Nolan Getaways – 2000
Travel by Lewis and Betty Nolan
Dec. 18, 2001-Jan. 2:
July 20: Old Waverly
July 30-Aug. 12:
Feb. 29: Old Waverly,
Mar. 7: Old Waverly
Aug. 21: Old Waverly
Sept. 7: Old Waverly
Mar. 31: Old Waverly
Oct. 18: Old Waverly
June 24: Old Waverly
Continue With Getaways – 2001 / Return To Nolan Travels Home Page
Page Updated April 7, 2008
Dec. 18, 1999 – Jan. 2, 2000 – To
Betty and I drove from our
Apparently traffic was diverted around the site of an accident involving a truck hauling hazardous chemicals, which had to be carefully unloaded and safety transported away.
On December 20, I played golf at the State Park course, shooting a decent 92. Despite hitting 7 fairways with my drives, I had only 3 pars due to my generally crummy approach shots to the greens. That put a lot of pressure on my putting game. The next day, we drove to the county seat of Bay Minette, AL, where I appealed a recent property appraisal of $84,500 that had been put on our condo for tax purposes.
My session with the Board of Equalization at the
Assessor’s Office went well. The members seemed sympathetic to my arguments and
ultimately reduced the appraisal to my suggested $60,000 without going into the
load of detail I presented to buttress my points. That evening, we enjoyed a
huge but good dinner of old fashioned country food at Lambert’s Café on the
On the 22nd, our longtime friends Marty
and Marge Pendleton cancelled their planned drive over to
On the 24th, Casey flew from
With Casey feeling crummy, we stayed in the condo
most of Christmas Day, taking only a short outing to show him the
Casey and I hit a few golf balls with our new drivers
The following day, Betty went to the big discount
outlet mall at
Betty and I drove to Coden,
After lunch we enjoyed nearby
On the 29th, we rode our bikes on a route
I returned to the State Park to play another round of golf on the 30th, shooting an 89 (44-45). I made 8 pars, hit 6 fairways and 6 greens. I had only 38 putts but still made 1 triple bogey, 5 double bogeys and 4 single bogeys. I had trouble with both my old driver and my new driver on most holes.
On New Year’s Eve, we rode our bikes for 11 miles along the beach. I watched football games on TV that evening and all day on New Year’s Day. We drove home on February 2, a beautiful day.
Watching Eagles Soar at
Feb. 5, 2000 – To
Betty and I drove in our Ford Taurus station wagon
We stopped at the
Reelfoot is the winter home of several dozen American Bald Eagles, which draw bird watchers and other nature lovers to the site.
We happened to see an eagle in a tree way off in the bird refuge that is just across the Tennessee-Kentucky border north of the lake. We also saw a red headed woodpecker, about 14 flying hawks and an estimated 35,000 wintering geese as well as 6 grazing deer, a dozen or more Great Blue Herons and various small birds. The small birds included wren, Cardinals and sparrows. It was a nice day for an outing because of the abundant sunshine.
Due to the cold, we ate chicken sandwiches in the car. We had a good time seeing all the birds and want to repeat the winter trip.
It was chilly on this day, with the high expected to reach only 41 degrees. A cool wind blew off the ice over the fringe of the lake and the light snow on the ground around it. Not a good day for walking around, but it was a good day for the eagles.
First Round of New Millennium at Old Waverly
Feb. 29, 2000 – To Old Waverly Golf Club,
I drove to Old Waverly with my longtime golf buddy Curtis Downs for our first round of the New Millennium together. It was a nice day, with winter temperatures in the 60s. I shot a 95 and Curtis shot an 84, with the spread of roughly 10 strokes between our scores being fairly typical. On occasion I’ll have a great day when he’s off his game and I actually score a few strokes lower. But that doesn’t happen very often. And certainly only rarely on a great course like that of Old Waverly, which ranks in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses in America in most years.
My swing has definitely deteriorated from the swing I
enjoyed last fall. That is partly due, I’d like to rationalize, to the closing
of the Aqua Golf practice range facility in
Back To Old Waverly for Much Needed Lesson
March 7, 2000 – To Old Waverly Golf Club,
I drove just over 150 miles from my home in Memphis to Old Waverly in my Ford Taurus station wagon for a much-needed golf lesson with golf professional Jon Crane. He watched me hit a few shots and judged that my right elbow was swinging out from the line, that my weight shift was out of sync and that I was lifting up as I swung the club. What a mess.
Despite his efforts, I never could get comfortable with the new swing form he tried to teach me.
The weather on this day was ideal, with the temperature warming into the low 70s. But I struggled to shoot a 47 on the front 9 holes of the great golf course.
