DAY 37 June 30, 2009

Went looking to mail the kids' postcards and found the shopping area. I actually found 3 items of clothing I loved for less than $15! Purchased my much loved Tomato & Onion Shiccacia and a pint of Blue Bell ice cream for dessert-perfect.


Lodging: Dive

Publix Grocery Store (****Food)

Attractions: N/A

$$$: $15 Clothes $10 Groceries = $25


DAY 36 June 29, 2009

Just hung out in the room.


Lodging: Dive

Meals: Groceries

Attractions: N/A

$$$: 000


DAY 35 June 28, 2009

I jumped in the car for a change of scenery today and drove down to Rosemary Beach. Thought I would go to Destin, but found little appeal in the overcrowded tourist location. Grayton beach was a funky little town and The Red Bar's parking was jammed to the limit-maybe next time. Rosemary beach looked like the guy that designed Vail worked on it. It is upscale with controlled growth.

I could rarely see the beach, but the drive was very pleasant for the most part. When the water was visible it was a gorgeous emerald color.

Grabbed some groceries on my way back. Publix was out of my much loved Tomato & Onion Shiccacia-if you have a chance try this thing! It is great slightly warmed up in a microwave or toaster oven!!!

ROUTE: US 98 East>FL 30 East>US 98 West

Lodging: Dive

Meals: Groceries

Attractions: South Walton Beaches

$$$: $28 Food = $28


DAY 34 June 27, 2009

Had to locate the post office this morning to mail resumes. Spent a couple of hours looking through books and sipping the worst coffee shop hot cider I have ever had at Books a Million. It tasted like watered down instant cider-Starbucks makes an excellent version with real cider, caramel, and whipped topping-yummy stuff. But not this morning :0(

Grabbed lunch at Sonny's Barbeque Drive Thru http://www.sonnysbbq.com/. Yummy, but not amazing. The sliced brisket resembled thinly sliced deli roast beef more than the Texas style slices of brisket I am used to. My sides were macaroni and cheese (slightly dry) but good flavor, sweet potato that was very moist (overdone?) good cornbread and cinnamon margarine. I ate it with my Volare wine from Texas Hills Vineyard in Johnson City, TX. The wine had a very light body for a red and was semi-sweet. It paired well with the BBQ. I would definitely purchase the wine again-maybe not the BBQ.

ROUTE: Just around Ft Walton

Lodging: Dive

Books A Million (*Food ***Service)
Sonny's BBQ (**Food ****Service)

Attractions: Books A Million

$$$: $3 Postage $2 Laundry $11 Food $21 Book = $37


DAY 33 June 26, 2009

Missing my granddaughter terribly today. This is her first birthday, since her birth 8 years ago when I helped deliver her, that I have not been with her. Spent the day reading, after my first attempt to eradicate the other nonpaying residents of my room.


Lodging: Dive

Meals: Just Groceries

Attractions: N/A

$$$: $8 Food $6 Bug Stuff = $14


DAY 32 June 25, 2009

The day started off really rough. After getting thoroughly lost, I decided I needed a real map and headed to the Florida Visitor Center (on the border). What I thought was a 20 mile commitment turned out to be closer to 55 miles-the first place to turn around and head back into Florida from Alabama is 13 miles past the state line. Oh well...I got some really good stuff from the visitor center, not to mention a taste of Florida orange juice (grapefruit is also available), and I am going to spend a lot of time in this state.

Next stop was the Waffle House in Pensacola. Now I feel really dumb for passing these up for years. They have some good food at downright cheap prices. I had biscuits & gravy (probably the best I have ever had away from my own kitchen), covered (cheese on top) scattered (as opposed to cooked close together in a ring form) hash browns, and sweet tea for under $5 before tip.

Then I headed over to Historic Pensacola Village(WFU sponsored). They offer tours, but my time was limited so I just strolled around the grounds and took a few photographs. Then I went over to the TT Wentworth Museum for a historical timeline (done very well) of the area.

