Dec. 21, 2010 – Jan. 2, 2011
- Page Updated April 20, 2011
1. Drive from
4. Drive from
2. Drive from
Trapp Farm to
5. Visit in
3. Dec. 24-31,
6. Drive from
Dec. 21, 2010, Tuesday – Drive from
Betty had spent most
of the previous day and evening packing for our two-week trip to the Gulf of
This year, we wanted
to stop on the way to visit with Betty’s brother, Harvey Trapp, and wife Ann at
their big farm in the Southeast part of the state near
We had decided to replace the somewhat ratty, wall-to-wall carpet which had been poorly installed following a big hurricane a few years ago that had blown off the building’s roof and pretty well destroyed most of the condo’s contents.
Betty and I arose
from bed at our
Per my physician’s
advice, Betty handled all the driving on this trip. (He had warned several
months ago that most insurance companies in
We followed our
usual route to the
We turned onto
Interstate 20 East just north of
While both Betty and I graduated from ECJC (where she was named to the college’s Hall of Fame with my help as her campaign manager), it hasn’t been often that we’ve visited since 1965, she in particular is remembered there because of some modest gifts we and Harvey have made to the college in her honor.
Dinner plans for
tonight are for Betty and I to drive to nearby
So with Ann driving
her Volvo SUV, we drove about 40 miles to
Dec. 22, 2010, Wednesday – Drive from Trapp farm to Gulf Shores, AL
As with previous
trips, I slept well in the guest bedroom bed at the Trapp farm. Betty and I
arose about 8:30 a.m. and she cooked for me and Harvey a big breakfast. Ann had
already departed for her work managing a law office in nearby
Betty and I departed about 11:15 a.m. drove about one hour on Highway 15 to Laurel, MS, where we had an early McDonald’s lunch and then drove west on Interstate 2259 to Hattiesburg, MS, where we picked up U.S. Highway 98 across South Mississippi to Mobile, AL.
At Mobile, we took the now-familiar route of driving through the northern section of town on Interstate 65 and then through the Downtown area and tunnel under Mobile Bay on Interstate 10 to the U.S. Highway 59 South turn near Loxley, Al. We stopped at Loxley at one of our favorite Farm Markets owned by the Burress family. Oddly, they were in the process of closing the fresh-fruit and vegetable stand for Christmas and would not accept offered money from Betty for some produce. Betty found out Burress had charitably invited local help agencies to look over and accept unsold goods as donations to the poor.
As a nice consequence, Betty came away from the market with a little bit of fresh produce and a home-made bird house decorated in the colors of my alma mater – Mississippi State University.
Farther down Highway
59, we stopped at a favorite Winn-Dixie Supermarket in
Even though I was riding as a passenger on this and the previous day’s driving, I was tired. It took several trips up four flights of broad stairs to our top-floor unit, No. 201, to carry our luggage and supplies. Happily, we were quite pleased to see that our new white porcelain tile with black ceramic accents had been superbly installed, wall-to-wall. The crew had beautifully worked around several sections of previously installed tile in the bathroom, entry and kitchen areas. We were delighted and only regretted that we hadn’t had it tiled after one of the several hurricanes in recent years that had raked the complex and opened up the ceiling to drenching rain.
After dinner, Betty purchased at the local Wal-Mart several small rugs to place in high-traffic areas of the floor that could be discarded as needed. I took a much-needed nap while Betty brilliantly organized the interior contents and furniture to make our small unit look as spacious as possible.
About 6 p.m., we
drove several miles down
Surprisingly given the holiday season, there was no long wait for a table like there always is during the high season during dinnertime. In the spirit of Christmas, kitchen staff gave me a plate piled high with well more than a dozen fresh, plump fried oysters, served with all-you-care-to-eat salad bar, baked potato and cornbread hushpuppies.
We stopped at the
cavernous Wal-Mart on the way back to our condo so Betty could purchase a mop
and a jug of white vinegar, which is suggested as an effective and efficient
way to clean the grit off freshly installed tile. We had never seen a big store
like the one at
The beaches and
beauty of the
Once back in our
condo, Betty went to work on our new tile with her new mop and followed that up
by arranging new throw rugs to suit her tastes. My view was firm: the condo
looked the best ever since our purchase of it more than 20 years ago. However,
the real estate market has been quite soft since the awful explosion of BP’s
deep water oil well out in the
The rental income has declined the last few years mainly due to the Bush recession caused by lower consumer spending in response to economic policies that failed to work. Nonetheless, I believe I have good reason to feel pretty good about our investment in the condo more than two decades ago, with rental income generally paying the carrying costs over the years even while allowing my family to enjoy comfortable getaways on a beautiful beach whenever we like.