I happened to see my fellow club member Dr. Sandra
Harpole of the
Desert Warmth and Golf with Casey
March 15 – 19, 2000 – To
Betty and I flew to
Betty had managed to get a couple of days off from
teaching Culinary Arts at
It’s odd how little things can make such big
differences in travel these days. My luck with tight connections had often been
unfavorable during my frequent business trips from
The American Airlines flight to
The plane arrived a few minutes early. We got a
Casey was spending the night and most of the next day
at his company’s regional offices and apartment in
Once we arose on Thursday, we found we were treated to a warm desert morning. The skies were sunny and blue and fragrant flowers were in bloom in the manicured, apartment complex’s grounds. Betty in particular was pleased that Casey was living in such a desert oasis. We had spent most of a week here with Casey last June.
We drove to a convenience store at nearby
Once back at Casey’s apartment complex, I chipped some golf balls on the cup-shaped, tightly mown grass lawn just outside his front door while Betty used her motherly housekeeping skills to make Casey’s nicely kept apartment even nicer. She removed traces of over-use left by eight of his college friends who had flown in from the East Coast to enjoy the desert lifestyle the previous weekend.
Late that afternoon, Casey arrived home from the corporate office wearing a sharp suit, white shirt and a corporate necktie. We had a fine dinner of Filet of Sole Amandine, new potatoes and salad.
The three of us went to the
That afternoon, Casey and I played golf on the new
Desert Willow Municipal Course at
Allowing a best-guess projection for scores on the remaining holes, I shot a 48 on the front 9 and a 43 on the back 9 for a total score of 91 – not bad considering the sorry state of my recent play back home. I hit the ball pretty well but was annoyed when a new visor I had purchased blew off the cart and was lost in the desert. Casey shot about the same as I did.
While we played golf, Betty sunned by one of the pools at Casey’s apartment complex. She later cooked some delicious BBQ pork tenderloin.
On Saturday morning, the three of us drove to nearby La Quinta, a desert resort community, and poked around the annual Arts Festival there. Several hundred painters, potters and craftsmen were selling their artwork for what I thought were very high prices. I anticipated the heat and carried a bottle of water with me around the festival grounds.
That afternoon we attended the women’s finals of the
We sat on the suite’s “porch” shaded during most of the Women’s Finals match between tennis greats Lucy Davenport and Martina Hingus and also during part of the play by two Europeans in the men’s semi-finals. I was surprised that Clark Construction was too cheap to provide snacks or beverages to its guests in the suite. The guests were mostly company employees like Casey who had made possible the on-time design and construction of the stadium. How soon they forget.
But at least I got a chance to meet Casey’s bosses,
Jim and Allen, and co-worker Judy. They were all beaming at the well-deserved
kudos given their $43-million project by tournament officials and the press.
The crowd – much of it from
Betty and I left about 10 a.m. the next morning.
Casey stayed back so we could watch the Men’s Finals with a female friend. We
filled up the rental car gas tank for $1.79 a gallon, the cheapest price we
could find. That price was about 40 cents higher than what charged in
Despite 260-yard Drive, Poor Round at Old Waverly
March 31, 2000 – To Old Waverly Golf Club,
I drove to Old Waverly with my good friend and fellow golfer Curtis Downs on a beautiful, spring Friday with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. The wonderful course is fully green this late in spring.
I didn’t play very well, shooting a 101. Curtis shot his usual good round, scoring 89. However, I was hitting my new Adams 7 Metal the best ever on fairways approach shots. I somehow managed to knock a drive 260 yards on Hole No. 8, which I believe was the longest drive I’ve ever hit. The ground must have been extra firm to help make the ball roll so far.
However, my short game was awful. I stubbed a bunch
of shots. I blame my failure to get my game scoring down into the 80s at least
partly due to my lack of winter practice because of the closing of the Aqua
Golf driving range in
Best Score of Year: 83 at Park Course,
April 14 – 23, 2000 – To
Betty and I drove to
The next morning, we had a bit of a hassle with a real estate agent who called at 9 a.m. to complain about not being able to get a key for our condo until after 10 a.m. She wanted me to leave open the door for her or meet her and her client at 10:30 a.m. After screwing up our plans for the morning, she had the audacity to call me a little while later to cancel the showing. I complained to our listing agent, Glen Kaiser. He had been trying without success to sell our unit in the face of a declining market due to overdevelopment along the beach.
I stayed inside our condo to write an update to my
3030 Update website on my laptop computer while Betty enjoyed sunning on the
beach in front of our condo. It was a beautiful day, with sunny skies and
temperatures climbing into the low 80s. The water was unusually blue due to the
lack of inland rain, which when heavy washes topsoil down the rivers that empty
The next day, Sunday, the weather was again gorgeous.
