Wednesday, October 30 – Saunders Yachtworks / Gulf Shores, AL. Promptly Wednesday morning before 8am, we headed into the haul out slip and watched as they hauled Island Time out of the water. We were anxious to see the bottom of the boat to check for any damage to the hull or propellers. Sure enough, we had two bent tips on the starboard propeller and a couple of gashes on the hull below the waterline compliments of the Mississippi River. Normally, if we are in clear Florida waters we would be diving under the boat to check ourselves. But along the rivers from Chicago to Mobile (about 1,000 miles) the water (for most of it) is muddy and not clear. No desire to get in it!  Shortly upon hauling, the yard started pulling the props and cleaning the bottom of the boat. Bob went to get the rental car as I made final preparations to leave the boat for a few days.

Once we had the car, it was off to go exploring as we made our way to the Pensacola area where our son Ryan currently lives (he is being transferred to Albany, NY next summer). Took the scenic route and checked out the Wharf Marina in Orange Beach and the Palafox Marina in Pensacola. Stopped in at a T-Mobile store where Bob picked up a new phone and then into Joe Patti’s Seafood for stone crabs, shrimp and beignets to take to Ryan’s. So great to see Ryan, Kristin and our grandkids; Riley (14), Kaitlyn (9) and Katrina (4 1/2). Ryan cooked a fabulous shrimp & pasta a la vodka while we all caught up on the latest happenings.

Thursday, October 31 – Pace, Florida. Happy Halloween! While I ran off in the rental car to run a bunch of errands, Bob worked on some of his consulting cases. The kids went off to school early and were excited about trick or treating in the evening. Ryan warned us that it would be crazy in his neighborhood with swarms of kids coming to collect their treats. Bob and I volunteered to hand out candy at the house while Ryan & Kristin took the girls out for a tour of the neighborhood and Riley went off to a party with friends.

While a cold front (low 40’s) with rain all day supposedly slowed down the flow of trick or treaters, Bob and I haven’t seen so many kids enjoying the Halloween festivities since we were kids. It was non-stop until we finally ran out of candy at about 9pm so turned off lights and closed the blinds to indicate “don’t stop here”. Sometimes there was a line of people (kids & adults) waiting for their treats. Perfect timing too as the minute we came in off the porch, the girls came home with their treats. Kristin says it was so cold out there that the girls had wanted to come home earlier but they coaxed them into toughing it out.

Friday, November 1 – Daphne, AL. Said farewell to Ryan, Kristin and the kids as they were headed to Crossville, TN to visit Kristin’s father for the weekend and we were headed out on a road trip to go exploring. Destination today was Fairhope, AL as we had heard it was a quaint and pretty town. Stopped by the boat in Gulf Shores to check on progress then continued on to Fairhope. Glad we picked up our ski jackets from the boat as it is really cold and windy. Had lunch at Sunset Pointe, went out to the municipal pier, walked around downtown Fairhope, had coconut cake at Sandra’s (their cake was featured in Southern Living) then drove to the Hampton on Mobile Bay in Daphne as the prices were more reasonable. Fairhope truly is a beautiful town and offers some high end shops in the downtown area. On the drive to Daphne, we passed by some beautiful mansions on the bay.

Later in the evening, after watching a spectacular sunset over Mobile Bay, we went next door to Boudreaux’s Cajun and enjoyed live entertainment and a good Cajun meal at the bar. As Bob was taking the photo of the funny sign, the manager informed him that he actually has to stop patrons from doing that. Photo is self explanatory.

Saturday – Tuesday, November 2-5 – Orange Beach, AL. Since the boat would be in the boat yard for at least until Tuesday, we decided to rent a condo at The Wharf in Orange Beach through VRBO. The Wharf, in addition to being 5 miles from the boat yard, is a large complex with a marina, condo’s, restaurants, shops, an amphitheater, a ferris wheel a zip line and other fun activities for kids. We rented a one bedroom condo overlooking the marina and GCICW which is nicer than being in a hotel room with lots of room to spread out; a large kitchen, a living room, 2 large TV’s, and this one could sleep six if needed.

