Monday, July 19, 2010

Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast

Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast, originally uploaded by Fancy Horse.

If you're ever in Birmingham, Alabama, I can recommend a lovely place to stay! The Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast is a circa 1898 home lovingly restored as a bed and breakfast at Five Points South, Birmingham, Alabama.

We had a lovely visit here, and enjoyed gracious hospitality, delicious breakfasts, and a comfortable room, plus marvelous antiques everywhere we looked.

The front porch
Front porch table
Front porch

The parlor

The dining room, with the table being made ready for breakfast
Laying the table

Our bedroom
Sitting area in bedroom

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When the Coast Is Clear, by Jimmy Buffett

He came to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach last Sunday to give a free concert to boost the tourist economy, which has gone to nothing this summer. Crowds came, filled up hotels and condos, ate at restaurants -- tens of thousands, according to this article
Jimmy Buffett beach concert

We didn't go (we don't like crowds), but a friend posted it on Facebook

Here's some encouraging news from the efforts to cap it:
Gulf oil spill

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Asperger's blog

I've added a new link to "My Friends' Blogs," in the right-hand column. It's called "Aspects of Aspergers" and was written by an online friend of mine whom I know from Bookcrossing and LiveJournal.

She is an adult on the autistic spectrum, and has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. She is a very articulate and knowledgable young woman who is very self-aware and introspective. She started this blog just this week, with the goal of helping others on the autistic spectrum and those who love and care for them. She describes her condition "from the inside" - how it feels - and shares current research that she has found useful.

If you are close to, or care for someone on the autistic spectrum, you also may find it helpful and interesting.
Aspects of Aspergers

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cruise Blog VIII: Tampa, Florida, and then Sweet Home Alabama!

We were ready to go home! It's been a wonderful cruise, but fifteen days is plenty long. There's no place like home, after all.

We stopped in Tampa, but passengers going on to Mobile did not leave the ship. Almost half the passengers departed in Tampa, because they could get direct flights home from there, and not from Mobile. Most of the ones who stayed onboard were from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. That night, at the show, the band played "Sweet Home Alabama" for us, and all the audience were singing and clapping!

They brought in fresh supplies that morning. We could see all the container cargoes stacked up ready to be brought on board. Milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, paper goods, and much more.
Fresh fruit!

There are more pictures of things we could see from the ship, on Flickr, but I won't put them here. Click on any photo, or the link on the right side of this blog if you want to see more. The photo at the top is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa. We passed under it leaving Tampa Bay for the Gulf of Mexico.
Okay, one more!
Sunshine Skyway Bridge


We woke up early in the morning, so excited to be able to see parts of Mobile Bay that we haven't seen before, and landmarks such as Sand Island Lighthouse and Middle Bay Lighthouse! (Not quite as early as the day of the Panama Canal crossing, though, so no pretty sunrise pics.)

The first things we saw were oil and natural gas rigs as we approached Mobile Bay
Oil rig near entrance of Mobile Bay
They only served to remind us of the ghastly problems heading our way with the oil from the explosion off the coast of Louisiana. We didn't need to be reminded; it was often the topic of discussion with friends and strangers on board the ship.

We passed the Farewell Buoy, the last channel marker buoy leaving Mobile Bay (and, of course, the first one entering, but it's never called the "Hello Buoy"). It has a bell, and rings constantly with the motion of the wind and waves. I loved hearing it; I wish I had remembered to play a video so I could record the sound.
Farewell Buoy

Next on our itinerary was the Sand Island Lighthouse. It used to be part of Dauphin Island many years ago, but that part of the island drifted away from the rest.
Sand Island Lighthouse
Sand Island Lighthouse /

We saw some booms that were meant to protect the shore from the oil, but they don't look very effective! They were not connected to anything, just one section of boom floating along by itself. We have since learned that the booms were ineffective; oil has come ashore in several places.
Booms to protect us from the oil

Our first view of Dauphin Island Bridge. Another sad story here: In early January of 2008, a man threw his four small children, one still a baby, off the bridge into Mobile Bay. Their little bodies washed up several weeks later. Some of you may remember. I think it made the national news.
Oil rig and Dauphin Island Bridge

The Middle Bay Lighthouse!
Middle Bay Lighthouse
I have heard of this lighthouse, and have seen many photos and paintings of it, but never saw it "in person" until now! It is not in use now, but many years ago, the lighthouse keeper and his family lived here, and kept a cow on the deck, to provide milk for their baby!

