Vacation #1

(I’m also taking the first week of November off, hence the “#1”.)

I took the last full week of September off and spent several days at my parents’ condo on Dauphin Island, Alabama. While it was hotter than I’d hoped it would be, it still provided some much-needed peace and quiet so I could recharge my batteries. I would go down to the beach in the evening and watch the sunset, and I went into Mobile one day, but a great deal of the time was spent reading on the balcony or in quiet shaded spots on the island, and drinking lots of cheap pink box wine.

It wasn’t a photography-heavy vacation (the next one will be), but of course I took a few shots with my cell phone.

v formation and sunset

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre.

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre

I tried to tour Bellingrath Gardens, but it was just too hot. There was usually a breeze on the island, but the gardens were too far inland, and there wasn’t ANY air moving among all those plants and trees. I got about 1/3 of the way in, then had a gardener take me back to the gift shop in her golf cart.

Mermaid fountain, Bellingrath Gardens, AL

Magnolia Cemetery was one of the things I saw in Mobile. It was raining, so I just drove around (it’s one of those cemeteries) and shot some photos out of my car window. That was the only rainy day we had, and it stopped around 1:00, not bad.

Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL

I also had fried catfish and hushpuppies (THE iconic food of Alabama, like gumbo in Louisiana) at Wintzell’s Oyster house, strolled around Dauphin Street (Mobile’s answer to Bourbon Street, but much nicer, honestly–not as tacky and sleazy). I found a fun used bookstore called Bienville Books.

I came home on Thursday morning, spent one night at home, then got up early to drive to Texas for the Dallas Pen Show. It was MUCH bigger than the Little Rock show, the only other one I’ve been to, and I found my two wish list items and then some:

dallas pen show

The pen that looks orange but is actually red is a Pilot Vanishing Point, a “clickable” fountain pen. It’s got a stub nib. I love Pilots and have more of them in my collection than any other brand; I’ve wanted a VP but I wanted to see if I could find a used one to keep the price under $100. I just made it with this one at $95, it’s a few years old but was never used and came in the box. (A brand new base-model VP usually retails for $140.)

The pen beneath that is a Parker Duofold and it’s kind of a weird one so I decided it had to come home with me. It’s a Victory but apparently this particular color/shape was only made for the UK market. It’s a button-fill but it’s old enough to predate the distinctive arrow-shaped clip that Parker started using in the early 1930s (at least on American pens), and it’s got a 14k oblique nib.

Those were my two wish list items, but I had some money left in the budget, so I also got a 1960s NOS Japanese desk pen (some no-name brand, kind of a Pilot knock-off) and some ink. I went about $25 over budget when all was said and done, but I can live with that.

Oh, and I also got to eat a cheeseburger at In N’ Out Burger.

In N' Out cheeseburger

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Diana F+: Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Alabama

I was there about a week before Hope and I went to Fort Pike, so I couldn’t help but compare them. Gaines is in much better condition than Pike, which is not surprising, because Louisiana really doesn’t have their shit together when it comes to parks and historic sites.

Apparently this is where Admiral David Farragut said the famous line “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”, during the Battle of Mobile Bay, in the Civil War. I thought it was odd that they would put it on all their signage and pamphlets, since Farragut was a Union admiral. But you know, we’re all the same country now, so kudos to Alabama for refusing to give in to that stupid us vs. them grudge-holding mentality that is one of my least favorite things about the south.

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

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Lomo LC-A+: Dauphin Island, Alabama

I also shot a roll of 120 in the Diana, I sent that to Dwayne’s Photo earlier this week (along with a roll of 35mm B&W that I have no idea what’s on it).

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Catholic Cemetery

Catholic Cemetery

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Dauphin Island, Alabama

…is where I spent my holidays. When Granny died in April, Mom decided she wanted to spend the first Christmas without her away from home. She and Phil have been going there for weekends for a few years now, but I’ve never been. Anyway, they rented a house that was like 3 minutes walk to the Gulf of Mexico, it was nice. It’s not warm this time of year of course, but I don’t mind the cold. And I like beach towns in the off season, although Mom says it’s pretty quiet even in summer. It doesn’t have any major touristy draws, it mostly attracts people who either have a boat or just want to spend time near the ocean. Mom and Phil closed on a condo while we were there, so maybe I’ll see more of it. It’s not too bad of a drive, we left at 10:30 and got there about 4:00.

I shot some film, but these are just digital shots.

Dauphin Island Cemetery

I found this at one of the cemeteries on the island, propped against a tree.

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I found this beach out at the end of the island, it had a lot of tree trunks with the roots exposed. I think Hurricane Ivan probably eroded that end of the island and pushed the beach up into what had been a stand of trees. Barrier islands are pretty unstable and really don’t last any time at all, in geological terms.

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Audubon bird trail

There’s an Audubon bird trail that leads to a little lake. Apparently Dauphin Island is the only place in Alabama that John James Audubon drew birds, although he drew them all over south Louisiana.

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Driftwood macro.

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New Year’s Day was our last full day, we had incredible skies. You can see some of the natural gas platforms in the distance. At night they’re lit up and actually look quite pretty. Anyway, as long as they’re not oil–no tar balls washing up on the beach.

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another republican appears to be guilty of massive hypocrisy, news at ll

It's good to be king!

It's good to be king!

Looks like the illustrious roll of the GOP Perverts Hall of Fame is about to get another member: Troy King, the Attorney General of the state of Alabama.

Prior to this week, Troy was mostly known for his brave war against sex toys. Like most southern white Republicans, he’s also a staunch gay-hater and once wrote a hysterical letter to the Crimson White, the newspaper of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, saying its front page looked like “the front page of Sodom and Gomorrah News the day before those cities were destroyed”, because the paper dared to run an article about a campus gay and lesbian organization.

So naturally, he’s on the verge of resigning while rumors swirl around the state that his wife has kicked him out of their home after she caught his schtupping a male aid. No word yet on whether any sex toys were involved in said schtupping.

Is anyone really surprised? How many times does a formula have to be followed before it moves beyond cliché and into certainty? A white male southern Republican who is married and hates both sex AND homosexuality turns out to be gay and gets caught. It’s starting to be as formulaic as 2+2=4. Now all he has to do is tearfully confess while his wife stands silent and sour-faced in the background, and pack himself off to one of those “Pray away the gay!” rehab camps.

I’ve seen a lot of “Well, his wife is a porker, that action was probably getting stale!”-type comments. As a size 20 heifer myself, it’s certainly not my place to make fat jokes. However, I will say that she has the sad, self-defeated look of a woman whose prom date turned out to be more interested in the Homecoming King than in her. She’s probably been walking in on her SOs indulging in the love that dare not speak its name since she was in high school.