Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Blue Angels Air Show at Pensacola Beach

Few events match the excitement of viewing a Blue Angels Air Show over Pensacola Beach. Where else can you see jets flying over 700 mph only 18 inches apart? Everybody but the pilots shake their heads and wonder, "How do they do that?"

The team's six demonstration pilots fly Boeing F/A-18 Hornets at close to 70 shows across the United States each year. Since 1946, they have drawn over 427 million spectators. The Blues were the first officially sanctioned military aerial demonstration team.

A seventh aircraft is used for backup and public relations work, sometimes taking members of the news media and other civilians (with connections) for stomach-churning rides.

Blue Angels Air Show

Members of the Blues are carefully selected from the best pilots in the Navy and Marines. They fly with the team for two years and then return to their service branch.

During the winter months new pilots and team members are trained at the Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.

The Blues are stationed in Pensacola from March until November, flying out of Pensacola Naval Air Station. The Blues practice twice a week while in Pensacola and the public is always welcome. Two formal air shows are scheduled in Pensacola each year.

If you plan on attending one of the two air shows, do yourself a favor and either plan on getting to the beach very early and staying late (before parking becomes impossible and after the worst of the crowd clears), or either use the trolley service that leaves between Casino Beach and Fort Pickens gate.

If you aren't able to see one of the air shows on your next vacation, try to schedule a visit to the Museum of Naval Aviation. The Blues have a section at the museum dedicated to them. Four of the aircraft are suspended in formation, and there is large display of Blue Angels memorabilia.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Alabama Coastal Bowfishing

By Dustin Mizell

I had never heard a 250-pound man yell like that. As I grabbed the line to keep the fish from jerking my bow in the water, I found out why he had screamed, and then I did the same.

From then on, we wore gloves when fighting giant cownosed rays. You learn as you go with bowfishing because it is a relatively new sport. I have been enjoying the sport for ten years and I still learn something on each fishing trip.

I built my first bow with some fishing line and old bow parts. I shot a few fish, but looking back I laugh at how ridiculous my rig was. Later, some innovators came out with some basic bowfishing equipment and I was in business. I took the recurve bow every place I went and devoured every small bit of information regarding different hunting conditions and species.

Bowfishing in Alabama

It was not until I came back home to south Alabama that I found I had left the best bowfishing area in the world! A great hunting area, coupled with the new high tech gear available-- there would be no fish in safe waters.
Fresh Fishkabobs

Coastal Alabama is a premier location for this sport for many reasons. We will start with fresh water. A variety of freshwater species are available in close proximity. Some fish species harvested here are bowfin, carp, gar, alligator gar, buffalo, suckers, catfish, and shad. Most of the fresh water bowfishing is done at night with the aid of lighted boats. Bowfishing is productive during the day for some species, like gar for example.

Some of the best freshwater to enjoy this sport is in Mobile Bay and the surrounding delta and river areas. Most of these fish are very good eating. Carp and gar are edible, but difficult to clean. A fresh water trip in Alabama will often produce many shot opportunities at many different species.
Salty Shallow
An inshore saltwater trip is in a class all its own. Commonly harvested species include stingrays, cownose rays, black drum, sheepshead, spadefish, catfish, mullet, flounder, and needlefish. Day and night or both good for inshore. The day trips are often best for spotting stingrays in the shallows, shooting sheepshead and spades off oil rigs, and chasing down schools of cownose rays along the coast. This makes for an action packed day of fishing with never a dull moment.

Bowfishing in Alabama

If quantity is the intention, nighttime is often the better choice. Cruising along the shallows at night with powerful water piercing lights will bring the salty shore to life, with shiny fish swimming in and out of the lights constantly. Hundreds of mullet and monster stingrays will glide into your site. This is also one of the most effective ways of bagging flounder. Most of these species are very good eating and a night of frantic and fun-filled action will certainly fill your freezer.
Hunting Deep Sea Monsters

If you want heart pumping fun in coastal Alabama, try offshore or deep sea bowfishing. Common species include sharks, snapper, tripletail, dolphin fish, tuna, and marlin. Shark is often the primary target. Chumming draws the sharks close enough to the boat for a shot. Nothing gets me excited like a shark below me and my bow at full draw! It's an experience that can't be imagined-- it must be experienced.
Bowfishing in Gulf Shores

Other species will also show up while chumming. They can also be spotted while trolling or near structure. Some of the smaller fish species can be harvested with common recurves or compound bows, but the bigger species require special equipment. High poundage line and arrows are often used in conjunction with buoys to ensure the giant fish make it into the boat. This is a rare adventure that can not be enjoyed in very many areas of the world. It can also also fill your freezer with a ton of great tasting meat.
More Than Fish

Animals that can be harvested with a bow and arrow are alligators and snapping turtles. A tag must be drawn in Alabama to hunt an alligator. A bow and arrow is not the most popular method of harvesting alligators, but it might be the most exciting-- you must use special gear for such a large animal because it is one of the few creatures that you have to fight to bring it in after you  hit it with an arrow. Snapping turtles are hard to find, but when hit with an arrow they are another creature that you will have to fight to get your arrow back. Snapping turtles also taste great.

