Nolan Getaways – 1998
Travel by Lewis and Betty Nolan
Dec. 31, 1997-Jan. 4, 1998: Gulf Shores, AL
Aug. 3-15: Gulf Shores
Mar. 19-20: Old Waverly Golf Club, Starkville
Aug. 25: Old Waverly
April 3-12: Gulf Shores
Sept. 18: Old Waverly
May 19: Old Waverly
Sept. 23-25: Washington, DC
June 3: Pickwick Landing, TN
Oct. 8: Old Waverly
June 9-15: Maui, Hawaii
Oct. 21: Sardis, MS
June 26: Little Rock, AR
Oct. 24: Mountain View, AR
July 3: Old Waverly
Oct. 29: Old Waverly
July 23-26: Little Rock & Hot Springs, AR
Nov. 5: Old Waverly
Nov. 18: Old Waverly
Nov. 24-29: Gulf Shores
Dec. 9-12: New Orleans
Betty and I drove from our home in Memphis to Gulf Shores, AL after dropping our son, Casey, off at the Memphis Airport. He had been home for Christmas. We had good weather for the 450-mile to the south and surprisingly light traffic.
However, we had to scrub our plans to stay at our condo due to a communications mixup with Kaiser Realty, our agent. Unbeknownest to us, they had rented our small condo on the beach to some snowbirds for two months. We were pleased at the prospects of getting the rental income from the low season when not many people rent along the Gulf of Mexico.
So we changed our plans and got a great rate at a nearby Holiday Inn for $55 a night and stayed there for two nights.
We walked for about three miles along the beach at Fort Morgan near the Mobile Bay on New Year’s Day. Then the next day, January 2, I played 18 holes of golf at the State Park course and walked the entire 4 miles. I shot a surprisingly low 87 (41 on the front 9 holes and 46 on the back 9).
We drove to Biloxi, MS on Jan. 3 to see our longtime friends, Marty and Marge Pendleton. We treated them to dinner and spent the night at their retirement home. Then we drove home to Memphis the next day.
I drove to Old Waverly with my golf pal, who is Betty’s colleague at Northside High School, Don Holmes. He is coach of the Northside Girls’ Basketball team and has an outstanding player who is being recruited by my alma mater, Mississippi State University. I wanted to play a round at Old Waverly with Don and to introduce him to golfers Sharon Fanning, coach of MSU’s women’s basketball team, and Sammie Johnson, the university’s assistant Athletics Director.
I hosted a nice lunch at the club for the four of us and we then played 18 holes. Both women were pretty good and made for excellent company. Don is a great golfer who has previously won the amateur Publinx championship put on by the Memphis Parks Commission. Since I have to play really well in order to be even average, I was the odd man out in our foursome.
That night, Don and I hosted an excellent dinner at Harvey’s Restaurant in Starkville, MS for my longtime friend and former English professor at MSU, Dr. Clyde Williams. I had wanted Don to have the opportunity to talk with a member of the faculty to get an idea of the university’s expectations for his player’s academics if she accepted the athletic scholarship.
The next morning, Don and I had breakfast in the university grill with Coach Fanning and one of her assistant coaches. After eating, Don went off with the two women coaches to tour the MSU basketball facility. I hooked up with two other pals at MSU, Dr. Jack White, chair of the university’s Honors Program, and Dr. Don Mabry, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. I had gotten to know both of them through my honor and volunteer work as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Unfortunately, I had to cancel an afternoon round of golf back at Old Waverly that afternoon. I had taken a nasty fall the previous day when the new soft spikes on my golf shoes wouldn’t grip the wet and slippery, back sides of a green. So Don and I drove back to Memphis early. I was glad that he seemed impressed by the chance to have one of his players on the MSU squad. I feel our trip had opened a new door that would benefit everybody.
(As a postscript, Northside’s player, Myquita Mackey, accepted the MSU scholarship and was soon named a starting member of the women’s basketball team, quite an honor for a freshman player in the Southeastern Conference. However, she ended up quitting the team and leaving MSU after becoming pregnant. She went on to play at Shelby State Community College, which won a national junior college championship.)
Catching Spanish Mackerel at Gulf Shores Pier
Betty and I drove to Gulf Shores in her new Mustang convertible, a white beauty of a car I gave her for our upcoming wedding anniversary. The convertible top took up space that would otherwise accommodate luggage in the trunk, so we traveled with a lighter load of clothing and supplies than usual. Also, the wind scoop/spoiler mounted on the trunk meant we couldn’t strap the bike racks on the back of the car. So we didn’t take our 10-speed bikes as is our custom this time of the year. I later missed being able to ride on the wide bike lanes along the beach roads.
The weather at Gulf Shores was near perfect and just delightful. I played golf at the State Park course on April 5 (shot a 93), on April 8 (shot a 91) and on April 10 (shot an 88).
During every 18-hole round I walked the about 4 mile-length of the course. For other exercise, I swam about 1,000 yards in the town’s new indoor pool at the athletic-recreational complex during my first use of the new facility.
Our friends Marty and Marge Pendleton drove over to Gulf Shores from their retirement home in Biloxi, MS. We enjoyed a great lunch at DeSoto’s restaurant on April 9.
I took along my old fishing pole on this trip to Gulf Shores and was lucky enough to happen to hit a migration of Spanish Mackerel swimming in about 30 feet of water off the end of the quarter-mile-long pier at the State Park. On the advice of a Park Ranger and other fishermen, I had bought a feather-tipped jig and used it to good purposes. I actually caught five, nice-sized Spanish Mackerel off the end of the pier, a very unusual accomplishment for this challenged fisherman.
Betty, familiar with my usual bad luck at fishing and my total lack of angling skills, had promised to clean any fish that I caught. Was she surprised to see my haul. She soaked the fillets cut from the fish in salt water then marinated them in Italian salad dressing. We were both surprised how good they tasted once they were properly cooked on a barbeque grill.
Driving around Gulf Shores along the beach roads in Betty’s top-down Mustang was pleasant. We returned to Memphis and our home on April 12.
