April 17th

        Lazy day today. We both slept late. Having been up late last night has slowed us down for the moment. I eventually retrieved lunch from a near by Burger King. We decided that we would stay around the camper today and catch up on some taped TV. I made my usual trip to the coffee shop at some point. Rita did some laundry and I sat outside on the lounge chair for a while but mostly we watched TV. Later in the evening I retrieved an excellent pizza from Crico's. The refreshing use of language on Deadwood completed the day.

April 18th

         We decide to have lunch at CiCi's today. At a stoplight less than a mile from the campground Rita said "Is that a Wal-Mart over there?". I turned the corner and there it was. A Wal-Mart Super Center. We had been driving by it for over a week and had never seen it. They didn't have the big sign out front, the building was not the usual gray and their one ground sign was almost completely hidden by the surrounding trees. Being hungry there was no time for a Wal-Mart tour now so we headed north to CiCi's. Good pizza as usual. We had also been driving by a place located under the inter-coastal bridge that we had heard some of the locals talk about – LuLu's. I decided to swing by there on the way back and check out their menu for possible lunch consideration. The place had a beach theme and looked like a fun place to visit. I would have to stop back. Next stop was to check out the newly found Wal-Mart. All new and nice inside as well as not all that busy. Being hidden seemed to keep out the customers. A quick check on the Pink Pony (still closed) and then back to the camper. It was very warm so we closed up and turned on the A/C. I worked on my diary most of the rest of the day while Rita cleaned and did things around the camper. I used the zapper racket to explode a few mosquitoes while we watched some tape and eventually regular TV. No trip to the coffee shop today.

April 19th

        I thought I liked what I saw at Lulu's yesterday so I decided that would be the place for lunch today. We got a really late start on the day but we got to LuLu's by about 1:30PM. The place has a Margaritaville feel about it. Wide open restaurant with a beach theme. Lots of beach colors and casual construction. The food was excellent. We had a jerk chicken quesadilla for an appetizer before the main lunch. Rita had a cheese burger and I had a jerk chicken finger basket. All the food was very good. I highly recommend this place for a visit and I am sure we will be returning before we leave Gulf Shores. During our visit we discovered that Lulu's is actually run by Lucy Buffett – Jimmy's sister. No wonder it feels so much like Margaritaville! We returned to the camper and did camper things for a couple of hours before walking over to Mud Bugs. We had to be back at the camper by 7PM for TV but we had a little time to have a beer at Bugs. The place was filled with the usual group of contractors and business people. We have been here often enough that we feel at home with this group. We got back in time to catch our shows and have a couple of beers to cap the day. A good day in retrospect, I look forward to returning to Lulu's in the near future. I would bet the place gets real busy during the evening hours. We are lucky to be able to visit this place and many others during the daytime hours.

April 20th

        Rita slept way late today. I got up earlier and worked on my diary entries for the web site. We had planned to go to Vallarta today but now the schedule was off. We wanted to go to Tin Top for supper so lunch needed to be early and Vallarta was far away. Arby's was selected as the lunch provider.  After a quick shower etc I jumped in the Jeep to retrieve lunch. The place has a sign up that says ‘Drive thru open’. What I didn't know was that the drive thru was all that was open. Seven months after Ivan and they still don't have the inside rebuilt. Not being familiar with their menu I was forced to haphazardly select items from the menu board while speaking into the box. Oh, the pressure!! Anyway I brought home lunch and we all had beef sandwiches. Even the cats got a little beef. I collected email from the coffee shop before settling down to work on my diary entries. After a couple of hours I had 4 weeks ready to be posted to the web site. After transferring the files to a flash drive I headed off to the coffee shop to update the web site. By the time I got back it was getting close to time to leave for Tin Top. Rita was ready to go so off we went. We arrived at the restaurant a little before 6:30PM. The music starts at 6:30 and the whole thing closes at 9PM. Tugboat Willy was arriving just as we got to the door. We had an excellent meal of fried mullet, collard greens, cheese grits and hush puppies followed closely by a couple of Bud Lights. Tugboat and his partner provided pleasant bluesy music thru out. The restaurant was quite a ways from the campground so we left after our two beers. As we got closer to home we decided to stop at LuLu's and see what the night crowd was like. They had a reasonable sized crowd and a band playing. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a pitcher of Bud Light while swatting away a few mosquitoes. Only $5.25 for a full sized pitcher – not bad. The short distance to the camper passed quickly. We arrived just in time for the 9PM show but we decided to pass on the show and check on one of our friends back in WI that had recently had food poisoning. After a lengthy conversation it was determined that she was doing fine. I took a minute to call my sister Carol to tell her I was still alive – she worries about me when she hasn't heard from me in while. The remainder of the evening was spent enjoying a cold beer, watching TV and planning parts of next years trip.

