Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Rest of the Way

After the Alabama welcome area, we were back on our way -- for a while.

The Tunnel. In Mobile, there is The Tunnel under the bay. It is always stopped. The big signs tell the speed limit is 55mph, and i don't know why because i have never gotten above 45mph going through there, and that was in the middle of the night. So we crawled through The Tunnel, listening to the nuts honking their horns, and crossed the rest of the bay to the exit where there was a seafood restaurant Sweetie wanted to try.

It was closed. The sign read "Short Sale", so permanently closed. We continued up the road, winding through Spanish Fort until we came to an oyster place. It was crowded and crazy, so it must be good, right?

Well, good is a relative term. It was air condidtioned, and we had to take Sweetie's guitar in with us as he cannot leave it in the heat. After a short wait for a table and quick scan of the choices, the only thing i found on the menu to my liking was the salad bar, so i made 3 trips. The others ordered different seafood choices, and all said they had enjoyed better back home. So much for scouting out new restaurants, we might as well stick to the Cracker Barrel as in years past. It's the truth about chains, they are all consistent.

Sweetie did get into a lively and friendly discussion with the manager about music, amps, and rock 'n' roll. He also got a call from the worship leader at the church where he was invited to sit in with the band the next morning. They wanted him there by 5pm so they could set up his gear and adjust their boards for it.

So, on to the Wal-Mart. It's another just over an hour, and by the time we got there, we tossed some extra stuff in Sweetie's car so we would have room for groceries and he took off to stop at the condo and get a parking pass, then go on to the church.

This time i handled the shopping a bit differently than before. Bigger Girl and Teresa took a cart and went after what they wanted. #2 Son and Little Girl did the same. They were to pick up breakfast items, snacks they wanted, drinks they wanted, and something to have for dinner. My job is to get bread and milk and toilet paper and make sure there is some nutritious food available.

Bigger Girl didn't get any drinks as she was holding out for organic milk from the health food store the next afternoon. The others came back with cases of Red Bull. Oy. Plus chips, pizza, hot dogs, Yoo-Hoo, Pop-Tarts, and cereal. Ice cream. Pudding snacks. Yes, coming on vacation is a kid's dream.

Out in the parking lot with two carts full of groceries to try to stuff into an already overstuffed van, i got a call from my brother asking if i was still at the store. Since i was, he asked me to get Dre a toothbrush, so i left the kids to load up (don't ask what happened to the bread) and i went back in for that and the mouthwash i had forgotten. Sometimes, serendipity kicks in, i wouldn't have remembered the mouthwash until Sweetie asked for it the next morning.

The children enjoyed pointing out landmarks to Teresa, and we did see eagles in the nest boxes by the highway. As always, i felt a bit drained when we pulled up to the front of the complex to check in, but that first breath of tangy salt air gives me courage.

Check in, get the code for the parking lot, key cards for everyone, pool passes, and the great news that they now have wi-fi. Park, grab two luggage carts and two shopping carts, and try not to mind the unloading snafus like dropping the laundry detergent and breaking the top so half of it spilled before they could pick it back up. What a mess. For the time being, we left the beach tent and a few other things, and hauled it all to the 11th floor.

Ah, paradise. That's what i always feel when walking around this particular complex. Teresa loved the room and working together we had it all unloaded rather quickly to the noise of the satellite tv tuned to play what passes for music for the kids these days. They even remembered to make sure the cold groceries got unloaded and put away first. It's only taken me how many years to get that into them?

Time to go to the unit next door and say hello to the rest of the family. Only two of them were there, but maybe this is the time to introduce the rest of the cast of characters on this years' adventure.

Doc -- the grandfather and clan leader. A retired physician who is almost as busy in retirement serving on boards and committees for free as he was when catching babies for pay. Never leaves the house without dressing to his position, but likes to hang around the house in old jeans and a wife beater shirt. Willing to take the kids fishing, babysit, run errands, and take Miss Prissy shopping as often as she wants to go.

Miss Prissy -- grandmother, artist, musician, and professional shopper. Believes that a hotel without room service is roughing it.

Uncle J -- the younger of my two brothers. Smart as a whip, and was one of those students whom teachers always tell that if they would spend half the time doing the work instead of figuring out how to avoid it, they would be in trouble less often. Part con artist, he can tell stories that you just don't want your kids to hear. The good thing about all he has done is that he is at least two steps ahead of his own kids, and will likely stay that way as they grow up.

Bryn -- Uncle J's oldest. She is almost 11, and has grown past all the whining she used to do and gotten to where she can be friends with my kids without them feeling like they have a baby tagging along.

Dre -- Uncle J's youngest. He has just turned 5, and loves to go on adventures. Much of our time is spent keeping him occupied or distracting him from things he shouldn't or can't have, as he tends to be sullen when he doesn't get his way.

Over the course of the evening Sweetie came back and turned the A/C down to arctic blast, sending me back to the van for my sweater. We found out that my laptop and Doc's won't connect to the wi-fi system here, though Miss Prissy's and Uncle J's will. When we were hungry, everyone ate what they wanted when they wanted, and Miss Prissy had to be taken back to the store as she had accidentally bought whole coffee beans instead of ground coffee.

Yes, i went to bed tired.

Today is

Daniel Boone Day -- Kentucky, US

Fleur-de-Lis Day

Journalist Day -- Argentina

National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Sette Giugno -- Malta (Seventh June, remembrance of peaceful protestors killed in 1919)

Shavuot -- Jewish (begins at sundown)

St. Willibald's Day

Union Dissolution Day -- Norway

VCR Day (holding on to the past?)

Vestalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (festival for Vesta, goddess of the hearth), through the 15th

Vivien Kellems Memorial Day (born 1896)

Birthdays Today:

Michael Cera, 1988
Anna Kournikova, 1981
Larisa Oleynik, 1981
Allen Iverson, 1975
Karl Urban, 1972
Prince, 1958
Liam Neeson, 1952
Jenny Jones, 1946
Tom Jones, 1940
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917
Dean Martin, 1917
Jessica Tandy, 1909
Virginia Apgar, 1909
Paul Gauguin, 1848
George Bryan "Beau" Brummell, 1778

Today in History:

The first Crusaders begin their Siege of Jerusalem, 1099
Port Royal, Jamaica, is devastated by an earthquake, 1692
David Thompson reaches the mouth of the Saskatchewan River in Manitoba, 1800
Asian cholera reaches Quebec, brought by Irish immigrants, and kills about 6,000 people in Lower Canada, 1832
1,800 Fenian raiders are repelled back to the United States after they loot and plunder around Saint-Armand and Frelighsburg, Quebec, 1866
Tolbert Lanston receives patents for monotype typesetting machines, 1887
Benjamin Harrison becomes the first President of the United States to attend a baseball game, 1892
Norway's parliament dissolves its union with Sweden, 1905
The Supreme Court of the United States hands down its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, effectively legalizing the use of contraception by married couples, 1965
Sony introduces the Betamax videocassette recorder for sale to the public, 1975
Priscilla Presley opens Graceland to the public, 1982
The volcano Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, explodes generating an ash column 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) high, 1991

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