PARDON ME if this column is a little disjointed.
I’m going through fish withdrawal and it’s difficult to think straight.
I am back from spending three days at the Alabama Gulf Coast, where I ate no beef, pork or chicken. Apologies to the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association.
My menu was only flounder, redfish, grouper, scallops, tuna, mystery fish, shrimp, oysters and crab.
And it was steamed, grilled, broiled, fried or raw.
If I hadn’t come home when I did, I’m afraid I’d have started to grow gills and fins.
My girls and I make this trip every year in late September or early October. It marks the approximate anniversary of our scattering of Jane’s ashes in the Gulf of Mexico on the beach at Dauphin Island, Ala., in 2007.
Every year we learn something new about the Gulf.
This year what we learned was: Pay attention to Alabama’s ‘Fall Break’ schedule for schools. We accidentally went during their Fall Break week, and met thousands of lovely families on the warm sands.
We’d never intersected with this holiday before. Where, in the past, we’d stroll into a restaurant and have a wait of 15 minutes tops, now we were being told that the wait was two hours.
I am not joking. Look at me. Two hours. I-am-not-joking.
Traffic was horrendous, and I cannot imagine what it will be like during this coming weekend when Gulf Shores hosts the annual National Shrimp Festival.
Julie, Carsyn and I have missed only one year making our trek to the Gulf. I cannot remember why we didn’t go. I find that I really look forward to the trip even though it’s only a few days long. We drive to Gulf Shores from the girls’ home in Maumelle on a Thursday. Usually it’s a 10-hour trip, but this year we spent an extra hour in Little Rock traffic. That’s because the Broadway Street bridge is gone and all of the traffic has been re-routed to the three remaining Interstate bridges. Of course, one of the remaining bridges was blocked because of some dummy rush hour driver.
We finally got free of the logjam and we sailed down the eastern side of Arkansas; crossed the Mighty Mississippi at Lake Village; and weaved down some small Mississippi and Alabama highways on a ‘shortcut’ to the Redneck Riveria. Julie and I are both of the opinion that the worst place in the world to drive is Jackson, Miss.
There were all kinds of other traffic conspiracies. Like a stalled 18-wheeler that almost made it all the way thru the tunnel at Mobile before his rig stalled.
Weather was perfect at the beach except that the breeze was from inland, bringing in biting flies. Water was clear and not too cool; and after the first day there were virtually no waves.
Our first day routine is this: We take the ferry to visit Jane’s beach at Dauphin Island, and we spend some time at Sea Lab, an interesting place with a swell gift shop.
On the remaining day we usually hit a few tourista joints in Gulf Shores just because we want to give them some more of our money for some completely useless trinkets.
And then we play on the beach and in the ocean in between visits to favorite restaurants.
My granddaughter is growing up. When we first visited the Gulf, she’d only eat burgers or chicken nuggets. This time she tried all kinds of fish dishes, and her favorite was sauteed crab claws at a place called “Wintzell’s.”
Finally it was Sunday morning and time to shove off for home. After I drop them off in Maumelle, I still have two hours to my own driveway. Usually I arrive in need of an early bedtime. I am so glad Julie insists upon washing and drying everyone’s dirty clothes in the condo before we hit the road.
Of note: We had our first bathroom gender issue in a McDonald’s somewhere in the wilderness of Eastern Arkansas.
Julie and Carsyn emerged from the ladies rest room wide-eyed to tell me that there had been a young man in there, apparently with his sister. The sister said the boy was autistic and he was afraid that clowns would get him if he went to the men’s rest room.
Well, isn’t that the argument AGAINST coed bathrooms? There was already a clown in the women’s rest room. And could that sister have been lying?
I’m not joking. Look-at-me. Clowns. I’m not joking. Clowns.
I KNOW I mentioned this before, but out of 113 million-plus Americans, are Hillary and Donald the best candidates the political parties can come up with?
I do believe that Donald is just about to talk himself out of the White House.
HE SAID: “I could never have imagined that firing 67 people on national television would actually make me more popular, especially with the younger generation.” Donald Trump, presidential candidate
SHE SAID: “In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said 70 times 7. Well, I want you all to know that I’m keeping a chart.” Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate
SWEET DREAMS, Baby