September Events Around Baldwin County AL, 2009

Wow! You can really tell that it is late summer. September, when vacations are over and everyone settles back into their school/work routine, towns have their festivals, and events. Of course, here in the South every weekend activity competes with football, so it better be a fun time. Here’s a list of what I found to be fun, family events. I can’t include everything so I’m probably leaving out something you know about. But, hey, leave a comment posting the event and I’ll be sure to get it listed.
 
 Each Saturday 5 Rivers holds classes for 5th-7th graders from 11:30-2pm; reservations required because space is limited. Topics will include Plants, Backyard Habitats, Weather with Alan Seals, Coastal Cleanup, Alabama Turtles and a Turtle Derby on the Delta. Some classes have age restrictions (elementary students only), others are for the family. For more information: www.outdooralabama.com
 
 Every Saturday from 10am to 2pm the Hot Shop at the Orange Beach Art Centerhas glass art classes. The center is located at 26389 Canal Road. It costs $20 for the Ornament Class and $35 for the Paperweight Class; the center is also hosting Glass Blowing for Beginners classes Sept 5 and 12. For more info: www.orangebeachartcenter.com
 
 Fairhope is holding its 1st Annual Elderberry Festival at the Fairhope Historical Museum on Saturday, September 5 starting at 10am. The festival will celebrate the Elderberry, a lowland weed, prevalent everywhere in Baldwin County that sustained Indians, Colonials, Pioneers and Single Taxers with folk remedies, jams, jellies, pies, baked goods and wines.
 
 Baldwin County celebrates its Bicentennial this year. Here’s a link of events for the year:www.co.baldwin.al.us/uploads/Community%20Events%20List%20-%20revised%2020090625.pdf
 
 
 Want to learn about tailgating food? Distinctive Kitchens Culinary Arts Center presents International Cuisine ~ Kicked Up Tailgating on September 17. The center is located at 4790 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach. Price is $44.95; 6pm to 8pm; reservations are required. For more info: 251 224-1776 or www.dk4u.com You’ll learn how to throw a “kicked-up” tailgating party. The menu will include: Pork and Chipotle Tacos, New Orleans Muffuletta, Lamb Burgers with Spinach and Red Onion and Chicken Wings with Red Hot Honey Glaze; Yum!
 
 22nd Annual Coastal Clean Up is September 19th all over the country. You can choose to help on any of Alabama’s beaches and waterways. For more information go to www.alcoastalcleanup.org  or call 251-621-1216. If you’re going to be out of Alabama and want to help go to www.oceanconservancy.org to sign up. Here are some cool stats: just in Alabama, over the past 20 years, there have been over 48,ooo volunteers removing over 900,000 pounds of marind debris from a total of 2,847 miles of coastline. Surely you can find a spot to clean. I was shocked at the amount of trash on the beach at Gulf Shores public beach this past weekend. Had we had a trashbag with us, believe me we would have filled it (an we’ve done it before, too). Please remember to clean up after yourself at the beach, on your boat, by the river, lake or stream. And, don’t let those plastic grocery bags get left behind. Sea Turtles and other creatures can die from ingesting them. They look like jelly fish to these creatures and that’s what they like to eat…jelly fish, not plastic bags. And smokers…lend me your ears: our beaches are not ashtrays. I don’t care it you want to smoke but take your butts with you when you leave. How disgusting it is to have your child play on the beach and find them picking cigarette butts out of the sand. Doesn’t that gross you out? I’ve now stepped down from my soapbox…on to other events:
 
 Maizing Family Fun Farm begins September 19 and runs through October 31. Open Friday to Sunday 10am-6pm. The farm is in Elberta at 27695 Woerner Rd. Price: children 3 and under are free; children 4-12 years old $8.00; children 13 + and adults $12.00 For more info 251-747-1368 or www.elbertacornmaze.com  This years attractions include: Corn Maze Hay Bale Maze (for little ones) Hay Rides U-Pick garden Pumpkin Patch Lawn Mower Races Antique Tractors Live Farm Animals Corn Cannon Play area and Gift Shop. They’ll have a Haunted Maze for Halloween!
 
