Three years ago, Kelsey and I drove (or, more accurately, I passengered and Kelsey drove) across Alabama from stem to stern, on our joint summer vacation of that year. We were two overworked government employees, sea-starved in landlocked Tennessee, and what better place to sally south towards than the "Redneck Rivieria" itself, Gulf Shores ? Upon arrival, we ate most of the shrimp in the tri-county area. We sunned ourselves like fatted lizards, and watched tv in the hotel room with the airconditioning on its "desert" setting, as ladies of leisure, such as we, are wont to do. It was a GRAND vacation.
So, the day I realized I was, in fact, allotted a certain number of vacation days in my new library division job, I'll be durned if I didn't call Bab up, ask him to negotiate the leave-taking at his own place of business, and pack a Sanrio bag for another shot at the seaside!
Both of us cleared our workaday schedules so that we were free and easy from Thursday afternoon until Tuesday morning. The signifigance of this! Barring a few fortiutously placed government holidays, I haven't had two days off together in nearly a year (my weekend is of the bifurcated, every Saturday and Monday off variety). On Friday morning, there was much struggling with iTunes to make a mp3 of the audiobook version of Horns by Joe Hill (I'd just finished Heartshaped Box in one rapturous go, so the situation was desperate) and with my own scatterbrain to double check packing lists (Lisa: "Did I put my toothpaste in the green "Global Warming is Uncool" tote?" Bab: "Yes, you did." Lisa: "Are you just saying that or did you actually see it in the bag?" Bab: "I saw you put it in the bag." Lisa: "But did you subsequently see it IN THE BAG? I might have taken it back out. Where is the global warming bag?" Bab:((with the patience of an actual saint)) "It's in the car. Where you told me to put it. I can bring it back in though." ((pause)) I have Elizabeth Taylor like tendencies when faced with more than a night away from my homestead). Nonetheless, we did eventually make it out of the driveway by 9, but then had to make a detour downtown to pick up Bab's weekly check from his place of work-- the better to eat more all you can eat shrimp with, my dear.
With a chocolate doughnut apiece from Brian (workplace manager, great personal friend), and the soundtrack to Superfly blaring, we wheedled our way down I-24. I-65 is a much more direct route, but I really wanted to check out the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Ala. on the way down, so we made a diversion.
Doughnut gone, here's a skinny bridge of which Bab did not like the looks. And below, a pretty vista of mossy river. I have yet to get over my fascination on trips of seeing large bodies of water en route. Between yelling "Oh, look, water!" and "COWS!", I do sound a little like a bingo caller.
Unsure as I was of our Google directions (which, incidentally, we hadn't even printed out, but copied in chickenscratch shorthand into a spiral notebook about four minutes previous to walking out the door), and convinced of the fact that without constant reassurance, we would end up in backwoods Alabama and hopelessly lost, I made Bab pull over several times to make sure we hadn't missed some hinted-at fork in the road and were on the correct path. When we did this in Section, Alabama, this is what turned up next door to the Chevron station (sidenote: There are so many Chevrons the further south you go! I was unaware).
"I will give you $500 CASH for a Diet Coke!" I, too, have had my dark, caffeine-deprived moments.
Section Dairy bar was actually visited by bloggers at We Love Burgers, but sadly, Bab and I had to make time if we were going to get to Scottsboro by lunch. Catch you next time, Section burgers!
In Scottsboro, we stopped at a total bust of a Goodwill near the city square (SKY high prices, and nothing nothing nothing old) and then Unclaimed Baggage, the whole point of our eastward detour. UB is entirely stocked with the contents of lost luggage never claimed by their rightful owners after traveling the friendly skies, and if that's not the coolest concept store for a thriftaholic to indulge in during vacation, I don't know what is. I scored a great pair of aviators (which you'll see throughout the photos) for $5 and two complete sets (three pieces-- headwrap, full length skirt, and tunic top) of bona fide African women's ensembles in brilliant fabrics for $10 apiece. One pattern is just about identical to the one Gwen Stefani uses in her 2010 collection. Color me excited! I've already worn one of the tops, belted, with its oh so convenient reverse zipper (the zipper zips UP instead of down, so you can do it yourself without the aid of a helpful Bab...why don't all dress zippers function like so?!?!) and faintly winged cap sleeves, drawing compliments like flies. Now I've only to figure out the other five pieces and how/when to wear them. Great success!
I am continually amazed, on any trip out of state, at the availability of wine and sometimes liquor in any old merchant's stand or gas station you might encounter. Wine in a Walgreens...! Saints preserve us! In Tennessee, or at least in Nashville and its environs, "spirits" of any kind, pretty much anything stronger than beer, is sold solely at a booze-specific store (liquor store, wine store, some combination of the two, that sells nothing but alcohol). Makes me feel provincial.