I noticed what appears to be a humorous sign, actually two of them. It read "Check Fuel Long Bridge Ahead". This might have made sense on the bridge across Lake Pontchartrain, but this little toll ($1) bridge was less than 4 miles long. How many people have run out of gasoline on this bridge (maybe idling in traffic?) to necessitate this signage?
Just as you reach the island, past the toll collection area, there is a beautiful little beach on the left side of the road.It had free parking very close to the water. The water on this (north) side of the island is actually deep enough to enjoy a swim in the warm water. Then I began the very slow drive (35 mph) from the bridge back to the mainland that took about an hour.

I found a weekly rental on the water in Fort Walton for $180 per week. It overlooks the bay, has water access, a porch swing, and a lot of bugs. The owners were great and the placed worked out okay, don't know if I would do it again though (thus I am withholding its name and exact location).

I went out to Destin for fireworks. Forget about trying to park on the Destin side of the bridge. Just grab a space in the lot southwest of the bridge and get ready for some nice fireworks.

Here's Your Sign: "Check Fuel Long Bridge Ahead" on a short bridge

ROUTE: US 90 East>FL 399 South>US 98 East

Lodging: Weekly rental in Ft. Walton

Meals: Waffle House (****Food ***Service)

Attractions: Florida State Visitor Center, Historic Pensacola Village, TT Wentworth Museum, Pensacola Beach, and Destin Fireworks

$$$: $1 Toll $28 Fuel $180 Motel $28 Groceries $6 Food = $243


DAY 31 June 24, 2009

Missed breakfast at the hotel this morning, so I tracked down Dick Russell's BBQ at 5360 Highway 90 W. So much good stuff at great prices-I ordered breakfast and lunch. For breakfast I had 1 egg, potatoes, and a biscut with peach jam ($2.95). Breakfast was very good-the biscuts may be the best I have ever tasted and they paired very nicely with the peach jam. Lunch was BBQ pork sauced, cornbread dressing, beans, yeast roll, and bread pudding ($6.95) and fried pickles ($2.25). I should have just stopped at the pickles, because the meat tasted gamey, the sauce was flavorless tomato sauce, the dressing was watery (there were puddles in the dish??), the beans were lukewarm, and the pudding was dry. The yeast roll was good, but not nearly as much as the biscuit.
I went into Mobile thinking I would check out the Museum of Mobile ($5), but ended up loving the visitor center (park across the street it is free) and their museum. Then I rode the free trolley around town and got a great air conditioned view of the downtown area. As I headed out of town, I noticed the USS Arizona-maybe next time.

I went down the east side of the Mobile Bay headed south. There are a couple of great little parks on Captain O'Neil St just south of the Daphne Museum and across the street from the old courthouse plaque. The kitschy little community of Fairhope has a beautiful park also-their municipal beach is $8 per car-up to 6 people but you can park next to the entrance and enjoy the pier and gardens without charge.

Point Clear is even prettier than the other towns and is home to the Grand Hotel-what a beauty! Way outside of this gypsy's budget.

Further down the road on County Road 1 E was a beautiful view of the surrounding estuary.

Foley is one of the locations of Lambert's (www.throwedrolls.com) Cafe. The parking lot was packed at 3 pm, but I am still too full from my earlier meal.

I had high hopes for Gulf Shores, but it is a MEGA tourist trap overpopulated with high rise rental condos. There was one redeeming site - The Happy Shak Hippie Boutique.

It started to rain and then pour as I came out the other end of the island and into Florida. I stayed at the Motel 6 (I 10 and US 291) for the night. The staff was wonderful and the room was clean.

ROUTE: I 65 South> I 10 West and then East>US 98 East> County 98 East> County 1 East>County 27 North>US 98 East> AL 59 South>AL 182 East>FL 292 North> US 98 North> I 110 East>I 10 East exit 13

Lodging: Motel 6 Pensacola

Dick Russell's (***Food ***Service)

Museum of Mobile (next time), Mobile Visitor Center, Mobile's Free Trolley, USS Arizona (next time), Daphne Museum, Fairhope Muni Beach (next time), and Lambert's Cafe (next time)

$$$: $17 Food $7 Souvenir $8 Groceries $45 Motel = $77


DAY 30 June 23, 2009

Started the day at the visitor center in Ocean Springs, MS. Decided to try Shady's for lunch - good choice! I had seen them last night in Biloxi across the street from Mr. Greek (both parking lots bulging). They earned a nice blurb in one of the brochures I picked up and a chance in my book. I had a bowl of gumbo full of sausage, chicken, crawfish, and crab claws in a deep mahogany gravy-amazing flavor! Not spicy hot, but well seasoned. I did add a little hot sauce and it livened the dish up even more.

