martini glass. Meanwhile, "Bust" was entertaining us with their music on the outdoor stage.

If Diane had not told me about the gift shop inside The Hangout, I would have missed a special collection of trolls on their wall there. During the craze, just about everyone had at least one troll. Of course, all one needs to have of anything is two, and you have a collection.

Only the burning rays of the sun caused us to leave when we did, but visiting with friends in such perfect weather can't be beat.

Check out our photos on Flickr at:

Third Annual Oyster Cookoff at Hangout

Friday, October 29, 2010

Short Trip To Destin

WHEN? Tuesday-Friday · Oct 26 ~ 29

WHERE? Destin, Florida

We were very excited about the opportunity to stay right on the beach at Sun Destin Beach Resort and Hotel located at 1040 Highway 98 East (Emerald Isle Parkway) in Destin, Florida.

We did not go over exactly the route we had planned because we made a wrong turn somewhere and wound up on I-10 and traveled even further on it than we realized, and this had us arriving in the parking lot of Sun Destin about the same time as our host friend, who drove all the way from Jackson, Mississippi.

Once checked in, we immediately went to the beach balcony side of the condo and soaked up beautiful beach and the waves rolling in. It's not hard to see why they call it the Emerald Isle. The water is a beautiful green hue. Rather than trying to describe this beach resort hotel, the video below will give you a very good idea of what it is like.

While we were there, the weather was pleasantly warm with a good bit of sunshine with lower temperatures and high wind only arriving the night before we were checking out.

We visited with a few snowbirds in the condo bar and sort of envied them being there for several weeks or months rather than a few days, but we really were happy to head on back to Lower Alabama anyway because we still enjoy the many friends we have made there.

There's a great outlet mall there that we visited and even made it back over to Fort Walton on Thursday to check out a special Halloween Costumes shop. Can you believe this? Some of the costumes there cost $150! We wound up at Wal-Mart for our costumes :)

We had shrimp twice in one day. First we had Shrimp Po-Boys at Joe's Crab Shack for lunch and then we purchased fresh shrimp at Sexton's for delish Shrimp Pasta cooked in the condo.

We looked up the Fisherman's Wharf for an early lunch on Thursday. It's a place we visited many, many years ago when we had small children and have visited one other time when we were on one of our Orange Beach vacations. We had the special for that day priced around $8 for two steak patties smothered in onions and gravy and mashed potatoes and gravy. A soft drink was included.

Our photos from the trip may be seen on Flickr at: Trip to SunDestin in Destin, Florida. It is possible more will be added as we had two disposable cameras we were snapping pictures with as well, which we'll pick up at Wal-Mart on Thursday.

On our way back to Alabama on Friday, we got lost in Pensacola. This has happened to us more than once there. This time we wound up going through the Penscola Naval Air Station and on via Pedido Key and the Perdido Sun (a condo we stayed in many years ago).

Probably no one has had a love affair like we have with the beaches and areas on the Coast. We've camped in a tent on Dauphin Island as well as stayed in the Holiday Inn there before it was blown away by some hurricane. We've also stay in cabins right on the beach on Santa Rosa Island. Somewhere along the way we discovered Orange Beach and came there many times -- sometimes in groups or with family staying at Seaside Beach and Rachet Club and other times at Sunswept when there was just the two of us. Sunswept has the distinction of having its on traffic light.

You didn't know you were going to get a commercial for the entire Gulf Coast, did you? Actually, the Mississippi Gulf Coast attracts many people as well -- partly because of the gambling casinos, but events like Cruising the Coast bring many people there to see and be seen in their vintage vehicles. We've enjoyed that a couple of times. I must admit that I missed out on the "gambling gene," but we've still enjoyed a trip with a group of friends on a Halloween weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Going To The Dogs

WHEN? Wednesday · September 15
WHERE? Mobile Greyhound Park

It was a day for us to "go to the dogs," "have a dog in the race," on a "dog day afternoon" and have a doggone good time!

Facilities were nice as evidenced by Mae Dean's great photography. I'm still worried about that "bronzed dog". Wendell explained the betting philosophy to Mae Dean, while I bet on lucky numbers and cute names. I only lost $17.00. Hot dogs and french fries were very cheap -- usually stadium prices outrageous.

I have to close my eyes when I drive through the tunnel in Mobile, so Wendell insisted that I ride with them rather than vice versa to our dinner destination. Their selection was perfect -- Ed's Seafood Shack -- best shrimp I have ever eaten. Almost prawns so big and delicious.

After dinner we kissed, kissed, hugged, hugged and went to our respective rooms. Got up early next a.m. and drove uneventfully home. Tired but very glad I went.
~Pam, Guest Blogger

The photos from today are on Flickr at:
Going to the Dogs

Let me (MDS) reveal once again why I am not a gambler. I lost every cent of the 28 bucks I bet on the 14 races. Nuff said.