To Old Waverly, Where I Scored 87, Curtis 73
May 19, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my golf buddy Curtis Downs. We both had good days, with me shooting an 87 and Curtis shooting 73. His score was his best with me at the club. We both played well enough to par the difficult Hole No. 18, which doesn’t happen very often.
To Pickwick Landing Golf Club With Jerry Hall
June 3, 1998 – To Pickwick Landing, Tenn.
I drove to Pickwick Landing with my pal Jerry Hall, where we joined his friends G. A. Hardaway, Vernon Grose, Paul Black and Scott for a golf scramble to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The scramble had been organized by Tennessee Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh. Jerry, former aide to U.S. Senator Harlan Matthews, and his pals were all well connected with Tennessee politicians. I paid $100 for our fivesome’s entry fee to help St. Jude and to keep my political contacts reasonably well oiled.
Between us, we were 10 shots below par for 18 holes, a good score on a tough course even for proficient golfers. But it took an 18 below par to win even the Second Flight contest.
The day was quite hot and the heavy stand of trees on the course’s hilly terrain kept off whatever cooling wind there might have been. But it was good to see Gov. Don Sundquist and a few others active in Tennessee politics. I enjoyed our good conversation with Jerry.
Betty Nolan On Seawall at Lahaina Old Town on West Maui
Return To Nolan Travels Home Page / Page Updated April 22, 2008
Our trip to Maui to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary did not start auspiciously. Betty took a day off from school today, a Tuesday, so that we could squeeze in an extra day for the vacation. I had arranged free, round-trip tickets to Honolulu on Northwest Airlines in exchange for 60,000 frequent flyer miles under a special promotion that required completion of travel on June 15. Betty had 10,000 miles in her frequent flyer account, enough to provide free tickets for the connecting flights to Maui. But due to 55 of the about 150 seats on the Memphis-Seattle plane being booked by the military (compounded by my failure to call in seat reservations 30 days in advance), the plane was completely full and we ended up in different rows with middle seats on the way out. Uggh. The aggravation started at the curbside check-in at Memphis International Airport, when the skycap mislabeled our final destination as Honolulu, when we wanted our bags checked through to Maui. We had to wait in line at the inside counter for a long time for a very slow clerk, possibly influenced by the strike talk that is current at Northwest. It's got to get better.
The plane sat on the runway for 1 hour and 15 minutes due to the late arrival of the military personnel and their luggage. They were evidently on their way to the Seattle area for summer camp training. With a totally full plane, it was a long flight, further delayed by having to circle around Seattle due to heavy traffic in the area. At least my two seatmates were fairly small in stature. One was an Asian who slept all the way. The other was an English prof at Georgia State University at Columbus, en route to the Philippines on a 28-hour trip. Betty had a polite, young serviceman on one side and a chatty teacher-widow on the other. We were on the plane for 6 hours, counting runway time. Breakfast was served at 11:30 a.m.
We were met at the Seattle Airport by my Aunt Margaret Nolan and her youngest son, Tim. We treated them to a lunch of burgers at an airport restaurant and had a nice visit. I learned she is selling her lakeside home for $600,000 and has already bought another place; oldest son Donnie and his second wife are getting divorced; third son Mike is home working part-time while wife LeAnn and daughter travel in Northern Africa and Eastern Europe; second son Dick has finished his latest book and is returning to Harvard to teach.
The DC-10 from Seattle to Honolulu was also completely filled. We both had aisle seats, generally across from one another. Betty's seatmate, a young Japanese man, declined to swap his window seat for my interior aisle seat. It was a 5 1/2 hour flight, delayed by 30 minutes. My seatmate was Aaron, 7, who was flying with his dad, a native Hawaiian on his way to Hilo for a family reunion. Father was also a world champion dart thrower and a very laid back guy, who was generous with his supply of home-made beef jerky. The boy was a bundle of energy and a delight. But the flight seemed endless. A lousy evening meal of chicken and rice, possibly the worst airline food I've ever had, was most unsatisfying.
We finally arrived at Honolulu about 6 p.m. and promptly boarded the Wiki Wiki shuttle bus to transport us to the inter-island terminal and Hawaiian Airlines for the 25-minute hop to Maui. At Maui, we rented an Alamo car, declining the clerk's urgings to trade up from a midsize to a larger car, and ended up with a large Chevrolet Lumina anyway - for no extra charge. Our bags caught up with us on the next flight and we left the airport about 8 p.m. My screw-up in directions, possibly triggered by tiredness, had us drive way out of the way to the Mona Kai Maui condominiums at Kehei rather than the Maui Kai condominiums at Kaanapali Beach. The lost hour made me even crankier. We finally arrived about 10 p.m., after stopping for a takeout sandwich and beer, thoroughly exhausted. With the five-hour time difference and all the delays, we had been traveling for 19 hours since arriving at the Memphis airport.
With bodies confused by five time zone changes and the stress of yesterday's travel hassles, we got up quite early - 5 a.m. - and enjoyed watching the dimly lighted surf roll up to the thin strip of beach in front of our condo building. We stayed in a studio condominium at the Maui Kai, an older property on an extremely choice spot. (Address is www.mauikai.com. e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. 800-367-5635). We were on the 8th floor, unit No. 807 "Hale Lono", and had a generously sized unit that was superbly equipped . It had been owned by a California couple for some years. (e-mail is email@example.com). Their guest comment book contained a wealth of plaudits and useful information, plus a few laughs for us. The somewhat dated decor wasn't to our taste, but the unit was very comfortable. The water's edge at high tide is perhaps 30 feet from the building; evidently some of the beach has washed away since construction. It had the usual facilities, including a pool, hot tub, etc. Next door was a gigantic Embassy Suites Resort Hotel, shaped like an Aztec pyramid and with a huge, waterfall pool. Some large rocks had been placed on our thin strip of sand in front of the building to stabilize the beach. Just below the sand was smooth rock, either volcano or coral. The view of the rolling surf, bracketed by the Island of Lanai to the left and the Island of Molakai to the right, was beyond a doubt absolutely the finest we've ever had of anyplace we've stayed, anywhere in the world. Our balcony, or lanai, was nice sized and included a day bed, table and comfortable chairs. It faced the ocean and we were up high enough that we could not be seen by persons walking the beach beneath or by any of the units to the side. It was very private and extraordinarily scenic. The snorkeling in the shallow water in front of the building was quite good, with many dozens of colorful reef fish, some 18 inches or so long and unafraid.
