April 06, 2010

Gulf Shores Vacation Writeup!

August 17, 2007 -

Well this past week or two ago I went on a family vacation/reunion with my entire Mom's side of the family.  Our trip plans had us setup in a nice little condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama on the beachfront.  What happened next was probably one of the worst weeks of my life.........And I'll tell you why shortly.

My younger brother Lance was unable to make it down to the family reunion, but pretty much my entire family was able to attend.  My younger brother Sean (21) and little sis Ashlyn (12 going on 18) flew down a few days before to spend some time with my grandma in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  It was just my mom and I in the house in Flower Mound.  My dad was going to fly down that Friday into New Orleans and then meet up with us in Bogalusa when we got there.  So it was up to my mom and I to drive the 9.5 hours through East Texas, Louisiana, and a small chunk of Mississippi to get there.  The drive wasn't too bad, I got to catch up on my Adam Corolla show podcast (pretty much all we listened to) and it made the drive go by quickly.

Upon arrival to Bogalusa I was greeted by my grandma Wascom and my cousin Derek.  More of talking and getting caught up with the family that I really hadn't seen in person for 3 years.  There were a lot of the same question just asked multiple times.  "So, hows your job working out?"..........pause........."So, how is your love life going?" And with every new family member that saw me and talked to me it pretty much started out like this.  And after these two questions there was always this awkward pause.

After the single night in my grandma's apartment, we packed up yet again and headed down towards Gulf Shores.  A few cars followed each other in a caravan for the 4 hour trip to the southern most tip of Alabama. 

Along the way we needed to stop and what better place than an all you can eat buffet right?  OH YEAH!  We saw a billboard for a buffet place called "Barnhill's" on the side of the road and I kind of let everyone know that it was a pretty good place (above Luby's, Furr's, and Golden Corral) with southern style food mostly.  This eating out thing started to get the ball rolling for the weekend.

One thing that April let me know about is certain things in the serving industry that will bug me from now on.  The whole thing about 13 or 14 people wanting to sit at the same table and creating this huge ordeal for the server.  All the drink orders, etc. that they have to constantly refill and cause a huge hassle.  Plus, sometimes people in that large amount of group don't tip quite enough.  SO, when all 13 people of my family sit down at this huge grand table and order drinks and whatnot, it kind of irks me a little bit and I turn into this "Whenever possible," and "Whenever you get a chance" type person.  I really don't want to put the server out of their way.

After that we pretty much made our way to the beach and checked into the condo around 3:30pm on Saturday.  I mostly stayed next to the condo and pool for most of the day (and made sure I hooked up Guitar Hero in the room :D). 

I'm not much of a beach person.  I get bored really easy.  You sit on the beach in the sun, or wade out into the waves a little bit, or walk up and down the beach, maybe build a sandcastle but that's about it for me?  The water was nice but had a little bit too much algae in it for me to enjoy it.  Plus my little sis got attacked by a jellyfish.  Most of the day Saturday was lounging and playing in the pool with my nephews and nieces, and throwing them up into the air.

This was pretty much the course for the rest of my trip, just an awkward, unsettling time.  After awhile it just became a chore to actually take the elevator down 11 floors, and out the 100 yards to the beach.  What am I going to go out there for? Oh yeah, sit on the beach, make a sandcastle, wade in the algae water.........DOH!

One of the nights we went out with flashlights and nets and hunted down crabs.  It was extremely fun because a few in our party were young kids so to see them run across the sand and slash at the fast crabs with their little Wal-Mart nets.  At the end of the day we had probably 10 crabs or so? 2 of them were good size! About the size of a small fist!  I was shocked.  Most of the ones I had seen before (on a work trip in FL) were about the size of an ipod or something, only with claws and beady little eyes!

The main course for the trip was the eating out episode.  After the awkwardness that I experienced with my Mom's family, it was time for the main event, and this time it was gonna be great (but not really)!  All of my family (all 16 of them) decided that they were going to go out and eat at a seafood place one night.  Okay, so we went out to The Original Oyster Bar that's on the main strip that we thought was pretty popular.  Was it ever!  It was a 1 hour wait to just get a beeper thing, and then it was another hour to get a table for us.  We tooled around but slowly but surely my pressure started to rise.  More standing around watching my nephew on the horsie on the side of the building and enduring my aunt as she pounded pina colada after pina colada.  You have to realize about my Mom's family, is that they are just on the side of civilized rednecks.  A few drinks and the accent gets more and more prevalent, and the rowdiness factor goes up.

After we tried to fit into a table that fit 14, we ordered our appetizers. This was after the fact that the owner of the place offered us a separate table that we could have sat at.  Yeah, this would have separated the family, but it would have made the experience a hell of a lot better for both us AND the waitress.  Did we decide to do that? Nope.  Did I get the chance to talk to my uncle 6 seats down? Nope.  But we just had to sit together.

Oysters on the half-shell! YUM!  Those were the appetizers that we decided on and I couldn't wait to have a few of those with some crackers, horseradish, and some ketchup!  We got them just as our main course food was coming out.  The waitress was swamped and I was trying desperately to help her out and not be a bother, considering the fact that my drunk aunt was complaining about the oysters a little too loudly and pretty much just wanted them for free.  "You can bring them, but we're not paying for them." is something that rolled off of her tongue pretty easily.  About that time I just buried my head in the plate of food that I had gotten and tried to eat in peace.

Around that time I just wanted to leave.  I just wanted to come back to Dallas to meetup with a few friends that I could actually have a meaningful conversation with.  Not yet, I still had two more days of this crap, not to mention the 13 hour drive in one day back to Dallas. AAAGGGGGHHHHHHH! 

At the pinnacle of the meal, we were all pretty much done with our entrees and were just lounging around chatting.  My uncle down at the end of the table wanted my little nephew (around 3 or 4) to finish his food and clean his plate.  Finally my uncle got a huge spoonful of coleslaw and force-fed it to him.  He swallowed it down and then started to cry because he didn't want it and all that.  What does a hot seafood place, coleslaw that was force fed into your mouth, and crying produce.  A trip to the bathroom.

On his way to the bathroom, he began this crescendo scream that echoed through the restaurant. "aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!"  What does a hot seafood place, coleslaw that was force fed into your mouth, crying, and exhaling of massive amounts of air all produce? Vomit.  Yep, that's right.  He puked about halfway down the table all over the carpet in the restaurant.  As you can probably tell, I was about ready to run out the door to get away from this crap.  I couldn't believe it.  It was like the night was filled with this amazing surge of energy and the puking of my 4 year old nephew on the floor was the release of all of this pressure.  The boiling point if you will.

After we tipped the waitress and made our way back to the condo, we left her with a tip, a bad 17 person dinner party, comp'd oysters on the half shell, and a pile of puke to cleanup. What a night!

The next day though we left to come back to Dallas (on my birthday no less) and my day of birth was spent in a van (not down by the river) but with your family that you are sick of and wanted to get away from for just a bit.  All in all a living hell of a vacation.  I do thank you guys that wished me a happy birthday out there on the Metroplexmini.org board and those who bought me a beer! I do appreciate it!  Thanks again!