As Pam wrote, we did not see each other the next day because she took off headed back to Jackson too early for that. We didn't hang around Tillman's corner very long ourselves. We chose to take the slow and leisurely scenic route back to Lower Alabama. You can view those photos on Flickr also at:

Tillman's Corner
Heavenly Day at Fairhope Pier
Weeks Bay ~ Land's End

Friday, September 3, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Football?

This blog post was definitely a joint venture, and we really want to help all of you out to get ready for the football season of 2010.

It takes a little more effort now that we are out of our stomping grounds for many years in Mississippi, but we hope some of our friends back in Mississippi will appreciate this post as well as our new friends in Alabama.

We are fully aware that Alabama came out No. 1 last year, and it seems like from what the sports commentators are saying this year, they may do it again.

But, we are definitely dyed-in-the-wool maroon and white fans, and have always supported them, whether or not they were doing well.

State rivalries are well known in many states. We are familiar particularly with Texas-Texas A&M, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, and Alabama-Auburn, but they are certainly not the only states with rivalries.

The Southern Golden Eagles did not do too well in last night's opening game against the North Carolina Gamecocks as they came out on the short end of the final score of 41-13. We also flipped around for some other first games of the season on TV last night.

Take a look at a Flickr set we put up just today at:
Are you ready for some football?

We hope the football schedules included in the above set will help you out as you arrange your own schedules as the football season is underway.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Manci's Antique Club in Daphne

The above images are from the website for Manci's Antique Club. The bar-restaurant is located at 1715 Main Street, Daphne, Alabama (Phone: 251/626-2124).

After you look at the website, you will know Italian immagrant Frank Manci purchased an old wooden produce warehouse in what is now downtown Daphne in 1924 and built a gasoline station on the property. This caught my attention because of my own life's history, but I'll get back to that later.

Twenty-three years later Arthur Manci, Frank's son, took over the business. After obtaining a liquor license in 1967, Arthur started to hang bottles and various items on the walls of what is now a full fledged bar, which has resulted in the establishment holding the largest collection of Jim Beam decanters on display. But Jim Beam decanters are not all that decorates the interior of Manci's. All manner of old items are outside and inside such as two antique gravity gas pumps and a wooden schulpture in the inner chamber of the Ladies Room.

Alex Manci, Arthur's son, took over the club in 1987. He holds the title for the "Bloody Mary Capital of the Eastern Shore." So, naturally, I had to try the Bloody Mary. Since I'm not any kind of authority on Bloody Marys, I'll not critique it, but I will tell you it was so hot with spice that I didn't finish it.

In 1995, Alex and his wife Gwen started serving food in the club.

Southern Living and Coastal Living have carried articles about this historical place.

The entire west side of the 1700 block of Main Street (Old Scenic Highway 98) is filled with restaurants. The other two, Guido's and Cousin Vinney's, are owned by the same owner but have separate kitchens. Another restaurant we noticed that seemed to be doing a booming business was East Shore Cafe located about two blocks away on the east side of Main Street (1506). All you need to look for is the old yellow house surrounded by a white picket fence. After reading reviews, I understand they serve Philly Cheese Steak. Hope we can check out that one of these days.

Here's the part about how the history of Manci's Antique Club
sort of coincides with mine.

All along, I had known that both my sister and I were born at home. Are you ahead of me? What I did not know was:

I was born in the back of a gasoline station where Daddy worked and my parents lived at the time.

Think about it. The country had not fully recovered from The Great Depression in 1936, so Daddy had the good fortune of having a job and all of us were lucky to have a place to live.

We took a few photographs while we were there enjoying the food, drinks and atmosphere, which you can see on Flickr at Visit to Manci's Antique Club in Daphne.

Since I'm a very curios person, I still want to go back there when few, if any, customers are there and check out that fig leaf. I received an early warning with a VERY LOUD buzzer before I went into the Ladies Room and put 2+2 together. Still wanta know what's under it :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

525,600 Minutes

This post is related to a post on July 18, 2010, entitled Choir Concert at Marlow Church. This was a concert by the Sonshine Choir from Brentwood UMC, Brentwood, Tennessee.

I now have an audio music CD of their 2008-2009 tour, and the song in the videos below is one of the tracks on it.

The video below is one taken from one of the closest rows of seats to the stage, so maybe you can pretend, like I did that the camera was in my hands and I was sitting right there.

I would have loved to be there on the final Broadway performance. Or, for that matter, any other Broadway performance of RENT.

Macy's thought it was a good way to advertise on TV:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Garden Party

This Garden Party began at the beach. It was the first time we attended a beach wedding, and we liked it alot.

But, we're getting ahead of where this began. Well, we really don't know where it all began, but we're thinking from what we've heard that it began in Georgia a long time ago, and it culminated in their marriage and celebration today.

Like the "Garden Party" by Ricky Nelson, and the story it tells, it appeared to us that the bride and groom accomplished what the song tells us with its message of "you can't please everyone -- gotta please yourself," and had the kind of wedding on the the beach they planned together. As far as we could tell, everyone there enjoyed every minute of it from the beginning all the way through the reception.

