Alphabet Vacation


A – is for Anita.  Anita is the manager at the Hampton Inn in Prattville, Alabama.  Anita and I had a few conversations on this trip because the Hampton Inn placed holds for over $400 on my checking account for the majority of the trip because they charged me for one room three times at three different rates.  Anita insisted on blaming Amanda for the mess up, but I reminded her that as the manager she is ultimately responsible.  (PS I got the room free of charge using my charm and exceptional people skills … ok maybe I yelled… a little…twice).


B – is for Beach.  This is why we went.  Teagan’s B word is #basic which she uses to describe the several groups of Spring Break teenage girls lining up taking photos on the beach, daily.  In their bikinis.  Some parents should really think twice about the bikinis their daughters wear, jus sayin’.


C – is for Catching good waves.  Teagan was trying really hard to boogie board and caught a few waves but then got flipped over by some boy who jumped in her way “btw…not cute!”


D – is for Dizzy Whizz and Deez Butts BBQ.  These are billboards you see in Louisville, KY.  They are really easy to see when you are travelling at a blistering 3 mph.  Dizzy Whizz is an Old Louisville tradition that is home of the Whizz Burger since 1947.  Deez Butts is actually a food truck that serves butts, chicken and brisket by the pound.

whizzburger<——- Whizzburger


E – is for Elephant, the mascot of the University of Alabama.  Next to the dreaded Hampton Inn in Prattville there is a store called Bama Fever Tiger Pride.  Some family members chose dreadful shirts and hats with “A’s” and elephants and I got the coolest shirt ever which has the silhouette of the War Eagle filled in with tiger stripes.  #Auburn.  E is also for Elmo, the little red jeep renegade that isn’t quite large enough for a 12 hour trip.


F – is for Friends who do things together, U is for you and me, N is for anywhere and anytime at all down here in the deep blue sea.  Sorry … but once the SpongeBob song got stuck in our heads that’s all we could think of for F. But then we remembered F is also for Fire – the coffee pot in our condo caught on fire one morning.  Good thing I travel with a firefighter.


G – is for Grumpy Gill.  Every trip has a Grumpy Gill jar where you are allowed to write down a complaint that is read at the end of the trip.  There was only one written this trip.  It was written on the Hampton Inn stationary – by Dawson, not me.


H – is for Henna tattoo.  Teagan got a beautiful mandala henna tattoo.


I – is for Icy water.  The ocean and pool were about 70 degrees on a good day.  The kids swam in both, the parents did not.  But the temperature outside was nice enough that you could go sit at the beach without needing a shade umbrella.


J – is for Jellyfish.  There were a lot of jellyfish including one that washed up on shore which one lady insisted was a Portuguese man o war – pretty sure it wasn’t but she had an audience and sounded really smart so I just smiled and waved.


K – is for Kitchen.  There was supposed to be a “fully equipped” kitchen in our condo, however there was one small 6 inch skillet, no spatulas and one small saucepan, and a cookie sheet from 1959.  It’s hard to cook bacon – well anything – in a 6 inch skillet.


L – is for Long Walks on the beach.  We took several because of where our condo was located it was easier to walk most places than drive.


M – is for Mouse.  Specifically the Alabama Beach Mouse which is a federally endangered species that lives along the Alabama coast in the sand dunes.  We found a sign about this at the Gulf Shores Fishing Pier – which freaked out at least one kid who insisted every 5 minutes there was a mouse in the sand.


N – is for No Alcohol.  When I stopped at the condo office to get the keys I had to sign a No Alcohol on the beach policy.  It was a new thing this year specifically for Spring Break.  Dawson has a cool picture of two people getting arrested by beach patrol for having alcohol on the beach.


O – is for the Orange Beach store.  I had seen people wearing these really cool shirts with an orange that said beach in the middle.  So we drove to the Orange Beach store.   And they had the really cool shirts and they were really proud of them as the prices were a bit much for tees.  I didn’t buy one.


