Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jaunt to Gulf Shores

We recently realized that in her 20 months on this planet, Avery has never set foot on the beach.  Neither has her daddy, for that matter, and so without further ado, we decided to make a last-minute last-ditch quick trip to the coast for one final summer fling.  

Mike was only off for four days, and we literally wrung every last drop of fun out of those four days as was possible.  He worked Wednesday night, so he came home Thursday morning and slept for a few hours, then I threw everybody in the car and drove straight to Fish River Grill #2 in Foley to have supper.    Since I'd been to Orange Beach with the girls a couple of years ago, I was designated tour guide.  Avery was a doll on the way down and behaved remarkably well during dinner.  Mike had fried oysters, and I had the fried alligator - it might have been our favorite meal that weekend.
 Then we drove on down to #609 in Crystal Towers, our lovely home away from home.  Mike had booked it last minute, and we were lucky enough to have an entire side of the complex all to ourselves.  When we first walked in, Avery and I genuinely said "WOW!" back and forth to each other.  It was awfully cute, and the condo really was that nice.  Avery's room even had its own balcony with views of the Little Lagoon behind us.  The kitchen and living room had huge picture windows of the beach, and the living room and master bedrooms had sliding glass doors that opened to a lovely, wide balcony.  It was perfect.
 The next morning we had breakfast, slathered up with sunscreen, and headed to the beach.  Our first unfortunate surprise: Avery.  HATES.  Sand.  Despises it.  Has absolutely nothing to do with it.  Cannot tolerate the stuff and is quite frankly shocked and horrified that we would even consider walking on it.  The photo below is the ONLY time she took a few steps on the beach, and even that was under duress.
 So the morning was spent with either Mike or me carting the baby around on our hips or sitting in the water with her on our laps.  We headed up to the condo for sandwiches for lunch and a nap for the baby, then headed back down for another try on the beach.  Once again, sand was a no-go for the little monster.  I found myself enormously grateful to Mike for having the foresight to book a place with such a fabulous pool.
 We decided Friday would be our best bet to eat out, so we loaded up in the car and drove a little while Avery took a nap in the backseat.  We decided on the Original Oyster House for dinner but had to take home to-go boxes after an hour and a half wait and complete meltdown from the kiddo.  She had too big of a day and was done.
 Then Saturday we once again went through the sunscreen ritual and headed for the beach.  On the way home, we noticed that though we had a little bit of sun, none of us burned at all.  Mike and I contributed it to our being so careful with Avery.  Friday afternoon I had picked up some little booties for her to wear on the beach in the hopes that would calm her distaste for sand, but no luck.  We were able to distract her fairly well with snacks on our beach mats, so she wasn't literally on top of us the whole time, and she really enjoyed pointing at the seagulls.

For lunch we went to Papa Rocco's for burgers, and Saturday afternoon was spent with the baby taking a nap back at the condo while Mike and I watched Georgia Tech beat Virginia.  It was a really great game.  Then we took a quick walk on the beach, where we took some family photos, and decided on takeout from S&S Seafood Market for dinner.  Wow.  That was right up there with our top favorite places to eat.  I had the creole snapper, and Mike had Greek trigger fish.  The boxes were also piled high with onion rings, hush puppies, and fries.

After Avery went to sleep Saturday night, Mike and I stayed up to watch The Woman in Black, a chillingly terrifying movie with Daniel Radcliffe.  It was the perfect beachside ghost story, and after it was over I just had to go check on the baby.  But I was too spooked to go alone, so armed with a flashlight, Mike and I crept through the condo like two bad little kids ourselves.  She opened her eyes and looked at us as if to say, "What are you crazy people doing?" and we scampered away.

 Sunday morning was spent poolside, which Avery quite adored.  She had a thing about the darker squares on the pavement and wanted to stop and step on each and every one.  Once again, lunch and a nap at the condo, and then we headed to Tanger, where Mike and I bought each other's birthday gifts.  I'm entirely too excited about mine but will have to wait 'till November.

 On our way back from Tanger, we stopped by Bella Luna Pizza for a Mona Lisa with green bell peppers.  Delicious.  We headed back to the condo to pack everything up and settle in for the night, watching the Simpsons just like we do at home.  Then Monday morning we took another quick walk on the beach, and on our way home, we dropped in to Cafe Beignets for breakfast.
It was the perfect quick little getaway, just the three of us, with several life lessons learned along the way.  All in all, it was a happy time, and we can't wait to go back.  Mark Twain said, "I have found that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them," and after this weekend, I'm most certain that I desperately love these two.

An Evening with Sir Elton John

At 8 PM on the evening of Tuesday, September 11, Mike and I joined several thousand close friends at the Coliseum for a sold-out show by none other than Sir Elton John.  The concert was awesome.  At 65 years old, the man still knows how to rock it out, sitting down to that piano and playing it within an inch of its life for over 2 1/2 hours without even breaking a sweat.  I swear, Elton John finds performance just as natural as breathing.  

 Our seats in Section AG were really neat - it was even better than having a backstage pass because there were no seats in front of us, and we had a birds' eye view of everything going on behind the scenes.  We even caught the two cellists taking photos of each other with Elton in the background.  It was the first concert of this tour in the US, so perhaps they were just as startstruck as we were.
I was thrilled to see these two guys perform live, as I discovered them via Pandora months ago and have considered downloading several of their songs.  It was a happy surprise to see them come onstage. After a prelude by the Two Cellists of Smooth Criminal, With or Without You, and Highway to Hell, we watched Elton enter the Coliseum behind the stage, sit at his piano, and start his setlist.
 The photo just doesn't do our seats justice.  We could see Elton's facial expressions as he sang - he tends to raise his eyebrows whenever he opens his mouth really big.  We could even see the backup dancers' shoes.

 It was an awful lot of fun, and I'm so glad Mike and I were able to go.  I saw him and his piano - no band - in 1999 and scored his autograph, so this time I was more than happy to watch the crowd from a little more of a distance.


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