Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2,288 Miles, Day 1

Finally, a breather! Monday night I had to get some plastic tubing to divert sump pump water away from the house before it accumulated to a small pool a foot away from the foundation, and Tuesday we had to finish our taxes and get them sent in. No, we didn't procrastinate. One of our statements comes very late into tax season and we have to wait on it.

Our spring break was one of the best ever! Three years ago, we didn't go to Gulf Shores because we had a July wedding in New Orleans to attend. Two years ago, we stayed home because we had to travel for a long weekend in May for Magi's sister's wedding. Last year we were in China. So this was the first time in four years that we got to return to Gulf Shores for spring break!
We took off Friday night at 5:00 with a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks and didn't stop until we got to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, our new halfway house. It isn't really halfway to Gulf Shores, but it's just far enough away from home to get a full night's sleep and have a much more relaxed 12-hour drive the next day. We stayed at the Comfort Suites, which comes with a more than decent continental breakfast, just enough to get you on your way without stopping at a fast food place.

Our next stop was in Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, where me made a very happy accidental discovery. We were looking for a place to stop and have lunch, and when I accidentally went straight after being told to turn, we saw a Wolfgang Puck Express. We immediately knew where we were having lunch! I had the Rotisserie BBQ Beef Melt on focaccia bread with mushrooms, carmelized onions, BBQ Sauce, and mozzarella. It was served with horseradish Ceasar slaw, which was so good that I got a to go order to take with us. Sera had the Butternut Squash Soup, which she loved. Magi ordered the Smoked Salmon Pizza, which was good at first, but she got a really fishy bite and sent it back. They replaced it with the Chicken Pesto Focaccia, which was similar to my sandwich but with chicken instead of beef. Very tasty! As we were about to leave, Sera yelled, "Doggie!" and sure enough, there was a guy at the Starbucks across the parking lot with a dog sitting on the back of his motorcycle, talking to women. He had obviously trained the dog to sit on the motorcycle, because he had goggles for it to wear while riding. I'm not sure how well-trained it was, though, because it came running to Sera as soon as she yelled.

We pulled into Gulf Shores at about 9:00 PM local time and stopped for dinner at Magi's favorite restaurant in town, Mikee's. Mikee's remodeled after suffering serious damage during Hurricane Katrina, but it had the same feel as it did before. It's a local place, the best kind for seafood.
We had a round of raw and steamed oysters, which I never would have eaten before I met Magi. She started me with fried oysters several years ago, and let me build up to steamed and then finally raw oysters. Now I eat just as much of them as she does! For dinner I had the all-you-can-eat fried shrimp, because by then it had been nine hours since lunch. Mikee's shrimp are large fried shrimp without tails. It's like popcorn shrimp but full-sized, and they are delicious! Magi had the seafood combo, with shrimp, oysters, and fish, and Sera helped her with that meal. She even ate a fried oyster...for a minute. After one reorder, I was done and ready for bed.

We made the last 15-mile drive down Fort Morgan road to the Gulf Shores Plantation, where we checked in, got Sera off to bed, and sank into the pillow-top bed with the window open, listening to the Gulf waves crashing onto the shore. Sleep came quickly, as it always does when we can hear the water.

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