P – is for Pancakes.  Before we left we read that Bill’s By the Beach served an awesome brunch including Nutella pancakes.  Teagan was super excited about the Nutella pancakes.  We found out on Monday that Bill’s by the Beach only serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  I made Nutella pancakes when we got home.


Q – is for Quote of the Day.  One of the quotes I wrote down from dinner was, “Do you think she knows that’s a beach cover and not a dress?”  My guess is that she did not know that it was a beach cover since she was wearing it with wedge heels and jewelry.


R – is for the Random girl who yelled “Hi Dawson!” on the beach one day.  There was a group of girls from his school vacationing close by but he didn’t think she was one of them.  And the girls he knew from school were staying several miles down the beach.


S – is for Salt Life.  I wanted a Salt Life sticker.  Here’s the Urban Dictionary explanation of why I don’t have one:  Originally a sticker on the back of cars used to denote a surfer, bodyboarder, or general beach bum whose life centered around the ocean or beach.  Unfortunately the trend spread to senior citizens, wanna be hipsters, soccer moms, and other persons wishing to inform the world that yes, they too have visited the beach at some point in life and they have the sticker to prove it

salt life

T – is for Tattoo.  Dawson was determined to get a tattoo on vacation.  He did not get a tattoo however as the tattoo shop recommended by the lady that did Teagan’s henna tattoo was super busy and never called back.  All he wants is roman numerals:   III-XX-MMXV …. It can’t be that hard.


U – is for Unsupervised Children.  While eating lunch out on the deck of Sea n Suds we were treated to a group of ladies who apparently forgot they had small children.  While waiting for their food the ladies all drank cocktails and chatted while the kids were getting up walking around and playing monkey in the middle with a stuffed animal.  Then after lunch the kids started running around the deck mostly out of sight of the moms.  The oldest was maybe 7 or 8 and her arm was in a cast – shocker! 


V – is for Volleyball.  My kids play soccer on the beach but others play volleyball.  Teagan reminded me of the creepy old guy watching a group of girls play volleyball on the beach – which again leads me to remind parents to think twice about your daughter’s bikini.


W – is for People Watching.  My family tends to people watch a little too much on vacation.  It’s just so easy at the beach! Oh yeah and Whataburger… the only place that serves a side of toast with everything.


X – is for X-ray.  Luckily Princess didn’t require X-rays or stitches and they were able to glue her wound shut.  She got a few nights of extra love by the kennel staff and some needed break time from her brothers.


Y – is for Yellowfin which is a type of tuna.  At Tacky Jacks I got smoked tuna dip and Dave surprised me by eating it with me since he normally doesn’t eat seafood.  I have no idea if it was Yellowfin tuna or not but I needed a Y and T was already taken.

Z – is for Zzzz.  There wasn’t a lot of sleep on this trip because the mattress we had at the condo was made with bricks.  Uneven bricks – because when you would lie down in the bed your feet were higher than your head.  Luckily there were extra pillows in Dawson’s room so I stole several and made my own “pillow top.”



Beach Blanket Blog-O Part II


Greetings from the Beach Part II………

So we made it to the beach and Saturday was beautiful.  There was sun and sand and two great pools.  We ate at the bar across the street which bragged having “the best chicken wings on the key.”  Given that it is an 8 mile long island…. I will give them that.  I mean it’s hard to mess up chicken wings (unless you’re Hooters) but these weren’t spectacular or extraordinary, just wings – which was OK for a quick easy dinner.

