Since we made the decision to stay put this winter here at the Gulf Shores State Park, you could say we’ve settled in to our Alabama home. We’re getting familiar with local sites, the people, the sounds, smells, tastes.
Similar to much of the northern and eastern areas of the country, the weather has been colder than normal. We even had a few days in the 20s overnight!. One day the ice was actually wilting the trees around us. And, wow!, the thunderstorms these past few days are as loud as I’ve heard in my life. Mostly though, the sunny 50s and 60s is very nice compared to the snow, ice and single digit temps up north. There’s another part of the weather story that I won’t dwell on that involves our condo in Indy and a bad icemaker and electrical outage. Thanks again Tim, for running interference for a while.
On those nice days here in Alabama we’ve been exploring the area at our leisure. We visited the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and the local farmers market and local artist gallery. Oh yeah, the gallery was closed the day we went. Have to get back there. We had an interesting afternoon exploring Fort Morgan, the fortress built in 1823 to defend Mobile Bay. This fort is well known for the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War when Confederate Navy Admiral Farragut is quoted as giving the command: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead.” Fort Morgan provided protection and served as a temporary training ground until it was finally abandoned by the U. S. Army in 1950. The signs of each era of coastal defense are there to see and touch. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
The local food continues to bring more good flavors. Our newest favorite restaurant is King Neptune’s. Jerry’s found a creole Andouille sausage dish that’s become a repeat. Some of the other delicious menu items are the catfish, seafood gumbo and the Greek salad with grilled shrimp. (I won’t post those food pics since it annoys Jer!) And add to the good food, the 1/2 price happy hour Monday through Friday from 11 am to closing. The Yuengling is cracklin cold on draft and $1.75 can’t be beat. The ambiance is extreme casual and the wait staff is super friendly. What more is needed!
We’ve also explored the back roads and beach routes that lead around the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach communities, scoping out the homes, restaurants, movies, shopping and just plain being nosy. (Who knows when we may want info on a rental, or something.) In addition to the high-rises, there are the rows of beachfront two or three-story properties stretching out on the peninsula, most perched on skinny stilt legs and painted a pastel color. Of course, there’s always the fun of walking in the sand or finding a bench along the shore to watch the ocean and people. Then, one day we drove over to Pensacola, about 35 miles east, to get supplies from Sam’s Club. What? 35 miles? Sure, why not.
Since a favorite part of this ten-year lifestyle is remembering our unexpected, or extemporaneous, events that happen as we move along the road, it’s time to write a few more down. You know how you’re out doing the usual, grocery shopping or filling up with gas or pausing to look at the ocean, when you exchange a few casual words with a stranger or see an unusual site. Or maybe you’re just settling in at your chosen spot in the desert when someone knocks on the door. (Remember Grateful Ted?!#) Well, these are those kinds of everyday encounters.
These latest events have happened when each of us was out somewhere on our own. Jerry has started a new practice that usually elicits at the very least a smile, and sometimes an appreciative comment. He’s concluded that since he’s become a guy in his 70s he has a new-found acceptance. He says that the reactions of women change when you’re “an old guy.” “They will smile back at you and sometimes even strike up a conversation. Because it’s safe now, I guess.” Since he’s “harmless” now, he’s decided to spread a little joy. When he sees an attractive lady he’ll try to improve her day with a comment. The other day he was at WalMart getting the ingredients for a crock pot chicken recipe he wanted to try. (Turned out great, BTW.) Well, in the parking lot he saw a lady loading her groceries in the car next to him. He said: “You have great hair!” She responded, looking so pleased: “Oh, that’s so nice of you. I’m taking chemotherapy. This is a wig.” He wished her good luck and she thanked him again.
Another day Jerry was grocery shopping again, waiting for a middle-aged mother and her two sons to move so he could grab a dozen eggs. All of a sudden she realized he was waiting. She apologized and said: “Oh, I’m sorry to be in your way.” Based on his premise that “Now that I’m in my 70s I can say this,” he replies: “A pretty woman is never in my way.” Jerry says that she just glowed, gave him a big smile and told him “You made my day.” I wonder what will happen to him next.
I had my own peculiar, but heartwarming, happening while out on my own. I was on the way back to our home after visiting a bead shop and a local art fair when I decided I would stop at the beach for a little while to soak up some ocean views. I found my parking spot and was walking the short distance to the beach when I noticed a bright red mustang with the convertible top down. Then, I saw the rest! There were bags of oranges completely filling the backseat and the passenger seat. I mean they were piled high from the floorboards to above the sides of the car. I didn’t see anyone around. But you know I had to snap a photo. As soon as I pulled out my phone a man walked up to the car and put something in the trunk. He smiled. So I asked if I could take a picture for my blog. And I also had to ask why so many oranges. The explanation might be a little quirky, but I love it! He was happy to share his story: “I’m taking them back home to Flora, Illinois, from Ocala, Florida. Every year I drive down and pack up my car with oranges from the same place. Everyone loves them in Flora. That’s F – L – O – R – A, Illinois.” I’m sure he didn’t make it too far up the road before he had to put the top up and change from his shorts and sandals. But, think about the juicy aroma all the way home. He sure made me smile. What a nice guy!
I know everyone has a story to tell. What’s happening in your life lately? Thanks for visiting Hurley Travels! Be safe.
copyright © Nancy Hurley