On Tuesday, November 1st, we drove 166 miles to the campground at Gulf State Park for our two-month stay. With Todd Ehlenfeldt’s assistance, Phil got us backed into our spot in site #12 fairly easily. After getting set up, we attended a happy hour at the campsite of Scott and Gail Wahls, friends we had met here last year. We were joined by longtime friends, Todd and Beth Ehlenfeldt, Tom and Roxi Rykal, and Dave and Jo Peterson.
On Wednesday, the same group gathered for another happy hour, this time at Rykal’s site. We then headed to Doc’s Seafood Shack for dinner, where we shared a bowl of gumbo and split the seafood combo.
On Thursday morning, Jan went for a walk on the beach.
That afternoon, we drove to Pensacola, FL and caught a nonstop flight to Nashville so we could attend Jan’s 45th high school reunion. We spent the night at the Club Hotel near the airport. On Friday, we drove to the reunion venue at The Lodge at Paris Landing State Park, after making brief stops in Camden and having an early dinner in Paris. Our room at The Lodge was very nice and overlooked the Tennessee River. That evening, we met around the firepit with many of the early-arriving attendees.
On Saturday, after lunch in the lodge’s restaurant, many of the group gathered around the big screen TV to watch the Tennessee – Georgia football game. Unfortunately, the game did not go as well as hoped and the crowd dwindled after halftime.
The main event began at 6 pm, with socializing and dining on a wide array of finger foods. At 7 pm, the music began and was provided by a one-man band who was quite good. There was a large turnout from the Class of 1977 and the attendees enjoyed reconnecting. The fun continued until after 11 pm.
On Sunday, after saying goodbyes, we headed back to the Nashville airport. Before catching our afternoon flight, we stopped for an early dinner at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen at Opry Mills and consumed catfish, spare ribs, four sides and peach cobbler. Our nonstop flight back to Pensacola was on-time and we got back to our campsite by 6:30 pm.
On Monday, November 7th, we celebrated Scott’s birthday with the Ehlenfeldts, Petersons and Wahls with dinner at DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen. This was the first of three birthdays our group will celebrate in November.
Tuesday morning, Phil went to the Orange Beach Rec Center and played pickleball for nearly three hours. Since he hadn’t played in about two months, he was rather stiff afterward. That afternoon, we hosted a gathering of the five couples at our site and played numerous games of LCR.
On Wednesday, we headed to Walgreens and both got our flu shots and COVID boosters. Thursday afternoon, we met the whole group at the Big Beach Brewing Company for an offsite happy hour.
Afterward, we sat outside and enjoyed the heat from our fire ring. We had purchased the fire ring and propane tank in the Spring but this was the first time we had tried it out.
On Friday and Saturday mornings, Phil played pickleball at Gulf State Park. Although the concrete courts contain a lot of cracks, there were some very good players there and it was free (unlike the Rec Center).
On Friday evening, we went to Papa Rocco’s for dinner with Tom, Roxi, Beth and Gail. Our primary reason for this outing was to see Bo Grant, formerly of The Platters. We have seen him perform at least once each of the past three winters. In 2019, Jan had asked him to change the lyrics of Sixteen Candles to Sixty Candles in honor of her 60th birthday, but he had forgotten to do it. Jan reminded him that he had let her down and, this time, he obliged her request, albeit three years late.
On Tuesday, November 15th, Phil got online at exactly 8 am to request reservations at Gulf State Park for November 2023. He had pre-programed his iPad to reduce the entry time somewhat and was able to complete the forms in 86 seconds (15 seconds faster than in 2021). However, due to the increasing popularity of this campground, his entry was #324 in the queue (60 higher than in 2021). Fortunately, he got the callback the following afternoon and was able to reserve our same campsite (#12) for next November.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jan joined Beth, Roxi, Jo and Gail for a girl’s day out. They went to The Wharf to see the movie Ticket to Paradise, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Afterward, they did some shopping at The Wharf and had refreshments at Tacky Jacks.
On Wednesday, we drove north to Spanish Fort and Daphne for some shopping. We then stopped for lunch at Market by the Bay, based on a recommendation from an older gentleman who had dropped by our rig when we were in Georgia. We both had shrimp po’boy sandwiches and agreed with the recommendation. After lunch, we stopped in Fairhope and did some Christmas shopping.
On Friday morning, we picked up Jason at the Pensacola airport and stopped for breakfast at Brick & Spoon in Orange Beach. Saturday was rainy so we decided to spend the afternoon at the movies. We went to The Wharf and saw The Menu, described as a horror/comedy film. Phil enjoyed it more than Jan. After the movie, we headed to Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar for Jason’s 40th birthday dinner. We returned home to watch the Tennessee Vols football game. Unfortunately, the Vols were overrun badly by the South Carolina Gamecocks, thus ending the Vols’ hopes of a national championship run.
After taking Jason back to the Pensacola airport for his flight home on Sunday morning, we joined the Ehlenfeldts, Petersons and Wahls that afternoon at Doc’s Seafood and Steaks restaurant to celebrate Beth’s birthday. This Doc’s is the newer version of the restaurant where we had eaten on Saturday night. We then returned to the Ehlenfeldt’s coach and had cake and ice cream.
Since we were going to be in Denver on Thanksgiving Day, the group decided to celebrate the holiday on Tuesday. We gathered at the Petersons’ site and everyone brought multiple dishes. As usual, we ate more than we should have but it was all very good. After dinner, we played games and then gathered around the Wahl’s fire ring to escape the dropping temperatures.