 Want to learn about the weather?  Where: University of South Alabama Baldwin County Campus Performance Center located at the corner of Summit Street and St. James Avenue in Fairhope.   September 20 at 3pm.  “Picture This Weather” is sponsored by the Distinguished Lecture Series.  It’s free to the public.  Alan Seals, WKRG-TV’s Chief Meteorologist, will speak about the weather. This may be the same talk he’s giving at 5Rivers only for an older crowd, maybe not.  For more information call 251-928-8133
 
 Now here’s the busiest weekend:
 
Fall Encampment and Battle Reenactment at Historic Magee Farm is scheduled for September 25-27. Magee Farm is located at 6222 Highway 45 in Kushla, AL. It is one of the many locations in the area where the civil war battles took place. The event opens at 9am-5pm. They’ll have living history demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday. Battles are at 2:pm both Saturday and Sunday. Call for price info or just have cash on hand. 251-675-1863 or  www.historicmageefarm.com
 
The 32nd Annual Pensacola Seafood Festival (ok, it’s not in Baldwin County, but close enough and sounds like fun) on September 25-27 at the area around Seville Square in downtown Pensacola. It’s free. Hours: Friday, Noon-10pm; Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm. There’s also a 5K run that starts on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. beginning at Seville Quarter. For more info: www.fiestaoffiveflags.org/SeafoodFestival/index.html 
 
 
21st Annual Jubilee Festival in Olde Towne Daphne is September 26-27. It’s free to the public; 10am-5pm each day. The festival will feature fine arts and crafts exhibitors, live entertainment, festival food, Kids Art in the Park. For more info:  www.eschamber.com
  
 
Calling all Ghost Busters: SanRoc Cay In Orange Beach presents: An Evening with Ghost Hunters on September 26 from 7pm-9pm. It’s free. You’ll get an introduction to ghost hunting and learn about the equipment they use. You’ll also see actual footage shot by the Pensacola Paranormal Society.  www.sanroccay.com
 
 
 2nd Annual Turtle Derby on the Delta at 5 Rivers in Spanish Fort will be on September 27. It starts at noon and the race is at 2pm. Adopt your rubber turtle for $5.00. There will be other things to do as well. The proceeds will benefit the uninsured patients and special programs of Covenant Hospice of Mobile County. What a cool family event. For more info:  www.alabamafiverivers.com
 
 
59th Annual Baldwin County Fair is September 29-October 3 at the Robertsdale Fairgrounds. For more information on tickets call 251-947-3492. Fair hours: 5pm to 10pm Tuesday-Friday; Noon to 10pm Saturday. Celebrating Baldwin County’s Bicentennial. Along with the usual fair attractions and events there will be a Wild West Show.
 
 
 
Jubilee Race for Life 5K is September 26. Jubilee Race for Life benefits the medical work of Bayside Medical Missions, an Eastern Shore based non-profit organization. This year’s race is dedicated to the Portoviejo, Ecuador La Vida Surgery Center which provides reconstructive surgeries for persons of limited financial resources. The run/walk Starts on Collage at the Baptist Church. music, awards, food, prizes, t-shirts and fun. To register: www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=1731274 or www.baysidemedicalmissions.org
 
 Enjoy!

 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part III

If it would just stop raining we could have some outdoor fun. 

We were going to get together with friends at my house and play croquet; play tennis; net critters on the bay; go letterboxing.  Instead it rained and the boys got their wish: to stay home and play video games.  So this was “stay home and play video game week”, except that we did leave a couple of times.

We ate out: Gary wanted to check out some more Dixiedining type places.  We went to Los Tacos in Fairhope, New Orleans Sno Ball stand (again) in Daphne, and the Sugar Kettle Cafe in Daphne.  It was all good.  Check out his review: www.dixiedining.wordpress.com

I finally got a new cell phone.  The flip top was broken (for at least a year) and I couldn’t close it without risking it really breaking on me.  When we lived in FL there was no Cellular South in town so I had to wait to get up here to get a new phone.  Finally it’s taken care of.

Today, I got a call from my friend Robin who lives in Sarasota. She and her son Campbell would meet us on the beach sometimes after the boys were all finished their school work and hang out. The boys would chase each other with a football or dig in the sand. Robin and I would sit and relax with our feet in the sand.

They were in Mobile today so we hooked up with them after lunch. The kids had fun running around at 5 Rivers. We also saw a movie in their theatre about the white pelicans. You’ll have to check it out.

Then we headed to Alligator Walk. I’ve always wanted to walk under the interstate along the walk and today we did it. There were alligator’s along the way; two of them. One was big and in the water, while the smaller one hung out in the grass. Thankfully the walkway was fenced. I like eating alligator but I wouldn’t want to be eaten by one. The kids had a blast running under the overpass, up the steep concrete slab to underneath the bridges. Rain was coming so we headed back to the cars.

Travis, Campbell and Austin at 5Rivers

Travis, Campbell and Austin at 5Rivers

Look between the posts for the 'gator head in the water

Look between the posts for the 'gator head in the water

Robin, Campbell, Travis and Austin on the path below I-10

Robin, Campbell, Travis and Austin on the path below I-10

It was great fun seeing some friends from FL.

