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Thanksgiving Week Trip to the Gulf Coast

by bill - 2021-11-24 ( culture / writing / travel / blog )

Just getting the rental car (minivan) in the first place was a bit of an adventure. Because we were leaving Monday morning, we wanted to pick it up Sunday night, but all local Enterprise offices are closed on Sundays, which I find weird, given that travel-and-leisure-related activities happen, more often than not, on weekends.

Anyway, we reserved it at the Nashville Airport, 35 miles north, but all of the documentation, emails, etc. only said they were "at the airport." Google Maps directed us to their old location a mile from the terminals. We checked that out and decided it was just overflow parking or something now, so we returned to the terminals. Tara suggested Arrivals, which made sense, but I had gotten into the "express lane" which gave us nowhere to pull over and let me out to go inside and get the car. We were stopped in traffic, anyway, so I just put the car in Park, got out, and Tara came around and took the wheel.

Inside the terminal I followed the signs to car rentals, which was at the complete opposite end of where I started, of course. When I got there, hardly any rental agents were there for any of the companies. Nobody was at the Enterprise counter, just a sign saying to go downstairs to the garage. I asked a competing agent nearby about that and she basically said, yep, that's where you need to go, you stupid tourist! Okay, I added that last part. She was actually very nice.

I went outside, down some stairs, then an escalator, following behind a scary gang of pilots and flight attendants on their way to their own cars in the garage. I then found myself directly behind an incredibly attractive woman in heels. To distract myself from her, I texted my wife and gave her a play-by-play report -- never mentioning the other woman -- all about my attempt to find this mysterious Enterprise rental kiosk. Turned out, it was in the garage, just like they said, and just a couple dozen yards (but well-hidden) from where we had entered the Arrivals area moments earlier.

The polite young black man took my information, license and credit card, and hurried off to find my minivan, a dark gray Dodge Grand Caravan with Michigan plates. I texted my wife to say I was in the van, behind the wheel, so she was free to go.

Next morning, we left around 8. First stop: Chick-fil-A for breakfast. "Fil-A" is how us Southerners spell "fillet." Southern French.

Destination: Gulf Shores, Alabama. Yeah, Alabama again, only this time further south, just for fun, and with the kids: teenage daughter and her teenage girl friend. Okay, "fun" might be a stretch when travelling with teenagers. Just trying to stay upbeat.

It was supposed to be a 6-1/2 hour drive, but that's only if you don't stop for gas, food or potty breaks, all of which we did several times. You know, like normal people. Eight hours later we were walking up the stairs to the rental house. Everything near the beach is up on stilts, thanks to the yearly hurricanes. Dinner was at Lulu's (Jimmy Buffett's sister Lucy's restaurant with locations in Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina). I got the same as what I had at the Myrtle Beach location on our previous vacation, fish tacos. Delicious.

Yesterday was spent driving around, shopping for souvenirs, and ending up at The Wharf, which is just a shopping mall. There's a Ferris Wheel out front to give the impression that it's a cool place to go, but it's not. The ice cream shop, Kilwins, was good. The girls went to The Selfie Museum, or whatever it's called. They provide background scenery in various rooms for selfie-taking. All for the low, low price of $27 PER PERSON! Yay, vacation expenses.

Today, we're going to Pensacola, just across the state line in Florida... assuming the wife and girls ever get ready.


UPDATE: Here's a video clip on Instagram


UPDATE: At Shaggy's in Pensacola now for late lunch / early dinner where they let you have your dog at the table, which is why we chose this place.


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