Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Trip to the gulf

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Trip to the gulf


MY BUGGY traveled 1,268.4 miles on last week’s annual trek to the Gulf of Mexico. But the odometer said we only went 1,260.

The difference is the 4.2-mi. one-way ferry ride from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island across the mouth of Mobile Bay. Buggy was moving but wheels weren’t turning, see? How clever of me!

The ferry ride now costs $43. It is a ritual part of our Gulf trip. Daughter Julie, granddaughter Carsyn and I have been going since 2007 when we scattered Jane’s ashes on the beach at Dauphin Island as she had requested. Jane and I took annual short vacations at Dauphin Island often during the ‘80s and ‘90s, and she loved the place.

Some friends from the newspaper industry knew of Jane’s request, and they happened to have a condo at Gulf Shores (they must work for a different kind of newspaper than the News-Leader). They offered it free.

My traveling crew and I have been staying at Gulf Shores ever since. We pay our way, now, however. Part of the reason we stay at Gulf Shores is that about half of Dauphin Island’s rental beach houses were removed by a hurricane.

We used to drive from Julie’s home in Maumelle, to Louisiana; get on I-20 through Vicksburg to Jackson; then south through Hattiesburg to Mobile to the Gulf. But frankly, Louisiana highways and towns are AWFUL! We nearly got run over one year by some big cottonfield tractors which took up most of two lanes as they drove down the road to another field. The drivers just bullied every one else out of the way and into ditches. I swear.

We found a ‘Shortcut to the Redneck Riveria’ some Little Rock radio personality developed and shared online. It skipped Louisiana altogether, and zipped through a bunch of little Mississississippppi towns. It shortened our trip by 45 minutes. Then, we improved on the route on our own, and have cut off another 15 minutes.

Let me ask a question and the answer is ‘national legislative delegation.’ The question is: Why do Mississippi and Alabama have some many more straight, good, four-lane highways than Arkansas?

From Julie’s driveway it’s a little more than a nine-hour drive to the Gulf thanks to those highways.

Our route takes us through sleepy places that brag they are the hometowns of Jim Henson, B.B. King and Jerry Clower. All dead.

I always enjoy the drive, but I confess that Julie usually drives more hours than I do because I just have to nap some and Julie prefers I not be behind the wheel at naptime.

We can hardly wait until Carsyn is old enough to drive. But will I be able to relax enough to nod off?

After we arrive we have the rest of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and early Sunday morning at the beach.

After unloading the buggy on Thursday, we generally take off for our favorite eating joint. Then, if we’re lucky, we get to walk some at the edge of the waves.

Friday is a beach day, broken up by trips to other eating joints and maybe a souvenir store or two.

Saturday morning is devoted to the ferry ride to Dauphin Island. There’s not much to do there. We visit Sea Lab which USED to have a great gift shop.

We visit Jane’s beach — it is astounding how much farther out the water is now than it was when we put her ashes out. Then we rush back to catch the ferry. Lunch, nap, and more beach time.

Julie washes our clothes in condo’s washer and we haul off the trash on Saturday night so that we can get away early Sunday.

Funny, once upon a time on this trip we used roadmaps. Now we use my buggy’s navigator and some woman with a funny accent who is inside Julie’s phone. I love it.

There is a problem with this electronic stuff, however.

Julie connected her phone through my buggy’s computer thingy so she could better hear the lady talk. The problem was that we couldn’t turn off the music she had downloaded for Carsyn. It meant that for most of our drive we had to listen to Justin Bieber.

I do love the salt air and watching the pelicans and sandcrabs. I like to get up early and have coffee on the balcony. Julie and Carsyn like to sleep longer but it means they miss the school of dolphins that usually swims past after the sun comes up.

Also, while they sleep is the only time I get to gawk at the wimmens in those bikikikininini bathing trunks. There are usually some of them out walking the shoreline.

I’d be glad to share a list of favorite eating joints if you’ll ask.

My swell buggy got 24.7 miles per gallon in case you’re interested in that sort of info. Not bad for a pickup truck.

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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: Kids used to run away from home. Now they defect.

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WORD GAMES. Another set of triplets: Rock, Scissors and Paper. They never stop skirmishing and no one ever wins.

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HE SAID: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean, singer and sausage-maker

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SHE SAID: “A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” Gertrude Jekyll, British garden designer

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