After my morning snorkel around our section of Kaanapali Beach in front of our condo, we got off to an early start. The first stop was Hilo Hatties in nearby Lahaina (pronounced lah-highnah), an inviting, island chain mixing junky souvenirs with quality Hawaiian clothing. We had visited an affiliate five years earlier on Kuai. We purchased a gaudy shirt and necktie for me, two long dresses for Betty and several gifts for Casey, my niece Kate Nolan, age 10, and our neighbor, Kate Walker, age 6. We visited a nearby re-creation of an ancient, native "Hana," a living compound consisting of three log-and-grass huts and several totem poles. The floors were of loose, flat rocks covered with straw mats. Must have been tough sleeping, even with the Hawaiian proclivity for body fat.
We parked the rental car along the waterfront of the
Lahaina Old Town, now a blocks-long collection of trendy gift shops and
watering holes. We picked up my niece a shirt from the local Hard Rock Cafe and
Betty a snazzy bracelet locally crafted from lapis and hematite. We watched the
surfers, poked around the marina of tourist cruise/sailing/fishing/snorkeling
boats and then shopped for a few groceries at a nearby Safeway, where some
prices were quite high and some surprisingly low (gin and wine was about 50
percent cheaper than in Memphis and sales tax only 4 percent). Unleaded,
regular gasoline is $1.71-to-$1.89 a gallon, compared to $0.99-to-$1.03 at
We dived into green salads for lunch back at the condo. I then snorkeled and took a nap while Betty sunned on our lanai. Later, we went to Erik's Seafood Grotto for dinner, a place recommended by Fodor's Guidebook and also the concierge at the condo. It was a "moderate price" establishment, but with a bottle of wine the tab and tip came to $100. But the fresh fish (sea bass for me, macadamia nut encrusted mahi-mahi for Betty) was superb. We then poked around the cavernous Embassy Suites lobby, which reminded us of the Acapulco Princess, and admired the stands of fresh flowers, both of the cut variety and also in the numerous beds. I had purchased a plumaria lei for Betty at the restaurant, which she put in the fridge once we got back to our condo. The cooling trade winds and the screened double-doors to our porch made our use of the condo air-conditioning quite sparing; it only ran for one night, and that was only for a brief time.
After a breakfast of surprisingly good, multigrain bread toast with peanut butter, I got back into the water for a morning snorkel and again saw a good many, colorful fish in the shallow water in front of our condo. Some light surf and the smooth rock at water's edge at low tide made it somewhat difficult for me to exit the water with fins on, reminding me of the aging process worsened by a persistent muscle strain in my lower abdomen. I was mindful of the time, harkening back 35 years ago, when I had the strength and agility to pop out of the surf-washed rocks around Santa Cruz, CA like a sea lion. At mid-morning, I departed for the Silversword Golf Club, about 35 minutes away at Kihei. It is named for a local plant that is silver in color and akin to the Century Plant; it sends up a sword-like, reproductive stalk after 4-to-14 years, then dies. The course has a good but distant view of the ocean and plays on rolling hills. From the white tees the rating is 68.8, slope is 117 and it plays 6,003 yards. It was in excellent condition, with generous greens and generally wide fairways. The afternoon rate was $44. While the clubhouse and adjoining restaurant were somewhat shabby, I had a very good salad and hot dog for lunch at a reasonable price. I was paired with an American-Japanese couple from Orange County, Calif., Kats and Grace, both 80 years old, retired since age 62 and regular visitors to Maui and Silversword. They couldn't hit the ball very far, but kept it in the fairway and were great company. He mentioned he had been imprisoned in a relocation camp during World War II and I told him about going to school in Sacramento with Japanese-American kids born in the Tule Lake Camp in Northern California. I was wild off the tee, losing several balls. But I managed a 99 due to a fairly good short iron game and decent putting. While I sunned, Betty enjoyed the beach and three spectacular rainbows. An unusual atmospheric occurrence happened repeatedly that day and others: there could be no clouds overhead and bright sun, but light rain could fall without warning. Really odd.
On the recommendation of Tony, the female concierge at the condo, we got takeout dinners from a nearby Japanese deli, Honokowai Okazuya & Deli. My ono (a wahoo fish) in a lemon caper sauce was outstanding. Betty's Panko Fried Mahi Mahi was also outstanding. The accompanying rice and stir-fried vegetables were OK. The meal was surprisingly plentiful and cheap, about $15 for both. We sipped chardonnay and watched the beautiful sunset from our balcony, with the rolling surf and view of the two nearby islands simply gorgeous. We retired early due to the early wake-up the next day for our bike ride.
Lewis & Betty Nolan At Crater
We got up early as usual in this five-hour time zone change and drove 1 hour and 15 minutes to Kula Lodge at the base of the dormant Haleakala Volcano and National Park. We were told the last eruption was in 1790, leaving a crater big enough to hold the entire island of Manhattan. The lodge was the pickup point for Maui Downhill, one of several bike firms that provide rides down from the volcano's peak. We joined 10 other riders and boarded a van pulling a trailer of mountain bikes. Two young men, Randy and Val, were the leaders. It seemed like a class outfit (www.mauidownhill.net) as all the equipment was nearly new and the young men seemed to know their stuff and were quite nice. The cost was $62 each, which seemed to be worth it considering the high level of service. We chose the 22-mile escorted ride (coast is more descriptive) down the mountain and it was a fabulous ride. It took about an hour to drive up to the peak, stopping midway at a Park Service rest area. The crater itself was a huge and desolate hole that looked like a moonscape. We talked to a Park ranger in the visitor center about the Silversword plant. We were well above the clouds, at nearly 10,000 feet, and the sky was perfectly clear and blue due to the cleansing of the trade winds and distance from mainland pollutants. It was quite cool and even a short walk up an incline had me out of breath, due to the thin air.