Since we didn’t bring our bicycles with us this trip, I went to the State Park
to hit some golf balls on the practice range. The following day, I played golf
at the park course with three nice guys from
I signed up for a vacation special offered by a local Internet access provider and paid $20 for a vacation plan that gave me up to 30 days of access at no additional charge. It was nice having Internet capabilities at the condo rather than driving to the local public library to use public computer terminals for 30-minute increments. That evening, we enjoyed a good seafood dinner at The Spot, served by a new waitress on the staff who sported a tiny barbell piercing in her tongue.
Our longtime friends Marty and Marge Pendleton drove
The Pendletons left
On Thursday, I missed the absence of my bike on what would have been a near-perfect day for riding. I poked around the condo and worked on the Internet while Betty sunned. That afternoon, we walked on the beach up to the public access point at Highway 59 and then walked back, a total distance of about 3 miles. It was the highlight of my day.
On April 17, I shot what was my best golf score since
last Thanksgiving, an 83 on the
I played the State Park course again on Friday and had another good round. Both times I hit a small bucket of balls before starting my round and also practiced a few chips and putts before play. Maybe the warm-up and ball-striking practice was a key to my improved scores.
On this round I shot an 88, scoring a 44 on both the
front and back nines. I hit 11 of 14 fairways but my distance was not good,
with drives generally limited to 210 yards and a best of 220. I hit 5 greens,
took only 34 putts and scored 7 pars. I played with a couple of guys from
That evening, we enjoyed Betty’s Red Snapper Amandine dish.
The best day of the stay at
bucket of practice balls with my Adams 7 Metal fairly well. During the day, the temperature dropped into the mid-70s, cutting short Betty’s time sunning on the beach. We had a nice lunch at the Oyster House. For dinner, we ate a light supper of Royal Red shrimp with leftover snapper.
We made it home on Sunday in record time – 7 hours and 15 minutes – even though we drove through occasional light rain and light traffic on Easter Sunday.
Condo Owners Discuss
May 19 – 21, 2000 – To
I drove from my home in
Upon arrival in
Unfortunately, Meyer Real Estate, managing firm for the property that was employed by the Gulf Village Association, had put out a false report of a plan to demolish the building that houses my condo. It turned out that the half-baked idea was a “conjectural plan” that had received no attention from our association’s elected board of directors. The goofy idea was tabled at the meeting.
I happened to introduce a couple of motions at the
membership meeting that were adopted. One concerned a “no increase” budget for
the association. The other authorized litigation against an insurance company
for damages to the property. I declined an invitation to serve on the
association’s board of directors, citing the time and expense of travel to and
from my home in
I played golf at the State Park course and shot an
86, scoring well despite being somewhat wild off the tee. I had 7 pars, 8
bogeys and only 3 double bogeys. I managed to hit 5 fairways and 5 greens in
regulation and took only 36 putts. Dinner on Saturday evening was fried oysters
at The Spot, where I learned that two of my favorite people in
I was happy for the couple – Kim and Julie Stewart –
since they would receive a significant amount of money for their thriving
business and were young enough to have some new experiences in life. But I
thought the closing of restaurant would be a shame since Betty and I have
enjoyed dozens of very good meals with a great view of the
The long drive back to
Golf at Old Waverly in the Heat With Casey
June 24, 2000 – To Old Waverly Golf Club,
I drove to Old Waverly with my son, Casey Nolan, in
the Ford Taurus station wagon. He had flown home for the weekend from
We met up with my golf pal, Curtis Downs, and his son of about Casey’s age, Brad, at Old Waverly. Our foursome was faced with the very hot temperature of early summer but enjoyed the golf. Curtis easily won the Round Robin bet. I shot a crummy 95 and Casey struggled with the heat to shoot a 96. I was very short off the tee, but at least my putting was pretty good. I sunk several putts of 15-to-20 feet for a change.
Casey smashed his usual long drives off the tee, but the high temperature and lack of any cooling breeze took a heavy toll on his short game.
