Vacation, Have to Get Away

Yeah, so … the Perdido Key/Orange Beach/Gulf Shores region where Florida and Alabama meet. We go there at least once a year, because we have a family property and it’s a great place to unwind over a long weekend on the cheap. We can take the dogs along with us (more on that in a minute) so Rebecca doesn’t worry about ’em, even when gas is expensive we can drive there and back for less than the cost of two plane tickets to anywhere, and more often than not it affords us a fairly rare opportunity to see the family and a few of our non-local friends. (We actually didn’t see the family this time.) What’s more, this is an area coming back from the devastating ecological and economic effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill two years ago. Having had at least a slight presence there for the last two decades, we’ve enjoyed the beauty and pleasure of the area, and it’s important that we spend our time and money there when we can.

Some thoughts about and highlights of our most recent sojourn:

  • Having not been there in, shit, probably almost a decade, I really enjoyed getting touristy (and tipsy) at the world-famous Flora-Bama Bar. It’s not really THAT touristy–few dive bars can be, really–and it’s quite fun to wander around, talk to the bartenders, listen to talented country musicians and people-watch. The official drink of the Flora-Bama, though, is gross; it’s called a Bushwhacker, and is basically a high-octane frozen chocolate-coffee milkshake/white Russian hybrid. Yeah, ugh. Kind of funny, however, to see beefy middle-aged charter captains walk around the multiple rooms of the complex carrying at least two of the damned things, complete with cherries on top. Also, now they have church there on Sundays. I wonder if they put all the dangling bras away.
  • Awesome grub: Ginny Lane (brunch: cajun omelet, crab cakes with fried green tomatoes, cheese muffins). They also support their local Humane Society.
  • Not-So-Awesome grub: Zen (overpriced contemporary Asian-American and seafood, slack service–it was like somebody read a tepid review of an anonymous, formerly trendy and still pointlessly snobby downtown restaurant, and misinterpreted it as a positive thing).
  • I didn’t go fishing once. Which basically means we DEFINITELY needed another day.
  • My wife can drink like a sorority girl majoring in Pirate Studies when she puts her mind to it. It’s kind of awe-inspiring, and this is coming from a guy who spent a large chunk of the last 20 years endeavoring to prove that tequila is a food group.
  • The only TV at the beach house that works is this little 19-inch color job from the ’80s that doesn’t have cable because nobody spends enough time there to justify it. A few years ago when everything went digital, the family attached one of those converter boxes to it, which revealed to us the region’s wealth of religious and obscure, locally produced programming. A few trips back, we caught this bizarre sex-cult horror film from the ’50s, and ever since I’ve had a thing for flipping through this sort of cabaret of the bizarre that’s always on offer anytime, day or night. This time around, I found a fantasy serial involving children telling stories played out by life-size puppets called Winds of Adventure, or something. Mesmerizing stuff. The line that hooked me was about how the evil overlord had “rock soldiers with solid gold controlling caps.” Yeah, like that.
  • All in all, it was a great trip, with one significant downer: I’m not sure I can travel long-distance with Milo the White Trash Terrordog anymore. He’s just too much of a handful in the car. We’ve tried wearing him out. We’ve tried doping him up. We’ve done everything we can think of to B.A. Baracus the 75-pound mutt who’s been my constant companion for more than eight years, but he’s still and always a whining, pacing, bag-displacing, other-dogs-infuriating, slobber-saturating, dangerously distracting passenger. AND IT SUCKS.
  • Thanks to Tim and Sandy Bishop for making the drive all the way out from Pensacola for dinner. Great friends, great conversation, and the kind of laughter that leaves you sore the next day.

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