Gulf Revisited – 2011

Shopping at Big Box Stores to North of 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 9, 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 in various albums registered under Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email for instructions how to access the Kaiser pictures and also the Nolan pictures. 




May 13, 2011 – Friday – Shopping in large stores north of Gulf Shores, Ala.


Betty and I arose about 8:00 a.m. in our one-bedroom condo on West Beach at Gulf Shores, Ala., after a good night’s sleep. We had a big day planned, including visiting some very large stores to the north on the southern outskirts of Foley, Ala.


Before getting in the car and driving several miles to the north up Highway 59, I cranked up my Dell mini-netbook computer to do a little writing on my account of this trip. I’ve found it’s never easy to start writing on an unfamiliar computer in an out-of-the-ordinary environment. Nonetheless, the near-miracle of small laptops makes journal writing ever so much easier than the pen-and-ink notebook varieties Mark Twain and other great writers did to ensure their immortality.


Shortly after 10 a.m., I closed down my netbook and Betty and I drove a few miles to the municipal library to check our email. Per my customary routine, I updated my daily investment “scorecard” by checking stock and bond prices listed on various websites used by brokerage houses and mutual funds I sometimes patronize. Regardless of how the market is doing – and I’m glad it’s on the upswing most days now with President Obama’s steady hand on the steering wheel and foot on the economic acceleration pedal – I always feel quite fortunate that my career work and modest spending patterns over the years have given me enough savings to invest (and sometimes worry about).


Reminded by the up-to-date Internet information that our investments continue to perform pretty well, I was feeling good when we departed the library and drove a few miles north so Betty could check prices at Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot stores on the southern outskirts of Foley, Ala. She wanted to replace our badly weathered, PVC table and chairs on our condo’s porch plus make a few other purchases.


We also wanted to enjoy a wonderful lunch (for me of extraordinarily fresh, fried oysters with an enjoyable trip to the salad bar) at the nearby Wolf Bay Lodge restaurant. We happened to sit at a table at the branch near the Tanger Mall served by a veteran waitress we’d gotten to know over the years of regularly dining at the home location of the restaurant on a finger of Mobile Bay 10 or more miles away. It had burned a couple of years ago and the owners were never able to get the necessary permits to rebuild on the same spot.


We got back to our condo about 2:30 p.m. – the perfect time for me to take my customary, afternoon nap. Betty somehow managed over several trips to haul the new table and four chairs up the 32 stairs to our deck and old picnic set down the stairs to the complex dumpster. We are reasonably sure that some scrounger will be glad to have the old set for free even through the original green color is badly faded by bright sun the condo deck enjoys most days.


For dinner that evening, Betty heated up some delicious, home-made vegetable beef soup she had brought with us and a fresh salad made from locally grown produce. Making the meal even more enjoyable was a glass or two of white wine purchased locally.


With the news of the day’s continued emphasis on flooding in Memphis and other Mississippi River cities and areas, it was hard to believe that the Gulf Coast region we were now in was in the middle of a fairly serious “drought” condition. Large areas of the golf course fairways at the State Park were covered with dead or dying grass. (On the positive side, that condition was giving my ball a bit more “roll” than it deserved with my short-hitting.)


I had been nervously checking the daily news coverage of the flood as reported on the Internet about the flood and also picking up out-of-town newspapers from racks around town.  Just today, USA Today’s lead story on the Front Page was under the headline “The great flood of 2011. Rising river speeds space of high-cost weather. Five disasters with $1B or more in damage a record.”


The news story went on to report that “storms this year have produced significant damage, disruption to business and closures and increased car accidents with 2011 costs that follow three record-setting years in which thunderstorms and tornadoes alone caused an average of about
$10 billion in annual damage.”


A companion story under the Vicksburg, Miss., dateline reported that in one residential trailer park the driveway was “teeming with water snakes” and the only hints of homes were roof awnings poking up through the coffee-colored water. It also reported that in Mississippi alone there were 1,000 homes and businesses already underwater and more than 300,000 acres swamped. The high water in Vicksburg set a record surpassing the historic Great Flood of 1927 that killed more than 1,000 people in 7 states and surrounded Vicksburg and other Mississippi river cities with floating cows and corpses of people who drowned.


The Great Flood of 1927 was topped in the record books for water levels a decade later. The two submergences of the heartland of America were largely responsible for the massive construction high levees along the Mississippi River and major tributaries. Officials were optimistic that the flood control system would hold this year. But everyday citizens like me were still nervous when officials were forced to dynamite sections of the levee in Missouri and open immense spillway gates in Louisiana to divert some of the pressure off the rampaging Mississippi River.


While we had been assured by the director of the boarding kennel at West Memphis for our pet greyhound that there were no doubts about the safety of the racing dogs because they had in place emergency plans to evacuate them if the nearby levee were to break, we were more than a little concerned.  


The danger from rising levels of the river resulted in the annual and famed International Barbeque Contest being moved from a riverside park in Memphis to higher ground at the city’s Fairgrounds for the first time ever.  Even some inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola – bordered on three sides by the Mississippi river - were evacuated to prisons on higher ground.


It wasn’t until we safely returned home – driving mainly in sunshine while high waters stabilized and receded – and picked up Fiona from the boarding kennel that our comfort level in the levee system fully returned and we were able to enjoy looking at the immensity of the width of the Mississippi River at its crossing point bridges in Memphis.


(Continue with Part 5 of this trip  /  Return to Nolan Travels Home Page.)