A Pilgrimage To
June 27 – 30, 2000
By LEWIS NOLAN
Speedy Links to Trip Segments:
Thursday, June 29, 2000 – To
Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo
(pop. 11,245). The first stop was at statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox that I remembered so well from childhood.
towers 18 feet over the tens of thousands of visitors to the lakeshore city
park and welcome center. The folk hero characters were made of concrete in 1937
and have become the symbol of the North Woods logging era and the signature of
hero has a state forest named after him and also lives on in advertisements by
area businesses. A country music radio station broadcasts its "Fishing
Paul Bunyan Country" show twice a day. The Paul Bunyan Playhouse offers
professional summer theater. The Paul Bunyan Mall has 30 specialty shops and a
Kmart. There is a Paul Bunyan Realty, a Paul Bunyan Motel (located on
famous figures at
Trading Post across the street from the park attracted our attention and our
dollars and we bought some postcards and souvenirs. Many more of our dollars
were spent a few blocks away at Bemidji Woolen Goods, an outlet store that
features well-known brands plus a little of its own piecework. I bought a
cotton sweater for Betty and for myself a red plaid, Pendleton shirt
reminiscent of the "uniform" of my teen years in
good lunch at one of the Perkins Restaurant chain locations, we drove around
the town and
We drove 35
Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo
can almost jump across at
was Ozawindjib, who lived on
named the spot where the beginning of the
A narrow bridge made from a cut log allows visitors to walk back and forth over the headwaters without getting their feet wet. The more adventurous - like the hordes of young Scouts there when we visited - wade across or jump from slippery stone to slippery stone. Thankfully, there are no reeds – and presumably no hiding leeches – at the spot.
our drive back to
July 15 – 17, 2000 – To
Betty and I drove half-way across
We found that the
The room service for breakfast was excellent. I spent
much of the morning finishing my writing of the travelogue about our June trip
I had forgotten that the
We had an OK lunch across the street from the
Later, I took a brief swim in the hotel’s hillside
pool while Betty sunned. But the pool water was uncomfortably lukewarm on this
very hot day. The temperature hit 104 degrees yesterday and seemed to be
blazing hot again on this day. We learned that a 14-state, Southern States
Correctional Association had started their annual convention here. The hotel
lobby is crawling with beefy women and hard-eyed men. Had we known what was in
town this weekend, I doubt we’d have come to
That night, Betty and I dined in the Arlington
Hotel’s Venetian Room, where we had an elegant place setting for a rather
ordinary dinner of burgers and chicken salad. It being so hot, we spent the
rest of the evening in our hotel room watching television rather than venturing
out to walk around the downtown area where some shops stay open late. We
checked out at 9 a.m. on Monday and drove back to
To Old Waverly with John Addison for Wet Day
July 20, 2000 – To Old Waverly Golf Club,
I drove to Old Waverly with my work friend of many
years and fellow retiree John Addison in his new Ford Expedition. Joining us
for the 150-mile ride from
I shot a 50 on the front 9 and a solid 45 on the back 9 after parring the last two holes. A terrible thunderstorm delayed play once it hit as we were on the 15th green. We spent about an hour in the clubhouse, enjoying burgers, beer and wine. The guys ribbed me pretty hard after I clumsily dropped a glass and it shattered on the floor. Curtis insisted that we finish the round, so we did even though we were feeling the effects of the food and drink, which if anything helped my game.
July 30 – Aug. 12, 2000 – To
Betty and I drove to
We made the trip down in good time of 7 hours and 35 minutes, stopping only twice. We tried the Foley Beach Express, a recently built expressway route that loops around most of the town. But it didn’t seem to save much time over the regular, four-lane Highway 59 route through the middle of Foley.
I attended an Overeaters Anonymous meeting at the
We did the usual stuff while in
I cooked some fresh-caught Grouper Almondine for the first time, which made for an excellent dinner in our condo. I bicycled several times but found that due to my back injury I tired quicker than normal. I also made some progress in writing my travelogue about our June trip to Cass Lake, MN.
Betty spent a lot of time sunning and reading on the beach when I stayed in the condo to do my writing. I wrote on a company laptop computer I had brought along in case the office called me to do some communications work.
The end-of-the-season beach crowd had dwindled. The reduced congestion and avoidance of deep water by most was partly due to a nasty shark attack in May that injured two swimmers training about 60 yards from the shore near the Pink Pony Pub about a mile west of our condo.
With me on a low-carb diet, we dined at The Spot only twice and at the Original Oyster House just once. But we mainly ate relatively lightly and cooked our meals in our condo. The Royal Red shrimp, a deep water variety we seem to only find at Gulf Shores, were delicious by themselves and also when seasoned with Cajun spices and grilled.
We visited Fort Morgan during an anniversary celebration of the Battle of Mobile. We enjoyed a local history program put on by local Civil War re-enactors that included demonstrations of mortar and canon fire. I talked with the museum curator, Mike Bailey, for a while and found him to be quite knowledgeable about Civil War matters.
Among the guys I met while playing golf was Dub Duperior of Jackson, MS, a graduate of Ole Miss and owner of an employee leasing business. It turned out he is a member of the Whispering Pines Golf Club of Madison, MS and knows its pro, Richard Taylor, who formerly taught me golf lessons at my club, Old Waverly at West Point, MS. Dub owns a condo where we rented some years ago, the Sea Oats complex down the beach a couple of miles from our place at Gulf Village.