The wedding itself was blessed with very nice weather for an outdoor event, but their Plan B involved the pavilion at Gulf State Park had God not arranged such heavenly weather.

As we were leaving the beach after the wedding to go to the Foley American Legion for the reception, we spoke with two nice ladies who had driven from Georgia to attend this happy event. Since they did not know the way to the place of the reception, they followed us.

A few people were at the reception who did not attend the wedding, but the friends and family we had seen on the beach filled the hall with quite a celebration afterward, with a buffet brimming with many delicious foods and music for entertainment and dancing.

One of the earlier songs played by Billy Pelletier at the reception gave us the title for this post. We always have to preface one of our amateur videos with the fact that they are all non-award winning videos and add that perhaps, as they say, they are only a little better than nothing. Here's a link to GARDEN PARTY - BILLY PELLETIER.

Kevin and Lynda did their dance together at the reception to Brad Paisley's "Then," which is very appropriate because of the story it tells with reoccuring words:

Now you're my whole life
Now you're my whole world...

We look forward to seeing their wedding photos. Like many others, we snapped a few of our own and even took some very amateurish videos, but we can imagine them looking at these and laughing at them. Just to give you a feel for the enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere of the beach wedding, here's a few photos on Flicker we have to share:
Our First Beach Wedding

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Karaoke PLUS @ MRBG

Karaoke PLUS happens each Sunday afternoon at Magnolia River Bar and Grill in Magnolia Springs, Alabama. Denny Grisham and Billy Pelletier do a good job of entertaining with more than Karaoke. They both sing, and Billy performs on the guitar and harmonica -- have even seen him play the saw a couple of times. MRBG is at 14984 US Hwy. 98, Magnolia Springs, AL, 251/965-6801. Hopped up and recorded this video after the song was already underway when I realized it was Buffett's 1974 hit “Come Monday.”

You can view this amateur video on YouTube at:


A video filmed at MRBG on another Sunday afternoon that included both Denny and Billy can be seen at:


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Choir Concert at Marlow Church

The flyer above tells it all. The vacation came to us today in three large buses required to transport the choir and their chaperons. Yes, when the young people comprising the choir have completed the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, chaperons are necessary, and we were so happy to have them all with their talent to entertain and inspire us.

We noted they were taping the performance as well as taking photos, and we do hope they have some of both that we can purchase to enjoy and inspire us whenever.

The Sonshine Choir was a treat deluxe!

When I visited the Brentwood United Methodist Church website, I was surprised to learn this church is one of five others chosen to have a concert by Libera, a boys choir from England, on their Summer 2010 Tour in the United States.

This made me want to move the vacation to Brentwood on August 4. The places the choir will perform while in the United States are:
August 1st ~ Dallas, Texas
August 2nd ~ Fort Worth, Texas
August 5th ~ St. Louis, Missouri
August 4th ~ Brentwood, Tennessee
August 10th ~ Atlanta, Georgia

We first learned about Libera in November of last year when a friend shared a video by the choir, and I blogged about it on LIVING...MAEDEANS STYLE Blog at that time with a title of simply Libera.

After posting this, I found a YouTube video of this choir which I have added.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jimmy Buffett Concert for the Gulf

WHEN? Sunday · July 11

WHERE? Gulf Shores, Alabama · find us on the map

WHY? "Jimmy Buffett and Friends" concert

Jimmy Buffett · photo courtesy of Mobile Press-Register

"It's Five O'clock Somewhere" has become one of my favorite phrases, so it is only natural that after all this time of having my favorite performers, I finally really discovered Jimmy Buffett. I think I read somewhere that five o'clock was when the live performance at Gulf Shores today really got underway. And, it was definitely the time to have the typical beach atmosphere kick in and the crowds at the beach for the live concert to move into high gear.

For many of the concert-goers, today was an all-day affair with the first shuttles arriving at the concert site around 11:00 AM. It is good that many people parked quite some distance from the site, roughly located between Lifeguard Station #3 and #5. Since I wasn't there, I'm really guessing, but the 90-minute concert I viewed on CMT showed enough of this beach we have frequented for me to make a somewhat educated guess.

Jimmy Buffett concert · photo courtesy of Mobile Press-Register

Since the Mobile Press-Register reporters and photographers were at the concert, let me refer you to Lawrence F. Specker's article they had online:

Jimmy Buffett brings joy: Son of a son of a sailor returns to Gulf Coast to promote tourism 7/12/2010
The above article mentioned several details I did not know, such as remembering the concert's other performers, but I will assure you Jimmy Buffett was on stage the entire 90 minutes of the CMT performance.

Buffett let several others take turns in the spotlight: Mobile native Will Kimbrough, Mississippi songwriter Jesse Winchester and New Orleans composer/songwriter Allen Toussaint.

He also made a point of dedicating "Come Monday" to Mobilian Milton Brown, who "kind of discovered me, all those years ago."

