December 5, 2023

This blog post is being written to the sounds of the new Bob Dylan album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” which immediately reminds me of my mom who used to call me Rowdy. We both loved Bob Dylan, a taste acquired only in adulthood.

The album is available for free listening from Mr. Dylan’s YouTube channel, a gift to the masses during trying times, times that continue to try despite masks and stimulus checks and police reform bills and a summer sun that was supposed to kill the dreaded COVID-19.

At least we made it to the beach before Alabama and Florida became hot spots in the war on the invisible enemy.

We drove, and we were largely by ourselves, even on the beach — not that we were overly concerned. Truth is: reality was different the first week of June than it is now. However, the beaches at Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Jacksonville, Florida, were largely socially distanced. Heck, Jax Beach was mostly empty the days we were there. The primary cause was weather for Jax Beach. Hotel planning kept folks mostly apart at Orange Beach in far southern Alabama.

I can’t speak for why anybody else flocks to the beach, but I know why we do.




After three months of quarantining, we needed it.

And it was my first time to Jacksonville, a city we’ve talked about retiring to someday. We like the beach vibe, the teal look of the city and the mix of cosmopolitan and beach bum. I could totally see myself as a Parrothead who goes to the theatre. More about our visit to Jax later.

For now, the beaches.

Southern Alabama really surprised me. From Mobile to Gulf Shores, I found Alabama to be surprisingly beautiful. Not sure if I was expecting rural Oklahoma or parts of Louisiana or Mississippi, but what I saw more akin to what I recall of South Carolina but with some of the bravado of Texas. I hardly saw an Alabama or Auburn flag or decal, and (nice surprise) I didn’t see a single Confederate flag. Not in Mobile or Gulf Shores or in Mentone or Huntsville even.

Alabama was beautiful countryside, clear lakes, an outdoor-lover’s paradise.

Back to the beaches.

The sand was deep and thick at Orange Beach, and it took a lot of work to get from one spot to the other. I forget whether it was reminding us of California or South Texas more.

And then a couple days later, we went to Jacksonville and spent two days on Jax Beach. We stayed in a hotel right on the beach in both instances, but the view we had from our Jacksonville hotel was incredible.

The weather was rainy, cloudy, and that kept most everybody away, which was and is always OK with me (#INFP). The sand at Jax Beach was compact and more like walking on top of a floor made of sand. The skies were super overcast, and the wind felt like rain.

I read my books, and I talked with my wife. Held hands. Slept in. Long dinners. Zero itinerary.

And after a week, we came back to Oklahoma to attack what is hopefully the second half of our national coronavirus battle. If not, we’ll just attack the second half of 2020 and hope a vaccine comes along before 2021 or 2022.

Beach therapy, indeed.

And, btw, the Dylan album is tremendous.


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