During this stay in Gulf Shores, I found myself napping for an hour or two on most afternoons, probably the result of feeling tired and being so out-of-shape from my back injury.
Betty and I took an overnight excursion to New Orleans Aug. 8-9 to enjoy the French Quarter and Cajun food. Then we returned to Gulf Shores for more golf and sun before heading home to Memphis on Aug. 12 so Betty would have a free Sunday before returning to Northside High School, where she teaches culinary arts.
To New Orleans for Cooking School & Museum
Aug. 8-9, 2000 – To New Orleans from Gulf Shores, AL
Betty and I drove through rainfall that was at times torrential for an overnight trip to New Orleans, one of our favorite places to visit and eat well. Once we got through all the thunder and lightning, the weather was fine in the Crescent City, so-named because of the looping, half-circle the Mississippi River takes around the heart of New Orleans.
We stayed for the first time at the Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District, an aging structure where Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack used to stay in the 1950s. I was able to get a great rate through the Internet Priceline service that was far cheaper than that charged by the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street where we usually stay. Much remodeling was underway.
Our room was fine. It was huge, with a large, tile bathroom and king-size bed. The staff was friendly and efficient. The rate was only $69 a night, but after tax and breakfast charges for room service delivery our bill was well over $100.
We visited the exquisite National D Day Museum just off Lee Circle, a few blocks from our hotel where the St. Charles Street Trolley stops. The museum made for a wonderful visit for this fan of World War II books written by and about some of the great heroes of the day. After our tour of the museum, we rode the Trolley about two miles to Canal Street and then walked to Galatoires, our favorite restaurant anywhere. It had been renovated and expanded a year ago and now offers upstairs dining, a new bar and a big, modern restroom facility that is a much needed improvement from the old, cramped facility off the kitchen.
With the expanded space, it seems that eating at Galatoires no longer requires a lengthy wait in line on the sidewalk on Bourbon Street to secure a table in the highly popular restaurant.
The Trolley ride back to our hotel was awful, with the car jammed tight with regulars and tourists like us. There was standing room only. Locals got on and off at nearly every stop, meaning the car was a study in jerky stop-and-go movements. The uneven motion and all the sweaty bodies aboard made for an unpleasant ride.
On Wednesday morning, I took a Cajun Cooking School class at the Riverwalk Mall along the Mississippi River while Betty shopped at the French Market in the French Quarter. Among dishes I learned to prepare were the school’s versions of Oysters Rockefeller and Jumbalaya.
Betty and I hooked up at 12:30 p.m. at the French Quarter’s Café de Monde, one of our favorite places in New Orleans that makes wonderful beignets and serves a rich coffee. We enjoyed a drink across the street – one of New Orleans’ trademark Sazarack cocktails – at a locally famous restaurant-saloon called Tujaques. We picked up two yummy Muffaletta sandwiches at Central Grocery to eat on the drive back to Gulf Shores. Unfortunately, we had to drive back through more storms and hard rain similar to that we endured on the trip over.
To Nashville’s Cheekwood, Visit with O’Briens
Sept. 23 – 24, 2000 – To Nashville
Betty and I drove to Nashville in our Taurus station wagon through occasional light rain. We arrived at the huge and lovely home of our friends Neil and Virginia O’Brien shortly before 1 p.m. Neil had worked across the street from my office on Jackson Avenue at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products. He was head of Buckeye Technologies’ Government Relations function. Before retiring, like Betty, Virginia had taught Culinary Arts in Memphis City Schools. We had stayed in touch with them since Neil’s post-retirement relocation to Nashville, where one of their daughters resides.
The O’Briens treated us to a delightful lunch at Cheekwood, a 55-acre estate, botanical garden and museum on the outskirts of Nashville that was once the home of the family that owned the very successful Maxwell House Coffee business. Our walk around their former mansion and their estate’s well-planted grounds was interesting.
That evening, Virginia cooked a good dinner of Chicken Tetrazinni. We had an excellent visit with her and Neil before retiring for the night.
On Sunday, Betty and I drove home to Memphis through hard rain. We’re glad the O’Briens are happy in their new home, but we miss seeing them on a regular basis.
To Old Waverly with Dr. Jim Bryant
Oct. 18, 2000 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly in the Taurus station wagon with my family physician of more than 20 years, Dr. Jim Bryant. We had moderately warm temperatures for a fall day and were greeted by a mostly vacant golf course.
I struggled and shot a 97 for the day. Jim’s score was over 100, but he said he had a great time and clearly demonstrated that he knows how to play golf.
