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!