Sunday morning brought a dark sky and rain.  Rain is Ok because you’re still at the beach, on vacation and hundreds of miles away from work problems and a house that needs re-painted and two very loving but needy dogs (thanks B for taking on the love puppies).  Dave decided several beach goers didn’t have a smartphone with a Weather Channel app as they seemed completely surprised by the rain when it hit.  My thought was that they were just that stupid because all you had to do was look due east and see the approaching downpour and dark sky.  Thunder and lightning might have been a clue too.  Anyway as the storm approached the lights flickered a few times.  No big deal.  Then the power went off and stayed off.  OK, still not a huge deal… I mean this is a place where they prepare for hurricanes surely a small storm wouldn’t keep the power out too long.  And there was the excitement of fire trucks as the fire alarm at the condo next to us went off.  An hour later, still not power.  Three hours later, still no power.  Teagan and I decided to venture out to see if the front desk had any information.  The elevator worked so we tip toed on it, held our breath and headed down hoping not to get stuck.  Several families were in the lobby but the front desk staff had decided to go ahead and take their lunch break so we waited.

This is when I met the family with a bigger black cloud over their vacation than I have luckily ever had.  There was a lot of commotion going on around a white minivan parked on the side of the building.  A man went out to meet with his family members and then quickly got in the car and gunned it out of the parking space and took it on 2 wheels around the corner to a different parking space out front.  I saw the windshield had been shattered.  More than likely by the flying chairs and chaise lounges from the condo next door as they were scattered all over the place.  The reckless minivan driver stomped into the front lobby to be met by his hysterical wife screaming at him “Can we just go home now?!?!  It’s bad enough we were stuck in the elevator for two @#$%^* hours now the &@%^*@ van’s windshield is broken.”  All we needed was a camera crew from TLC and we had a reality TV show!  Stompy McStomperson ignored his wife and headed to the elevator and got on with her still yelling at him as they got on.  An ever helpful/nosey condo guest then whispered to me that they had gotten stuck in the elevator for 2 hours and the emergency button didn’t work and they finally called 911 from their cell phone to get help.  I smiled and nodded…. Why tell Mrs. Kravitz that the emergency button in the elevator is hard-wired to dial 911?  Either way, supposedly 911 told them they would get to them eventually (LOL…. I am sooooo moving down here).  Eventually the generator at the condo kicked on and the elevators worked and they got off to find their broken windshield.

Finally the front desk clerk appeared and told us she had talked to the power company who told them they had no idea when the power would be back on because lightning had struck a substation and it was on fire (PS that’s where the one engine for the island was located thus the delay in elevator rescue).  After hearing the elevator story Teagan decided we should take the stairs, at the 4th floor she declared the elevators were now safe again.  Feeling pretty good about my intact Blazer and not getting stuck in the elevator we went to the indoor pool until the power came back on several hours later.  We haven’t seen Stompy or his wife since then and the van is gone so I’m assuming she won her argument and they went home.

So with power restored we resumed our vacation.  As I’m sitting out on the balcony on day five I’ve noticed that vacations kind of have their own little rhythm.  Every morning Dave and I watch the beach from the balcony – every morning one family member from a family (usually the dad) drags a cart full of umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards, shovels, buckets and towels out to the beach and stakes out a spot; about 9-10 am the families start straggling  out to the designated spot; depending on the age of the kids they volley back and forth between beach and pool until lunchtime; some bring their lunch outside some go inside to eat; they pack up their stuff between 5 and 6 and head in to go out to eat; then come back out at dusk with flashlights to look for sand crabs.  The only variation to this daily routine is sometimes at night they come out dressed in khaki shorts and white shirts and attempt to take pictures of squirmy kids before looking for sand crabs.

And the new thing I’ve noticed is the “keeping up the Joneses” going on at the beach.  If Family A has an umbrella the next day Family B has a pop up canopy then the next day the Family A has a pop up canopy bearing their favorite college team logo, then the next day the Family B brings a baby pool for the kids to sit in so Family A gets a bigger baby pool.  By Friday poor dad has to make 2 trips to the beach to set up this huge 10 x 12 living space complete with chairs, pools, chaise lounges, coolers, and battery operated fans.  One day I’m waiting to see a generator powered 60” flat screen TV, but so far no one has thought of it.