I enjoyed the Nature Center in Pascagoula and the personal tour I received. They have quite a few displays of stuffed animals plus their little screech owl, aligator baby from a local farm, snakes and finally the jumpy little frogs (or were they toads?).

Drove out to Dauphine Island and enjoyed the estuarium/aquarium there.

Then I visited the gift shop at Fort Gaines, since it was very late in the day and they were about to close.

I took the bridge back to the mainland, but there is a $16 ferry, if your prefer this route.

Took the coastal road nort into Mobile and up I 65 for an inexpensive room at the America's Best Inn. The room was nice, but the pool was no longer working.

I have been kicking myself for leaving Louisiana without picking up a bottle (or ten) of Cajun Power Garlic Sauce. I met this condiment in Mulate's and found it on several tables since, but alas apparently it cannot be purchased outside of Louisiana. I give up I will have to order it, and try some of its cousins, at http://www.cajunpowersauce.com/index.cfm

ROUTE: US 90 East>AL 188 East>AL 193 South and the North>I 10 West>I 65 North

Lodging: America's Best Inn

Shady's (*****Food ***Service)

Attractions: Ocean Springs Visitor Center,

$$$: $45 Motel $6 Souvenirs $10 Postage $11 Food = $72


DAY 29 June 22, 2009

After breakfast with Luciane, I hit the road. Can the word beautiful describe swamps? It did today. The marshes, rivers, and eventually white sand beaches were gorgeous.

I found a place right across from a beach in Biloxi, Mississippi and called it a day. The Jubilee Inn 1768 Beach has a Pool and a great view of the beach. The room was comfortable.

I enjoyed a gyro with the most amazing tzatziki sauce I have ever had at Mr. Greek in Biloxi. Open and finished the peach wine I purchased in Baton Rouge and enjoyed a walk on the beach and conversation with an older couple, as I enjoyed the wooden recliners on the beach.

ROUTE: I 10 East>I 510 South> US 90 East into Biloxi.

Lodging: Jubilee Inn

Prince Conti (***Food - loved the Croissant)
Mr. Greek (****Food *Service)

Attractions: Swamp and Beaches

$$$: $25 Overnight Parking $27 Food $56 Motel $13 Fuel = $121


DAY 28 June 21, 2009

Started the morning at the New Orleans School of Cooking http://www.neworleansschoolofcooking.com/ This has been on my bucket list for almost two years, since I first visited New Orleans. I learned about the history of the area, both culinary and cultural, and some techniques that are unique to the area. Her pralines were amazing and easy to do! Just remember that the sugar in these will continue to granualize and become crumbly with age.

I walked my butt off today in 100+ degree weather with humidity so high that you just wished it would rain. I did grab the street car and a transfer down to the Riverwalk Marketplace. Southern Food & Beverage Museum http://southernfood.org/ was not exactly what I expected, but I did have the area completely to myself.

On my walk over to the Prince Conti Hotel, I saw a beautiful fountain behind a iron fence right next to the aquarium mural parking lot.

I hopped on the street car for a few blocks-nice, albeit short, respite from the heat and the walking. After a few more blocks I made it to the Hotel and called Luciane-it was soooo good to see her.We walked down to my car to grab my overnight bag, after cooling down for a bit in the hotel room. Stopped at the corner bar for a drink and listen to the band, on the way back to the room.

Gave Daddy a call for Father's Day. I had been thinking about him all day, but wanted to call him from a quiet place. Luciane and I enjoyed a night over at the House of Blues, where she introduced me to her favorite blues singer (Johnny Lang). I really enjoyed the show and being with a good friend.

ROUTE: I 10 back into town

Lodging: Prince Conti Hotel

New Orleans School of Cooking (****Food *****Service)

Attractions: New Orleans School of Cooking, Street Car, Riverwalk Marketplace, Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Aquarium Mural, Bourbon Street, and House of Blues

$$$: $24 School $2 Street Car $5 Museum $7 Souvenirs $45 Drinks/Concert = $83