After a short break, what we didn’t see on the 90-minute televised portion was a 40-minute second set that focused less on Buffett's own music. Selections included Kimbrough's "Piece of Work"; "Southern Cross", a song made famous by Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl", his last tune of the night.

Speaking of last tunes, I encourage you to sit back and enjoy Buffett's final televised performance of the evening. Superb!

When The Coast Is Clear

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Perpetual Vacationer on HIS Soapbox

*And it's high time ...

One of us has been on HER soapbox in the past on our other blog, but now it's time for you to hear from the male vacationer represented by this blog.

It's not often that I get on my soapbox, but today is one of those days. Here are a few thoughts I'm having today.

First, it’s the heat wave I keep hearing about on TV and reading about on the internet. Down here in my part of Dixie, (Lower Alabama) halfway between Fairhope and Foley, it’s just the opposite — no heat wave at all. In fact the high temperature on July the 4th was in the high 80’s. Yesterday the high was in the mid 80’s and the forecast for the next 6 or 7 days is for the high temperature to be no more than 92° — not too bad for this time of the year.

The next thing on my mind, and almost everyone down here, is the oil spill. The main industry down here in South Baldwin County is Tourism. With the oil spill the tourists have stopped coming. Lots of people here are losing income. What is it now, day 78 or 79? BP gets on TV and says they are going to clean up everything. My question, is How can BP clean something up that they can't stop?

I haven’t been down to the beaches in the last few days, maybe a week or more, but the last time we went to Gulf Shores the beaches were still the beautiful sugar white sand they were this time last year, but that was before the last Gulf storm that did bring oil into our area. In fact the Gulf was so rough and choppy all of the boats that had been out skimming oil had to come in to port. The sea was just too tough for their small crafts.

Now the news is that we have this big skimmer called the Whale out there and it can gather more oil than the spill is spewing out each day. Why did we wait over 70 days to start using this boat?

From what I’m hearing down here, several countries have offered to help us clean up this mess and stop the leaking, but we have not accepted their offer. WHY?

While I’m on my soapbox I have another thing that peeves me. BP has hired a lot of people to keep the beaches clean. Now get this, and it figures in with the cooler than normal temperatures we are having, the workers are being paid $25 an hour, but OSHA will not let them work longer that 20 minutes each hour. The other time they are sitting under cooling tents. These tents are equipped with electrical generators so they can run electric fans and air conditioners. I wonder what the construction workers in the Southwest and up the East Coast think about this?


Saturday, June 19, 2010

6th Annual Balloon Festival

WHERE? Foley, Alabama · find us on the map

We thought we'd get a brochure about this festival on Friday afternoon when we pulled into the festival grounds, but we found out the only way to even get into the festival was by shuttle. By that, I mean there was at least one location in Foley where people could park and the shuttle pick them up and take them to the festival and later pick them up at the festival and return them to their vehicles. We could have parked in an area that was quite far from the festival itself and wait possibly ten minutes for the shuttle to take us on into the festival. Since all we wanted was a brochure, we chose not to do that and just left. It was irritating to us to be met with the situation as it was.

No one but VIP's were allowed to park near the festival, park briefly, get a brochure and then go on with plans for coming back early the next day to attend the festival. We've experienced the VIP situation recently while touring Graceland in Memphis, but we pretty much knew the VIP's had purchased a higher priced ticket. We are assuming the VIP's in this situation were the volunteers, live entertainment, food booth caterers, arts and crafts, and children's village. We also got the idea they were planning on charging us to park, but we now believe admission and parking were both free of charge. We never did get the brochure we wanted, which would have helped us know where the hot air balloons were from, but we did get to see the balloons today. The festival attracted about 45 hot air balloons from across the country.

Today the conditions were perfect for a hot air balloon festival. As our photos show, there was no wind at the ground level. We got photos of just about all the balloons and talked to a few people. One balloon was from Foley, and the group with it did not know what their balloon was being called this year. Sometimes it was called the Blue Angel and other times it was called something else. It was the balloon that was all blue, and I don't think I got a photo of it. In the process of taking photos, I realized some things that I did not last year, I needed to be on the east side of the balloons to take good photos just as the sun was rising. Duh!

See our photos on flickr:

Balloon Festival 2010

To see some really professional photos taken on the same morning, see Brody J's photos on flickr:

Foley Balloon Fest 2010

You'll probably want to look at some more of his excellent photography while you are there.

The website for the festival is very informative, and we encourage you to visit it not only for information about this year's festival but also some facts about upcoming balloon festivals.

Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival

Monday, June 7, 2010

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

WHEN? Monday · June 7

WHERE? Foley, Alabama · find us on the map

After traveling into Fairhope for the first dental appointment for a crown, we were listening to the Bill Mac Show on Willie's Place on Sirius Satellite Radio, when they made the announcement that it was National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, so we added that to our agenda while we were out.

