Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Making The Best of Hurricane Evacuation

From River Town Campground, Vicksburg, Mississippi      This is where we stopped in our hurricane evacuation.  Not so much as a drop of rain or a puff of wind was noticed here last night while Hurricane Nate came ashore near Biloxi late in the evening.

We arrived around 4 p.m., hot, sweat, tired and stressed. The campground has gravel roads which Lexie and Ozzie simply cannot walk on, but the campsites are clean, open, quiet and right on Highway 61, just south of Vicksburg. The bedroom slide struggled to go out so we just left it in and worked around the lack of space. It's probably going to get worse and we certainly don't want to get stuck here in need of a major slide-out repair.

Wayne's clothes had been soaked and dried in perspiration at least two times today but he insists he isn't as tired as he looks. The worst part of the day for him, I think, was missing the 11 a.m. Auburn / Ole Miss game. He did catch part of it on the coach radio as we rode. It was a nice 44-23 win for the home team.

Our plan had been to explore Vicksburg -- something we hadn't done since our automobile visit here in the early 1990's. We have good memories of that time and thought it would be fun to do again.

But the heat and stress took more out of us than we realized. Sunday morning came and neither of us had an appetite to unhook the truck in the sweltering heat. Even the thought of touring the civil war battlegrounds and the historic city couldn't motivate us. Instead, we watched hurricane coverage on television and stayed inside the coach.

We did stay a second night but headed back to Foley Monday morning.  While we didn't encounter rain evacuating on Saturday, we certainly got our share going back today.  It was nice to settle back into our sweltering temporary campsite at Bella Terra around 3:30 Monday.

I am really tired of hurricanes. We've wrestled with some measure of worry over four systems that affected our area this season.  T.S. Cindy, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and now Nate.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Hurricane Nate Evacuation

From Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama        Our friends are gone but the summer heat remains. The morning weather reports are depressing as local meteorologists keep us up to date on the latest news from the tropics. The system to watch this week is referred to as "Invest 16" which is "weather talk" for saying "this is the 16th weather system being investigated this year". Oh joy.

Today, Invest 16 was given the name Nate -- and Nate is heading north from the Yucatan peninsula. It's a small but fast moving tropical depression. We've been put on notice that Nate is coming in for a visit as a Category 1 (possibly 2) hurricane. No one knows exactly whose door will be darkened though.

As we exit, NBC News trucks come in. 
Wayne and I will take our pups and our home and evacuate. There's no good reason to remain in Foley for damaging winds, torrential rains and possible tornadoes. We've watched the "cone of uncertainty" associated with Nate to determine which direction will get us out of harms way and made the decision, Friday morning, to travel in a north-northwesterly direction. 

Not sure how far we would go, we kept watch on weather radar. Shreveport, Louisiana is not out of the question but that is a long way.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Welcome Friends!

From Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama      There's nothing better to reduce construction fatigue than to spend time with friends! We've been looking forward to September when Joyce, Charlie, Pam and Ernie would come to Bella Terra!

Joyce and Charlie arrived midday on September 20th... just in time for a torrential downpour! We sat it out in the gazebo on their site.

Joyce in the gazebo... waiting out the rain. 
By late afternoon the same day, Pam and Ernie arrived and set up in their site beside Joyce and Charlie. Our temporary site is two rows behind them. Within minutes we ban the celebration!

Pam and Ernie ready to pull in while we wait at their pergola 

Three friends work to get a good selfie... again.  

Pizza was ordered and delivered within an hour of the reunion.
Let the eating begin! 
Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, the next two weeks would be filled with activities and friendship... beginning the next afternoon...

Early dinner at Bahama Bob's in Gulf Shores. 

Wait staff surely hate these picture requests but we can't resist.
Notice the Gulf's reflection in the window. 
Before our food came, Joyce needed to feel the sand between her toes. 

Ernie and I ordered this great pecan crusted fish plate. Umm Humm..... 
The evening was still young after our early dinner so we stopped in at The Royal Oyster for drinks and music....

...and a whirl at hoola hoops for Pam and me.  So fast, we are but a blurrrrrrr......

Having friends along to kick-start a workout routine, I finally began to use the on site gym at Bella Terra. Tara Merrihew showed Joyce and me how to properly use the various pieces of equipment.

Pam on the elliptical, Joyce on the treadmill

But, as friends point out on occasion, our favorite pastime always is to eat and drink. Our first cookout would be hamburgers and hotdogs cooked at Pam and Ernie's site... eaten at Joyce and Charlie's.  Our site is considered "inhospitable" as it is in direct afternoon sun, without shade. Alas! Not even a picnic table.  This leaves us happily out of the "host" circle. Joyce and Pam do a superb job at hosting!

At Joyce and Charlie's comfortable and shady site. 

