How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part IV

The last of our summer vacation has come and gone.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

We started the week and ended the week letterboxing around Baldwin County.  Some friends joined us each time.  Monday we found a box at Alligator Walk; Tuesday we located the one at the welcome center in Spanish Fort; the following Monday we went to  the Foley airport and the Foley Train Museum.  That last box we found had a hitchhiker which is always fun; an extra stamp for your book. 

There was supposed to be a box in Historic Village Point Preserve but we couldn’t find it.  Instead we found the Jackson’s Oak and the D’Olive Cemetery.  Village Point Preserve is  “one of the most historic sites in Alabama”, at least that’s what the brochure says.  It is the site of an Early American cemetery, one of the largest and most historic Live Oak trees in Alabama, the site of seven Alabama State Champion Trees, one of the largest remaining undeveloped bayfront areas on the Eastern Shore.  It contains nature trails and picnic area.  Somewhere I read or heard there is an Indian mound on the grounds but it is not on the brochure I have. 

Letterboxing at Alligator Walk

Letterboxing at Alligator Walk

Searching for a letterbox at Jackson's Tree; never did find it.

Searching for a letterbox at Jackson's Tree; never did find it.

Jackson's Tree, Daphne AL

Jackson's Tree, Daphne AL

 The train museum in Foley was a blast.  The clues take you through a rose garden that was beautiful.  After searching for the two boxes on the clue (one was missing and the other had a hitchhiker) we went to the museum.  The boys (5 in all) looked around and were enjoying themselves.  The lady who works there  told us she would open the room with the O Gauge train set which is only open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  She said she couldn’t run the train but would let us see it.  Oh, you have to make the trip there on a day it’s open.  The set was just more than amazing.  Apparently the man that owned it had willed it to the museum.  He said it had to be set out on one level and free to the public.  Volunteers assembled it and run it.  The city buildings are so cool; the traffic lights are set; one building is on fire (fake of course); the fire station operates but the truck doesn’t make it to the building; a car gets a car wash; the drive in diner is open; behind the circus tent is a drive-in theatre that shows movies of the era; the list of cool stuff goes on.  You have to visit and see for yourself.

Looking for the letterbox

Looking for the letterbox

Stamping the book

Stamping the book

The train garden

The train garden

playing on the train engine

playing on the train engine

In the museum we saw an old time vacuum that is pumped by hand, an old washing machine, typewriters that I used in highschool to type my papers on (I’m just shy of 50), old cash registers and other really cool stuff.  The restored trains sit outside the museum (an old train depot) and the Caboose is open on Saturdays.

THEN…we went to Stacey’s Drug store for ice cream at the old fashioned soda fountain/ice cream shot/pharmacy.  So cool.  Even the prices were old-school.  After ice cream the boys congregated around the jukebox.

Tuesday we played mini golf in Spanish Fort and ate ice cream.  The three of us had way too much fun and consequently we didn’t take pictures of our best shots.  Travis got a hole in one, I got a hole in one and Austin took the most tries to get the ball in the cup on one hole.  We stopped counting at 13 but he took longer.  I gave him a 9 on the score card.  That’s the most I allowed on the card.  We laughed too hard at some holes and just couldn’t make the shot.  Anyway, I won, Travis came in 2nd and Austin followed at third.  We just love minigolf.  Next time we’re heading to Gulf Shores and check out their minigolf.

When the boys were really young we lived in Myrtle Beach: home of miniature golf.  I don’t remember how many there were in town but we attempted to play all of them.  We fell short (not by many) but had a great time.  The boys were under 7 years old when we left, so as youngsters I’d say that had a fun time.  Minigolf is in their blood.

On another day we went to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear.  We had been there before and wanted to walk down along the bay but a storm was coming and we didn’t get too far.  We tried again this week but still didn’t make it all the way.  At the end of the walk is Punta Clara restaurant (which means Point Clear).  That’s a long walk.  Maybe if we had taken water and bug spray we’d have lasted longer.  We fed the ducks at the hotel and then to went to the Historic Confederate Rest Cemetery located on the hotel grounds.  If it’s haunted we couldn’t tell.  I suppose all the dead are at peaceful rest.  We looked around at the names, dates and other info.  There were some infants, youth, and some that lived long lives.  In the center is the Confederate Dead.  With all the crosses lined up, some had markers and some didn’t.  Apparently the names of the buried dead were held at the hotel, until the hotel burned along with the names.  We’ll never know who’s there.  The story of the cemetery is really quite fascinating so if you want more info call the Grand Hotel and ask them to send you the yellow brochure on the cemetery.  251-928-9201

Historic Marker

Historic Marker

outside the Confederate Rest Cemetery in Point Clear, AL

outside the Confederate Rest Cemetery in Point Clear, AL

unknown soldiers

unknown soldiers

unknown Confederate dead

unknown Confederate dead

 We spent another day at Weeks Bay Estuarine Reserve.  They have a great interpretive center with fossils, a diorama, live creatures including an alligator, snakes and a hermit crab tank that you could get your hands into.  There was a fabulous education room with nature specimens in drawers, glass cabinets and pictures.  Then we took a boardwalk trail, identified trees and spiders.  We saw skinks, dragonfies of all colors, and birds on the river.    We drove over to the pitcher plant bog but, in the middle of nowhere with no one around us we decided to come back later with Gary.  I can’t wait to see the pitcher plants.  Hope they’re in bloom.

Alligator in the interpretive center

Alligator in the interpretive center

Speckled King Snake likes following Austin's finger

Speckled King Snake likes following Austin's finger

Weeks Bay Estuarian boardwalk trail

Weeks Bay Estuarian boardwalk trail

View from the end of the boardwalk

View from the end of the boardwalk

Our summer vacation in Alabama is over.  Tomorrow we begin homeschool.  “Darn,” says Travis.  “I kind of like school,” says Austin.  There will be days off because we like “doing stuff” so stay tuned the “Adventures of the Saunders Family.”

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.