First, however, our next stop scheduled was a photo session with Tom the Gator. I do wonder how many people have come within a few feet of Tom without recognizing he was there.

Then we naturally had to stop at the oldest drugstore in Baldwin County, Stacey's Rexall Drugs and Olde Tyme Soda Fountain in Foley, established in 1929. This certainly wasn't our first time to visit, but the lunch crowd was already gone and only a few fountain customers were there. They played some songs on the antique juke box, which were similar to this YouTube video. If you can dance to this video that is almost 10 minutes long, you are certainly more fit than we are.

We both had a dish of chocolate ice cream in recognition of National Chocolate Ice Cream Day.

We blogged about two other visits here. Any excuse will do. Our other posts are:

Old Fashioned and Delicious

Another visit to Stacey's Rexall.

After leaving Stacey's, we took note of the continuing saga unfolding at the intersection of Highway 98 and Highway 65 in Foley, so we had to stop and take a few photos. These very unrelated photos can all be viewed on Flickr at Out and About in Fairhope and Foley Alabama

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The smell of oil

It may be our imagination, but we thought we smelled something different in the air. It was not very strong, and our smellers adjusted to it rather quickly, but we think it is here now -- although very slightly. We were listening to Don Williams on the screened porch when we both thought we smelled it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The show must go on...

WHEN? Saturday · June 5, 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.

WHERE? Fairhope Alabama

…and it did for the first ever Bald Eagle Bash to celebrate the return of the Bald Eagle to the Weeks Bay area.

The Weeks Bay Foundation hosted the event.

Even though the weather did not cooperate for this outdoor festival, the party for preservation was a good one. When the first torrential rain (accompanied by high winds and lightning) was over and the sun came out, NEW GROOVE cranked up and entertained the diners and the dancers. People did not allow the weather to dampen their spirits. A group of people started doing a line dance to the band’s music and eventually had the female vocalist out in the muddy parking lot hoofing it with them, or I should say leading them.

I was reminded of the optimistic lyrics of the Irving Berlin song sung by Ethel Merman and found at least three versions of it on YouTube. I liked this one the best.

The event was held at the new waterfront Tonsmeire Weeks Bay Resource Center (old Lulu’s location) at the Fish River Bridge on U.S. Highway 98 in Fairhope. The unique taste of coastal Alabama seafood prepared by local restaurants was under the resource center’s building, which was where most early arrivals took refuge from the rain. Each restaurant served up their top Alabama Wild Shrimp recipe to vie for Peoples’ Choice honors. At one point I let the Grand Hotel people know that drops of rain had totally obliterated their big jar where people were supposed to put their votes. One could no longer even read the restaurant’s name.

The event was well attended and was a great party with great food, great music, and, best of all, a great cause. It raised funds to continue the Foundation’s mission to protect the natural resources of coastal Alabama while supporting the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Even though the rain made it quite an “adventure” as some described it, it was a great success in terms of attendees and funds raised. It was obvious that many who came out had a great time.

America’s national symbol, as well as many other natural wonders are under continuous pressure due to habitat loss and increased human disturbance. Concerted efforts to protect wetlands and nesting sites will ensure the continued existence of the Bald Eagle as well as other creatures. The Foundation has been successful in preserving lands that provide critical habitat for many species of plants and animals.

Sponsors for this year’s event were:
American Foods
Bank Trust
Bay Radiology
Bayshore Title Co., Inc.
BBVA Compass
Coastal Land Trust
Colony Homes
Dr. Michael Houston
Eat Alabama Wild Shrimp
Faulkner State’s Gulf Coast Culinary Institute
Hampton Flooring and Design
Michael & Cindy McBrearty
Michael and Debbie Quinn
Miller’s Grand Events
Nall Printing
Rodney Hubble/Force 5 Walls, Inc.
Russell Thompson Butler & Houston, CPAs
Safe Harbor Financial/Jim Byrd
South Baldwin Regional Medical Center
Southern Capital Services, Inc.
Stephen Baker/Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
Stone, Granade & Crosby, PC
The Conservation Fund
Thomas Hospital
Tonsmeire Properties
Volkert Environmental Group, Inc.

The ten participating restaurants were troopers and served their delicious cuisine to those attending with a pleasant smile as if every day they cooked while drops of water fell on them. All of us need to support these restaurants and let them know we appreciated their spirit and their food.

Big Daddy’s Grill
Bimini Bob’s
Blue Marlin Restaurant (winner of Peoples’ Choice honors)
Felix’s Fish Camp Grill
Jesse’s Restaurant
Saltwater Grill at The Grand
Tamara’s Steamer
Tin Top Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Wash House Restaurant
Wintzell’s Oyster House

Postscript on June 6: My clothes were still wet when I checked them on the line on the screened porch so I just threw them in the washing machine for a short load. No wonder I felt like I looked like a drowned rat!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Gorgeous Sunday Afternoon

WHEN? Mother's Day, May 9

Big Daddy's - a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

If you don’t know where Big Daddy’s is located, Big Daddy’s website gives you directions from several places west of the restaurant, but on a beautiful weather day on a Sunday afternoon (or any day of the week), I would not hesitate to invite people from as far away as the panhandle of Florida to make a point to experience this at least once. You’ll probably be coming back once you see how relaxing and enjoyable it is. What I really recommend is that you call 251-990-8555 with any questions. Restaurants change their schedules when, for instance, no one turns out for breakfast.