Authur! Author! Two Family Writers Meet in St. Pete
Nov. 10 – 12, 2000 – To Tampa, Clearwater and Parrish, FL
Betty and I flew to Tampa for reasonable prices on AirTran, leaving our home in Memphis at 2:15 p.m. on a Friday. The connection through Atlanta went better than planned so we were able to catch an earlier flight. We arrived in Tampa about 6:30 p.m. picked up a rental Taurus car without hassle and drove to nearby Clearwater Beach. We stayed at very nice motel, a Quality Resort Motel on the beach, which I had booked on the Priceline Internet service.
The motel had been freshly redecorated. Our King Room-Junior Suite was pleasant and comfortable. On the advice of a friendly desk clerk, we walked three blocks and had a superb dinner at a huge restaurant, the Leveroaks. It offered a scenic view of a lighted bridge over an inlet from the Gulf of Mexico. We could see through the big windows teenage boys fishing with nets and poles.
Ironically, my sister Mary Nolan Ballard later told us that she had gone to school with the son of the founder of the Leveroaks chain of 10 or so restaurants. Some years ago, she advised, he had sold the chain to some people who, again ironically, turned out to be neighbors of my former boss at Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, Bob Raub, who is retired in an elegant gated community at nearby Parrish, FL.
Betty and I stayed close to the waterfront motel for most of the day Saturday. It was sunny and the temperature was near 70 degrees. Mary drove over from her home in St. Petersburg so we could have lunch together at the Leveroaks restaurant while Betty sunned on the beach.
Over broiled salmon fritters and great salads. Mary and I plotted the organization and writing of Volume 2 of “Nolan-Miller Family History. We agreed the book would include the results of her years’ of work mapping out the genealogy charts of our grandparents, Lewis Elmer Nolan and Bertha Miller Nolan, their direct ancestors and each of their children plus a few others. The book would also include a preface that I would write; my account about my recent visit to Cass Lake, Minn., to meet cousin Dr. James Connor and visit some of the old family places there of historic importance to the family; and also my account of the 1997 trip by me and Betty to Ireland to retrace some of the early Nolan family history there.
We also agreed that I would arrange for the bindery of a small number of books, to include necessary typography and related decisions about actual printing and publication. We had a joyful time and I now wish we would have had more time together.
(Our joint book later was printed and bound in March, 2003. It has 332 pages, with most of them devoted to family tree charts prepared by Mary. The publisher was a small company I formed, Highland Press, and distribution was confined to immediate family. My copy is proudly displayed alongside Volume 1 in our home’s sunroom. Mary’s copy is in the middle of a table in her home office, where she performs much volunteer work helping others trace their family history on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)
But on this trip, as with much of my working life as a journalist and corporate communications executive, I tried to pack 60 pounds of sand into a 50-pound sack. As usual, as is often the case my grasp exceeded my reach, I wasn’t able to spend the time I wanted to spend meeting with Mary, sunning on the beach and attending a party for our dear friend and my former boss, Bob Raub, on his 60th birthday. As a consequence, we didn’t do full justice to any of my goals for the trip and didn’t even have time to see a single sight at scenic Clearwater Beach.
That was a shame. I’d simply tried to accomplish too much on our short stay. Just seeing all the motels and condos shoulder-to-shoulder along the Gulf of Mexico at Clearwater Beach could have consumed the entire trip’s time.
We arrived at the Raub’s beautiful home (with an attached pool and on the edge of a championship golf course) at nearby Parrish, down the western coast of Florida an hour or so before most of his and wife Charlene’s 30-40 local friends got there for the party. We were able to visit briefly with Bob and Charlene and their youngest daughter, Beth, and her sister, Chris, who was accompanied by her boyfriend. The drive from our motel at Clearwater to the Raub home took about an hour. Faced with a long drive back to the motel, I was determined to limit myself to a single martini and maybe a couple of light beers at Bob’s birthday party so alcohol wouldn’t interfere with the drive back to Clearwater.
Charlene had the food for the party catered and provided a bartender to mix drinks for the guests. The food was quite good, especially the smoked salmon and “cowboy beans.” There was a homogenous crowd in attendance, generally retired and wealthy, or at least affluent. The ones I spoke with were cordial enough, but it didn’t seem that anybody went out of their way to talk to me or was terribly interested in what one of Bob’s former subordinates might have to say. So I spent some time talking with fellow Schering-Plough retiree Rich Carlsen and his wife, Jane. He had been the chief financial officer of our S-P division and had been attracted to buying a home at Parrish to be close to Bob and Charlene. The Raubs and Carlsens are all quality people in every respect and I’ve long felt privileged to have worked with them.
