Thursday, May 10, 2018

Louisiana & Mississippi: Seafood, Music, & Katrina

Fried Green Tomatoes with Creamy Shrimp Sauce 
The reasons we love the South: warm weather in winter, lots of seafood dishes to taste, and music venues to visit. We cooked a lot while in Alabama for a month, but as we passed through New Orleans on our way back home, we stayed in a hotel and had to (?) eat at restaurants. It was hard to rein ourselves in on the budget and diet, but we managed to enjoy some great food, as well as music. 

Hotel Richelieu, at the edge of the French Quarter

Great View

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mounting a Lion-Pedestal Shoulder Mount

Finished Mount

Originally the client wanted this lion to be a life-sized mount. It was collected in Tanzania. After over a year of waiting to have the skin shipped from Tanzania, when it arrived from the tannery, there was a lot of damage to the skin. It's not possible to say where the damage took place. Therefore, we decided to do a pedestal shoulder mount.  

The photos below show the process of creating the mount. 

Artificial jaws are fitted to the manikin.

Jaws reattached and ready to mount.

Carnival Museum & BBQ in Mobile, AL

Mobile, AL was about an hour's drive from our cabin, but we decided to go over on the ferry to Dauphin Island and drive back. 

On the ferry.

Oil Rig, Mobile Bay

Fishing, Seafood, Dolphins in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL

Visitor Center

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are 2 neighboring ocean-front towns. There are many beach houses and high rise condos, and it is the heart of the tourist zone. We saw a lot of license plates from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. 

High Rise Meets Low Rise

We bought some small shark teeth key rings for the grandchildren here, and Garry bought a large tooth for his own collection.

Fishing at Alabama Point State Park, Orange Beach AL.
Garry said he didn't notice the girls in bikinis. I think he did.
My heron friend, looking for fish. 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach each had their own Mardi Gras parades, a few hours apart. More beads and Moon Pies! 

Here's the link to my post about our visit to the Mobile Carnival Museum, where we learned a lot about the Mardi Gras traditions, culture and history. There are a lot of photos of the elaborate costumes worn by participants at the Mardi Gras balls. 

Flippers Seafood Restaurant, in Orange Beach at Bear Point Marina, was recommended to us. Our meals there were very good, and homemade ice cream is included! I regret that I never got around to trying a popular Alabama drink, a Bushwacker, made with rum and ice cream. 

The dolphin tour which has offices next to Flippers had off season specials, and we got a fun and educational 2 hour trip. The dolphins like to ride the wake between 2 boats because it helps them to shed their skin. 

Gulf Shores advertised a Seafood Festival and Car Show at The Wharf, which is a shopping center and condo complex.  It wasn't a festival by Milwaukee standards; no beer tents and very little food. But it drew a large crowd and seeing the classic cars was fun.  

What we thought would be a short hike into the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge turned out to be a long hike in on sand in the hot sun. When we got to Gator Lake, we didn't see any gators. 

I guess some people need to be told not to SWIM with alligators.

During the month we were in Alabama, we made several visits over to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, so we tried a few restaurants. One popular spot is Fish River Grill. Meals include Swamp Soup, which tastes better than it looks, sort of a greens & beans kind of soup. I tried a crawfish pistol, which is crawfish in a sauce stuffed into a roll. Yummy. 

We also tried Niki's Seafood & Thai restaurant. It seemed strange to have Thai food in a beachy-vibe place, with all blue and green decor. The basil spring rolls were good and the tea was served in a big jar. 

A neighbor in Perdido Beach suggested we go to Doc's Seafood Shack. I tried the fried stuffed crab, which I never had before and it was good. 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach had some good places to fish, swim, eat and shop, but we were happy with our choice of our little cabin in the woods in Perdido Beach. It was a much more peaceful and quiet residential area. I took walks every morning on the roads around the neighborhood. 
Sunset from our deck at the cabin. 

Pensacola, FL; Museum of Naval Aviation & More Shrimp

Pensacola is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum, and several people recommended that we visit. Admission is free and even though I don't know a thing about aircraft, it was very interesting. 