The top of the mountain was bleakly covered with volcanic rock and lava stones, with only sparse vegetation. We donned yellow rain suits, gloves and helmets for safety and to provide some warmth from the chilly wind and mist we would be descending through. With the exception of a few hundred yards, we coasted all 22 miles down the twisting switchbacks. Our average speed was probably 10 mph, with Betty and me riding our handbrakes most of the way down due to slower riders in front of us (two honeymoon couples among them). It was a safe ride, with Val serving as "line leader" and Randy blocking the rear of our single-file group with the van-trailer. We stopped at wide spots or did "rolling passes" in the bike lane occasionally to let cars and tour buses of Japanese tourists go by. The ride, including a photo stop, took 1 1/2 hours. Afterwards Betty and I changed clothes (shorts for long pants) and visited the nearby Enchanting Floral Gardens, an exquisite eight acres of tropical flowers and exotic plants. We took many photos of the lush vegetation.
Photo Op Stop Midway Down
Later that afternoon we drove to Ho'okipa Beach Park, site of the world windsurfing championships and watched the superbly conditioned and skilled windsurfers scream across the wind-driven waves at 30, 40 and maybe more miles per hour. It was a sensational sight. The strong winds that converge on the point there draw professionals from around the world; we spoke to several Germans and Spanish speaking young adults.
We witnessed an incredible display of athletic prowess and courage by one well-built young man who strapped himself into shoes built into a boogie board with skegs at each end. He then hooked the contraption onto 150 feet or so of line that was attached to a parasail-shaped kite perhaps 15-to-18 feet across and 6 feet wide. He maneuvered the kite with a trapeze-like bar, which was in turn connected to the boogie board and used its wind-driven pull to literally drag his body across 30 yards of sand and rock to water's edge. Then, with a snap of the controlling trapeze, the kite shot skyward and he was racing across the water under tow at high speed. He zoomed back and forth at speeds faster than the windsurfer boards, occasionally lofting up from the tops of waves 20 or more feet into the air vertically and 50 or more feet laterally. It was one helluva show. I'd never seen anything like it, nor had the several people on the beach we asked. Later, I learned from a native surfer that there are several people on Maui who are experimenting with such parasail devices. This one could reach across the wind or run with the wind, but was unable to beat into the wind.
Lewis Nolan Scopes Out Beach
After an hour or so of fascinating viewing, we drove a few miles up the road toward Hana. But we tired of the rather boring scenery - compared to the surfer beach and what we had seen on our trip to Kuai five years previously - so we turned around and returned to our side of the island, where we had a tasty dinner at Lahaina Coolers (ono in a black bean sauce for me, crabcakes and chicken salad with mangos for Betty). We got back to the condo at 7 p.m., just in time for Betty to take a picture of the setting sun. Again, sitting on our balcony watching the waves and listening to the surf was a delight. The temperatures for sitting out were about perfect, mid to upper 70s with a friendly breeze. We again kept the doors open (screens closed) and slept without the air conditioner running, allowing us to hear the wind and surf all night.
Saturday, our last full day in Maui. Drat. Again started a wonderful day by snorkeling in front of our condo and was again charmed by the sight of dozens and dozens of brightly colored reef fish, who seemed to be as curious about me as I was about them. Afterwards, I lazed around the condo and watched the start and turn of a sailboat race - the committee boat and its tender set the line directly in front of our condo. There were eight small cruisers, mainly J boats. Betty sunned at the pool and I repaired to the Kapalua Plantation Golf Club, about 15 minutes away. It is the site of the PGA season-opening Mercedes Championship (formerly sponsored by Lincoln Mercury), featuring invitations to the winners of PGA tournaments from the previous years. Fred Couples has won it several times. The course plays on a hillside cut out of a pineapple plantation and incorporates some steep ravines into the rough. I was paired with two guys from St. Louis and a young man from Los Angeles who was accompanied by his Japanese-American wife. One of the guys from Missouri had an even worse trip out than we did - 25 hours. We were a mediocre foursome at best, with me ending up with the honors most of the time. I hit the ball pretty well, except for some awful miss-hits off the tee. My short irons were the best they've been in a long time and my putter was hot, allowing me to save a lot of pars with one-putts. Through nine holes I was at 45, including three triple bogeys. Late in the day (I didn't start until 2 p.m. in order to get the $75 twilight rate, which was half the normal rate), it started to mist and then sprinkle. By the time I hit from the 17th tee, it was a hard, blowing rain so I retreated to the well-appointed clubhouse. It was a shame because I had been playing good golf on a tough course (rating of 71.9, slope of 135 and 6,547 yards off the whites) and stood at 78 through 16 holes. Golf Digest rates Plantation as No. 1 in Maui, No. 4 in Hawaii and No. 82 in the U.S. By extrapolating bogeys for the last two holes, I calculated that I could have finished under 90 if my scoring average had at least held for the last two holes.
I didn't get back to the condo until after 7 p.m., where I learned that Betty's day in the sun had been interrupted by on-and-off rain showers all day. So dinner was Japanese takeout again and it was again quite good. We both had the Panko Fried Mahi Mahi, which were dolphin fish filets (not the mammal), breaded and then deep fried.
Things got off to a lousy start early in the morning when we discovered the condo building’s elevators weren't working. The "emergency house phone" in the lobby yielded a recorded message. So we had to trudge up and down eight flights of stairs with our luggage. At least my golf clubs were already in the trunk of the car. I filled the car with $20 of gas and drove to the airport, about 45 minutes away on the other side of the island. Hawaiian Airlines was not able to check our bags through to Memphis due to an error message regarding our tickets on the computer system, which we learned later was due to the connecting LA-Memphis flight on Northwest having been cancelled. Surprise. Without the baggage check-through, we had to hassle our luggage off the Hawaiian Airlines conveyor, onto a shuttle bus, back through yet another agricultural inspection station and up to the Northwest counter at another terminal in Honolulu.