Our good friends, Beverly and Frank, joined us for burgers and dogs. 

Lexie and Ozzie joined us for the cookout. 
Our group would participate in one of the organized sessions of pickleball at Gulf Shores Cultural Center. Wayne and I played a few times here last spring.

Ernie and Pam in the far court, against Frank and Wayne. 
Joyce, Pam and I enjoyed several visits to the Bella Terra swimming pool during the first week too.

Joyce on the left. Ernie on the right.  The guys avoided the pool, but we gals enjoyed it. 
Then came Pam's birthday on September 23rd. We kicked off the day with a breakfast cooked by the birthday girl herself.  The sun was hot already, but we each found a bit of shade and enjoyed a breakfast casserole, hash browns, fresh fruit, warm breads and Joyce's mimosas!  Yay!

Joyce, Wayne, Pam, Ernie and Charlie serving up Pam's Birthday Breakfast! 
The Birthday Girl 
Wayne and I aren't big on birthday (or any holiday) celebrations, but Pam does enjoy a party so we obliged by giving our best effort to arranging a non-surprise birthday dinner in her honor at Nolan's Steakhouse in Gulf Shores. Girls attire included the wearing of a tiara... a tradition started several years ago when we all first met in Fort Myers, Florida.

Wayne looks almost regal in this one. 
An added surprise for Pam, we included her friend and former co-worker, Patricia and her husband Art, in her birthday dinner celebration. 

Patricia, her husband Art and Joyce. 
Our daily morning exercise routine continued but not without a little something to balance the pain with gain. Joyce, Pam and I finished one morning workout with a short ride to Kitty's Kafe for mimosa breakfast. 

And we didn't even try to resist a stop at Old Mill Pottery to browse the wares.
We never tire of posing among the blooms! 
Another afternoon we spent at Tanger Outlets --shopping and laughing. 

The final purchase for Joyce. I'm happy to lend an encouraging word in support of the purchase.
Following our shopping spree, husbands had to feed the shopping beasts at Wolf Bay Lodge where the laughter and horseplay continued.

Another evening we all met at Cosmos. After a short happy hour on the patio, we enjoyed dinner.

Wayne at Cosmos patio bar. 
Good selfies continue to elude me... but I do keep trying. I just need one more arm. 

Happy hour for the Mighty Six. 

Seated in Cosmos Restaurant. 
Our group attended Pensacola's Annual Shrimp Festival too. Most memorable was (1) the time it took to find parking, (2) the heavy smell of marijuana, (3) the overpriced food and drink and (4) the weather, which, to our surprise, was cool and pleasant.

Ernie bought a shirt. I always wonder, after, why we bother with festivals.  They are (1) all the same, (2) crowded and loud to the point of agony and (3) nasty.  Maybe this will be my last one.  I say that every time.

A popcorn and beer feast. 

Soft serve for Joyce and apple dumpling for Charlie.

The festival food looked better than it tasted.

But awwwww..... Maguire's Irish Pub root beer float.  Heaven in a plastic cup. 

Every last drop is delicious as I follow Joyce in ignorant bliss. 

This is the table we nearly had to wrestle away from another group.
I thought of selling lottery tickets for these chairs when we left. 

Time to go now.  Bye bye. 
Each day ended with a walk across Bella Terra to see our construction project. 

Yes, we can find some progress here among the chaos. 

The lot on Wednesday, October 4th... just after Pam and Ernie left. 

Another happy hour visit starts at Pam and Ernie's lot... 

... and then moves into the shade of Joyce and Charlie's site.

Dinner at Franco's Italian Restaurant at Gulf Shores. 
Our group's last evening out began with a seemingly good idea from Wayne. He had heard of a local haunt and was eager to check it out.  Pirates Cove, near Josephine, is a quaint, picturesque place for locals... But it was a little too "quaint" for us.  The pictures hold the detail....

The bar matron surely failed the "restaurant salesmanship" course. That's why she is working here, I guess.
She gave "one word" answers to all questions.  Sometimes she just pointed. 
Welcome to the kitchen at Pirates Cove. 

Nice shady lot on the water though. 

View from the back of Pirates Cove

Some fair sized boats tied at the Pirates Cove dock. 

The Pirates Cove liquor cabinet. Most unusual. 

A Fire Marshall's nightmare. 

I'd call this one "the best of the worst"... 
We didn't stay at Pirates Cove for dinner. Instead we drove back to Cactus Cantina for Mexican fare. The night was perfect for this last good meal together. We all forgave Wayne for the Pirates Cove suggestion....

The fun, festivities and visit were destined to end and our group would go our separate ways. Pam and Ernie left on Wednesday morning, October 4th headed south into Florida for winter. Joyce and Charlie stayed on another day and pulled out Thursday morning, October 5th heading back to Kansas after a few stops to visit family.  We miss them all.