Here are our action shots before taking off for the beach. Bab is rocking a plaid ensemble, shirt's a vintage Wrangler, snap front pearled button number, and shorts from Walmart. My shorts and fifties' lookin' swimsuit are also from Walmart. I almost bought THIS Esther Williams brand version, because who better to know about 1940's/50's swimsuits than Esther Williams? However, shortly before clicking the button and taking the $60 + s/h plunge, I was idly searching "retro" on Walmart's online website and came up with OMG IT'S THE EXACT SUIT for $26. It's on sale now for $18, and I think I'm going to buy two more to put in mothballs, as it's seriously the cutest/most flattering swimsuit ever. How often do you say that.
Beach! Oh, blessed beach! We're almost there! While it rained a little each day we were there, owing to my Girl Scout like tendency to rise before 8, no matter what the schedule, our two morning jaunts to the beach were clear and lovely.
The sea! We can see the sea! To the far left you can make out a pier we never walked down, and just a few yard further lies the spot we set up camp. Bab and I stood in the water, constantly beset upon by slash wide-eyed'edly observing, marine and plant life of all kinds (tiny fish, seaweed, crabs... the ocean was like a science class that day!), swam a little, and sunned on the beach. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous time.
The beach was practically deserted. This year, for the first time in my life, I wasn't tethered to the school year as a deadline by which a summer vacation should have to take place. While I missed the two months off, it was kind of neat to be in a summery place without sixty million tourists with the same idea.
Below, a little tableau of a sandpiper who had caught the pictured fish, but for some reason refused to eat it. He snapped it around the surf a little bit, once or twice losing his quarry to the seafoam and charging into the water to re-capture it. He would then walk around, with artful guilelessness, on the beach, as if he didn't care a fig in the world for the aforementioned fish, before taking it up once more for no apparent reason, as he never did eat it. The ways of birds are mysterious indeed.
I wish my P.O.V. was this peaceful every day, all day. Should look into moving closer to an ocean.
Our newly purchased beach towel (one of two), my coverup shorts, and my favorite Andy Warhol Foundation tote bag. Get it, beach style!
Two happy vacationers.
This pavilion was newly built when Kelsey and I came here the first time, and though we never visited it, I thought it was worth a snap. It does cut an elegant figure against the beach landscape.
Here are a few pictures of our classy, classy accomodations:
Yeeks! So, if you want to buy a really nice Microtel within shouting distance of Gulf Shores Parkway, Vallas Realty has your back.
Bab was amused by the tiny appointments, when in retrospect, they were exactly his size. Reminded us both of a Japanese urban apartment, with everything neatly space-conscious in dimension and efficiency. We liked it!
The Tin Top restaurant was a F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C place in Bon Secour that Kelsey and I visited, and I was heartbroken that I couldn't remember exactly what the name was or where the dad-durned place was located the second time around. All I could remember was a mindboggling delicious muffaletta at a reasonable price. Bab and I spent the better part of an hour driving down the wrong coastal roads in search of the phantom eatery. Luckily, however, I followed a sign for the same-commercial- fishing outfit-I once-again-mistook-for-a-restaurant as we did on our initial trip, and once more ran smack dab in the Tin Top! Kismet. The collard greens, pinto beans, and shrimp po'boy was so good, and I was so hungry, that I forgot to take a picture of it. But this is what the exterior looked like.
These were at a shop we ran into to get out of the rain while driving through Foley, I think. BRAND. NEW. VINTAGE STYLE. APPLIANCES. I like to had a fit.
In a minty aquamarine? The only thing that's kept me from replacing my serviceable major kitchen appliances with vintage items (which, tauntingly enough, ARE EVERYWHERE at estate sales) is my knowledge of one, donated-from-a-teacher's-basement, Cadillac-tricked-out style fifties' Frigidaire at my dad's high school workplace catching fire in mid day to the point that billowing black smoke came out of its ancient coils. Yes, it worked perfectly for sixty odd years before it kicked the bucket by BECOMING ENGULFED IN FLAMES. If I replaced my working Kenmore with some gorgeous, mid century equivalent, and if it happened to spontaneously combust while I was at work, and, I am, by the way, always at work, I would actually die of heartbreak at the loss of my domestic museum to kitsch. But here! Look! A brand new set! What's the retail price, Ed?
COME. ON. Oh, darn that dream. How are these numbers even real?
There's tons more vacation to cover, but I'll save it for part two of this post. Coming up, the greatest $8 Salvation Army find of the year, right there in Foley, Alabama, and on the trail of Hank Williams. Have you been to/know of any Alabama haunts and hollers I might swing by on the next trip down? See you at part two!