At the counter we learned that the key flight for our return - LA to Memphis - no longer existed. Our options were limited. We had planned on spending the day in Honolulu and touring the Battleship Arizona Memorial and visiting Waikiki Beach before catching the 4:55 p.m. flight to LA. We could have stayed over a day (at our expense) or taken the 9:45 p.m. flight that night, spent the early morning hours at the LA airport and caught an early flight into Memphis, arriving at 1 p.m. But that seemed like just too many hours traveling and we were ready to get home. So we opted to take connections with the earliest possible arrival in Memphis, a looping series of flights that went from Honolulu to Seattle to Detroit to Memphis. We boarded the packed DC-10 at 12:45 p.m. after a lunch of burgers at the airport (the last decent food we would get in a long time) and promptly sat on the runway for two hours while first one mechanical problem was fixed, and then another. We finally took off at 3 p.m. At least they held the Detroit flight for the many passengers who shared our circumstances. The red eye to Detroit was also packed and I was amazed to see so many passengers seemingly able to sleep. We arrived in Detroit at 6:50 a.m., only to dash out of one terminal and down the concourse of another to find out the 7 a.m. Memphis flight had already taken off. Luckily, another 7 a.m. flight to Memphis had been delayed a few minutes and because of our jogging (and aggressive pushiness to counter agents), we were able to get on it.
Given the patterned sequence of Northwest screw-ups, we
were not at all surprised to find out that only one of our three checked bags
made it to Memphis with us. (The others came in late in the day and were
delivered to our home that evening.) After arriving home about 9 a.m., we
showered and napped for most of what remained of the morning. It was several
days before our bodies recovered from the cramped seating of 19 hours and the
time zone changes. Since leaving the Maui condo at 7:15 a.m., we had been
traveling nearly 22 hours. Next time, we'll either stage the trip with a
stopover or two in California or fly first class. Maui is delightful, but
getting there and back this time carried a big price tag in wear-and-tear on
- Lewis Nolan, June 22, 1998
To Little Rock To Pick Up Brother Bill, Niece Kate
June 26, 1998 – To Little Rock
I drove from my home in Memphis to the Little Rock airport to meet my niece, Kate, daughter of my brother William Ray “Bill” Nolan of Sacramento. Bill’s beloved wife, Anna, had died tragically of cancer earlier in the year, leaving Bill a widower and their daughter, age 10, motherless. I had offered to keep Kate for an unspecified period of time to help Bill raise her and to give him some time by himself.
To Old Waverly and Golf With MSU’s Jackie Sherrill
July 3, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my fellow club member Curtis Downs in his Lexus. Curtis and I happened to join up on the back 9 holes with Mississippi State University head football coach Jackie Sherrill. Jackie is another Old Waverly member and a great golfer. Playing with him was an orthopedic surgeon of Columbus, MS, who served as MSU football team doctor whose name was Rusty. Small world. It turned out he had down his medical residency at Campbell Clinic in Memphis, where my Church Sunday classmate is chairman.
Jackie, who had an unfortunate reputation as being a tough guy to deal with but an excellent coach in the Southeastern Conference, proved to be good company on the golf course. He hit his drives a long way, but sometimes they leaked into the rough. I was somewhat amused when Jackie (whose putting was off on this day) repeatedly tried to “coach” me on my putting stroke even though I was putting pretty well. I think I shot a 97 for the day, not a good score for me.
Interestingly, Jackie proposed – and we accepted – a gentleman’s bet to pay for clubhouse drinks after Hole No. 18 – with the combined hole strokes score by his team of Jackie and Rusty against the combined score on the hole of me and Curtis. It’s possible I miscalculated, but it sure looked to me that Jackie somehow “forgot” to count a penalty for a ball he mistakenly hit into the water off the tee. So his team won the bet. Curtis and I paid up without a fuss and laughed about it later when we reminded ourselves that MSU is the most penalized team in the SEC.
Back To Little Rock Airport to Pick Up Brother Pat
July 19, 1998: To Little Rock
I drove to Little Rock in the Ford Taurus station wagon with Betty and our niece Kate Nolan of Sacramento, CA to pick up my brother Patrick Thomas “Pat” Nolan, who was flying in on a cheap flight from Sacramento. He had moved his planned visit to Memphis up by a week at my request so he could escort Kate back to Sacramento. Sadly for everybody, Kate’s visit wasn’t the happy occasion everybody had expected. She was homesick being away from her dad – my youngest brother Bill – and missed her friends. So Kate was heading home 10 days earlier than planned, with Pat to keep her company and keep her safe during the trip home.
Betty and I had enrolled Kate in the summer school program of our Evergreen Presbyterian Church to give her something to do during the day with kids of her age, with the bonus of what I thought would be a beneficial exposure to Christianity. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good match for Kate, an independent girl who wanted her own way.
July 23, 1998: Back To Little Rock and Hot Springs, AR
I again drove the Ford Taurus station wagon to the Little Rock airport with Betty, my brother, Pat, and our niece, Kate Nolan so Pat and Kate could take advantage of some cheap airfares on Southwest Airlines. Their flight out to Phoenix was scheduled to depart at 6:05 p.m. and connect with a flight to Sacramento scheduled to arrive at 10:30 that night.
While I enjoyed spending time with both Kate and Pat, I admit to being relieved of the strain from a month’s worth of houseguests who were not happy at being in Memphis. After seeing them off, Betty and I drove an hour or so to the west to Hot Springs, AR, where we stayed for two nights of R&R.
We ate dinner twice at our favorite restaurant, Bohemia, which serves delicious German food in the resort town. We both took two hot, mineral water baths while there – one at the Arlington Hotel where we stayed and one at the fabulous Buckstaff Bathhouse. We also poked around the touristy shops in the downtown area.
To Dauphin Island for Civil War Re-Enactment
Aug. 3-15, 1998 – To Gulf Shores & Dauphin Island, AL
Betty and I drove to Gulf Shores in our Ford Taurus station wagon so we could take our 10-speed bicycles with us. I also took my fishing pole but only used it once when I caught only three small panfish off the dock in the big lagoon behind our Gulf Village condo complex. I used frozen shrimp as bait.
I played golf four times at the Gulf State Park course during our stay. My lowest score for 9 holes was a respectable 42. But my lowest score for 18 holes was an indifferent 92. Betty and I went cycling five times. The weather was quite good for riding, with high temperatures in the mid-90s and only one day of rain. The highpoint of the cycling was the day we took the bikes with us when we rode the car ferry across Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island.
