TRAVELOGUE ALABama.crtr by wuyunyi


                                                                                                     Photos by Melissa unless otherwise noted

               l                                         l            h                             Jesse’s Restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                            photo courtesy David Worthington
                                                                                                    You can still buy
   White Beaches and Southern Hospitality                                                           meat, fresh produce,
                                                                                                    and even cotton and
By Melissa Wolcott and Al Martino                                                                   sod there. The
                                                       outhern charm comes in to play with          restaurant was
        any of us chose to live on the Sun            our visit to Magnolia Springs, a short        named after a
       Coast because of the beaches, and          ride from our condo. The town is a                friendly store worker
just can’t get enough of them, so in              throwback to the days of simple southern          who never took a day
planning a vacation, sometimes we still           living and hospitality, the personification       off in 62 years.
like to be near the water.                        of which can be found in Mr. David                Jesse’s is known for
We discovered a
wonderful area along the                                                                                                                                David Worthington
Alabama Gulf Coast that
combines white sandy                                                                                                 having the best desserts
beaches and southern                                                                                                 around. Indeed, the
charm.                                                                                                               popular desserts along the
    We flew US Airways to                                                                                            gulf shore seem to be key
Pensacola, FL, drove                                                                                                 lime pie and bread

                                                                                                                  photo courtesy David Worthington
about an hour to Gulf                                                                                                pudding — prevalent on
Shores, AL, and checked                                                                                              almost every menu.
into a high-rise condo                                                                                                 Mr.Worthington’s B&B
complex called The                                                                                                   is part of the area’s
Phoenix. We took a 2-                                                                                                history, having been built
bedroom condo fronted by                                                                                             around 1897, and still
a beautiful wide beach                                                                                               retains the original wood
with access by a long          Magnolia Springs
                                                                                                                     pine floors and walls. The
boardwalk protecting the                                                                                             house is all original with
sea oats, and a breathtaking view of the          Worthington, owner of the Magnolia                the exception of the porch which was
gulf. Our condo was comfortable and               Springs B&B. He took us on a walking              raised up and enclosed. The trim used in
tastefully decorated with a beach theme.          tour of his oak tree-lined neighborhood           his house is curly pine, which was
The 14-story complex has both indoor and          and colorfully shared its history with us.        indigenous to the area (it used to be a
outdoor pools to accommodate any                  Authors Fannie Flagg (“Fried Green
weather condition, a tennis court, hot tubs       Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe”) and
and saunas. It is also convenient to shops        Winston Groom (“Forrest Gump”) also
and restaurants. What more could anyone           lived in this charming neighborhood, and
need?                                             probably got a lot of their inspiration right
                                                  in their own back yards.
                                                      Located nine miles from the Gulf of
                                                  Mexico, the area has long attracted folks
                                                  because of the crystal clear natural spring
                                                  that flows into the Magnolia River, which
                                                  eventually empties into Mobile Bay. Old
                                                  tales say the water was “able to cure any                                        Magnolia Springs
                                                  ailment.” The Magnolia River still has
                                                  some mail delivery by boat, and is the            cheap way to trim out a house.) According
                                                  only full-time such delivery left in the          to Mr. Worthington, curly pine is
                                                  U.S.                                              extremely rare today, and is hard to
                                                      The Moore                                                    replace. His house still has
                                                  Brothers Village                                                 the original windows,
 Our Phoenix condo                                Market was built                                                 operated by a pulley system,
    While exploring the area, we found            in 1922.                                                         and he even imported a
Orange Beach is also a perfect spot for           Originally used                                                  wonderful 200-year old
both families or romantics. Some high-            to repair cars                                                   “elephant trunk toilet” with
rise, some low rise condo/hotels dot the          and boats, in                                                    its original hardware, from
shore, along with free standing homes             1998, new                                                        Europe for one of the
available for rent. Most of the buildings         owners built a                                                   bathrooms. The B&B has five
are relatively new, clean, attractive, and        meat market,                                                     guest rooms with private
the area is devoid of signs, noisy bars and       added produce                                                    baths and a delicious 3-
                                                                                       Moore Brothers Village Mkt.
general beach honky tonk.                         and then opened                                                  course breakfast.
                                                                                                                                                             T   p
TRAVELOGUE                                                                                 technology — a “disappearing gun” with
                                                                                           a 12” bore. The gun rose up to shoot, and
      ulf Shores is home to the 7,000 acre                                                 down again after firing a shot that could
      Bon Secour National Wildlife                                                         travel 8 1/2 miles. The gun is gone now,
Refuge, which has a maritime forest                                                        having been used for scrap. The fort was
designed for a migratory bird system. It                                                   closed after WWI, then reused in 1942 for
evolves from beach to forest, to fresh                                                     training, and re-closed in 1947.
water marsh, and is the spine that holds
the eco-system together. Lyne Askins was                                                    Blanton Blankenship,
                                                                                            Director at Fort Morgan
our knowledgeable guide, and she
explained how they maintain the system.
Part of this maintenance requires
“prescribed burning” in the wooded area,
which has to be done to reduce fuels
                                                                       Bon Secour Nat’l
                                                                        Wildlife Refuge