We arrived at Big Daddy's as The Budz were setting up to play. Their first song was James Taylor's Fire and Rain. I told ‘em they couldn’t play too many JT songs.

The place was covered up with customers, but I did notice a few empty tables inside. We would have preferred outdoor seating in the shade – and discovered we weren't the only ones with that idea. We were prepared to enjoy the food, drink and live music, and felt lucky to find two stools together at the bar facing the Fish River, where we shared a Double Combo Basket catfish-shrimp basket with french fries, fried onions rings, hush puppies and coleslaw. Both of us had plenty to eat. Their portion sizes were so large that we even left a little. Miller High Life was our beer of choice at only $1.50. I noticed that Pabst Blue Ribbon was $1.50 also. It looked like the rest of the domestic beers were $2.50 and the imports were $3.00. They also served wine. I didn’t get the idea they served mixed drinks, but then those never interest me. Their soft drinks and such are $1.75 with free refills, and what will knock your socks off is the 50¢ coffee!

Attention: Carnival Cruising Buddies

Big Daddy's serves a dessert called Lava Cake. I think it's similar to the Chocolate Melting Cake we had on the Holiday and Fantasy.
The most boats I ever counted pulled up to the boat ramp at the back of the restaurant were 10, and that included a yellow kayak on the ramp itself.

Big Daddy’s also has live music on Saturday evenings. Don’t be totally disappointed like we were on our first try on a Monday. That’s the one day of the week when the restaurant is closed.
MRBG Tiki BarWe weren’t through enjoying ourselves because we always like to stop by the Magnolia River Bar & Grill in Magnolia Springs on Sunday afternoons to hear Denny Grisham and Billy Pelletier do their unique version of karaoke. I call it KARAOKE PLUS. You’ll really have to see and hear it for yourselves.
The smiling ape on its ornamental Tiki Bar describes perfectly how I feel about this place. Remember Cheers on TV? Everybody (just about) knows your name at MRBG. Toby Keith's I Love This Bar also comes to mind.

I Love This Place

Check out today's photos on flickr:
Mother’s Day of 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Weeks Bay Area River Cleanup

WHEN? Saturday · May 8

WHERE? Fairhope, Alabama · find us on the map

Weeks Bay Area River Cleanup

estuary: A semi-enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries are often associated with high rates of biological productivity.

Because Wendell volunteers on Tuesday mornings at Weeks Bay Reserve, we decided to help with with the annual Weeks Bay Area River Cleanup, which involves cleaning up trash that may get into the rivers that feed into Weeks Bay.

While doing this and even afterwards we wondered if it is possible the exertion and endurance required to help in the cleanup may have approached being too strenuous for our "do-gooder" activities. A small group of people showed up for the cleanup at 8:00 A.M. at Weeks Bay Marina (old Lulu's location). Our assigned spots to pick up stinking trash were Manatee Point (east side of Fish River), Weeks Bay Pitcher Plant Bog, and around and under the Roy Spivey Bridge near Kelsey's on Hwy. 98. The payoff was a free lunch at Weeks Bay Foundation on the north side of Hwy 98 just past the Fish River Bridge on the west side.

We already knew that the roads in this area have lots of trash on them, but we were certainly surprised with how much actual BIG junk winds up in these places. One group even had to call and say they didn't have enough room in their vehicle for all the trash they found such as tires — not just parts of tire treads.

Weeks Bay Area River Cleanup photos on Flickr

The plus side of this activity was that we now know where to get sacks to put such trash in and a place to bring them and even where to get the proper gloves to do this. God knows there's plenty of trash waiting to be picked up all over our area including County Road 9 and Highway 98. We can see some reasons for some of the trash along the highways and byways, but it is sad to realise that people who drive along them do mess with Alabama. Maybe this state needs lots of signs like Texas does. Just a thought.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

First-time lunch at Fish River Grill #2

WHEN? Thursday · April 29

WHERE? Foley, Alabama · find us on the map

KISS THE COOK at Fish River Grill
You'll note their little sign reads Kiss the Cook. Instead, I hugged one of their cooks who just went to work there.

We had heard good things about the original location of Fish River Grill at 8272 County Road 32, and then we began to hear about another location at 8272 Highway 59. We checked out the second location on Highway 59 today.

Word seems to have spread that it's a good place to eat, and they were very busy.