This Sport Is Great Here. Take Advantage!

Bowfishing is an extremely addictive sport that combines many different types of outdoor activities and skills. Little to no experience is needed to begin, but there are always new goals to set. Veterans here will all tell you south Alabama is one of the few places where you can try it all.

Put bowfishing on your list of things to do when in south Alabama. Night or day, fresh or salt, deep or shallow, Alabama has a world of opportunities waiting for both beginning and experienced archers.

Here is your first tip: Aim low because of the magnification of the water. It is often one inch low for every foot the fish is under the water. To experience this thrilling outdoor sport, book your trip of a lifetime with Captain Dusty Mizell of Fish-Kabob Bowfishing at 251-504-4709 or at

Fish-Kabob Bowfishing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gulf Shores Alabama Weather - What to Expect

The moderate climate on the Alabama Gulf Coast makes the area a wonderful place to visit any time of year. There are a plethora of fun activities to do during every season of Gulf Shores weather.

Gulf Shores Weather: Autumn Breezes

We certainly don't have the colorful fall foliage of the North, but Autumn on the Alabama Gulf Coast is magical. This is the least busiest season for tourism, so lodging rates are low and the beaches aren't crowded.

The days are mostly filled with sunshine and warm breezes. This is the perfect time of the year to relax on the 32 miles of beautiful white sandy beaches. Many visitors enjoy going out on one of the many charter boats so they can go home with stories of the whopper that they caught!

Shorts with a short sleeve shirt should do just fine most of the time, but some days, especially during the latter days of autumn, can be windy and cool, so you need to pack some pants and some long sleeve shirts.

It is best to bring a lightweight jacket or sweater with you for the evenings. Once the sun goes down, the temperature drops rather quickly. It can get a bit chilly in the evening so it is best to be prepared.

There isn’t much better than sitting on the white, sandy beach while watching the sun go down in the Gulf. Bring a blanket to sit on as well as one to snuggle up in to keep warm while watching the magnificent sunset. For other activities in the evening, long pants and a long sleeved shirt are advised.

Gulf Shores Weather: Winter on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Although in the winter, the Alabama Gulf Coast is warmer than most of the rest of the country, it still gets a little chilly. The wintertime temperatures during the day usually reaches into the high 50s, low 60s, and even the low 70s, but winter days can be much colder, especially if it is windy and wet. These cold spells usually do not last long. The typical winter might see only a few days that are uncomfortably cold.

Winter’s evenings bring temperatures that drop into the 40s. I would definitely recommend wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts along with a coat.

This is possibly the best season of the year to enjoy one of the many spectacular golf courses without melting in the heat of the summer’s sun.  Deep sea fishing is good also.

Retirees from the North flock to the Alabama Gulf Coast in the winter to escape the bitter cold and snow at home. That's why they are called "Snowbirds."

Gulf Shores Weather: Spring on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Springtime on the Gulf Shores is incredibly wonderful. The beautiful flowers are blooming and everything appears to be more vibrant. Residents are beginning to wear shorts and tee shirts again. Flip-flops have been rescued from the back of closets and are enjoying the sunlight again. Spring is a great time for bird watching in the area.

The evenings are sometimes warm enough for shorts but carrying a light jacket would be wise. The local restaurants often feel a bit chilly in the spring so you should definitely have something to cover your arms.

The Snowbirds begin leaving in the spring, and families and spring breakers take their place.

Gulf Shores Weather: Summer on the Alabama Gulf Coast

This is the most popular season for visitors as they travel to Gulf Shores in droves. The wonderfully sunny weather creates hot days and warm nights. Shorts, tank tops and bathing suits are the outfits of choice for the area. Unless it rains, you won’t need much more than that.

Regardless which season you choose to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast, there is always plenty of do. Boredom is not an option Alabama Gulf Coast and Gulf Shores weather is one of the reasons.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Interview with Andy Andrews



By Bonnie Bartel Latino

Alabama Gulf Coast area resident and New York Times best selling author, Andy Andrews, is one of the state’s most prolific contemporary writers. In addition to being an author, Andy is a busy man. We appreciate his willingness to be interviewed for Bill Coleman’s

BBL: Before we talk books, Andy, I want to thank you for your dedication to the U.S. Military, particularly Air Force Special Operations Command, just up the road at Hurlburt Air Field, FL. Where all have you traveled with the military?

Andy Andrews: I have gone with the USO to places like Cuba, Honduras, Panama, Iceland, Newfoundland, Greenland, and others . . . I have been all over Europe and the Middle East with the Air Force - including combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.

BBL: How did you become closely involved with Special Operations Command?

Andy Andrews: At one point, I spoke to all the Air Force generals and wing commanders stationed in Europe and the Middle East. They were all gathered in one room in a foreign location. At that meeting I became acquainted with Lt. General Mike Wooley, who was about to become the Special Operations Commander. I have been working with Special Ops for more than five years.

Andy Andrews Photo

BBL: We sometimes forget that our military is composed of human beings who, like everyone else, need to be inspired. On behalf of, I thank you for the time and energy you devote to that important task.