A friend of mine from here (AL) is moving with her family to Alaska.  Her husband got a killer promotion with the Coast Guard and they’ll now be stationed in Anchorage.  They just left and he has been blogging their trip so I’ve been reading about it all week.  Sounds like a fun trip but they have 2 cars (trucks), trailers with ATVs etc and other stuff they didn’t want the movers to take.  I’ve followed Gary many times down the highway, but not as far as Alaska.  They’ll have to get through the border twice.  Can’t wait to read about that.

FINALLY, the sun came out…Saturday we spent the early part of the day in Mobile.  Gary’s car needed work and the shop by his office had the part.  We puttered around town in my car, ate lunch at Newks, shopped then headed home in both cars.  Newks rocks.  They opened in Southaven MS when we lived there.  We’d go each Sunday after church.  Then when we moved to Houston, they had just opened one there so we hung out often.  No Newks until we moved here.  Do we like the restaurant?  You bet.

Sunday we woke up to a beautiful day, sunshine, low humidity, light breeze.  After walking the dog we decided to hit the beach.  Gulf Shore State Park, where the public beach building looks like you could skateboard off of it.  The water was calm, not too warm, not too cold.  We hung out for a couple of hours.  Great fun.  On the way home we stopped in Magnolia Springs and found the springs.  Apparently it was a source of water for pirates, and soldiers from several wars in the area.  It was peaceful back in the little park.  Unlike Barton Springs in Austin TX, you can’t swim in the spring.  But you could pull up a chair and a good book and just chill out on the patio overlook. 

Beautiful dunes

Beautiful dunes

Magnolia Springs

Magnolia Springs

The spring at Magnolia Springs

The spring at Magnolia Springs

Tune in next week…

How I Spent My Summer Vacation Part II

The second week of our vacation we took the boys to New Orleans.  As you’ve probably already read my blogs on NOLA, let me recap briefly.  It was Gary’s birthday so we celebrated by eating our way through NOLA.  You can check out his blog for the details: www.dixiedining.wordpress.com.

My enjoyment came from the trolley rides, Southern Food Museum (which the boys also loved), the crazy sites (always crazy sites in NOLA) esp the men in red dresses.  See my previous blog for that story.  I loved seeing the Mardi Gras beads in the trees.  I noticed them first in Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras, when I recently visited to take the boys to the Museum of Mobile.  Of course, as in New Orleans, the oak trees drape the streets and its probably near impossible to not get beads in the trees during Mardi Gras parades. The floats are rather high so the beads would easily get fixed in the trees on the way down to the crowd.  The last parades we went to were back in Mobile and Fairhope in 1995 and 1996.  We also took a whole day in 1995 to travel the Mississippi coast and attend a few parades…I don’t recall many trees along those parade routes.  And again in Galveston 2 years ago, but there were no trees along that route, either.  New Orleans, from the trolley car was beautiful with the beads hanging from the trees.  It really looked liked there were efforts made to place them where they were.  In fact, one house had beads stuck on its roof.  Wish I had a picture to show you.  I guess you could google “beads on trees in New Orleans.”

We went to 5 Rivers with our neighbors.  The kids, as well as us moms, enjoyed the indoor museum of regional creatures.  We told the children to read all they could and be able to tell us 3 new things they learned.  That challenged them and added a lot of fun the visit.  What did I learn?  Beavers can stay underwater for up to 8 minutes and can breathe while down there, too.  We have bobcats in the area.  Buffalo used to roam Alabama, not just the western plains.  We spotted an alligator in the river behind the museum and examined the banana spiders in their webs around the outside of the building.  The day got too hot to hike the trail so we’ll return another day.

One the way home we stopped at the overlook on the north side of I-10 on North 98.  It was the site of a Revolutionary War battle.  The whole area is so historic.  It was a Spanish Fort (hence the name of the area), and played a role in both the Revolution and the Civil War.  We hung out in the Visitor’s Center and the lady that works their was most hospitable and informative.  Travis was really interested in any ghost stories and hauntings in the battle fields.  All she said was that at Blakely Park, a little further north where the last battle of the Civil War was fought, you can feel a presence.  Now, she couldn’t elaborate except that as you walk around you can feel life around you that you notice.  Hummmmm.  We’ll check it out.   Several years ago we took the boys to Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee where the Battle of Shiloh was fought.  There was definitely something in the air on that property.  I’ll bet it’s the same feeling at Blakely.  I’ll let you know.