I can only wish that all my investments had done so well while yielding so much family pleasure.
Dec. 24, Thursday - Dec. 30, Friday, 2010 -
While this small,
mainly seasonal town of
Our attempts failed at finding an Internet Wi-Fi connection we could use with our laptop computers. In past years the “leakage” of Internet services provided by large condo buildings to their tenants spilled over into nearby condos and parking lots. But a higher level of Internet security had eliminated the leakage that permitted “free riders” like me to tap into their connections at no charge. Worse was this year’s extended closing of the municipal library, where Wi-Fi is provided at no charge for customers with laptops and also made available to visitors on a half-dozen or so provided computers in the library.
Consequently, I was
off Internet service for several days. I had tried what had turned out to have
been bum advice from another customer at the
Due to the chill, I neither played golf nor practiced my long-dormant swing or putting at the State Park. We drove a few miles to an OK book store in a fairly busy shopping center where I’d connected with their Wi-Fi service on previous trips. But the clerk working on this holiday was a mature woman without a clue on how my new Dell netbook could tap into the store’s complimentary Wi-Fi service.
For what it’s worth, I found out there are a number of password-protected condos in our complex that pay various firms extra for Internet service from local cablevision and other services. But so far, our condo management company hasn’t offered owners like me any special rates that could be tax-advantaged and used for as an inducement for rental marketing. So with the municipal library being closed for four days this week, I’ll just have to depend on generally crummy area newspapers and TV broadcasts for what passes here for the news of the day.
While out for the
day to check on Internet service possibilities, we stopped at the new Wolf Bay
Lodge restaurant which had been built on
We had learned the
Earlier, I had called Danny Endress, a nice guy, retired fireman and longtime president of our Gulf Village Owners Association to underscore my interest in the association offering Internet service at a good price to owners. We had a nice chat about the possibility of him advancing the idea at an upcoming annual meeting and also talked about the need for the Mobile Press-Register to restore newspaper rack service to our complex. It turned out his group made the contact and the daily coin-operated newspaper sales rack was installed on a pilot basis
I also called Rev. Stephen Kurtz of the Gulf Shores Presbyterian Church (cell phone No. 251-228-0770) to see if the church would again have a Christmas Eve Service and found out it would be at 5:30 p.m. Betty and I want to attend and hopefully hear the church’s music director, a young
woman named Pam Winstead, sing Christmas hymns in her beautiful soprano voice we’ve heard several times in recent years.
We also found out
that Mr. Kurtz has been at the church for five years. Betty and I – accompanied
by our son Casey in the pre-Kurtz years when he traveled with us during our
annual visits to
During one of Betty’s outings she stopped by a local Walgreen’s to purchase for me a battery-operated, Casio calculator since I had neglected to pack a calculator so I could try to keep up with our trip expenses. (Incidentally, I still remember the time more than 25 years ago when I purchased for about $50 the early marketing of a hand-held, plug-in calculator so I could do the math for my taxes back in my newspaper days.)
oversight in packing a calculator, I still have no doubt that we bring way too
much stuff with us for our several trips to
After my afternoon nap, shower and a small snack, we drove maybe five miles to the local Presbyterian Church for the Christmas Eve “Service of Lessons and Carols.” As usual, we found it to be an excellent and spiritually rewarding evening out. With help from members and reading of Scriptures, the church’s pastor told the greatest story in the history of the world, about the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago.
There were biblical readings starting with Genesis that included sections from Isaiah, Micah, Luke, Matthew and John plus traditional carols alternately led by the church’s Women’s Choir and the full Chancel Choir. Most of the pews were filled with visitors like us and regular church members, who joined in the singing at designated points of the program. Mr. Kurtz delivered an excellent meditation.
This year, the full
service lasted nearly a full hour, a bit longer than the ones we attended some years
ago at the same church led by a different pastor and also at our home church,
Evergreen Presbyterian in
Dec. 25, 2010, Saturday - At
We arose in our condo about 8:30 a.m. on Christmas Day. Betty made yet another great breakfast of scrambled eggs, baked ham, a couple of semi-dried prunes, tomato juice, milk and Melba Toast. After eating, we opened a few presents (I’d earlier given Betty a small quantity of $100 bills to spend as she liked in the nearby Tanger Mall in Foley, AL with 100 discount outlet stores) plus a couple of gift certificates to the Bayliss Garden store she likes near Memphis.