April 21st

        Lunch today at an old favorite – Vallarta. We decided we would try their 'poppers' today as an appetizer. We had not noticed them on the menu until recently and had been thinking we should try them. 10 for 3.99 – not bad for 'Jalapeno Poppers'. Unfortunately they weren't exactly what we were hoping for. Not stuffed with cream cheese and dipped in ranch dressing – no – these we stuffed with mozzarella and dipped in marinara sauce. Still good but different. The rest of the meal was the usual excellent. Next stop was Playa Del Rio to make reservations for next year. We decided we would stay one week there next year and scheduled it so that we would be there for Mullet Toss. While we were there I borrowed a CD of pictures they took during their rebuilding. I promised to bring it back the next day. The Silver Moon came next. Everything there seemed to be about getting ready for Mullet Toss that started the next day. Mullet Toss is basically a 3 day party at the Flora-Bama. Tearing down the building was not going to stop the party from happening. The bartender told me she thinks they get about 100,000 people stopping in over the three days. This year may be a little lighter due to all the hurricane damage but if the turnout for the building demolition is any indication it may be bigger than normal. After stopping back at the camper for a short time we grabbed the laptop and went to get email. From there we continued on to LuLu's for supper. The food was good but the band was too loud and not all that pleasant ot the ear. We had a pitcher at the bar before we left.

April 22nd

        Just to get in practice for being back home again we decided to go to Taco Bell. It wasn't the same without Nick, Joey, Heidi, Bryan and all the rest from our Taco Bell back home but the cashier was chatty and we met a very chatty older couple who made the lunch special. We bought several more items at Wal-Mart than we expected. It was nothing like it will be when we get back to West Bend. Rita uses an electronic shopping list on her PDA to keep track of what she needs when we go to the store. Today she was looking for the 'everything' button for when we get back home. We made the long trip to Playa Del Rio to return the CD and give them a 'see you next year!'. People were walking all over the road and cars were parked everywhere as we passed by the Flora-Bama. They don't actually toss any mullets until tomorrow but the crowd was already getting the party revved up. As we traveled the 11 or so miles along the beach back to Gulf Shores we wondered if we would even recognize the place when we came again next year. There was work being done everywhere we looked. The Pink Pony Pub looked like it was still being worked on. Only one more day for it to decide to open if we are to get a beer there this year. After dropping Rita at the camper I visited the coffee shop for my daily internet fix. I stopped by Subway on the way back and picked up supper. We watched a little TV and had supper before going to Mud Bugs one last time. Karaoke night, oh boy! The place was packed! They must really enjoy karaoke down here. We stayed for several rounds before deciding it was late enough to walk home and turn in.

April 23rd

        Maybe we stayed 1 round too long. We slept late and didn't feel like doing much all day. I did manage to get email, retrieve lunch from LuLu's and make reservations with the campground for next year. The campground lady told me they would be installing wireless internet next week – just missed it. I didn't check on the Pink Pony today but I doubt that it opened. The holding tank got dumped, chairs were put away and we generally prepared for moving the next day. Our last day in Gulf Shores was spent mostly in the camper. We'll be back. We caught up on some tape and checked the route before turning in for the night. I have about 450 miles to drive tomorrow and we plan to get up real early – 5:30AM – so we can get a good jump on the trip. One night of rest and then another 500+ mile trip followed by a nights sleep and then a gentle 180 mile run to the Barn. The drive home can be very draining and then comes all the unpacking of the motor home and the starting up of the Barn. The cable guy is scheduled to reinstall on the day we get back and I reserved 3 quarter barrels of Bud Light at Jeff's Spirits on Main for pickup on that day as well. I hope the weather is good when we get there. I would not enjoy coming home to snow.