The boys practiced for tennis team and Austin decided once and for all that it’s not his bag, baby!  So I withdrew him from the team this fall.  Travis wants to continue.  He’ll be on the youth team which won’t compete.  I’m ok with this.  Austin said he wants to take computer classes instead so I’m looking into it for him.  He’ll still have to get his exercise so we’ll just add a PE class to homeschool this year.  I’ve got a cool curriculum we’ve done each year in parts. 

We did the turtle thing on Friday, and shopped the outlets in Foley.  Saturday we had lunch at Panini Pete’s in Fairhope.  Oh the food was great.  I had the seared tuna panini with cucumbers, field greens and key lime aioli…yum!  Gary has become friends with Pete so we spent time chatting with him when he had time.  Panini Pete’s was on Diners Drive-Inns and Dives on the Food Network.  Sunday we went to the Daphne water front for some sea urchin food…sea grasses.  There wasn’t much but I think I have enough for them for a few days.  I also brought home some snails.  I’ll have to look up what kind they are. 

Well, that’s week 2 in a nutshell.

Sea Turtle Guardians

On Friday we went with the South Alabama chapter of Fresh Air Family, to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to learn about how the Fish and Wildlife volunteers and staff watch out for nesting sea turtles.

Nesting season along the Gulf Coast is from May to October.  Each morning at sunrise the volunteers drive the beach looking for turtle tracks.  When they find them, they determine if the turtle tracks return to the water.  The measure the width of the tracks to determine which turtle it might be.  Green, Kemps Ridley and Loggerhead turtles frequent the Alabama beaches.  Measurements are taken from the nest to the water line and from the nest to the dune line.  If the nest is too close to the water and in danger of surf damage or being washed away, the volunteers move the eggs further inland several feet or yards.  Last, they post the area so the nest can be safe from human or preditor damage.  In order to keep coyotes, and other dune animals from digging up the eggs, a piece of metal fencing is laid over the sand, then covered over with more sand.  Four posts are hammered into the sand and wrapped in bright colored tape.  Last, a sign posting the law protecting the turtle nests is stapled to 2 of the 4 posts.

Bon Secoure National Wildlife Refuge at the Gulf of Mexico

Bon Secoure National Wildlife Refuge at the Gulf of Mexico

This is what turtle tracks would look like.

This is what turtle tracks would look like.

Digging for pretend turtle eggs to measure the depth of the nest...only if the nest needs moving.

Digging for pretend turtle eggs to measure the depth of the nest...only if the nest needs moving.

Loggerhead carapace and skull

Loggerhead carapace and skull

Kemps Ridley carapace

Kemps Ridley carapace

Turtle nest posting sign

Turtle nest posting sign

The whole event was interesting.  The volunteer let the children do the measuring, digging, posting, covering up of a mock turtle nest.

Alabama has a program called SHARE THE BEACH.  Its a trained volunteer program which allows people to help protect the threatened and endangered sea turtles every year.  After attended the training class (I believe in March or April) volunteers can help search for nests, assist hatchlings, educate the public at public events or just on the beach and talk with school groups. 

Don’t have time to help out?  You can adopt a nest on and off the Refuge.  For a donation as low as $20 ($10 for a student) you get a certificate, important information about the nest you’ve adopted and a final roport on the nesting season. 

But in the meantime, here are some tips on how you can make a difference for the sea turtles:

Avoid using flashlights or flash photography on the beach at night.

Turn off outside patio lights and shield indoor lights from shining onto the beach at night.

Leave sea turtle tracks and nests undisturbed.

Take all trash and belongings with you when you leave the beach.

Two important things to note:

 Turtles are guided by light.  The hatchlings instinctively follow light (the moon/sun) which should take them out to sea and relative safety.  If they see an artificial light, they’ll be drawn to that and consequently find themselves stuck on the dunes as preditor food.  Also, if you’re fishing at night, please use a red light flash light so you don’t attract other turtle preditors to the shore line. 

The other thing is that a lot of people find is easy to take stuff to the beach in those plastic grocery bags.  Well, they can fly away from you in a breeze and I’m astonished by how many people won’t go after them.  You won’t look stupid running down the beach after your trash.  In fact, I’ll personally applaud you.  I’ve gone after other’s bags, and the reason is that once in the water they look like jelly fish to the turtles (the thing they love to eat the most).  Once ingested, if the turtle doesn’t choke and suffocate first, the bag just stays in their bellies.  They starve to death because they feel full and don’t eat.  PLEASE, either bring a different bag to the beach or chase after yours if the wind carries it away.