Check-in for the condo wasn’t until 4pm so we took a leisurely drive via the scenic route towards Orange Beach. We stopped in at the B & B Pecan farm (never been to a pecan farm or seen a pecan tree) picked a few pecans off the tree and bought some pecans, pecan candy and pecan flavored coffee. Also stopped at the RV show in Foley as we had been wanting to see inside one of the smaller RV’s. We have seen a couple of the large ones (40-45′) but not the smaller models. Thinking future adventures going cross country (a new blog?). After the RV show (we weren’t impressed with the quality of the ones we saw), we headed to lunch at Doc’s Seafood which is a local and tourist favorite. We had been craving oysters for over a week now and ended up having a couple dozen raw oysters. They didn’t have the chargrilled ones we wanted but these were good and fresh then followed it up by splitting a plate of their famous “best in the civilized world” fried shrimp. We must say, it was the best we have ever had as fried shrimp go.

While the condo instructions said we would not be able to get in the door until 4pm (touchpad entry), we tried the door at around 2pm and got in and turned on the TV so we could watch the FSU – Miami game. Bob happy with outcome (not me). At half-time, we headed to Publix to pick up provisions for the condo and ended up staying in and enjoying a quiet evening in the condo. We saw dolphins swimming in the GCICW from our balcony!

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Sunday morning and daylight savings time. Okay so its 9:30am as we write this and have been up for 4 hours. Yep, woke up 4:30am. It’s bad enough getting used to Central Standard Time but now this. Pretty lazy day today. Hung around the condo then later went to walk around the shops here at the Wharf. Bob ducked into Daiquiris to watch the NY Jets play the Miami Dolphins while I explored the shops and complex.

At 3pm, there was a looper gathering at Villiaggio Grille which is across the street from our condo. There were at least 15 boats represented with most of them staying in the marina. Saw some of the same boats we have travelled with and met some new ones. One couple had not started the loop but were planning to start in January from Bay Saint Louis, MS. They were there to learn and absorb from this group of experienced loopers and are excited about starting. Good food, good drinks and lots of fun.

Monday morning, we drove over to the boatyard to check progress on Island Time. Looks promising for a splash on Tuesday with only a few items still not complete. Then we headed into Foley for flu shots at Publix and then lunch at Lambert’s – home of the throwed rolls. Yes, that’s right, they throw rolls at the patrons. No sooner had we been seated when the guy with the roll cart spotted us and threw us both rolls which we promptly caught. Big rolls too and delicious. They are pretty famous for their “throwed rolls” so if you get a chance, google it. Legend has it that, many years ago, Mr. Lambert was busy serving customers and couldn’t get around to serving the rolls when one of his regulars remarked “throw me the f*#$$@g roll” and the tradition began. In addition to serving you a huge meal you cannot possibly eat, the servers constantly come around with the “pass arounds” such as fried okra, cabbage, black eyed peas, tomato & macaroni, and more gigantic rolls! It is very entertaining watching the rolls fly across the room. The rolls and the entertainment are the best part of the meal.

On Tuesday morning we checked out of the condo and headed to the boat yard. The work on Island Time was complete and boat ready to splash. The bottom was painted, props reconditioned, prop speed applied on the running gear, oil changed on the engines & generator, and a few other small items. The boatyard was great. Quoted us prices and time frame to complete and lived up to their promises. And the yard is so clean which is unusual for boatyards.

Originally we had planned to leave today for Pensacola but it was approaching noon and we were concerned about getting there before sunset at 5:00pm. Plus Bob wasn’t feeling well, so we opted to spend the night on the boat at the marina instead. Nice relaxing evening watching the herons and the military helicopters flying in overhead as there is an airport next door to the marina.

Wednesday, November 6 – Pensacola, FL. We are back in Florida! Yay! Departed the marina at 7:30am and had a leisurely cruise to Palafox Pier Marina in Pensacola. Saw quite a few dolphin that came right up to the boat, colorful townhouses that reminded us of the Bahamas and lots of beautiful expensive homes along the waterway.  Got here around lunchtime and settled in.

In the afternoon, we had plans to have dinner with Ryan, Kristin and the grandkids at a restaurant within walking distance to the marina. The marina is situated in downtown Pensacola and close to shops, bars and restaurants. Ryan and family came to the boat first then we all went to Paul V’s, an Italian restaurant, for dinner and celebrated Kaity’s 10th birthday which is in a few days. The restaurant and service was very good and the owner spent quite a bit of time talking to us. Very nice evening. We bid everyone farewell as we would be heading out in the morning.

Well that wraps up another week of our adventures (mostly road trip this week). Stay tuned and see you next week!