Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Food of Gulf Shores, Alabama

You just know a trip is going to be good when your very first stop on the way in to town is an oyster fest. I am a raw oyster fiend, let me tell you, and these were great oysters! I'm very specific about how I like them - lots and lots of lemon juice all over the tops of them, a generous teaspoon of cocktail sauce on each one, and then one drop (maybe two) of Tabasco sauce per oyster to kick it up. By the time I'm done, my mouth is burning, and I am feeling aaaaall right!

The seafood in Gulf Shores, Alabama really was out of this world. Over the course of the trip, I enjoyed huge shrimp, tuna steak, lump crab meat, scallops - fresh Gulf seafood of all kinds! LuLu's at Homeport Marina is one restaurant that is fun to visit. Owned by Jimmy Buffett's sister, Lucy, it had about 400 people on a regular, old Thursday night eating dinner and listening to great bands.

Of course, desserts should be mentioned. Al at King Neptune's plied us with - get this - fried cheesecake topped with caramel sauce. One bite of that was enough for me, but it's really popular. My favorite dessert of the trip was the chocolate torte (surprise, surprise) with raspberry sauce at Jesse's in nearby Magnolia Springs, where I met David, the flirty owner of the Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast. (Anyone who, within two seconds of meeting me, tells me I am beautiful gets an automatic mention!)

I also attended a portion of the Southern Breeze Coastal Wine Tour, which featured wine classes and over 250 different wines for tasting in a breezy setting overlooking the water.

Suffice to say, I miss all the seafood now that I am in landlocked Austin. (Lakes don't count!!)

Monday, May 29, 2006


During my trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, I also visited the Flora-Bama, a beachside bar on the Alabama-Florida border whose clientele is remarkably all over the map. From bikers to college kids to couples to anyone else you can think of, this is the place to be at night.

All that popularity aside, somehow this was the closest thing I could find to a sign that wasn't a beer advertisement. At least you can kind of see the "Flora-Bama" in it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dolphin Watching Cruise

* I forgot to mention that the Captain met his wife of 15 years on one of his cruises - she was with her parents. How sweet is that?!?

Probably my favorite part of my recent trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama was a Dolphin Watching Cruise. Actually in nearby Orange Beach, we set sail with Captain Ritchie of
Dolphins Express.

What was particularly cool about this cruise is that our Captain would pop up the front of the boat and speed up to create a lot of wake. This brought all the dolphins a' swimming! They came right up to the back of the boat, within just a couple of feet, where they would swim along like they were racing us. Then, they would jump up in to the air, oftentimes in near unison, and twist and dive back down to the water. It was so much fun to watch them play over and over!

It was tricky getting these playful and swift dolphins on camera - my brain-to-finger reaction time is not on dolphin time - but I did manage to catch a few good shots with which to remember the afternoon.

The weather was primo, too. We all were just hanging out on the boat underneath the clear blue sky with a cool wind blowing ... just chilling to the groovy music ... hanging with the dolphins.

Now, there was a situation where Captain Ritchie needed someone with nimble thinking skills and an uncanny sensory perception of the water to navigate the boat through treacherous conditions. I humbly stepped in and ensured the safety of all my fellow passengers and the pod of high-value dolphins we were escorting. ;)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Candidly Caroline Back from Gulf Shores

I enjoyed the great weather in Gulf Shores, Alabama this past weekend, and I'll have lots of fun stuff to report as soon as I recover from this pesky sore throat I picked up along the way ....

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Where is Candidly Caroline?

Did You Know?