Should you see a turtle in trouble or a nest that appears vandalized, please call 1-866-Sea-Turtle

For more information: www.alabamaseaturtles.com; in Florida: http://myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/SeaTurtle_index.htm.  You can also check out www.seaturtles.org and read their blog.  There’s a sweet picture of a Ridley hatchling.  To help out with SHARE THE BEACH, call the Refuge at 251-540-7720.

Enjoy the beach.

Red Dress Run for New Orleans

There’s always a festival going on in New Orleans and this past weekend was no exception.

Seemed everyone but us were wearing red dresses;  women and men alike which really creeped out my children.  “Why would a man want to wear a dress?”  Well it was kind of wierd. 

Turns out it was a benefit walk/run/drinking fest  for New Orleans.  In the past, money raised by entering the walk went to projects to rebuild the city.  From neworleans.com, a description of last years festival reads: “The Red Dress Helps New Orleans – In 2007 the New Orleans Red Dress Run donated $5000 to City Park, which was used to create a fountain for walkers and runners, both two and four-legged to enjoy. This year, a similar contribution will be made to another New Orleans charity that contributes to the health and well being of our city. The Red Dress is a great hash and a great party, but it’s more than that.

All of the thrift stores in New Orleans sell out of red dresses every year right before this run. So, if you are thinking of joining us this year, there are a couple of things you can do to get ready. Start practicing running with at least one beer in your hand, and keep your eye out for the perfect little red dress. (Oh, and you all should know that wearing the same red dress two years in a row is so very gauche.)”

Why would a real man wear a dress?

Nawlins Y’all

We made a trip this weekend to New Orleans. I don’t think we had been there since 1998.  We did drive through on our way from Houston to Sarasota back in 2007.  I remember it was a sad drive along I-10 through the city.  Blue tarps everywhere,  broken up homes, a rebuilt house here with a fence around it, an abandoned house there with a broken/partially missing fence.  Who shopping centers where abandoned.  I don’t know if this was a result of the storm or maybe they had closed before.    Needless to say they are still shut down and boarded up.

On the bright side, it looks like a lot of people got new homes.  There were sections of newly built homes surrounded by the damaged ones.    The new ones looked great and I’m happy for those people after what they went through.

There are “Katrina Trolly Tours” in the city but we didn’t take one.  In all the shops we stopped in, there were Katrina books and the unwrapped ones were fairly tattered from guests looking through them. 

There were sections of town, several different blocks, where the buildings were boarded up on the downstairs floor, broken on the top.  You see this in many cities but it made me wonder if they were Katrina victims or just victims of inner-city decay.

I’m not a fan of large cities but our trip to NOLA was fun.  We walked forever.  We started out near the French Quarter Market, parked the car and walked around.  First stop: Central Grocery for muffalettas.  

We walked on to Aunt Sally’s for pralines.  Cafe DuMonde was way too crowded and we’ve eaten there a ton of times so we passed it by and just made it back to the car before a heavy downpour.  We drove around for a little bit and went to check in at the Marriott (thank you Priceline.com).  When the rain let up we walked to Riverwalk, then took the trolley to Jackson Square, then back to Riverwalk and to the hotel; all between raindrops.

Musicians at Jackson Square

Musicians at Jackson Square

We made the trip to celebrate Gary’s birthday and to check out the food scene, since we hadn’t been there for a while.  We grazed all weekend…roasted oysters, gumbo, pralines, etc  We watched musicians at Jackson Square and looked at art hung on the fence posts.  We stopped in a few stores, not many, because we didn’t come to shop and we weren’t into the voodoo stuff they sold anyway.  We have lots of art from New Orleans from former trips. 

We stopped at the Southern Food Museum at Riverwalk.  My husband is all about Southern Food; I guess the whole family is.  It was a great museum to visit and I recommend you visiting.  The displays on food, old and new machines to whip up good eatin’s, and archived donations were well done and enjoyable especially for the boys.  After all, they are the heirs to the Dixiedining.com dynasty.   Travis likes to eat, try new foods, make food and Austin likes to film what everyone is doing.

at the Southern Food Museum

at the Southern Food Museum

Sunday was another grazing festival.  We took the street car to Camellia Grill for breakfast, drove to Brocatos for spumoni, and Parkway Bakery for poboys.  Thank God I don’t eat much.  If I did I probably wouldn’t have fit in the car after this trip.

Streetcar at the Camellia Grill

Streetcar at the Camellia Grill

Next time we go back to New Orleans, we’ll check out the Audubon Zoo.  The kids have never been.

Check out Gary’s blog: www.dixiedining.wordpress.com for his version of our weekend.