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Walks in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans
The Floribama Trip from a 'New Penny' Viewpoint
by Charlotte Albright
I knew no one when I signed up for this four-day trip, and I had a wonderful time! We started our adventure in New Orleans with a terrific Cajun lunch at Mulates Restaurant, followed by a lively walk through the French Quarter.
Mardi Gras was just over, and the trees on the parade route were still laden with beads. Several of us had great fun trying to snag some of the few necklaces that were within reach. The ironwork and plants on the balconies were beautiful, the shops lively, and the weather delightful!
As the sun began to set, we headed out in our seven person vans for a three-hour drive to Gulf Shores, Alabama, our base for the weekend. All of our hotel rooms faced the water, and we could watch the sun rise and set from our private balconies. My roommate and I left the sliding door open at night and were lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Our Alabama walks/swims/rides started right from the hotel the next morning, and we had a number of choices of 5 and 10k walks. The first evening we had a truly southern dinner at the hotel with a number of other walking groups.
On Sunday morning, we headed to Pensacola, Florida, where we had choices of several 5 or 10k walks. On the way back we stopped at Gulf Shores (?) State Park for an afternoon walk. Several people in my van enjoyed earning some late afternoon event credits by taking a leisurely swim in our lobby pool. That night, the group gathered at The Original Oyster Restaurant for a terrific dinner--local seafood is the specialty!
Monday morning came early as we planned to stop in Ocean Springs State Park, Mississippi, our way to the airport. This, too, proved to be a lovely walk, and we were ready to rest on our flight home.
The weekend went by quickly! We had warm, sunny weather, spent only a few hours on the road, and had a lot of flexibility with how we spent our days. The people in my van were friendly and welcoming, and my roommate and I got along very well. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip!
Don’t Feed the Alligators and Other Lessons Learned On the Floribama Trip
It felt a bit strange to be departing from National instead of our familiar BWI for Adventure #25. After all the stories in the news about security at National, I had my contingency plan in place. Instead of wearing my walking shoes I would wear clogs. If security asked me to take my shoes off, I wouldn't have to waste volksmarching energy leaning down to tie them again. It was a bit of a let down when no one even looked at my feet. Oh well, the best laid plans...
Our first stop of the trip was New Orleans. Savvy volksmarchers that we are, the first stop was for fuel at Mulate’s “The Original Cajun Restaurant.”
Legend has it that the building was built in the late 19th century to be used as a hotel and was later a stable for the Faubacher Brewery. The lunch crowd at Mulate’s was relatively subdued but it was easy to imagine the Cajun music and dancing that the evening hour would bring. After our tummies were full, it was time to begin the walk. We had just missed Mardi Gras but there were still beads to be found everywhere. Retrieving some would have meant climbing quite a few trees but our group was inventive and sometimes just plain lucky. Matt's eagle eyes spotted a handsome necklace hiding in some bushes and Charlotte found a stick that made reaching the colorful pieces of jewelry a snap. You could tell that people attending the festivities had made it their goal to put the beads in some highly unusual places.
Needless to say, the walk hit all the highlights. We walked completely around the Superdome, up and down the streets of the French Quarter, through the French Market and along the Mississippi River. The day was a bit overcast but fortunately the rain held off until we were in the vans headed for our hotel. One last stop before leaving New Orleans was Cafe Du Mond in the Riverwalk Marketplace. What trip to New Orleans would be complete without a taste of beignets? They were very tasty but oh so messy. One member of the group wanted plain old coffee, Maryland style but when she opened the lid of her cup, what she had instead was chicory coffee, Louisiana style. Not even a large container of half-and-half and lots and lots of sugar could make that coffee look like the old familiar drink she was expecting. Then it was on to our hotel, the Beachside Resort Hotel in Gulf Shores, Alabama, our home base for the next several days. It wasn't a bad place at which to stay put. It is always so relaxing to listen to waves hitting the shore. Having the Gulf of Mexico right outside your door was pretty darn nice.
There were several walks in Alabama from which to choose and for those who like to take a dip in a pool, some swims. There were guided walks, walks along the beach and walks on a nature trail depending on your preference. That evening the Capitol City Wanderers, the group that sponsored the walks, had a lovely dinner. It was well attended by several groups including our own. Smart decision because the food was great. The Bad Pennies must have been particularly lucky since quite a few members including Jean Fox, Robin Blandford, Ken and Ann Dunshee, Nelson Cahill, Sue Yun and Evalee Dumas left the dinner that evening with some lovely gifts.
The next day found us doing walks in Perdido Key, Florida. The weather was picture perfect and the walks very enjoyable. The Bad Pennies streak of luck continued in yet another state with Ken Wilson and Dot Marshall winning prizes from the Pensacola Volksmarch Club. One of the group who shall remain nameless (okay, okay so it was Nelson Cahill) did pause on one walk to become acquainted with a manatee mailbox all decked out for the Saint Patrick's Day holiday. Who knew he felt something special for manatees?
After we felt we had done enough walks in Florida, we returned to our hotel for either more walks in Alabama or to rest up for the big trip dinner at the Original Oyster House. We had yet another great dinner and then the moment everyone waits for, the traditional drawing to pick each van’s Bad Penny and the Baddest Penny of them all. The lucky winners on this trip were Adele Degnan, Ruth Watkins, Gale Waibel and Don Fox. The baddest Penny of adventure 25 was Mary Beth Celmer. Their gifts were Mardi Gras doll and really a very nice souvenir of the adventure.
Finally it was on to Ocean Springs, Mississippi for the last walk before leaving for the airport and home. Another day of perfect walking weather just added to what was already a lovely walk. The signs in the Gulf Islands National Seashore Davis Bayou Area cautioned visitors to the park not to feed the alligators. No problem. Who wants to be an alligator’s entree after the entree is foolish enough to run out of hors d’oeuvres? We also got to see some of the homes in the area and to answer some questions. It was so funny to see the residents obviously wondering whom on the earth all these people were and why were they walking through their neighborhood in groups?
One interesting moment came in the last segment of the trip while the group was seated in the plane ready to take off. Idly glancing out the window, several Bad Pennies noticed a liquid gushing out of the wing of the airplane. It seemed prudent to call this little matter to the flight attendant’s attention. She in turn alerted someone and fairly soon there was quite a crowd assembled around the pool of liquid on the ground. It was a bit worrisome when everyone’s efforts stayed concentrated on the ground. No one seemed to be looking up to see why the liquid came down. Finally the captain announced that an overzealous employee had filled the fuel tank a bit too full. What we saw coming out was from the overflow valve. I certainly wanted to believe him but I admit to some trepidation for the length of the flight. When we safely touched down at National I decided he must have been right after all.
Once again, our thanks to Matt for organizing a trip that was fun and time well spent.
by Mulate's Cajun Restaurant
- 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
- 2 medium bell peppers - chopped
- 3 large onions - chopped
- 3 stalks celery - chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp. Flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 handfull chapped parsley
- 3/4 - 1 lb. claw crabmeat - (suit to taste)
(Pick all of the shells out.)
bullet Melt butter or margarine.
bullet Saute' vegetables (bell peppers, onions, and celery) on medium heat until translucent - approximately 15 minutes.
bullet Season with salt and cayenne pepper.
bullet Mix all ingredients except crabmeat.
bullet Add vegetable mixture you've already cooked.
bullet Mix well.
bullet Fold in crabmeat.
bullet Batter in egg and mild mixture.
bullet Cover with bread crumbs.
bullet Fry until golden brown.
bullet Heat oven to 350 degrees.
bullet Cook approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
You can use this stuffing in Stuffed Mushrooms,
Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Stuffed Crabs.