Did you know you can reach my site simply by typing or
No need to bother with all that other stuff - it's as easy as that!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

White Water Rafting in Gatlinburg

The absolute coolest thing I did in Gatlinburg gave me some pause at the time. I had never been white water rafting, and it sounded a little scary and dangerous ~ well past my adventure threshold. I was determined to do it because I am challenging myself to break my self-imposed boundaries, but I still was expressing aloud a lot of doubts in the hopes that others would assure me.
They did. I went. It was great!
We almost bit the dust right at the very beginning, too! Just as we were coming off of a rapid and moving fast, we were grabbed and jerked around by a huge boulder that caught us from underneath! Our entire raft stopped and spun, and half of it flew up in to the air. We were all screaming, and for a moment, I believe we all knew, just knew, that we were going in to the water.
I mentally prepared myself, braced my body for what would be the very, very cold water and possibly very, very hard rocks beating against my bones. We all plunged our bodies to the center of gravity and felt our raft - pause - and then fall back down to the water. The raft made a complete circle as it came off of the angle the boulder had formed - and then - we were stable.
Well, as stable as seven people sitting on a floatie in the middle of a raging river can be! It was SO awesome! What a way to start off the rafting trip! The rest of it did not disappoint, either, let me assure you. I highly recommend trying it!
(It’s also a good excuse to visit North Carolina because the starting point is just a few feet from the state line. I crossed the border, of course!)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Same Bat Time

An interesting tie between Gatlinburg, bordering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and Austin is the bats. I attended a presentation given by two young women who actually were from near Austin but were studying in Tennessee.
There is a sizeable bat population there, apparently, and they allowed us to walk through the Park with noise devices that would enable us to hear the sound of the bats. They also had one with which we could get up close and personal, and that was pretty cool. I got a picture of it “hissing” at me. It reminded me of a newborn kitten with big, black, vein-y wings.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's me in my "I Heart Mom" t-shirt ...

and all of us (sister-in-law, sister, mom, grandma, and me) at a large Mother-Daughter Church Luncheon my mother helped organize.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Women Recognize Men Who'll Be Good Fathers

Women subconsciously can recognize men who will be good fathers and long-term mates, says a recent study, and they also can tell who would be best for flings.
The results show that, based on facial photographs, women have a very good sense at identifying men who like kids, and thus, deem them as the best choices for long-term relationships. Those identified as having the highest testosterone levels, or being the most masculine, were perceived to be best for short-term relationships. The theory behind the results is that evolution has programmed women to recognize men likely to "propagate" the species by raising a family.
I can see this. I guess the problems come in when we don't listen to our senses. And, too, experience has to play a large part. I can tell a lot better now who would be a good "mate" than I could even a few years ago.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Aggie 12th Man Victorious!

Whoop! The Aggies have won their trademark infringement claim against the Seattle Seahawks' use of the phrase "12th Man," which is so synonymous with Texas A&M culture.
Via The Association of Former Students:

I'm pleased to inform you that, after months of negotiations, the university has reached an amicable agreement with the Seattle Seahawks resolving the controversy regarding the use of Texas A&M's 12th Man trademark. Under the agreement, the university has granted the NFL team a license to use the 12th Man trademark in a seven-state area in the northwest that encompasses the current primary broadcast area of the Seahawks. As is the case of all licensees, the Seattle Seahawks will pay the university a licensing fee and will state publicly that Texas A&M owns the 12th Man trademark each time it is used.
It is hard for non-Aggies-and the media-to understand the depth of what the 12th Man reference and depiction-and the underlying tradition - means to Texas A&M and as a result, the university was criticized for vigorously opposing use of the trademark by the Seahawks. As you know, the 12th Man is more than a trademark, greater than football and certainly more than changing the course of a football game. The 12th Man is a call to action for Aggies. It symbolizes loyalty and our unique Aggie Spirit. It creates friendships where none existed before, heals wounds that seemed to be beyond repair and creates a common language that Aggies speak all over the world. We had no choice but to challenge the Seattle Seahawks, just as we must protect and defend in every way possible all of our trademarks - and none is more crucial than that of the 12th Man because of all it means to Aggies. We have not only protected the 12 Man trademark, but have strengthened it for the future to ensure that others cannot successfully challenge us. Now, we are in a position to license our trademark as a means of broadening our coverage and unquestioned ownership of the mark in both professional and collegiate sports. In the fall, you will see an unprecedented focus on our 12th Man trademark here at Texas A&M. Our goal is to maximize the recognition and connection to our school.
Gig 'em,
Steven B. Moore
Chief Marketing Officer & Vice President for Communications

