Wow. Look how she's grown.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
We got off to a rocky start last week, but I sure am glad it happened. On the Thursday before vacation was to begin, it was unseasonably warm. I turned on the air conditioning in the minivan, and all I got in return was hot air. We took the van in, and it turned out to be a disconnected hose, which apparently was a common problem with our model. Fortunately, the dealership was able to locate a part for it, but unfortunately they couldn't get the part or fix the van until Friday. We just couldn't go to Alabama without air conditioning. We've been stuck in hot traffic there too many times.
After we finally got the minivan packed and hit the road, we made a quick side stop at Trader Joe's in Indianapolis. Let me just take this opportunity to say that I love Trader Joe's. They have a lot of food that is considerably lower in sodium than the norm. I can get beef jerky there that I can actually eat, as well as no salt corn chips that are quite tasty. Their microwave popcorn is unbeatable and even good for you. But probably the best thing they make is their organic version of Spaghettio's, called Joe's O's. I eat them for lunch with a chopped up hamburger, or a hot dog, sometimes chicken. Whatever I add, they are great! I also got several boxes of Vanilla Almond granola to add to my breakfast yogurt. That's some good stuff, too.
As we made our way south, we took advantage of McDonald's dollar drinks, because we knew that for speed and ease, Happy Meals were going to be the easiest thing for Sera to eat in the car. But because of something that happened later, we may have to revisit this strategy next time.
We hit some stop and start traffic near Nashville, and drove about 30 miles in one hour. This is not bad compared to what we got on the way back. We finally rolled into Gulf Shores, Alabama at about 6:45 AM local time. We decided to go to our favorite breakfast place, Hazel's Nook. Hazel's has been in Gulf Shores since there has been a Gulf Shores. They have a breakfast buffet that simply is the best breakfast on the planet. They have the usual scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, etc. The main feature of their breakfast, thought, is their scratch-made biscuits. Because sausage gravy is bad for me, I smother mine with strawberries, which are always in season when we get there for spring break. When you can finish your breakfast with a suitable dessert, you have a good breakfast! Refueled, we made our way down Fort Morgan Road and got to the Plantation resort at around 8:30, unpacked, and then crashed.
We got up after a few hours and drove back up to the bay. Magi's sister and her father and stepmother both have bay houses on Mobile Bay, right next to each other. Magi's youngest sister, Jessica, and her two children were already there, and we got to meet our newest nephew, Julian. Here, you see Granddaddy Pedro employing his infamous sleeper hold on the boy. The kids played happily and Sera and Josie really enjoyed the inflatable pool. When we finally got to bed, we did one of our favorite things. No, not that. We opened the sliding glass door so we could hear the waves crashing. There is no more relaxing sound.
The next day, Easter Sunday, we went back out to the bay, and enjoyed a nice ham dinner and some barefoot volleyball. It was very relaxed, but I was starting to get itchy. When I get to the Gulf, I need shrimp!
But first, Magi developed one of her patented cysts. They appear at the most inopportune times and in the most uncomfortable places. We made a trip into town to the local urgent care center to get it looked at, and while Magi waited in the long line, I went out to Billy's Seafood to get some shrimp. Billy's is in Bon Secour, right on the river, and in the picture you can even see the boats. The shrimp you get at Billy's literally comes in off the boats and into their store. It's fresh. They will even steam and season them for you for $1.00 extra per pound. For the price of one decent dinner in town, I got four pounds of jumbo shrimp and a quart of seafood gumbo. I got back to pick Magi up, picked up her antibiotic prescription, and since we were out already we decided to go get some lunch.
Mikee's is usually our first stop in Gulf Shores. No one, and I mean no one makes fried shrimp as well as Mikee's. It is the BEST! Magi had simply a shrimp lunch. I had the all you can eat shrimp, and I did some damage. Then, we got some oysters to go and headed back to the Plantation. By that time, Magi's other sister, Marcia and her kids were there.
We had a pretty good week, but repeated daily trips to the urgent care clinic kind of put a damper on each day. Magi spent a lot of time in pain after having the cyst lanced. At the end of the week, we had a huge family dinner at Villaggio Grille, a restaurant at The Wharf in Orange Beach. We celebrated the birthdays of nephew Ben, and Jessica, and Sera, whose birthday is next Saturday. The cake was called Death By Chocolate Cake, and it was quite tasty. But Sera liked the strawberry accompaniment best!
Our last dinner in Gulf Shores was another family affair at Tacky Jack's 2, which is at the marina near the end of the peninsula near Fort Morgan. I got this nice sunset picture while waiting for our table. We finished the week with shrimp and crab claws and grilled mahi mahi. Thanks to Pedro and Nora for their generosity in not only letting us stay in their condo, but also for some very fine dinners.
Our day yesterday was pretty long. Because Magi is on painkillers, I got to drive the whole way home. And because of the Nashville construction, and the Alabama construction, and the other construction, it took 20 hours to get home. We were sure glad we had the air conditioning fixed before we left! 920 miles in 20 hours, let's see, is an average speed of 46 miles per hour.
I do love our spring breaks in Gulf Shores. Even when adversity strikes, we still find it peaceful and relaxing!
Friday, April 02, 2010
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Well, why not try this whole Twitter thing? I'll be tweeting at @ofmasksandmen during my vacation. Oh, and if you try to rob my house, don't forget I have a big dog. If you really want to make him like you, dress up like the UPS guy. I got five stitches a few years ago trying to keep him off the brown shorts.