Once again, plan change. Rather than hang around The Wharf at Orange Beach until after Thanksgiving, we decided to knock a couple more days off. Unless things change again—and the wind forecast makes that a quite real possibility—tomorrow we’ll motor on over to Pensacola. Lola’s rainbows, Frankie’s sheep, the lifeguard’s Jeep, and all that. Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels, which makes it the holy opposite of Durham, North Carolina. The last air show of the year was last week, which is about right since we seem to miss almost everything by a hot minute one way or the other.
Almost, but not always. For example, a few days ago the World Food Championships set up shop a 2-minute walk from our slip. Everyone was asking the obvious question:
We didn’t stick around to find out how Liz performed this year, but we did pop in for a bit of the opening round of desserts. They looked to be making some sort of tart but frankly we found it rather slow-paced so we left before anyone actually produced anything. There were a lot of people cooking and watching, however, so we surmise it’s a big deal for some.
Since it’s a competition, there must be officials. As in “Cheferees.” We ran into one of them at the hot pepper store, where he was taking the challenge to eat the ”hottest pepper sauce in the world.” An hour later we saw him back at the competition, but he wondered aloud whether his stomach would allow him to continue.
While docked at The Wharf, we did some non-cruising stuff we won’t bother detailing. Like errands. We also did some boat chores. Shortly after we bought Misty Pearl, Doug found a security system replete with sensors and cameras and other cool stuff. It all came in a spiffy cardboard box which was just the size and shape to fit—unopened—nicely under a small electric fan in the bedroom. Doug finally remembered that there was stuff inside the fan pedestal. If we accomplished nothing else in the past two weeks, at least we’re now fully secure. Plus when we leave the boys unattended we can check in remotely and watch to make sure they aren’t up to any funny business.
The highlight of our non-cruising activities was a pre-Thanksgiving trip up to the Smokey Mountain foothills with Lewis and Terri to meet the girls for UT homecoming. GBO.
On the way to our VRBO cabin we passed through Farragut. Farragut, Tennessee, was named for native son David Farragut, who may or may not have actually used the above-quoted torpedo line with which history credits him. There’s a most awesome and satisfying Tennessee gear store in Farragut. And a Pei Wei. We stopped at both of them.
After returning home to Misty Pearl, we took the ferry across the entrance of Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island, site of historic Fort Gaines. The sign says Fort Gaines was named after General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, which is interesting since Doug handled many litigation cases in the Maricopa County courtroom of one Judge Pendleton Gaines. Seems probable that the guy we knew as Penny Gaines’ parents either were huge history buffs or there’s a family connection. Pure coincidence seems unlikely. We thought about asking our family genealogy guru—Cousin Wendell—to look into it for us but then we realized it’s not that important.
The sign also says General Gaines captured then-former Vice President Aaron Burr after he was indicted for treasonously conspiring with Mexico. The charges didn’t stick, of course, as evidenced by the fact that just a few months ago we saw Burr on the Hamilton stage in Chicago.
Fort Gaines was a critical fort guarding Mobile Bay during the Civil War. The blockade to prevent supplies from heading inland was orchestrated by that same David Farragut, who added insult to injury by forcing the surrender of the CSS Tennessee after decimating the rest of the small Confederate fleet. Come to think of it, Farragut doesn’t really deserve a Tennessee gear store.
During our time here in the Bay area we also walked through a portion of an Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Actually we didn’t really walk much. It was more like sniff, pee, repeat. (It wasn’t Doug. The boys came along.)
The main excitement was when we spotted a gator in the lake along the trail.
The one we saw wasn’t quite as bad as the drug-dealing, gang-banging, Odin Lloyd-murdering kind of gator infesting the swamps of Gainesville, Florida*, but he still was socially unacceptable. Which triggers the old joke about how to tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile.** Thankfully he didn’t eat a boy.
Friday we went to the beach.
It’s quite probable that all of our river photos have started to look the same. It’s equally probable that we’re at the front end of a leg that’ll yield a bunch of nearly-indistinguishable beach pictures. Regardless, after spending some time in Gulf Shores and neighboring areas of Alabama, Dana allowed that she might not mind living here. WAIT WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY? ALABAMA? If we owned Edvard Munch’s most famous work, this would be the place to insert it. But we both do agree the beaches are pretty cool.
Since this post is replete with coincidences, here’s another one. Mallory’s roommate’s great-aunt and uncle—Jo and Jack—are Loopers.*** We’ve not met them, but they docked their Grand Banks trawler at the marina around the corner from The Wharf. Their boat’s name is Trust Your Cape. “Trust your cape” is a line from a Guy Clark song. We love Guy Clark.
Guy Clark was from Texas. Dana is from Texas. Downright spooky, isn’t it?
We spotted Trust Your Cape on Nebo and popped by their marina to meet them. The lady in the office said they were storing the boat there but had just left. For the winter. We texted them. They were headed east by car, but stopped at a Waffle House. We love Waffle House, although that one was in the wrong direction for us. Double spooky. The point is that we missed them by mere minutes.
Fingers crossed we can move tomorrow.
* Gainesville also was named for the original Penny Gaines, who seems to have gotten around back in the day.
** One you will see later and the other one you will see in a while. (Punchline added as a courtesy to anyone who missed out on the bad-joke phase of life.)
*** Mallory and Shannon also have a great-uncle Jack, although he’s no longer with us. We concede that the name Jack isn’t quite as uncommon as, say, the name Pendleton, but still.