Gulf Revisited – 2011

From Trapp Farm to Sunshine at Gulf Shores

May 10 – 19, 2011

 

Part 1: Memphis to Trapp Farm

Part 6: So-So Golf for Birthday Boy

Part 2: Trapp Farm to Gulf Shores, AL

Part 7: Score of ‘59’ beats golfer’s age

Part 3: Golf Practice at Gulf State Park

Part 8: Upgrading Library Privileges

Part 4: Shopping at  Big Box stores

Part 9: Gulf Shores to Pearl, MS

Part 5: Condo Owners. Meeting

Part 10: Drive to home in Memphis

 

- Updated June 2, 2011

 

 

 

Several photos of the interior of our condo at Gulf Village, Ala., are posted on the website of our property manager, Kaiser Realty, which also has pix of the exterior of the complex as well as area beach shots. There are additional pix mainly taken by Betty Nolan during our trips to the area in recent years. They are posted at www.kodakgallery.com in various albums registered under Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com for instructions how to access the Kaiser pictures and also the Nolan pictures.

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

May 11, 2011 – Wednesday – Travel from Trapp Farm to Gulf Shores, Ala.

 

Betty and I arose in the very comfortable guest room in the farm house home of her brother, Harvey Trapp and his wife near Newton, Miss., about 7 a.m.

 

Betty cooked a delicious breakfast as usual of ham and eggs with freshly made toast for both me and Harvey. We enjoyed the morning meal while his wife, Ann, drove to the law office she manages for an attorney friend in nearby Decatur, Miss. Harvey is the retired business manager from the Decatur-based East Central Community College, where Betty and I met in the mid-1960s and have been in love ever since. It has since more than doubled its student body to over 2,000 freshmen and sophomores from nearby counties.

 

After eating, Betty and I loaded her Ford Focus station wagon with a freezer box of frozen perch caught by Harvey and his good friend, a retired college dean Betty and I knew from our time there long ago, plus a container of fresh blueberries. We departed about 9 a.m. and drove east on state Highway 15 through several tiny towns to Laurel, Miss., where we turned onto Interstate 22 to Hattiesburg, MS. After about an hour on the fairly busy road we circled around Hattiesburg onto U.S. Highway 98. We took that for about an hour-and-a-half to the outskirts of Mobile, Ala., where we briefly drove south on Interstate 64 to east-bound Interstate 10 through Mobile and its mile-long tunnel under the backwaters of Mobile Bay.

 

At anchor not far from the end of the tunnel is one of the famed fighting battleships of World War II, the USS Alabama. We’ve toured it several times and visited various exhibits and souvenir shops including a World War II submarine but did not stop for yet another visit this time, proceeding on to U.S. Highway 59, where we turned south toward the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped at the first town south of I-10, Loxley, at its regionally popular Burris Farm Market.

 

Betty purchased some fresh produce at the market and we proceeded south on Highway 59 to the Baldwin County town of Foley, where we stopped at the recently opened branch of Wolf Bay Lodge restaurant near the celebrated Tanger Outlet Mall (with over 100 discount stores with many prestige retailing names) to buy a quart of wonderful seafood gumbo. She planned to warm it up that evening and serve it with a smoked salmon from Alaska we brought from home.

 

Arriving at our beachfront condo at the Gulf Village complex on West Beach Parkway about 3 p.m., we were delighted to see how great our one-bedroom unit looked with the freshly installed, ceramic flooring of large, marble-like, white tiles about 18 inches square set on a diagonal pattern that was framed in a design of half-inch pieces of colored tile. A new air-conditioning unit had been installed the previous day by a contractor under the picture window that looks over our outside porch of wooden decking that had been recently installed.

 

The interior of our condo (now with new or recently purchased electric stove, refrigerator equipped with an ice maker, microwave oven, combination air conditioner-heater, and two cable-equipped TV sets) seemed to us to look its very best in the more than 24 years we’ve owned it. We’ve replaced furniture and had the complete condo re-decorated as needed following several major hurricanes and water damage from destroyed roofing in intervening years.

 

The only negative now that it was totally paid for was our having to lug our luggage and supplies up four flights of stairs (a total of 32 steps) now that we are in our 60s. The elevator serving our building was a long-ago casualty of a hurricane in the 1980s or before.

 

I took my customary mid-afternoon nap while Betty moved around our condo’s furniture and equipment to suit her superb decorating skills.

 

It’s great being back in Gulf Shores. We look forward to attending the annual meeting of the Gulf Village Condominium Owners Association in a few days.