Some of the specialties shown on their Facebook are SWAMP BURGER AND SWAMP SOUP and the BEST GOLDEN FRIED CATFISH ALL-U-CAN-EAT EVERYDAY. Also they have Seafood (WD had the fried shrimp) and PoBoys, BIG burgers and ALABAMA Chicken Melt. They also mention they have a FULL BAR AT FOLEY #2. All of us enjoyed the Swamp Soup. I thought their French fries were good with my fried catfish sandwich (it may have been called a PoBoy).

You might want to check our their Facebook page at:
Fish River Grill on FacebookFish River Grill on Facebook

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another visit to Stacey's Rexall

WHEN? Wednesday · April 28

WHERE? Foley, Alabama · find us on the map

Key Lime Pie at Stacey's soda fountain

Click on the photo above to see why we went to Stacey's today while we had visitors. It's a good place for lunch, and the Key Lime Shakes topped the meal off nicely. The photos taken today are included with our previous photos at Stacey's. You can view them on Flickr at:

Stacey's Rexall Drugs and Olde Tyme Soda Fountain

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beach & LuLu'S

WHEN? Tuesday · April 27

WHERE? Gulf Shores, Alabama · find us on the map

Sand Dollars

We needed to go to the beach today while the weather was good and before Jerry left for Montgomery, Alabama to look up old friends and Air Force historical information. It turned out to be cooler than we would like, but we didn't have to share Gulf State Park with many people.

We stopped at LuLu’S on our way back for a couple of appetizers to curb our appetite until we had a real meal at home.

To see a few photos from our day's activities, visit:

2010-04-27 Hatfield's Visit

LuLuS bucket

Sunday, April 25, 2010

USS Alabama Battleship Park

WHEN? Sunday · April 25

WHERE? Mobile Bay · find us on the map

Tuckered out

Today's day trip occurred after Ella and I went to worship at Marlow UMC located four miles from our place on County Road 9. We stopped briefly to try our hand again at getting a better photo of the Malbis Greek Orthodox Church and went to a Mexican Restaurant for lunch before going over to Battleship Park beside Mobile Bay.

This is a very exercise intensive activity involving going up and down steep stairs and lots of walking. The women only made it to the deck of the submarine, so we only have a couple of photos to share on that part. You'll get some idea why we were "tuckered out" as you'll notice in our anchor photo (above) as we left the park to return home for some well-deserved R&R.

To view today's photos, go to:

2010-04-25 of Hatfield's Visit

Friday, April 23, 2010

A very full day

WHEN? Friday · April 23

WHERE? Bellingrath Gardens and Home · Theodore, Alabama

Since the Fairhope Pier was on our way to Bellingrath, we made a stop there and took a few photos and walked out to the end of the pier and back to get loosened up for all the walking at the gardens.

Bellingrath Gardens

We knew we were missing the display of azaleas, which had already passed. You can read about this in an April 10, 2010, article by Bill Finch at Azlaeas of Bellingrath; Gardens welcomes city’s famed blooms

BUT, there was plenty to look at and take photos of, which also included lots of walking. We thought we were never going to find the the Japanese Garden, which is now called the Oriental-American Garden, but we finally found it. Once we were in it, we began to think we were being held captive and would never get out of it. Finally we exited at the entrance where we came in. By that time, we were "Bellingrathed out" and hungry. The Magnolia Cafe near the garden entrance was in the process of closing by the time we got there, but they still had tuna salad and chicken salad sandwiches, which our appetites were more than prepared for.

Wendell pulled a fast one on us as we left there, and we returned a different way. Boy, was it a different way. He figured out a way to get to Dauphin Island and take the ferry from there back to the Mobile area on the other side of Mobile Bay.

You will not believe how many photos we took as well as two videos, which you can view at:

2010-04-23 Hatfield's Visit

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do you know about this art form?

click on the image to see it better

WHEN? Anytime

WHERE? Republic of Panama

I'll give you a second or two to check your brain cells to see if you've ever seen one of these somewhere.

I am wondering how much these sell for nowadays. Also, do you know where you can buy some of these if you travel there on vacation?

It seems like I heard of someone who collected enough of these that they made a bedspread out of them. I'm sure I would love that because I love the bright colors.

Enough questions. Here's a Wikipedia article for you to read about the history of the art form.

Mola (art form).

We have not visited Panama, but we could have and in hindsight should have.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A picture...

A picture is worth a thousand words and it's possible a video is even better (see the side bar).

This three point sermon is missing at least one more part:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stop in Ocean Springs

WHEN? Thursday · April 8

WHERE? Ocean Springs, Mississippi · (On Biloxi Bay)

The Shed's easy-to-follow rules
On our return trip from Jackson to Lower Alabama, we were treated to a unique lunch along the way. Not only did we discover an interesting place to eat, but it's at a location that has many nearby attractions.

If you'll look at our Flickr photo album on this stop in detail, you can begin to realize what a vacation stop this is, whether you're an RVer or a regular traveler. We are always talking up how much better it is to be in a restful setting while on vacation rather than being in an urban motel, and this one can fill the bill for a more restful spot where one can relax while enjoying some typical attractions that will entertain all ages.

