"I think it's just up ahead." An all too familiar comment made between three friends traveling to Gulf Shores.
As we traveled through Kentucky, Tennesee, and finally Alabama, our destination always seemed to be just up ahead.
During my most recent moment of impulsiveness, I Googled "pet friendly Gulf Shore cottage". A picture perfect nautically themed cottage popped up on my screen. Blue in color with red shutters, it sat back a lane among an artist's setting of 100 year old oaks draped with Spanish Moss. To add to an already attractive vacation rental, the Gulf Bay peeked through the trees. Even more enticing was the special May price for one week's rental.
On a whim, I emailed two close friends. I didn't expect them to actually jump on the opportunity, but they did with both feet. I placed the required deposit in the mail, and a few weeks later we were beach bound.
Trips to a favored vacation spot always bring great anticipation. You can't wait to get there. The 600 miles plus trip was fairly uneventful. The five days in Gulf Shores were not.
Day 1...we heard what sounded like a screeching or complaining baby. This continued throughout the day until dusk. It started up again each morning. After two full days of this ceaseless and often annoying sound, we discovered a typed note on our microwave. It read, "There is no domestic violence next door. It is Ernie the parrot. He makes many different noises. Please feel free to visit him at the back of our porch. Do not stick your fingers in his cage. He bites!"
Day 2...The cottage was well appointed with every amenity available for our use. However, we could not locate the switch for the light in the large linen closet. This went on for several days. We did not want to call the owner feeling that three retired teachers should be able to figure out the location for the switch, plus we did not want to look totally foolish. Finally, the switch was located just under one of the shelves. It was too low for two of us to see and too high for Mrs. B. who stands four foot eleven and a half.
Day 3...Each day dawned sunny and the weather was nearly perfect. The breezes from the bay kept the cottage nicely cooled. By day four, the humidity picked up. We need A.C. We had discussed all week that none of us had located the thermostat nor the air conditioner. As the temperature in the cottage soared, we began a more intensive search. Mrs. C. spotted the very obviously placed thermostat right outside the linen closet. Not one of us had noticed it all week. Setting the dial for 72 degrees, we heard the a.c. kick in immediately. Still no clue as to where it was. That evening we went outside to sit on the patio. Mrs. C. stated, with more than a trace of irony in her voice, "Right there it is. We've been looking at that unit all week."
Day 4...A schedule for the ferry to Dauphin Island found it's way into our possession at a restaurant called "Tacky Jack's". A short excursion to Biloxi for the best cat fish dinner available was planned. We arrived at the dock only to find out that an hour and a half wait was required. We had the schedule but failed to take notice of departure times. Not wanting to leave my dogs for a long day, I asked to be left at the cottage. Mrs. B. and Mrs. C. set off alone. I received many calls during the day as they checked in with me. Around 6:30 that evening I got another call. I heard laughter from both friends. They had missed the return ferry. The drive on land would take over two and a half hours. Settling myself in for the evening with a good book, I began to worry when it became dark. Finally, about 9:30, headlights came down the drive and the dogs began barking. As the two friends stumbled through the door still laughing about their trip, all I could say was I'm sure glad I didn't go with you. But, neither of them seemed to be bothered by a trip that should have lasted six hours or so and actually took over nine hours. The experience was not only fun for both of them but they had seen some truly beautiful scenery. Both are excellent photographers and I'm looking forward to those photos.
I must say that this was actually one of my more enjoyable trips. Every day was an adventure and each day was approached with anticipation and happiness. As we drove down the lane one last time laughing about all of our missed cues, we added up our total years of teaching. It equaled 95 years. I honestly believe after all those years of educating the young, the noggins simply aren't firing to full capacity anymore.
Tawni is a retired Linton-Stockton Elementary School teacher. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .