So we just spent nine nights at Rainbow Plantation, an Escapees park in Summerdale, Alabama. There’s not a whole lot to do in Summerdale proper, but the park was one of the biggest, nicest, most resort-feeling parks we’ve been to yet. Didn’t have a lot of chance to participate though, because I was busy writing and doing research (read sightseeing…God, I love my job!).
Foley, Alabama is one of those quaint small towns that hasn’t really been marred by progress. We stopped at the Visitor Info Center, which turned out to be connected to a free medical museum, housed in Foley’s first hospital building.
Now here’s where it gets creepy. The first room we walked into was the operating room, all decked out with old-school operating table and equipment. It totally reminded me of a set from the movie Saw. But that’s not really the creepy part. As Dad and I moved through the museum, I realized I had seen it before. A few months ago, I had a nightmare. As soon as I woke up, I got it all down on paper, because I think it would be a fantastic plot for a novel. Anyway, the setting was that particular hospital! Now, I’ve never been anywhere remotely close to Foley. The place doesn’t advertise. It’s never been in a movie or novel. So how the hell did I manage to dream that exact hospital?!?! Pretty scary stuff! But the museum was pretty cool.
We also went to the old train depot, where there’s an O gauge model railroad setup. My cousin Eric would have stayed all day, I think. The volunteers that run the place were fascinating to talk to, and we spent a bit more time than we intended.
We also had a snack at the 1950s soda fountain, topped off with a chocolate Coke (diet for Dad, gotta watch those carbs). The place was pretty cool, and there’s still an old-fashioned pharmacy in the back.
Next up was the USS Alabama and the Drum submarine docked beside it. That involved an amazing amount of climbing, but it was so worth it. The ship’s a little different than the one Dad was on, and I must have asked him a million questions. Much fun was had by all.
The next day we went to downtown Mobile. The Carnival Museum may have been my favorite of all. Mobile’s actually the home of Mardi Gras, despite New Orleans fame, and the museum was quite detailed. Our guide was an older lady with a ton of energy, and she was playing up the friendly Mobile-New Orleans rivalry for the out of towners in the group. Good times!
The Phoenix Fire Museum and the rebuilt Fort Conde are annexes of the Museum of Mobile, and we went to all three. We learned so much about the history of the city, and got to see some extremely old firefighting equipment. We also went to the Cathedral and the Police Museum, which were kind of fun.
What I found interesting about the Police Museum, though, was that it was actually IN the precinct. A female cop came out to see if we needed help, then disappeared into the back room. No metal detector, no officers hanging over our shoulders…you don’t see that friendly, small town trust much anymore. It was neat.
Dad scaled a cemetery wall to get a specific photo which, alas, I can’t show you now. It’s on his phone, since the camera batteries were dead. But the guy’s name was Joe Cain and he was responsible for reviving Mardi Gras in Mobile. After he died, the next Mardi Gras the whole town had a picnic in the cemetery, and really trashed the place. So the next Mardi Gras it was locked up tight, except to relatives of the deceased. A lady in a black dress and veil showed up in a limo claiming to be Joe Cain’s widow, and was allowed inside. The next year, two “widows” showed up together. Today there are 13 “widows” and a number of girlfriends (who wear red). They pay their respects to Joe Cain before parading on Mardi Gras day. I’ll upload the photo soon, I promise.
That night we had dinner at Lambert’s Cafe in Foley, home of the throwed rolls. It’s one of those totally over-the-top Southern restaurants, and both the food and the service were awesome. And the portions…OMG! Dad and I split the meatloaf dinner. It must have been a pound of real, home-cooked meatloaf with overflowing side dishes (we got coleslaw, mashed potatoes and corn, again all cooked from scratch). Plus, they had servers walking around with free all-you-can-eat “pass-arounds”–fried okra, black eyed peas, some kind of macaroni and tomato sauce dish, fried potatoes and of course, “throwed rolls,” so named because the servers toss them to you). We also bought a small-ish apple pie for $2. We seriously have enough leftovers for at least two more dinners. The grand total with the pie and a huge tip, was $22! Can’t beat that!
Now we’re on the way to New Orleans. We meant to leave yesterday, but had to get the hot water heater fixed on the RV. For awhile now it’s refused to stay lit for more than a few minutes. Dad made an appointment at Camping World, but it turned out there was an RV repair guy in the park. So he came over and fixed it for us at a VERY reasonable price, and we didn’t have to take it in. Worked out quite well all the way around.
I’m so excited for New Orleans, but a little nervous as well. Been gone for awhile now, I hope things haven’t changed TOO much. But either way, Mardi Gras should be fantastic this year! Anderson Cooper is headlining Endymion, and the cast of Treme is on Orpheus. Can’t wait!!