Sunday, May 07, 2006

From Pitch Black to Bright White

Saturday night many people in Austin still were without electricity after the many strong rounds of thunderstorms we have had over the past few days, and that included a friend of mine who hosted a party at his house.
We went old school, sans air conditioning and mingling by candlelight. A couple of guys even pulled out a guitar and a saxophone and gave us an impromptu concert!
Such good things can happen unexpectedly!

Another surprise was when I was introduced to a young woman, and she immediately said, "I know you. I read your blog!" I was like, "Whoa!" This proceeded to happen several times over the course of the evening! Unless people comment, I have no idea who is visiting so it was very neat to put faces to some of my readers!

Sunday afternoon was Tally Ho! and all things British at the second annual "Wear White Croquet Party," hosted by another couple of friends, AEJC and the Outlaw!

Over 100 people attended again this year to have their opportunity at making jolly good shots and avoiding the sticky wicket. It's always Bees Knees to whack things around anyway, right, old chap? (I'm sure I just butchered some British sayings with those statements.)

Anyway, amidst all the whacking mallets, we enjoyed cucumber sandwiches (Eva - they were great!) and cool mint juleps, which are not at all the lightweight drinks they sound like.

No mallets on the roof this year, as we are improving our croquet skills, (It wasn't me, I promise!) and it was a very nice time, once again.

Of course, it also was a dazzling display of white!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lost in the Moment

This, I think, is the coolest picture I took on the trip to Gatlinburg. It is of jellyfish at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

It was mesmerizing to watch them, the way they billowed and pulled across the water.

I was fascinated.

Welcome Home!

I'm not sure why so many of my posts lately are cat-related, but perhaps it has something to do with the kind of welcome home gift I received today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg

One of the great things about Gatlinburg is the plethora of activities for kids ~ and adults who like to pretend they’re kids (I'm not naming Candidly Caroline, ha hem.)

My favorite was the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. It was quite sizeable, and I managed to keep myself more than entertained, and, in fact, dawdling and gawking, for the entire tour.

The coolest attraction was a 300-foot long corridor "under the sea." The corridor had a pathway-sized conveyor belt that moved people slowly along and underneath the simulated ocean. All around sharks and fish are swimming up to your face and up above your head, so close you feel immersed. There is even a plaque near large scratch marks marking the spot where, the night before the Aquarium’s grand opening, a shark attacked the acrylic tank! No one was harmed, it assured us.

The aquarium itself is quite high tech, and their lighting system follows the natural pattern of sunlight and moonlight, allowing visitors and the aquatic wildlife to experience actual times of day.

One of the neatest programs this aquarium offers utilizes this corridor, and they call it “Sleeping with the Sharks.” At nighttime, people can rent out the aquarium for parties, and they can park their sleeping bags within this corridor so - literally - they are sleeping with the sharks! I didn’t get to do that, but wouldn’t that be so cool? Having sharks swimming over your head with the aquarium illuminated only by moonlight? I think that would be great!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back from Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

I have just returned from an enchanting trip to the quaint Tennessee community of Gatlinburg, nestled along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

With a river running all the way through the town center, which is filled with families and couples wandering among all the different stores and attractions, it is such a sweet place to visit.

Just moments away from all of the hustle and bustle of downtown is a great escape, where one can find simplicity and natural beauty in this mountainous region known for the blue mist resting on its peaktops.

My own great escape included my accommodations, named "
Simple Pleasures." It was a cabin in the woods with two bedrooms, a pool table and - and - a hot tub on a covered porch overlooking the forest. I wish I'd had a little bit more time to enjoy it, but as you'll soon see ... my trip was quite action-filled!