 

As usually the case, our time at the beach flew by. It was soon time to drive back to Memphis, this time on a route via Jackson, Miss., and the nearby home at Pearl, Miss., of one of Betty’s suitemates from East Central Junior College in Decatur, Miss., where we had all met. She is Sue Ann Turnage, who works at a nearby hospital run by her longtime employer, the University of Mississippi Medical School and related organizations.

 

The driver pressing for a return to our home was an upcoming, checkup appointment with my fantastic neurosurgeon, Dr. Julius Fernandez at the famed Semmes-Murphey Clinic. With relentless optimism and incredible skills granted him by our Creator, he had pulled me back from death’s door five years ago following a brain aneurysm suffered at Gulf Shores, Ala., that I’ve written about in other travelogues.

 

Dr. Fernandez is a remarkably gifted physician whom I was extremely fortunate to come into contact with at a highly regarded, Memphis hospital adjacent to his partnership practice that provides medical services to a global list of patients.  Originally from his family home in Virginia and educated at medical school in Boston, he is roughly the age of our son, Casey, and when not working very long hours that includes international volunteer work supplying his advanced surgical skills to patients in far-off places like Bosnia, he enjoys activities with his young family that includes a 10-year-old son.

 

His wife teaches Spanish to some of the best and brightest young men in our region, at the private, very expensive, college-prep Memphis University School, where our son was an outstanding student before getting his degrees at the University of Virginia (in civil engineering) and Harvard  University (an MBA).

 

Dr. Fernandez is in his mid30s, which some experts say is the optimum age for the hard specialties since the relatively new M.D.’s off the academic assembly lines are so close to the very latest teaching and are current with the newest techniques being taught. Moreover, they have been in practice long enough to hone their skills and human relations abilities with patients. He told me he had recently completed a “certification program” in his specialized, spinal surgery field. It reminded me of how my late father, Lewis E. Nolan, M.D., was proud that his abilities and work had been nationally recognized by peer groups with his diplomat status as a Fellow in both the American College of Physicians and also the American College of Pathologists.

 

It was a disappointment to my father - who died in 1970 in North Carolina while trying to rev up a new practice bringing specialized care to a rural community – that I was totally unsuited to follow him and other family members in medicine. He was a highly honored member of his profession and was recognized by writing more than 20 articles about his work in international medical journals. He was honored by former President Harry Truman long ago for discovering that the lack of sugar in the blood of jet pilots was responsible for a series of mysterious crashes, leading to a change in Air Force policy that started requiring pilots of high performance airplanes to eat or drink coffee with sugar before flying during the Korean conflict.

 

I enjoyed the possibility that Dr. Fernandez shared several characteristics with my Dr. Nolan a generation or two before he came along. They have brilliance and high academic honors in common. They both have brothers distinguished in different fields of medicine.  Dr. Fernandez’ brother is a heart surgeon who assisted with the insertion of a shunt to drain excess fluid from my brain into my abdomen. Dr. Nolan’s brother, Dr. Don Edwin Nolan (my favorite uncle), was remarkably talented and established and ran the big Veterans Hospital in Seattle at its administrator/medical director for much of his life.

 

They could both be affable and fun to be with, just like a lot of really good guys. Nothing high-faluting about either man. And Doctors Fernandez and Nolan both enjoyed lofty reputations among peers in their respective, medical fields.

 

And from my perspective, they both enjoyed their children – in my dad’s case by several wives. And both give their time and expertise to public causes – in Dr. Fernandez’s recent case by traveling to Bosnia to help needy patients there and hosting one of his colleagues from that area in his own home during a subsequent visit to Memphis. My father was willing to teach college students for little pay and to serve as team physician at several colleges and also at assorted civic activities put on by the Shriners and Coroner’s offices in communities where he lived. Neither distinguished physician let the expense of favored activities – in Dr. Fernandez case flying an airplane for recreation and in my father’s case paying for big trips and expensive education for children’s camps and schools – get in the way of making them happen.

 

As a tribute to Dr. Fernandez’ great work in temporarily removing part of my skull to install high-tech treatment apparatus in my brain, his recent courtesy examination of my head concluded with a soft suggestion that I schedule a follow-up appointment to come back for another checkup in a year and a half. And this was for a man in his late 60s given only slight chance of survival not all that long ago.

 

Enough of my mental wanderings back in Memphis. I’m in Gulf Shores with my wife to enjoy our time at the beach and in good weather on the Gulf Coast. Just being here is a pleasure all by itself.

 

(Continue with Part 3 of this trip.  /  Return to Nolan Travels Home Page.)