We visited with some of the re-enactors of the 4th Alabama Civil War cavalry unit on the island fort, including one man who claimed his great-grandfather had survived the infamous and murderous Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The cavalry re-enacting unit had encamped at Gettysburg, PA earlier this year.
We had a good lunch of oyster po-boys at the Seafood Galley on Dauphin Island. Later, we had a so-so dinner back at Gulf Shores in the Outrigger Restaurant with our friends from Biloxi, MS, Marty and Marge Pendleton. We also dined at The Spot several times and had good dinners there.
Tired of dealing with worn-out stove burners and an oven that wouldn’t regulate properly, we had our condo rental agent, Kaiser Realty, have installed a new stove from Sears.
Unfortunately, we had terrible rain to drive through on our way home to Memphis.
$100 ‘Locks In’ Golf Lesson Commitment
Aug. 25, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly to take my first, much-needed golf lesson of the year from Assistant Pro Richard Taylor. He worked with me on my short game after giving me some pointers on my defective putting game. I treated him to lunch and gave him a $100 bill in thanks and as my commitment to improving my golf.
Lunch with Clyde Williams at Old Waverly
Sept. 18, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly to take another golf lesson and to have lunch with my old pal and English professor from Mississippi State University, Dr. Clyde Williams. An MSU alumni and member of the Board of Advisors for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, I had earlier endowed a Book Scholarship Fund for the English Department and had named Clyde as administrator of the program.
Over lunch at Old Waverly, Clyde and I discussed the funding situation of the book fund. I was glad to hear from him that it seemed to be about the right size now, with a corpus of about $20,000. That was enough to spin off several annual awards of $300 (to be paid for out of interest received and used for purchase of books) for deserving students whom he would select.
I took a lesson on “flop shots” (arching shots from just off the green with only a little roll) from Old Waverly Assistant Pro Richard Taylor. Afterwards, I played nine holes and shot a 47.
Rep. Tanner ‘Steals Show’ with Clinton Quip
Sept. 23-25, 1998 – To Washington, DC
I flew from Memphis to Washington, DC as part of a Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce group of 28 government relations executives. I was pleased that all the arrangements went perfectly, a tribute for what Northwest Airlines and others involved in the transportation and lodging business can do when dealing with people they think are important.
I traveled for free, courtesy of a special grant of $2,000 my old friend and co-worker Dick Kinney had arranged for Schering-Plough to give to the Chamber. I had worked with Dick (head of government and community relations for Schering-Plough Corporation and president of the Schering-Plough Foundation) for many years when I was in charge of those functions for Tennessee operations of corporate subsidiary Schering-Plough HealthCare Products and related company organizations.
I stayed with other members of the Chamber delegation at the Doubletree Hotel near the Washington airport. We had a nice sandwich lunch at the headquarters of the National Chamber of Commerce and were briefed on legislative and political matters by several staffers. I greatly enjoyed an excellent dinner as Dick’s guest at the University Club. Particularly good were the crab cakes, smoked salmon served with caviar and the Cambria Chardonnay.
The next morning, I skipped attending several morning Chamber sessions so I could sleep in and enjoy a hot breakfast buffet at the hotel. I joined the group in the House Rayburn Building (named after the late Texan who was Speaker of the House in the 1950s) for briefings of the Chamber group by three House Members who represent Memphis. They were Reps. Harold Ford Jr., a Democrat, Ed Bryant, a Republican, and John Tanner, a Democrat. Schering-Plough’s Political Action Committee (PAC), on which I served with Dick Kinney, has been a substantial contributor to the campaigns of all three men.
Bryant, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee that is considering possible impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton, gave an excellent presentation of his thoughts regarding some of the Constitutional issues and questions. But it was my golfing pal Tanner who stole the show, when he quipped about the earlier press disclosure that it was he who was on the phone with Clinton when the President once reportedly talked with a Congressman on the phone while receiving oral sex from bombshell Monica Lewinsky.
Said Tanner, “I’m a little late because I just came from the White House, where I met with the President. We don’t talk much on the phone anymore since the Star Report.” The reference was the often-quoted report by the Special Prosecutor on Clinton’s alleged misdeeds.
We also heard from Senators Fred Thompson and Bill Frist, both Tennessee Republicans. I was most impressed with Frist’s homework and intellect. Our group later went to the White House, where we met with Vice President Al Gore (who flattered me when he referred to me by name in his remarks) and his assistant and friend Lucia Gilliland, a pal of mine long active in Democrat Party matters back home. We met with them in the Roosevelt Room, where former President Teddy Roosevelt’s Nobel Prize medal is on display.
We also heard at the White House a briefing on how the government is handling the Y2K issue by the chairman of the technology movement about the clocking of various matters when the 20th Century official ends and the 21st Century begins.
That evening, we enjoyed a locally catered, barbeque reception attended by Representatves Bryant and Tanner as well as a gaggle of Hill staffers. The former commanding officer of the Navy Base outside Memphis at Millington, TN and his wife, Capt. LaMar and Marcia Willis, attended as my guests. It was fun seeing so many people I had come to know during my years of being in charge of communications and government relations for Schering-Plough in Memphis before I was pushed into early retirement in 1996.
Dick Kinney was among those at the BBQ reception. The next morning, I was up early for another breakfast buffet before being driven the suburban Spring Park Golf Club, where I played golf with Chamber-contracted lobbyist Steve Hyjeck, my Memphis pal Greg Duckett (former staffer for Al Gore and now general counsel for Baptist Hospital) and Don Mundie. Spring Park is a fine course, but I don’t know what the regular tariff is to play there. I understand the going initiation fee for it and other area courses close to the District is about $35,000.
All of us in the foursome had some good shots, but none of us played particularly well. Due to rain, we only got in 15 holes. I was lucky to be up 3 holes in a game of Wolf, the result of going it alone and winning on 2 holes. After golf, our Chamber group caught a 5:55 p.m. Northwest flight back to Memphis.
