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The Millbrook Independent

May 26th
Forty five trips around the sun
Written by News Desk   
Saturday, 21 September 2013 09:11

sarahmugBy Sarah Morrison Stephens

Having just survived another trip around the sun, I am looking forward to the next 45 years of my life.

Forty-five. Hmmmm. It really isn't that old. If you are a tree. I am a nut that never gave up and finally grew into a mighty Oak, so 45 suits me just fine.

When it comes to age, I tend to look at things differently than most. I haven't had a birthday that bothered me yet. Perhaps because in my line of work I have stood over the bodies of folks who never made it to their 20s, it gives me a different perspective. I also had older parents. My father was 50 when I arrived on this planet.

So when I consider what my father was doing at the age I am now, I have to laugh. I wasn't even thought of, or expected. He had two toddlers (they being my MUCH older sisters.) He still would have two more careers before he retired. My life is just beginning. But know this, I have no plans to follow in his footsteps and have a child at 50.

The night before my actual birthday, my friends put together a last-minute celebration. My roaming ways made it difficult to know if I would even be in town for my birthday, but they pulled it off quite well. We had a house full of folks who took time out to make me feel special, and I am very grateful.

Then my wonderful husband of 20 years surprised me with a weekend getaway to Dauphin Island, Alabama. I came back home sunburned, stuffed with seafood, sand in my shoes and car, and very happy indeed. I left my house in the hands of my 18-year-old, and having only been home for a couple of hours, I have to say he did well. If there was a wild party, I haven't found the evidence, and he didn't call me for bail money.

My husband Mel and I took along two of our dogs. We stayed at the Gulf Breeze Motel on the island that is dog-friendly. I figured we might as well start taking the dogs along with us. With Charlie leaving for college soon, I fully expect we will become one of THOSE couples. You know, the couples that always take their little, obnoxious dogs with them everywhere. They have clothing for them, special beds, seatbelts in the car. I could think of worse things to do.

But let me tell you about Dauphin Island, for those of you who have not traveled down to one of Alabama's loveliest beaches. You hear a lot about Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Those are wonderful places, I agree. However, I adore D.I. because they have not sold their soul to the tourist devil.

They only recently allowed condominiums, and even they can only be a few stories high as not to block out the entire sky. There are only a handful of shops to buy souvenirs. You can still take your dogs to most of the beach areas. The sand is white, the water usually calm, and dolphins like to make their presence known to swimmers just a few yards off shore. It sounds quaint, until you are the swimmer and you look up to see a fin coming at you.

For those of us who grew up in the 70s, JAWS played a big part of our life. For the rest of my life when I stick my big toe into the ocean, I will hear the JAWS theme. To be honest, I hear the music when I get into a pool. I am scarred somewhat.

If you visit the island, here are some of my recommendations.

1. Forego staying at one of the hoity toity condos. Stay at the Gulf Breeze Motel, which was recently updated and is actually very nice. Basic, but very nice. They have a community barbecue grill, and some units have full kitchens. The nightly rate is about a third of what you will pay at the hoity toity places, and the staff if very friendly.

2. Eat at the Islander restaurant, which is not far from the Gulf Breeze Motel. I recommend the sautéed crab claws, the crawfish and artichoke penne pasta and round it out with their bread pudding.Fabulous. Go around sunset and you get a beautiful view off their deck.

3. Have breakfast at the Lighthouse Bakery. The food is good anytime, but on Sunday mornings the owners have special omelettes. I recommend the fresh crab omelette.

4. If you need a good coffee break, check out the fairly new Coffee Beast. Probably the best cappuccino I have ever had. Ever.

5. Fort Gaines is on the island and history lovers will be enthralled. It is open daily and there are special events advertised throughout the year.

6. The Estuarium is well worth a visit if you want to learn about local aquatic life. If you have young kids, it is a must.

Well, that is all for now. Time to slather on some aloe, vacuum out my Mustang to get the sand out, and take a nap. Until next time...

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