BBL: Tell us, how are you feeling after a recent car crash in California?

Andy Andrews: My right arm was injured and my right ribs were broken. I still have pain in my ribs, and my neck is stiff. Considering it took the “jaws of life” to get me out of the car, I am just happy to be here! I am fine!

BBL: That’s great news, but let’s talk books. You are well known for your best sellers, “The Traveler’s Gift: The Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success,” which published in 2002, and “The Noticer,” published earlier this year. Self-improvement books disguised as fiction, both were published by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson in Nashville, TN. The books appeal to a far broader demographic than the Christian niche, why do you think that is?

Andy Andrews . . . I am not a “Christian author.” I am an author who is a Christian. While my books reflect my faith, they are not intended as teaching tools for a Christian audience per se. My books are stories created around principles that work for everyone and they work every time. The fact that these are God’s principles doesn’t mean that the broader demographic doesn’t enjoy them and learn from them. The most recent figures show that only seventeen per cent of my sales are through traditional Christian retailers. Andy Andrews Sawyerton Springs

BBL: You’ve had yet another book published recently that is different from your self-help books, but nevertheless doesn’t contradict a Christian world view. The book is “Return to Sawyerton Springs: A Mostly True Tale Filled with Love, Learning and Laughter.” I heard you read from your original version several years ago. How did the updated version of “Sawyerton Springs” come about?

Andy Andrews: Some of my stories in “Return To Sawyerton Springs” were initially short stories in a self-published book I wrote more than ten years ago. I think maybe…ohhh…seventeen people bought it. A year ago, Hay House, Inc., approached me through Mark Victor Hanson and asked about a publishing deal. I had always wanted to novelize those original stories and write more to complete a real book. That was the genesis of that project. Hay House is a huge publisher that does all of Wayne Dyer’s books to name one author.

BBL: And Sylvia Browne, Suze Orman, and Dr. Phil McGraw to name a few more. That’s walking in some pretty tall cotton for an Alabama boy! How does “Sawyerton Springs” differ from your self-improvement books?

Andy Andrews: “Return to Sawyerton Springs” is by far the funniest thing I have ever written. The lessons are much more subtle . . . compared to some of my others. If you want to laugh with your family, read this one aloud!

BBL: I agree! Moving on, let’s go in a different direction. Would you comment on a marketing philosophy that says to sell product, sometimes you have to give some away?

Andy Andrews: At last count, my accountant said that in seven years, I have given away more than fourteen thousand copies of “The Traveler’s Gift.” I give them to folks on planes as I travel. This doesn’t even include the numbers of my other books I give away. I always encourage authors (especially new authors) to be as generous as we are blessed. For one thing, it is a way to help people. For another, it is a seed one is planting for the life of the book. Giving a book away to someone I didn’t know is how “The Traveler’s Gift” eventually became Book of the Month for Good Morning America. Someone gave it to someone who gave it to someone else. It eventually made its way into Robin Robert’s hands. She loved it. The rest is history!

BBL: Let’s switch gears to social media. Twitter followers of @AndyAndrews find your “tweets” hilarious. It’s obvious that you travel extensively as an inspirational speaker for many Fortune 500 companies. What type of presentations do you find the most exciting?

Andy Andrews: I really love to speak for organizations that have hit a plateau or are experiencing a downturn. One thing I am most proud of . . . is that we are able to track big increases in productivity and profitability where I speak. Not necessarily because I am a business expert, but because I understand and can convey principles that have (both) immediate and long lasting impact.

BBL: Readers of want to know everything there is to know about our little corner of bliss. Tell us some of the Alabama Gulf Coast restaurants, businesses, and places that are featured in “The Noticer.”

Andy Andrews: Pack N Mail in Orange Beach and Café Beignet right next door in the Winn Dixie Shopping Center. Also The China Dragon, Sea N Suds restaurant, Craft Farms Golf Course, and of course the Gulf State Pier!

BBL: For anyone who may not know, as a young man Andy lived under that pier. To find out why, you’ll have to buy “The Noticer.”

BBL: What’s next for Andy Andrews the writer?

Andy Andrews: I am researching my next novel, trying to keep a healthy blog schedule, and getting ready for one more book, “The Butterfly Effect” that will be released soon by Simple Truth Publishers. It is a small five thousand-word piece, but the early word is that it will be an exciting release. Every page has full color art. Oh…I am also working on a children’s book that is contracted for Thomas Nelson!

BBL: Let’s tell everyone that your web site is: I encourage everyone to sign up for your blog, too. I’ll let you get back to work with one final question. When you are asked for an autograph, what is the one word you write and why?

Andy Andrews: The word is Persist! I believe persistence is a major key to success in any great endeavor. I want to remind folks to PERSIST in whatever they are tackling at the moment!

BBL: Thank you for making time for Bill Coleman’s You’ve provided readers real insight into who you are as a man, writer, speaker and friend to America’s military.

Andy Andrews: Thank you for the opportunity! I enjoyed the conversation.

Atmore native Bonnie Bartel Latino is a former columnist for Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe. She recently won the Military Writers Society of America 2009 People's Choice Award.