At the party, the Raubs also served a quantity of pulled pork drenched in Rendevous BBQ sauce from the Vergos family restaurant in Memphis. Our birthday present to Bob was a gift certificate good for FedEx delivery of three slabs of barbeque ribs from the Rendevous, which is probably the most acclaimed restaurant in their former hometown of Memphis. We also gave Bob a mobile from the National Ornamental Metal Museum that would hang from a ceiling and swing in the wind.
Feeling tired after a long day, Betty and I slipped out of the party about 9 p.m. and drove back to our motel in Clearwater. We had a flight back to Memphis the next morning and later repaired to TGI Fridays in Midtown for a casual dinner.
Fall Chill in Gulf Shores But Pretty Good Golf
Nov. 21 – 26, 2000 – To Gulf Shores, AL
Betty and I drove to Gulf Shores in our Ford Taurus station wagon. After a later-than-usual start due to her putting in a full day at Northside High School, we arrived at 9:30 p.m. in cool weather. The daytime temperatures were on the cool side during our stay, with highs in the 50s making our customary beach walking less attractive than is usually the case at Thanksgiving.
I played golf at the State Park course on Wednesday. Despite not having played in a month, I shot an 87 even though I double bogeyed three of the first four holes for a lousy start. That evening, we had a good dinner at The Spot and had our favorite seafood restaurant on the beach nearly to ourselves. The lightness of the crowds has always amazed me because the weather is usually good at this time of the year and the beautiful beaches uncrowded.
We stayed in the condo Thanksgiving Day, a Thursday, during a heavy rain and I spent a lot of time on a laptop computer writing my travelogue about last summer’s trip to Cass Lake, MN. Betty cooked a great dinner of turkey breast and all the traditional trimmings of the holiday. We watched my Mississippi State Bulldogs get beat by the Ole Miss Rebels in the annual football “Egg Bowl” game between the cross-state rivals.
We ventured out the next day to shop for a new sofa bed and an easy chair. We finally selected suitable ones at Seascape Furniture on Highway 59 north of Gulf Shores and paid just over $1,000 for both. Dinner Saturday was some terrific Royal Red shrimp Betty cooked in the condo.
She dropped me off at the State Park golf course and drove on to Seascape to purchase another painting for our condo that would match our new, green sofa, which was delivered that afternoon. The old, pinkish painting of White Herons in the living room area was moved to a wall in our condo’s single bedroom.
While Betty worked on interior decorating, I shot an 89 at the Park. I had a birdie on Hole No. 5. That evening, we had leftover turkey for dinner. We drove home to Memphis the next day, a Sunday, under a sunny sky with temperatures above 60 degrees.
Santa Barbara, CA to Catch Son, Sun (and a Cold)
Dec. 21 – 28, 2000 – To Santa Barbara, CA
Betty and I arose at 5 a.m. in our Memphis home so we get to the airport early for our 9:10 a.m. Northwest Airlines’ direct flight to Los Angeles. We wanted extra time because the streets were supposed to be icy due to light snow in the last few days. It turned out that our flight was an hour late because the plane had to be de-iced in Detroit.
Once in L.A., it took me a long time and undue hassle to retrieve our four checked bags (including my golf clubs) and get the right shuttle bus to take us through horrendous terminal traffic to the Hertz office. Once there, things got worse once I learned that my lateness in arriving at the counter resulted in my car reservation being “purged” from the Hertz No. One Club computer system.
It took 2 ½ hours to drive through heavy traffic from the airport to Santa Barbara on Interstate 405 and U.S. Highway 101. At least the lack of billboards on the coastal highway made for some great views of the Pacific Ocean, canyons and bone-dry hills of Southern California north of Ventura. We were pleased to learn that the driving directions given us by Casey were good.
Shortly after arriving at his apartment in the downtown area of Santa Barbara, we bought groceries at the nearby, upscale food store called Don’s. We cooked Mexican Chicken for dinner that night and had a very good dinner with Casey.
Casey got up and left for work in the pre-dawn hours while Betty and I slept. It has long been his usual practice to be one of the first ones at his office. We leisurely spent the morning driving along the beautiful bluff overlooking the ocean and beach where many mega-rich people like TV’s Ophra Winfrey and movie stars have their palatial homes. Predictably, roadsides are exceptionally well planted and maintained. Many flowers were in bloom.
We bought a space heater and other supplies for Casey’s apartment at an Ace Hardware store. After lunch, I hit some practice golf balls at a municipal course. Betty poked around shops on Santa Barbara’s State Street, a main drag of a commercial street that is home to such expensive stores as Saks 5th Ave. That evening, I cooked marinated strip steak and Olympic Frioles for our dinner.