I was pleased that
Betty was absolutely delighted when she opened one present and found it
contained a fairly expensive pair of garden pruners manufactured in
Casey, our son who
lives and works in
With a terrific breakfast and thoughtful gifts both given and received, it was a wonderful Christmas morning. But then the rain came. It was expected to last all day, so it looks like the excellent oyster gumbo purchased earlier from Wolf Bay Lodge would be especially welcome since we could stay inside all day. Betty put our tiny condo kitchen to good use by making some delicious chicken salad, cooking a turkey breast and one of her fantastic apple pies for dinner.
Surrounded by the
fine smells of Betty’s cooking and delights of our Christmas gifts, we had a
very nice Christmas Day to enjoy the sparkling, new tile flooring and relax by
reading and watching cable TV. Rounding out a day of pleasure was Casey’s
telephone call, who was watching his 15-week-old twin boys at the Nolan home in
Arlington, VA while his lovely wife, Caroline, was out shopping. Later in the
day, Caroline also called Betty, who is always keenly interested in the
activities of our new grandchildren, Aiden Mayer and Carden Lewis. We both wish
the boys (with or without their parents we also love so much) could be here in
Dec. 26-27, 2010, Sunday and Monday - At
We pretty much
stayed inside on the Sunday after Christmas in the face of rain and high
temperatures in the 40s. I did a lot of writing, mainly turning my notes from
travel made in early October and November to
After breakfast on Monday, (I insist on the traditional morning meal before undertaking any activities on a new day), we drove a few miles to the municipal library, which at last was open after a long holiday. Betty and I were both faced with a deluge of email awaiting us to access through our his-and-her computers. I had 365 messages backed up, with the great majority being junk emails I deleted without opening.
Thanks to Betty’s
recently won expertise, she was able to link up my gift from her of a new Dell
Inspiron mini-laptop computer to the library’s Internet Wi-Fi service. I was
thrilled to be able to forward to my Yahoo mail account a freshly-written, five-page
account of our trip in early October to
While out, we drove
a few miles up Highway 59 to the new restaurant operated by the Wolf Bay Lodge
near the Tanger Mall on the south side of
We learned that Cindy had won a $5 bet made in the kitchen by one of the cooks who bet wrongfully that Betty would not eat all of the heaping salad she had piled on her plate at the salad bar. I tipped the waitress a matching amount of her bet winnings for showing such confidence in my wife – whose trim figure advertises the perfect match between her appetite and reach when it comes to food. With my plus-sized waistline that shows 42 years of marriage to a great cook, it’s easy for me to say that the kitchen worker bet on the wrong horse today .
After lunch, we drove to a nearby Home Depot store so Betty could purchase some graphite to try to fix a condo door lock. I should add that her lock- smith work isn’t as successful as her stove work. We also stopped at a Carter’s children’s clothing store where Betty purchased some colorful tee shirts for our new grandchildren.
Once back at the condo, Betty called Kaiser’s Jane to give the real estate management company the green light to schedule a locksmith service call to fix the front door lock. I continued my long-running pattern of taking relatively brief naps in the afternoons.
This trip is working out just fine and I’m spending some time catching up on some trip journal writing from our recent trips related to Casey and his new family. However, I miss my home program of exercising at a neighborhood gym; I’m disappointed that the local weather has been too chilly or rainy to allow me some much-needed time hitting golf balls.
Dec. 28, 2010, Tuesday - At
We arose at 8:15 a.m. The scheduled locksmith arrived at 9 a.m. and quickly fixed the jammed front door lock. He advised that the “grit” from blowing sand off the beach that gets in the lock keyhole makes it a mistake to use graphite because it clogs the mechanism. I really must advise Kaiser of that because it was one of their employees who suggested that faulty procedure. It seems that WD-40 works best.
But at least the lock works now so shouldn’t prove to be a hassle for our long-term renters scheduled to arrive in early February for two months.
My plan for the day
includes visiting the municipal library later this morning to check my email
and to eat lunch (of a BLT) at the snack bar expertly managed by Korean ladies
Once she got back to the condo she started preparing dinner out of leftover Christmas dinner foods like turkey and its trimmings. The day isn’t terribly productive, but at least the skies are mostly sunny and the temperatures back in the 40s.
Once we had gone to bed, Betty awakened in the middle of the night with an upset stomach, forcing her to throw up in the bathroom. I had weird dreams that night. It turned out we had packaged gravy on the turkey that contained a whole lot more monosodium glumate as a flavor enhancer than we can tolerate. Betty seems to be allergic to the active ingredient, meaning we’ll have to be more careful with any future purchases of packaged gravy.