Maybe there will be a Part III tomorrow.  I haven’t gotten a chance to discuss the guy who runs the beach service here – “Coach.”  He’s a character!  And I’m having a new issue as a mom; the teenage girls who are gawking at Dawson.  Not a fan of bikini clad girls following him around and calling him “hot” when they think were out of earshot!!  Of course now we have to get a new door so his head and ego fit through.

(Note:  Dave suggested that some elevator emergency buttons call the non-emergency line, and based on the fact the FD has only one engine for the whole island there is more than likely only one dispatcher working and that one person may not have been answering non-emergency lines — he’s so smart!)

Beach Blanket Blog-O

greetings Greetings From the Beach….. It’s always fun to share a few little vacation bits, especially since it always seems like our vacations are more like adventures and not just your average vacation.  In all reality I’m sure they aren’t really any different than other peoples vacations, but some things that have happened on past vacations make me wonder if there isn’t really a dark cloud looming over us during trips.  This trip I finally found the one family that has a darker cloud than ours.  I’ll get to that one later….. First let me start by saying that I used to be a planner.  USED TO BE.  I got tired of Dave’s relentless teasing after our first few trips together.  I would have hotels booked (even just ones we might stop at overnight while driving) phone numbers to all sorts of things we might need, a folder filled with maps and reservation numbers and an itinerary.  I blame my mother — I love her — but I blame her.  Where do you think I learned all these things?  She’s a planner – except when she is now forced to travel with us and “fly by the seat of our pants.”  Now I just get in the car and go – my folder replaced by an IPhone (thank GOD for IPhones and travel apps). One thing Dave hated about “the folder” was that I would plan where we would stop when we driving.  His argument was what if he didn’t feel like driving that far or what if he felt like going 40 miles further.  That was the first part of my “plan” I gave up.  We now just drive until he feels like stopping and then we find a hotel.  This concept has actually failed more times than it has been successful.  There have been hotels with bug issues, once in Chattanooga the hotel had an armed security guard (we kept driving) and my personal favorite which has happened the last several trips … no vacancy due to a youth sporting event in the area.  This will come in to play shortly… So we left Indiana – an exciting 12 hour drive ahead of us.  Things were going fairly smoothly.  We made it through Louisville without backed up or stopped traffic (I think that’s a first).  Every black Dodge Charger Dawson saw he named “Dom” — we saw Fast & Furious 6 before we left.  One “Dom” passed us like we were standing still and most people know Dave’s average speed is 80 (+) so I’m not sure how fast he may have been going — and no it wasn’t a police charger.  We went through an odd assortment of radio stations – Dawson changing his mind from 80’s to Pop to Rock – basically anything but Country.  When he was sleeping Dave got to hear his new favorite song by Blake Shelton, “Boy’s ‘Round Here,” (Red-red-red-red-red-redneck).  Teagan finished her 400 page doodle book before we got to Tennessee.  We got stuck in traffic in Nashville — it doesn’t matter what time you go through Nashville you always get stuck in traffic.  I’m guessing that’s why it’s the capital of Country Music, you can write an entire country song while sitting in traffic.  Just south of Nashville we decided we were hungry and wanted to stop.  I checked I-Exit and advised what was coming up at the exits just south of Nashville.  There were several exits with multiple options from fast food to sit down dinners – chicken, burgers, tacos… you name it. Dave wanted barbecue. He had seen several signs for Memphis while sitting for hours (ok maybe 30 minutes) in bumper to bumper traffic and decided he wanted to get some good Memphis BBQ.  Problem number 1…. we weren’t actually that close to Memphis, it’s 3 hours from Nashville.  Problem number 2…. my I-Exit app doesn’t always have info on the Mom & Pop places along the road, mostly just chain restaurants.  