View from the second floor looking down onto a display

Old Blue Angels planes on display
Garry had read a recommendation for this little seafood restaurant under the bridge, called Fisherman's Corner, and we stopped for lunch. The food was great and our chatty server told us about a seafood market called Joe Patti's World Famous Seafood. We always carry a cooler, so we made a stop there and bought some more shrimp! I think we had shrimp and/or fish every day in February. Heart healthy! 

Fisherman's Corner - Great fish tacos & amberjack.

World Famous Joe Patti's Seafood Market

Joe himself sitting on the stool to the left, calling out numbers. 

We search out parks when we travel, and found Tarkiln Bayou State Park in Pensacola. It was a little early for the pitcher plants to be in bloom, but we found one! 

Whitetop Pitcherplant

Elevated paths made walking easy and I didn't worry about snakes. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Armadillos, Dinosaurs & Shrimp in Foley, Alabama

Foley, Alabama was the largest town (17,000 pop) near our cabin in Perdido Beach, and on the main highway going to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. It had the necessary shopping centers, restaurants and tourism spots. 

We found two different fish markets in nearby Bon Secour;  Aquila Seafood  and Billy's Seafood  and bought several types of shrimp on more than one visit, which we cooked at home. Our favorite by far was Royal Red Shrimp - tasted like lobster! 

Shrimp Boats next to Billy's Seafood, Bon Secour, AL

Foley has a nice Farmer's & Fisherman's Market, which we visited several times for fresh fish and vegetables. What a treat for us to have fresh broccoli and Brussels sprouts. We bought and cooked some Cobia (also called lemonfish). Tasty! 

Next to the Farmer's Market is a nice restaurant called Wolf Bay, (but it's not really on the bay). Their website photos are much better than mine!  It was one of the many places I tried gumbo, and of course they all say their's is the best. It was very good. So was the rum punch special that night. If you're ever in Foley, Alabama, stop there for a good meal and very friendly service. 

Fish dinner with hush puppies.

Wolf Bay has a nice boutique shop for you to spend money in while you're waiting for a table.  I think these hats would be great for Derby Day.

One of the first animals we saw after arriving in the Foley area was an armadillo, so of course we had to take photos and a video.  

A new family entertainment complex called OWA (pronounced like oh-wah, the name is inspired from the Muscogee Creek language to mean “big water) had been built recently, and I'm sure that during the spring and summer, it will be busy. 

There are many retirement communities in the Foley area. This one had elevated decks so that you could sit outside without worrying about alligators (unless you wanted to swim in the pond). 

Garry likes to use Google Earth to scope out places before we travel, and he saw that people had posted photos of dinosaur statues near Foley, so we had to go on an exploration to find them. They were on the road to Barber Marina. No explanation was given how or why they are there, but they were in pretty bad shape. I think they needed dino veterinary care.  We weren't the only people stopping and taking photos; I guess they are a tourist attraction.  

Foley is home to the Lambert's Cafe (home of the famous "throwed rolls"), but we didn't go there, since we were too busy buying shrimp to cook. Foley also has many thrift shops and while I was in one buying books, Garry saw this tree frog on the light post outside.  

Mardi Gras

Being in Alabama in early February, we learned that not only did Mardi Gras originate in Alabama, but there are many parades and celebrations in the weeks leading up to the actual Mardi Gras date of February 13. The beads and other things tossed to the crowds are called "throws" and you'd better be careful, because they are thrown hard! We went to several parades, the first of which was in Foley. I had my first taste of a Moon Pie, and decided my favorite was the basic chocolate. 

We have more parade pics from parades in Gulf Shores &Orange Beach in that post. We also toured the Carnival Museum in Mobile, Alabama and it was so interesting that I have an entire post just devoted to it. The costumes on display are impressive! 

Bead throwers - Mardi Gras Parade, Foley, Alabama

Beads and Moon Pies! 

Some of our "throws" - and we weren't even trying! 

Whenever we travel, Garry is always on the lookout for dirt to use in his taxidermy mount habitats, and carries containers to take home a few scoops. Do you think I can deduct this trip on the tax return because we brought home some of this red Alabama clay?