Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving and Bellingrath Gardens

From Gulf State Park Campground, Gulf Shores, Alabama     As is our custom, Thanksgiving Day began with mimosas. It's been a tradition for Wayne and me for a long time. Joyce, Charlie, Pam and Ernie joined us this year.
My favorite bartender, pouring the Thanksgiving nectar.

As Wayne and I "dress" so seldom, we wanted to take advantage of his fresh beard trim and my application of lipstick and earrings (at the same time) to have a photography session. It's time to order new personal cards and we want a new family picture for them. I urged our friends to sit for picture taking too and here is the result.

Upper Left: Pam and Ernie, without their cat, Jasmine.
Lower Left: Charlie and Joyce, without their cat Diva
Right: Wayne, Antoinette, Lexie and Ozzie 

Pam and Joyce

Two weeks before Thanksgiving we made a reservation at Shipps Harbor Grill and our choice was a good one. The meal started with oysters and crab claws. Dinner was every bit as wonderful as we could have hoped. A perfectly sunny and warm day, good friends, nice restaurant, no cooking, no leftovers and no dishes to wash. Joyce, Charlie, Pam, Ernie and I had traditional turkey, dressing and trimmings. Wayne ordered the absolutely Divine Grouper Pontchartrain. No one was disappointed and no one left hungry.

Wayne's plate of  Grouper Pontchartrain
Our Thanksgiving dinner went on and on. We enjoyed every moment and every morsel. The sun was low in the sky when we finally left the restaurant for our stroll along Shipps Harbor's marina walkways. We looked at the boats and took more pictures.

Foreground: Pam and Joyce
Background: Charlie and Wayne 

Pam in the foreground, Ernie on the walkway in the background. 

The Wayner 

Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore, Alabama

The end of our time at Gulf Shores was drawing near and we had not seen Bellingrath Gardens. Joyce and Pam really wanted to go, the men didn't want to go and I was wishy washy at best, so I teamed with my girlfriends and "split decisions" always go to the wives.

With Thanksgiving in the books, Bellingrath's Magic Christmas in Lights display would be in place and we had been told a visit was well worth the effort it would take to get to Theodore from Gulf Shores. And it did take a certain amount of effort. Theodore is on the other side of Mobile Bay and accessible by ferry or driving around the bay. We made a plan.

The six of us loaded into two vehicles and we drove to Fort Morgan to take the ferry to Dauphin Island. From there, we'd drive north to Theodore. I forget the rate but it probably was a bit more expensive than the fuel it would take to drive around the bay. Notwithstanding cost, being on a ferry is enjoyable and worth the difference and it saved time. The Mobile Bay Ferry does not run after dark so we would take the long route back in the evening.
Our truck with Lexie and Ozzie (front console) inside.
I took this picture of Wayne, Pam Ernie (back), Charlie (back) and Joyce. 
The ferry slowed and maintained position as we crossed so a freighter could pass from port to starboard heading into Mobile Bay, I suspect. The Porto Leoni (Portugal) left a wake that concerned me a bit, but our ferry captain made crossing it look like child's play.

The Porto Leoni from the ferry
We arrived at Bellingrath Gardens mid afternoon with a plan to walk the property, see the Bellingrath home, Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain, eat in the Magnolia Cafe and then walk the grounds again after dark to see the Magic Christmas in Lights.

Near the entry, the bridge draped in blooms caused another photo op. 

Bellingrath advertises itself as 65 acres of year-round floral pageantry in a Southern estate garden. It is the property and home of Walter Duncan and Bessie Bellingrath who came to Mobile after buying the Coca-Cola Bottling Company there in March 1903.

The property was placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1977 and on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1982.

The first Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens was in 1996. Here are some interesting event statistics:
  • Bellingrath staff begin work on Magic Christmas in Lights in September each year.
  • The show has 3 million lights and 1,000 set pieces that are hand-made and installed by Bellingrath's staff.
  • There are 14 scenes, each designed specifically for Bellingrath Gardens and Home. 
  • The light show includes 14,000 strings of lights, 377,000 replacement bulbs, 5 miles of steel bar, 7,700 extension cords and 100,000 plastic twist ties. 
On the Grotto Terrace 

The Grotto

Pam and Joyce at the River Pavilion 
In addition to the entry building, conservatory, chapel, the Bellingrath's museum home, cafe, Boehm gallery and gift shop, the property has a rose garden, a great lawn, live oaks, riverside pavilion, terraces, a bayou, a boardwalk, a large lake, rockery and an Asian-American garden.  

I decided to include the Bellingrath History timeline here for future reference too. 

My favorite of the Boehm Porcelain pieces on display at the Delchamps Gallery at Bellingrath.
It was the most delicate porcelain work I've ever seen. 

Formerly a garage, now the Delchamps Gallery of  Boehm Porcelain

Joyce, Pam and me at The Dwight Harrigan/Exxon Mobil Bayou Boardwalk at Bellingrath 
Charlie, Joyce, Pam and Ernie toured the Bellingrath Museum Home while Wayne and I saw to Lexie and Ozzie who were waiting in the truck parked in the live oak shaded parking lot.  The six of us ate at Magnolia Cafe and it was dark when we returned to the gardens. Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath was a pretty spectacular sight to see and I'm glad we went. The following pictures are a minuscule preview of the event.

In the rose garden 

The great lawn

Late as it was, our return route was north through Mobile and then south to Gulf Shores. 

This would be our last outing for Gulf State Park Campground in Gulf Shores. The six of us will travel west on December 1st for a week in the Cajun part of Louisiana. 

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading this Antionette! We will definitely have to return to Alabama and visit Bellingrath!