                                             (the size of a thumb,) and nocturnal, so is
                                             rarely seen. Captive breeding has been
                                             shown not to work on these animals, so
                                             their conservation is very important. In
                                             1985, Hurricane Opal almost wiped them
                                             out. Also found at the refuge are green,
                                             loggerhead, and Kemp’s Ridley sea
                                             turtles, more than 370 species of birds
                                             form ospreys to hummingbirds, and
                                             mammals such as red fox, coyotes, and
                                             armadillos. Any new homes in the area are           arlier I mentioned the area being
 New growth after                            encouraged to keep native plantings
 “prescribed” burning.                                                                          relatively free of honky tonk, but
                                             around their homes, as grass and              perhaps the most famous (infamous?) of
                                             impatients don’t have root systems like       all honky tonk would be the Flora-Bama
(leaves, pine needles, etc.) and to create   sea oats to protect the dunes.                Lounge in nearby Pensacola, located right
sunlight gaps. Woodpeckers and owls                                                        on the border of Florida and Alabama. The
make their homes in the burned out trees.           ilitary history can be found at Fort   place is a rabbit warren of rooms — very
Some pines are burned every 3 years, oaks           Morgan, Gulf Shores, on an area        crowded, with refreshingly mixed ages.
every 10 years or so. We could see the       that was once considered the Gulf Coast       There are several bands (all good, by the
palmettos starting to fruit after having     frontier. Built between 1819 and 1834, the
been burned less than one month ago. The     fort played a big part in the Battle of
trees that were burned last year already     Mobile Bay in 1864 (of Admiral
had a lot of recovery.                       Farragut’s famous utterance “Damn the
   One of the protected species found in     torpedoes, full speed ahead!” fame.)
the park is the Alabama Beach Mouse,         According to fort director, Blanton
which is only located on the Morgan          Blankenship, late in the 1890’s the fort
Peninsula. The mouse is rare, shy, tiny      was modernized. It had the latest

                                 Welcome to the Islands                Music & Dancing
                                                                       Island Buffet
                             TROPICAL PARTY CRUISE!                    Dolphin Sightings
                                                                                           way) playing different styles of music at
                                                                                           the same time in different rooms, yet they
                                                                       Frozen Drinks       don’t seem to interfere with each other.
                                                                       Sunsets at Sea      On the Alabama side, the bar closes an
                                                                                           hour earlier, so everyone scoots to the
                                                                                           Florida end of the bar. The big event of
                                                                                           the year there is the Annual Mullet Toss in
                                                                                           April (don’t ask), attracting several
                                                                                           thousand people. If you go to the shore,
                                                                                           you gotta visit the Flora-Bama.

                                                                                                ne afternoon we decided to take an
                               727-461-3113                                                    educational cruise with Sailaway
                                 Clearwater Beach Marina                                   Charters, and the interesting boat owners,
                                                                Capt. Skip and First Mate Janet. These
                   T     p
folks left San Diego                           of the marina and the shore hotels
and traveled to                                beyond the bay. We were
Mobile Bay via the Sailaway
Panama Canal.
Their travels took
                       Charters’ First
                       Mate Janet
                       displays a 5-
                                               entertained by a fun duo, and the
                                               chef was very cordial. Their terrific
                                               seafood and meat entrees are
                                                                                                           l th
them through           year old                seasoned with unique Creole-
Mexico, Guatemala, oyster.                     Caribbean flavors, and then wood-
Nicaragua, and                                 grilled.
more from 1987 to                                  King Neptune in Gulf Shores is
1993. Needless to                              small and plain, but the food is not.
say, they had some                             Our appetizer was a marvelous West
hair-raising stories                           Indian salad in a martini glass,
to tell. Our little                            consisting of fresh jumbo white
cruise was much                                lump crab meat marinated with
tamer, but still quite                         sweet vidalia onion. Our Jumbo
interesting. We explored Longs Bayou      Shrimp entree with house made crab meat
and Wolf Bay, and had a hands-on                                       stuffing was
learning experience with oysters, blue                                 baked in a
crabs, shrimp and more as we pulled                                    garlic butter
them from the bay. Did you know that:                                  wine sauce,
Alligators create slides in marshes to                                 topped with a
enter the water and use the same one                                   lemon butter
every day coming and going, and never                                  sauce, and
share? That it takes 2 weeks for a new                                 served with
claw to grow on a crab? That Royal Red                                 roasted pecan
Shrimp are the most delicious? That an                                 pilaf and garlic
oyster will expel millions of eggs, but                                loaf.
only about 12 survive? That Alabama                                     For fresh
oysters are bigger and better tasting                                  seafood, what
than French or any European oysters?                                   could be
Would the French agree?                                Calypso Joe’s fresher than

                                                                       seeing the boat     Join us on an island-hopping adventure
     peaking of tasty shrimp and                           pull in and the fish being     through the Caribbean aboard a tall ship.
    oysters, we found the seafood                          wheeled by you as it            Explore exotic isles, windsurf, dive and
along the gulf coast to be as fresh                        heads for the chef? This           snorkel with an intimate group of
as can be. The first restaurant we                         was our experience at                     barefoot shipmates.
ate in was the Gulf Bay Seafood                            Calypso Joe’s in Orange
Grill in Orange Beach. our                                 Beach on our last evening              6 & 13 day cruises from $700
waitress, Katherine was sweet and                          at the Gulf Shores. The
attentive. Our appetizer was                               setting sun over the
delicious Lump crab meat,                                  marina provided the
artichoke hearts & spinach in a                            perfect backdrop for their
thick 3-cheese sauce served with                           tasty house specialty
tortilla chips, followed by                                “Fish In A Tin,” fresh
wonderful fried blue crab claws.                           catch of the day topped
    Another memorable meal was                             with curried coconut
at the Bayside Grill which was                             pineapple compote,
located in a marina in Orange                              grilled in a foil pouch. It
Beach, with a magnificent rooftop view    doesn’t get any better than this.          p


           800-745-SAND;                   251-968-5464;            
              251-981-4899                                     251-965-7321;
   251-981-1415;                                        800-211-7892;
                        251-974-5090;                  800-428-4322;                                      P.O. Box 190120, Dept. 6172, Miami Beach, FL 33119-0120
                                                                                                                                  T     p

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