Check it out on flickr:
The Shed - Camp Journey's End in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Break

WHEN? Tuesday · April 6

WHERE? Jackson, Mississippi · find us on the map

We love the new route we take from Lower Alabama to Jackson now. There is a place in the Biloxi-Gulfport area of Mississippi, where we get off of Interstate-10 to Interstate-110 and get on Highways 15/67 that is a much better place to part company with the interstate than continue to Highway 49 in Gulfport. This is a fairly new stretch of Highway and eventually this allows access to Highway 49 further along in the trip, Hattiesburg can be bypassed, and the trip seems shorter. It may possibly be a safer way to travel on to Jackson as well. Landmarks along this new part are St. Patrick Catholic High School and the Tradition campus of William Carey University.

We're kidding about spring break even though some of the schools are taking this week as Spring Break. This trip was actually a TCB* trip for an eye appointment, but we did take the opportunity to visit with some friends. This may not include many photos, but such as they are, you can view them at Spring 2010 and come back later to see more because our Spring Break will continue on indefinitely — because we are, after all, The Perpetual Vacationers.
*Taking Care of Business

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Redneck Riviera Knows How To Celebrate

WHEN? Wednesday & Saturday · March 17 & 20

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

The Redneck Riviera is like nowhere else we have ever been. For outsiders, it takes a period of adjustment to get into the partying and celebration at the drop of a hat.

To clue you in on the tag that has been put on this area, we refer you to this Wikipedia entry on the area: Emerald Coast

Not sure why, but the above article seems to forget a part of the Gulf Coast definitely included in the special area referred to as the Redneck Riviera.

Wise words from Tom T. Hall:

Gulf Shores up through Apalachicola
They got beaches of the whitest sand
Nobody cares if gramma's got a tattoo
Or Bubba's got a hot wing in his hand

Redneck Riviera

On the Redneck Riviera, almost anything is a cause for celebration, so St. Patrick's Day certainly does not get by without some celebrations. There's even something called the Pub Crawl. Pub Crawls, in general, did not originate on the Redneck Riviera of Lower Alabama, but this video proves they thought it was a good idea.

This certainly wasn't our first time to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The first time I recall hadn't been planned – I left work in downtown Jackson, Mississippi to discover that the first Mal's St. Paddy's Day Parade was in progress in 1982.

The theme for yesterday's 2010 St. Paddy's Parade in Jackson was from Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson. Henson was born in Leland, Mississippi. It took place on Saturday, March 20. The parade features the Sweet Potato Queens and their annual ball. Here are parade clips from several Jackson TV stations.Back to Lower Alabama, our version of the pub crawl was two bars – one in Foley and one in Magnolia Springs. You can see our photos and video on Flickr at Watering Holes.

Monday, March 15, 2010


WHEN? Anytime

WHERE? Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Over the years we have enjoyed searching for waterfalls while on vacation. This photo is one located in Australia, and we found on Webshots:

Tasmanian Secret
by surfthenet on Webshots

Photographer's comments:
"These beautiful falls are not named, or signed. Was an accident that I even found them, getting lost is a wonderful way to find somewhere you haven't been. At the base of Mount Wellington, Hobart, I'm sure someone knows where these are. I think the stream came from the mountain, snow melt or rain. Beautiful and fresh, and quite cool. — Hobart, Tasmania, Australia"

We particularly had a good time searching for waterfalls in Georgia a number of years ago (possibly 15 or more) along with two other couples who were great company. We miss 'em terribly, but still stay in touch.

Although I haven't been to Australia, I know several people who have, and even have a souvenir from there:

Koala Book Marker on flickr

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Second Anniversary

WHEN? Thursday · March 11

WHERE? Foley, Alabama · find us on the map

Let's have a drum roll and a marching band! Today marks two years we've been living in Alabama.

If you've got a young child, you can rip out today's post and let 'em color it! I double dog dare you to. Make a contest outa it and see if they can finish coloring it before the video below finishes.

This Kool & The Gang music video performing Celebration (C) 1980 The Island Def Jam Music Group is exactly what popped in my head when I realized this was the two year mark.

Ah ~ Hawaii

WHEN? Anytime

WHERE? Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

We have not visited Hawaii, but we'd like to help you enjoy armchair travel to Hawaii via this blog post. Probably some of my preconceived ideas about what the islands are like came from a book I read a long time ago — Hawaii, a novel by James Michener.

Four Seasons Resort · Hualalai, Hawaii

This humorous video was provided by YouTube user jacksonescapee and appears to be taken at the same location as his photo above:

The longer jacksonescapee stays in Hawaii, the more eye-opening videos he's posted. He has a couple of videos by a Blue Grass group. I recommend visiting both of his YouTube Channels:

The following video possibly shows you a view of Hawaii many of its visitors don't see:

Here's another number by the same group:
The Shadow of Your Smile at Casablanca

What a neat way to armchair travel!