On Dec. 23, I walked to a nearby public library to check my Internet Email. Meanwhile, Betty and Casey shopped in Santa Barbara’s downtown, which is only a few steps from his small, well-located apartment. That afternoon, Casey and I played 15 holes of golf at the nicely-maintained, municipal course, Santa Barbara Golf Club. The twilight rate for the hilly layout was $34 each, a good price for the quality and such a fashionable location.
My game was a struggle. I shot a 50 on the front 9 and a lousy 29 on Holes No. 10-15. Casey also hadn’t played much golf this year and he wasn’t much better. The course is a long, 5,782 yards because of the hilly terrain and is Par 70 off the white tees. It has a relatively easy rating of 66.3/109, but plays tougher because of its undulating greens. While we played golf, Betty stayed back at Casey’s apartment to cook and clean.
At least partly due to the chill in the air from the season and proximity to the cold wind blowing in from the Pacific Ocean, I felt lousy that evening. I spent most of the next day in bed with a sore throat and bad cold. Betty and Casey went sightseeing while I slept. As for the day for me, it was The Pits.
I felt a little better on Christmas Day even though I was a long way from being well. We opened presents in the morning. I took another long nap while Betty and Casey went out to see some more sights. At least I got some much-needed rest.
At mid-afternoon, I felt well enough to come along on an outing to see the famous Franciscan Mission that was built in 1786 by a successor to Father Juniper Sierra and also to see the Stearns Pier, a neat place that has been a backdrop for several movies. Dinner that evening was grilled swordfish.
I felt better the day after Christmas, but still suffered from a bad head cold. I went to a nearby hardware store to buy Casey some fix-it things he needed for his apartment including fuses and a stepladder. We then visited the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, a botanic paradise high atop some inland hills. This day, like the other days of our visit, was clear and with sunny skies and high temperatures near 70 degrees.
We drove to the Botanic Gardens along a windy road through a canyon on the outskirts of town and saw some spectacular homes built into the dry, boulder-laden hills. The main garden trail was about a mile long, but we took some bypaths such as the aquaduct trail. It was built alongside a masonry trench and rebuilt, wooden “sluicebox” structure that piped water from an upland stream to the Spanish mission below.
We also walked through a stand of California Redwood Trees and a meadow of California poppies in full bloom. We saw huge eucalyptus trees, manzinita shrubs and dry-loving plantings.
Betty bought a few souvenirs in the Visitor Center that included a Vervenia plant for Casey’s patio to join his current pots of poppies, bouganvilla, ivy and corn dracina. The walk through native trees, shrubs and flowering plants not generally found in our part of the country made for a nice excursion. It was a shame that I felt so lousy because of my cold.
The next day, December 27, we delayed our flight back to Memphis by rebooking it 24 hours later due to the ice on the ground back home. On the positive side, due to the circumstances Northwest and Hertz agreed to accommodate us at no extra charge. That evening we had grilled swordfish served with salsa and some leftover frijoles for dinner.
Because of the flight postponement, we used our extra day to visit Casey at his work project. He and his associates at Clark Construction are building a $100 million rocket launch facility for Boeing Aircraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base up the coast from Santa Barbara. It was a scenic drive up U.S. Highway 101 and Highway 1. We passed through the desert and a produce valley around the town of Lompoc, where we saw fields of sugar beets, artichokes and cut flowers. We also saw several commercial greenery crops and orchards we couldn’t identify.
Getting onto the security-tight military base where rockets that carry secret satellites are launched was a bit of a bother. But we understood the need for the special precautions. Once we were signed in properly, we drove through the enormous Vandenberg base to what is locally called “Slick Six.” It was once the site where the rocket Challenger 6 was mothballed.
Casey’s company is rebuilding the launch pad for Boeing so the Defense Department will have a West Coast facility large enough to handle giant rockets and their cargos similar to those shot off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
For Betty and me, it was great seeing Casey in his element. He has a private office in a facility that resembles a bomb-proof, concrete bunker. It was gratifying for us to see from the setting that Casey is a young manager in charge of important work. The site overlooks a spectacular coastline with many great views of Pacific rollers and surf. A family of sea lions not far from Slick 6 necessitated some expensive studies to determine the lack of environmental impact of Casey’s project on wildlife. We had a nice lunch at a restaurant in Lompac (a desert town close to the base). That evening, we had a salmon dinner back at Casey’s apartment.
Our drive back to the L.A. airport on Thursday, December 28, was uneventful. We arrived about 11 a.m., giving us plenty of time to return the rental car. We happily found that traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been going the other way a week ago. Our plane for the flight home was full, but we had roomy aisle seats on the exit row and got into Memphis a little early, at 7:30 p.m.