Among those on the trip whom I spent time with were Duckett, Calvin Anderson of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Jesse Johnson of Chamber staff, Bill Taylor. Michael Thompson of the Chamber’s ad agency, Brad Champlin and Ken Plunk of Union Planters, Don Smith of Pickering Engineering, and Logan Malone, retired U.S. Navy admiral.
For me, it was a very enjoyable trip, especially because of the kindness of Dick Kinney making it possible for a former colleague at Schering-Plough, and visits and renewal of contacts with Vice President Gore, Representatives Bryant and Tanner and former House staffer P. K. Rehbein with Congressman Sundquist’s office.
I used Professional Sedan Services – an excellent and reasonably priced driving service (703-534-3040).
Cigar Smoke Cuts Short Relaxation at Old Waverly
Oct. 8, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my golf buddy Curtis Downs. I took a lesson from pro Richard Taylor to correct my grossly corrupted swing. We had a late lunch then played 18 holes, with me shooting an awful 102.
The weather was great, with temperatures in the 70s. Our usual post-round relaxation in the clubhouse over a bottle of white wine fell victim to the stench of six cigar smokers who overwhelmed the pub’s ventilation system. I learned the club manager is a cigar aficionado and there really isn’t much the staff can do to discourage smoking inside the clubhouse.
Sorry Game ‘Quacks’ Like A Duck Near Sardis
Oct. 21, 1998 – To Sardis, MS
I drove to the new Mallard Point Golf Course at Sardis Lake in North Mississippi with Curtis Downs. The course is state owned and picturesque. But it is tougher than the present state of my golf game.
I shot a 99. Curtis managed a 91 on the tight course, which has several holes that do not present a decent shot target off the tee. I did manage to hit several very good drives and my short game wasn’t as bad as it has been recently. Those are signs that my lessons and time spent in practice are paying off.
Train Ride Along Arkansas’ White River
Betty and I drove to Mountain View, AR in her new Mustang, which we nicknamed “Sally” after the rock-n-roll song. We enjoyed a weekend of Ozark crafts, mountain music and a half-day train excursion along the White River.
It was delightful “top down” weather. We stayed at the Dry Creek Lodge, where we had an OK dinner and enjoyed watching a family of raccoons pig out on sunflower seeds in a feeder just a few feet from our table’s nearby window. We had a nice room only a short walk from the Ozark Folk Craft Center. We spent most of an afternoon at the center we’d visited a decade or so ago when our son, Casey, was about 10 years old.
That evening we went to the Center’s music show. We didn’t find it as entertaining as we remembered it being years ago. Maybe it was always this way. Or maybe our now-sophisticated tastes just didn’t know any better back then.
The next morning we drove to Flippin, AR to the northwest to catch the White River Railroad excursion train. All the boarding for the scenic train ride at the closer town of Calico Rock had been sold out, we learned. But available at Flippin were seats on three cars from the 1950s, pulled by a modern locomotive. We soon saw that the Flippin Depot has been renovated into a tourist attraction, complete with a drugstore that sells souvenirs and a trendy café. We ate a decent lunch in the depot and boarded the train’s right side. We found the better view is on opposite side of the train, on the station side.
We had a lunch-style table to ourselves and were glad the car’s air conditioning system worked, unlike that of one other car.
The railroad track runs alongside the White River. There were many views of the clear river and assorted fly fishermen working the river for trout. We rode 1 ½ hours to the town of Calico Rock, where Betty and I used to go occasionally for getaway weekends some years ago. We poked around the town for a while and re-visited the River View B&B, where we stayed 25 or so years ago. We told the new owner about its long-ago, temporary closing due to the death of a guest by fumes from a faulty gas heater.
We then re-boarded the train and rode back on the same track, arriving back in Flippin at dusk. It was a long drive back to Memphis, perhaps 4 hours. But the weekend was a nice getaway for us, rich with some good memories of good trips.
Golf Swing Correction Work at Old Waverly
Oct. 29, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly for a golf lesson with pro Richard Taylor. He worked to straighten out my faulty club swing and to restore a proper weight shift during swing execution.
The lesson must have paid off since I shot a 42 on the back 9 holes, the best score I’d managed in quite a while.
Respectable 92 at Old Waverly Proves Lesson Value
Nov. 5, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West oint, MS
I drove to Old Waverly to take another golf lesson and ended up playing with an interesting young guy from Columbus, MS, who was also a member. He was part of an interesting Mississippi family and a heavy drinker on the course. I shot a respectable 92, proof of the value of my lesson last week.
Neighborly Advice at Old Waverly from Alex Walker
Nov. 18, 1998 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly for another lesson from club pro Richard Taylor. I took my next-door neighbor with me as my guest at the club, Alex Walker. He is a former teaching pro himself and a highly proficient golfer.
It was a joy watching Alex hit the ball so accurately. He shot a 74 off the tips (farthest back tees) of the course, with only a few drives taken off the blue tees. His score was only 2 strokes above par, one of the best I’d ever witnessed. In contrast, I struggled with my game and could manage only a 103.
Despite the lousy score, I had a good day. Alex gave me a good tip about the importance of keeping the driver club head low when taking it back.
Hurricane Georges Destroys Gulf Shores Pool
Nov. 24-29, 1998 – To Gulf Shores, AL
Betty and I drove to Gulf Shores in my new Ford “Millennium” Taurus station wagon, which I had purchased and picked up from the Landers Ford dealership in Germantown, TN Nov. 20. We left our Memphis home at 3 p.m. once she got home from Northside High School, where she teaches Culinary Arts. The weather was nice and unseasonably warm. On this 350-mile trip we took my golf clubs and our bikes with us.
Upon arrival at our Gulf Village condo complex on West Beach Blvd., we were pleased to see that our unit had not been touched by the recent Hurricane Georges. But the concrete, swimming pool deck on the beach in front of our building was complete gone. Also missing were the metal and wood fences and some shrubs on the property due to the four-feet deep surge of salt water that had washed around under our building for three or four days. The water action had undercut the pool deck, walkways and even the steel bulkhead that had been installed at the front of the complex after the last big storm.
We noticed that several of the new high-rise condo buildings to the east of our complex had sustained similar and worse damage to their pool areas. The Quality Inn motel a few hundred yards down the beach had lost its entire wooden deck and dining/kitchen area.