Dec. 29, 2010, Wednesday - At
While still cool, it
was a beautiful morning on the beach, with sunny skies. Betty may call off her
planned trip to the Tanger Mall in nearby
So we drove back to the park course. I had a replay of the excellent BLT sandwich I had earlier in the week and Betty again went for a grilled chicken sandwich she shared with me. Sunshine and snack bar manager Deborah did the honors on the grill.
I was a bit
surprised at the huge increase in the number of players on the course even
though the temperature had climbed into the 50s. We saw license plates on cars
We drove up Highway
59 to the Tanger Mall so Betty could purchase for her brother, Harvey Trapp, a
dress shirt at Brooks Brothers to give him. She also stopped in the
A flood of snowbirds
made for long waits at our favorite restaurants in
Maybe there is a
lesson there that I can learn or perhaps pay somebody to duplicate for me. My
frustration at the lack of workable Internet service at our complex got even
larger when I somehow “lost” several pages of a travelogue written about one of
our recent trips. It was even more frustrating because I don’t bring a printer
with me when visiting
Dec. 30, 2010, Thursday - At
This was another chilly day so I shelved potential plans to either hit golf balls at the State Park driving range or play nine holes. That left my golf clubs basically unused for the week.
But Betty and I did drive a few miles to the state park golf course for yet another delicious but reasonably priced lunch of sandwiches. We also stopped while we were out at the municipal library so I could whittle away at a huge volume of Email on my new, Dell mini-laptop computer. Before leaving the condo, I added to my journal account of this trip. I had hoped to obtain a print of my account, but the nice lady at the Print Shop happened to be off on this day so my nice journal of notes will just have to wait until we get home when I can codify and print the trip accounts.
We drove north on Highway 59 to the Tanger Mall just south of the Alabama town of Foley, stopping at an Office Depot store so a clerk could print from my jump drive half a dozen or so pages of this account for me.
Afterwards, we drove
to the new branch of the Wolf Bay Lodge for yet another wonderful early dinner
there on this day, which was our last terrific meal of fresh seafood before
heading home the next day via central
Dec. 31, 2010, Friday – Driving to
packing our bags early Friday morning and we loaded her Ford Focus station
wagon for the long trip back to
We drove north on Highway 59 from Gulf Shores to Robertsdale, MS, where our longtime friend Roger Kaiser has been a patient at a surprisingly nice nursing home for some months. He had sold us our condo 24 years ago was a member of one of the dominant families in area real estate sales and development. We had generally followed his advice on real estate matters over the years and found it was always excellent, so much so that we now happily own the condo outright after managing it with Kaiser’s help in such a way that incoming rent generally provided sufficient income to pay the notes and ongoing expenses like taxes.
Seeing Roger was a pleasure, as always. He and his family are hoping that his health improvement continues to the point where he can return home before long.
After a short visit,
we got back in the car and proceeding west to
Tired from riding as
a passenger during the long drive in the rain from
Jan. 1, 2010, Saturday, – In
I arose at 8 a.m.
and was greeted by a cloudy day that was still a little cool following the
passing of a big storm. Betty cooked for me her usually excellent breakfast in
her friend’s kitchen. SuAnne was
planning on shopping for New Year’s sales while I and her friend Charles Smith
watched the Gator Bowl on TV. The game was between my alma mater, Mississippi
State, and the University of Michigan, with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The
late start gave me time for an early nap, followed by lunch from a carryout
quart of seafood gumbo we’d brought with us from the Wolf Bay Lodge in
The game was a
wonderful pleasure to watch, with my alma mater blowing out
All aspects of the
game were outstanding when seen through the lens of a
That evening, we went with SuAnne and her friend Charles to their favorite restaurant, the Mexican El Sombrero Restaurant in the nearby community of Flowood. I didn’t think it was quite as good at the El Porton restaurant near our home that Betty and I often patronize, but our meals were excellent as we divided up enchiladas, chicken tacos and a burrito.
With the absence of my customary afternoon nap due to football, I went to bed early, about 8:30 p.m. and slept pretty good.
Jan.2, 2011, Saturday – Driving to Mermphis
I arose about 8 a.m.
and briefly checked my email on SuAnne’s computer while Betty packed and loaded
her car for the 3 ˝ hour-drive to
Betty prepared for
me one of her always-great breakfasts, this one of ham and scrambled eggs. We
pulled out of SuAnne’s home at 9:35 a.m., which allowed us plenty of time for
the 200-plus mile drive home as well as the side trip across the Mississippi