Gaillard Island, a manmade island from the sludge that was dug up to make and maintain the ship channel. Pelicans have made it their home and rookery. I fear for them; I don't know if they have survived the oil, and we're in nesting season.
Gaillard Island

Entering Mobile River
The industrial part of the city is mostly along the Mobile River - container cargo handling, shipbuilding, and ship repair
Entering Mobile River

Our first view of downtown Mobile and the Carnival Fantasy
Downtown and Carnival Fantasy
Carnival's Elation is taking the Fantasy's place in Mobile, and the Fantasy is moving to Charleston, South Carolina.

As we approached the Fantasy, the two ships greeted each other by blowing their horns -- loudly! Three blasts, then two, then three, and so on, then the loudspeakers on our ship broke out with the recorded "Sweet Home Alabama" from the night before! It was hard to hold the camera steady, and sing and clap at the same time! (I got a little misty-eyed, too!)
Fantasy in port"Mobile Press Register article

As we sailed past downtown to the turning basin almost at the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge, we passed many familiar landmarks. It was interesting to see them from the water side, and not land.

Government Plaza on the left, Regions and Wells Fargo-Wachovia in the middle, and the RSA Tower and Renaissance Hotel on the right edge
Skyline and river
Government Plaza

Interstate 10 onramps, the round building is the Holiday Inn, and the twin gold domes are the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
(It's cool how this site loads, gradually!)

Rear of the Museum of Mobile, housed in the old city hall building
Rear of Museum of Mobile

Riverview Plaza Renaissance Hotel, GM Building, and RSA Tower
Arthur Outlaw Convention Center in foreground
Riverview Plaza, Regions Bank, and RSA Tower
(Yes, we have an Outlaw Convention Center in Mobile! Makes sense, when you consider all the scandals going on.)

The Van Antwerp Building, Mobile's first skyscraper, built in 1907
Van Antwerp Building

The FBI Building
FBI Building

Alabama State Docks
Alabama State Docks

The old GM&O Railroad terminal, also built in 1907
GM&O Railroad Terminal,_Mobile_and_Ohio_Railroad

Cochrane-Africatown Bridge
The turning basin is just south of this bridge. By the time we turned around and returned to the cruise terminal, the Fantasy had left for Charleston.
Cochrane Africatown Bridge
Africatown has a unique history. It was an African village, founded by slaves who were brought here illegally in 1860, fifty years after the slave trade was prohibited in the U. S.

We were met at the cruise terminal by the daughter of our friends, who drove us home to our cats!
Double Exposure

(I tried to make hyperlinks for all the websites I gave you, but only one of them worked. I did the HTML wrong, I'm sorry. You can copy and paste into your browser.)

Cruise Blog VII: Grand Cayman Island

On Grand Cayman Island, we took a ride in a semi-submarine from which we saw underwater scenes around a coral reef and two shipwrecks, and then we walked around the main shopping area a bit.

The semi-submarine is a sight-seeing boat with a deep hull and big plate glass windows so the passengers can see the world underwater. Our captain gave us a running commentary on what we were seeing, and the pilot got out, with scuba gear on, and fed the fish in order to attract large numbers of them to the viewing area!

Semi Submarine

Dark, striped, and one silver
Brain coral
Puzzle ball
There were two shipwrecks in the vicinity. This was the Balboa, from 1932.
Another shipwreck
Feeding frenzy!
Feeding frenzy

We walked around a bit in the downtown shopping area. In the next picture, if you enlarge it by clicking on it, you can see a group of snorkelers on the far left side.
Rugged coast

We saw some pretty flowers

Pretty pink!


An unusual town clock
Rolex clock

And Big Black Dick!
Big Black Dick, the pirate
Description, part I
Description, part II

Along with a large, colorful iguana
Multicolored iguana
And a stingray fountain in the center of town
Stingray fountain

Time to return to our ship (the Elation, the one further away)
Because of the delicate coral reefs, the large cruise ships do not dock at the island's harbor; they anchor out at sea, and "tender boats" ferry the passengers to and from shore.
Fantasy and Elation meet at Grand Cayman