We cycled down West Beach Blvd. to the west and noticed that many of the beachfront homes and cottages had lost their staircases and parking areas. But all in all, the damage didn’t appear to be all that bad compared to the ruin that several beach developments had suffered at the hurricane’s fury.
A familiar seafood outlet on the inland side of West Beach Blvd., Lartigues, appeared to have escaped untouched although we were told that water washed up on either side of the business.
During our five-day stay in Gulf Shores, we rode our bikes twice and I played golf at the State Park course twice. I shot an 87 (46 on the front nine and 41 on the back nine) the first day I played under sunny skies and a high temperature of 75 degrees. The weather was similar on the second day I played, with me shooting a 91 (43 on the front nine and 48 on the back nine).
The Mobile Press Register newspaper reported that the water temperature in the gulf was a warm 75 degrees, which seemed unusual for this time of year. With the sea flat and clear water, I went for a swim on Saturday and saw a school of porpoises about 150 yards out from the beach, jumping out of the water and splashing a good deal.
To New Orleans for Teacher Conference, Cook Class
Dec. 9-12, 1998 – To New Orleans
Betty and I drove to New Orleans in our new “Millennium” Taurus station wagon, leaving our Memphis home just before 2 p.m. on a Wednesday. We were lucky to have nice weather for the drive South on Interstates 55 and 10, making it there in 6 hours and 15 minutes.
We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street, on the edge of the French Quarter where we’ve stayed before. After eating grilled chicken sandwiches in the car during the drive, we were glad to share a salad and a dessert in the hotel lobby restaurant.
The next day Betty went to the Vocational Teachers Conference held at the Convention Center while I played golf at the Bayou Oaks public park. I chose to walk the 6,465-yard Wisner Course, where I had played on previous trips to the city. Hitting off the white tees, the opening hole was a 436-yard Par 4. Proving that the long distance was there by plan, not accident, Hole No. 10 was a monster of a Par 3, with 222 yards from tee to green.
Due to the length of most holes, I only hit one green in regulation. I had to hit a 5 iron or a 6 iron or even more club (like a 3 wood) into most greens. I ducked under a tree during a 10-minute shower. The course does not have a “turn” at the midpoint, so players don’t have a midway break at the clubhouse, having to play straight out and back.
I lost three balls in the frequent places where water comes into play. But at least I saw quite a few shore birds and waders on the course. I somehow failed to log my scores for the nines and the total so my total for 18 holes must have been over 100.
Later, I went to a cooking demonstration at the Canal Shops, a ritzy retail development on Canal near our hotel. The chef was the famed TV cooking master Mike Anderson of the seafood restaurant that bears his name in the French Quarter. It was a “watch the cook” lesson. The best that I can say is that I “sort of” learned how to make a shrimp-crawfish primavera. After tasting the end product, I can say with certainty that Mike’s cooking was better than his teaching.
Unfortunately, Betty was feeling a little out of sorts due to either a cold or a sinus infection. We ate at the not-so-fancy Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter. She limited herself to a bowl of gumbo while I had the Revillion Dinner served in Decembers. It included gumbo, green salad with pecan dressing, crawfish etoufee, bread pudding and Café Brulot. Since we ate early, we spent a quiet evening in our Sheraton hotel room, reading, napping and watching crummy TV.
On Friday, we walked down Canal Street to the Riverwalk shopping mall built on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. Carnival Cruise Lines has recently “home-ported” two vessels there, including a big boat named “Celebration.”
The Riverwalk is also home to the Cajun Cooking School, which I have attended during previous trips. This time I paid $15 and had an enjoyable two hours learning how to cook Mardi Gras salad, injected chicken (where liquid butter is squirted into the white meat with the help of a giant needle), gumbo, dry boil shrimp and remoullade while Betty attended educational conference meeting and toured exhibits put up by various vendors.
After the cooking lesson by visiting chef Susan Murphy, the class got to eat the very good food she prepared. I set aside her pecan pie tart, which Betty enjoyed later. I thought her gumbo was even better than the very good one served at the Gumbo Shop. Betty and I later visited a few of the shops and stores in the Riverwalk Mall. We then returned to the Sheraton to drop off our purchases and drove out to the Botanic Gardens in City Park, a gem of a spot we really enjoy visiting when in New Orleans.
Late in the day, we poked around Bourbon Street and some of its shops then had a fabulous dinner at the world-famous restaurant, Galatoires, which is our favorite in the U.S. I had a Romaine lettuce salad, fish almandine with crabmeat meuniure, potatoes Brabant, spinach Rockefeller and Vouvray wine from France. Betty had crab sardou (crab meat with artichoke hearts and hollandaise sauce) and a custard flan. It was truly an elegant and exquisite meal.
Interestingly, there was a group of about 20 women wearing 1940s-era and older hats and clothing at the next table. They were living it up and cutting up on somebody else’s champagne tab. We learned they worked at a leading law firm, which provided an all-afternoon meal and drinks as a year-ending and Christmas thank you party for the staff. It provided an entertaining spectacle for us.
After dinner, Betty and I walked a few blocks up Bourbon and then Canal Street to see the wonderfully decorated Fairmont Hotel lobby. We returned to the Sheraton, where we received a distressing telephone message that our dear friend in Memphis for many years, Mary Martha McBride, had died at Methodist Hospital at 6:40 p.m., at the age of 95. Betty took the call and immediately decided to cut short our trip and leave early the next morning, a Saturday, for the drive back to Memphis. We had first planning on leaving for home at mid-day Sunday.
We had been dear friends with Mary Martha, her sister Frances, and late brother, William McBride, for many years and they had helped us raise our son, Casey. The McBrides lived down University Street from us in Memphis and recruited us into Evergreen Presbyterian Church in the early 1980s.
We had known that she had been ill for some time and had visited her in the hospital. But we had hoped that her intrinsic toughness would conquer the ravages of age and she would return home to her sister Frances. Her death was a blow to us. We left New Orleans early Saturday and drove back to Memphis, arriving home at 2:30 p.m. so we could attend to funeral arrangements.