Memories, Family and the Beach

After our three weeks in Colorado, we returned to Orange Beach, AL for the remainder of November and December. Thanksgiving was low key given we’d been on the road. We decided to stay in our jammies all day on Thanksgiving and enjoy the parades and football. We did cook turkey, dressing and all of the sides and again our favorite were the collard greens!

While in Orange Beach we ventured over to Pensacola to the Pensacola NAS and went to the Naval Museum. Oh my goodness what a highlight! I couldn’t help but think of my Papa the whole time we were there. You see, my Papa was my “person”. I was very fortunate to know and love him well into my 40’s. He was a great person, but a phenomenal Papa. In his working days, he worked at Jacksonville NAS, NAS JAX to those of you that know it. At NAS JAX he repaired airplanes for the Navy. While at the museum, I was flooded with memories from the smell of his clothes after work, the smell of the hanger when we would visit (which is unheard of today), the sounds of jets flying overhead, the feel of the metal from the planes and even the taste of the navy bean soup! I’ve heard before that the sense of smell is the one that will bring the most vivid memories and sure enough, this was true during our visit.

Do you have a “person” from your childhood? What makes them special to you? Someday I’m going to write a book and give all of the details of my Papa and you’ll be able to really understand why he was my person. For now, just know that he was patient, kind, caring and a rock for me throughout my childhood and into my adult life.

At Pensacola NAS we took the self-guided tour, the bus tour through the graveyard of planes, and, we did the flight simulator ride. Roger also loved being around all of the Navy stuff! And, he’s really good about explaining it all to me and telling stories about his Navy days! All was enjoyable, but wrap it all up with the memories and it was a day I won’t soon forget. And, it makes me so incredibly thankful for our lifestyle and the ability to see and do these things around the country!

There is so much to see and do in the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area. One day, we were just exploring around Pensacola and the Blue Angels were practicing. What a rush! I don’t know how many times you have to see them or how old you need to be to stop feeling the exhilaration of seeing them fly? There were numerous times we would just be out running errands and see them flying, and yes, the same rush!

The beaches in the area were nice and very diverse. I’d go to the beach in Gulf Shores, which is slightly west of Orange Beach, and the sand was wide with plenty of room to hang out or walk. If I went in Orange Beach, the sand was far narrower and walks were easier if coordinated with the tides. The area got its name because it used to be orange groves. Then, when a hurricane wiped out the trees, they slowly transitioned to fishing and tourism. It’s a nice area and our park was nice.

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Orange Beach is about 4 hours for Tallahassee where Tonya grew up. Tonya’s family came to meet us in Pensacola for a day and that was awesome! We don’t get together often enough, but visits like this continue to make memories together!

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Another highlight was when my Mom, Linda, came to visit and the two of us went to the local zoo. We’re not normally big on zoos, but this was a great place! It’s called Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and they have animal encounters so we did all four of them! We were able to interact and pet Tamandua’s (small ant eater), Sloths, Kangaroos and Lemurs. Lemurs were my favorite by far! They crawled all over us and were very curious. We went on a weekday, because that’s what we do in retirement, and it was off season so we were almost the only people in the entire place. This made it very easy to interact with the staff and they were very good at answering questions and taking time to teach us and make us feel special. It was a day we will talk about for years!

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We left Orange Beach and made the very long trip across Texas to Lake Havasu City, AZ. We’ll be here through April with a break at the first part of April for Laura and Chad’s wedding! We love LHC and can’t wait to hang out with our friends here.

Safe travels everyone… and as a friend texted me this week…. “keep your tires aired up, your oil changed, and your hair in the wind”.

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