So we were passing exit after exit filled with Micky D’s, Taco Bell’s, Burger Kings and Cracker Barrel’s.  Then I glanced over at an “at this exit” sign and saw what I thought said “Backyard Barbeque.”  We shot over 3 lanes of traffic and cut off 2 “Dom’s” and semi to get to the exit only to find out it was “Backyard Burgers.”  Oops.  So still travelling and now in a very sparsely populated part of Tennessee our dinner option was now reduced to an Arby’s at a Loves Truck Stop. “Look at the bright side honey you can get an ArbyQ.”  I need to work on my comedic timing as that was not well received.  After stopping at Arby’s the very next exit had a small sign advertising “Bob’s BBQ.”  No I can’t make this stuff up. Back in the car and over the Alabama State Line, bellies full of yummy truck stop Arby’s — it was getting late and time to stop.  Again pulling out my handy-dandy IPhone and checking the IExit app I started naming off exits to stop.  I was happy to stop in and around Huntsville, but Dave thought we could go ahead and get closer to Birmingham.  So we kept driving.  We found an exit north of Birmingham with about six hotels.  We started at the Comfort Suites.  The parking lot looked full but you never know.  Nope no vacancy…. and a family pulled in as we were leaving in a minivan plastered with “my kid plays for ______ softball” stickers on the back.  Not a good sign. There was a place called Full Moon BBQ next door – I have found no less than 10 BBQ spots since the great Arby’s incident.  Travelling down the line of hotels we were met with more softball bedazzled minivans and finally at the Holiday Inn I walked inside to a “WELCOME CLASS OF ’84” sign.  Really …. class of ’84??? Its 2013 — who celebrates a 29 year class reunion??  Maybe the Fighting Fultondale Wildcats of 1984 just sucked at math.  But those crazy Wildcats booked their hotel ahead of time.  The front desk lady told me there was another Holiday Inn, 15 min south at exit 255. Ahhhh good ole exit 255.  Home of the Drury Inn I fell in love with 2 years ago after the LaQuinta failed to honor their advertised rate.  Yep the Drury was full, and the Best Western.  I never did see the damn Holiday Inn she told me about.  And we were told by the guy at the Comfort Suites that he had called the LaQuinta for another weary traveler about 15 minutes ago and they had rooms available.  Two years ago I vowed never to stay at a LaQuinta but they were the only thing available for a 20 mile radius.  Travel tip:  there’s a reason they are the only hotel available.  All they had available was a smoking room.  It’s OK we’ll take it.  I didn’t even argue the price because at this point we were desperate.  The elevator was frightening like it hadn’t been inspected since the Wildcats had graduated.  The whole hotel was run down.  We slept with the window open — the lovely sound of the nearby interstate to sleep by — because the beds smelled like ashtrays.  Dawson sprayed 1/2 his bottle of cologne on his pillow to try to make it smell better.  Teagan and I put coconut scented lotion under our noses to try to disarm the smoke and cologne.  We woke up early, brushed our teeth and put the disgusting LaQuinta in the past.  And I will again declare, never to stay at a LaQuinta ever again!! Now on our final route to the beach, less than 5 hours away!!  Nothing really exciting happening because if you’ve ever driven through the great state of Alabama there is absolutely nothing south of Montgomery except pine forests.  Pine forests and BBQ shacks at old Shell gas stations that don’t even sell gas anymore.  Dave saw every sign for BBQ…. Bob’s, Hog Rock, Moe’s, Kendall’s… you name it.  And at first he liked my phone’s SIRI because she reminded him when he needed to turn.  But when he zigged in stead of zagged and she started yelling at him to turn here, turn there, no go back he suddenly didn’t like SIRI anymore.  I think he missed the map folder. But we made it.  Mostly in one piece.  As we were rounding the corner at the beach there is this little ramshackle yellow building called “The Reef” with several signs posted and as we passed it Teagan said “Look Dad!! Hawaiian BBQ!”  I love that little girl. Anyway more to come later…… Beach Blanket Blog-o part II…… and the explanation of the family who has worse travel luck than we do!