Saturday, April 23, 2011

sand and sun

I just got back yesterday (Fri, Apr 22) from the Alabama Library Association conference in Orange Beach. I know, I’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! The weather was perfect but I was in conference meetings each day from 8:30-5 so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to goof off. I and my coworkers did spend each evening out by the pool drinking bushwackers. I had never heard of such a thing before but now, sitting here in my quiet house, I’d nearly kill for one. Basically, it was a 151 chocolate milkshake with a little extra floater of 151 on top. Yes, it is VERY special and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. The “mix and mingle” kickoff party Tuesday evening was alright but there was not enough seating and the music was too loud. I’ve no idea why every conference seems to think we must be entertained instead of actually letting us network, but oh well.

My coworker Nancy and I, in attempt to be fashionably late, instead missed out on most of the free margaritas. I only had time for one before they shut it down. It was supposed to be 5-7pm but by 6:15, there were no more free ‘ritas...maybe they didn’t anticipate a high demand from a bunch of librarians. If so, boy were they surprised! They did have a raw oyster bar so I got back at them that way. They tasted great but there were some weird spots on the insides of the shells but I was neither sick nor dead the next day so they must have been alright. I had some each evening and continued on not sick or dead so yay Orange Beach!

Yesterday, I decided to check out early, head down to the public beach and play a little before heading home and then Nancy pointed out that the hotel had a pool, bathroom, and bar and no one but the computer system knew I’d checked out. I packed my stuff, loaded the car, then snuck a hotel towel and a bushwacker down to the beach for some quality time with the ocean and my book. A great quote from Danish author Isak Denisen (wrote Out of Africa): “The cure for anything is saltwater...sweat, tears, or the sea.” So true, so true. The red flags were out and the surf was aggressive but I eventually waded out and had my ass handed to me. I finally, after much struggling and cursing on my part, made it out to a relatively calm section and floated facing the horizon. I huge wave came curling in and I ducked under to let it roll over me and discovered how close I was to shore when it ground me down to the sand and proceeded to REALLY exfoliate my back and fill my swimsuit with eighteen million pounds of sand.

I decided that was enough frolicking for me and headed back to my beach chair. I discovered, on my way home, that the little adventure had also stripped all the sunscreen off from the nape of my neck to the soles of my feet. I am a crispy critter from the back. It’s quite painful and I don’t think I’ll be allowing that to happen again any time soon. I packed up for good and snuck out of the hotel around 4 and got home around 9pm last night. I was exhausted but I’m really glad I stayed to play. If I’d had a brain in my head, I would have swapped weekends with someone and taken a few extra days vacation but I didn’t think of that so off to work I went this morning, grumpy as hell.

The water was clear and beautiful (and a little chilly, but refreshing!) and I saw no evidence of the yucky oil spill that had decimated the region exactly one year before. There are still a lot of places for sale but everything looked full and more cars were streaming in as I was leaving so I really hope the Gulf Coast makes a full recovery this year! It’s beautiful, the seafood is terrific, and the natives are glad to see you!

The original trip down was very nice too, though I forgot to pack my other audiobook and the one I’d been listening to ended entirely too quickly. I hate the radio and there wasn’t enough 3 or 4G coverage for Pandora to work very well. I should have just stopped at a Cracker Barrell and rented one of their audiobooks, but by the time I’d really gotten miserable I didn’t see one single CB before I got to my destination. I really and truly think some sort of worm hole must have opened up because how often can you say you can’t find a Cracker Barrell?! My GPS took me this crazy ass way through Florida and I should have bought a lottery ticket on my way (56 million) but I didn’t...stupid of me. I did notice that most of the Florida public works workers I saw on the roadside were smoking huge, ginormous cigars clamped in the corners of their mouths. That’s just not something I see here in fair AL, but it was amusing. All I could think was that maybe some interesting Cuban black market trading was going on. Also, I saw my first, real-life, Google Maps Street View car. I was driving along and at an intersection about ½ mile ahead I saw this white car with florescent green markings that had a big pole coming up off the roof about 6 to 8 feet with a big red ball on top. As I got closer, it sort of looked like a camera but I still couldn’t tell until I got close enough to read the logo and there it was, Google Maps! I’ve seen images of the cars online but never come across them in person. It was interesting to think my little grimy white Accent might end up on someone’s street view.

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