Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mobile Alabama Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras was first celebrated in  Mobile, Alabama . Yes, it started in Mobile although most think New Orleans was the scene of the first Mardi Gras. They are so wrong! Honestly, it started in Mobile three centuries ago. It was originally called Boef Gras, which means "Fatted Ox" in French.

Mardi Gras had been celebrated in Europe since the Middle Ages. In 1699, French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville mentioned Mobile Alabama Mardi Gras celebrations in his journal. This is thought to be the first record of Mardi Gras in America. The annual festivities continued when the British took control of Mobile from the French with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Joe Cain as Chief Slacabamorinico

The Origins of Mardi Gras As We Know It

Most historians believe that Mardi Gras as we know it today was started by Michael Krafft, a cotton broker, on New Year's Eve 1830. It was recorded that he was having a large dinner party on that evening and nobody wanted the fun to end. That night they left the Krafft home and broke into the local hardware store. There, they grabbed some cowbells and other noise makers and paraded through the streets, waking up all of the townspeople.

Shortly after, they formed the Cowbellion de Rakin Society. This was one of the first mystical societies established in Mobile. They hosted their first parade in 1840. They even created floats for the event way back then!

The Civil War left Mobile residents in a defeated and depressed state. Many did not want to partake in any festivities. Joseph Stillwell Cain (Joe Cain) felt the need to get people out of their depression. In 1866 on Fat Tuesday, while Mobile was still occupied by Union troops, Joseph dressed up as a Chickasaw Indian, Chief Slacabamorinicoco (pictured). Joe and several friends, who were tanked up on alcohol, went out to the streets and started decorating a coal wagon.

Joe Cain founded the society that holds the last parade of the Carnival Season on the evening of Mardi Gras-- the Order of Myths. He also helped to create numerous other parading organizations.
Our Mardi Gras Celebrations

Today we honor Joe Cain on the Sunday before Mardi Gras with "Joe Cain Day." Many residents of Mobile come out in costume with homemade floats and parade through the streets of downtown. This celebration recognizes the fact that Joseph Stillwell Cain brought the fun back to Mardi Gras Mobile, Alabama.

Mardi Gras is celebrated over several weeks. Our modern day parades show off elaborate floats and people wearing incredibly embellished costumes. People even decorate the horses that they ride horses in the parades. The parade participants often throw token gifts to the spectators on the parade route.

These trinkets are plastic beads, doubloons, stuffed toys, candy whistles and similar small items. Most of the "throws" are inexpensive, but people, both young and old, grab them like they are chunks of gold. It's as much fun to watch spectators jockey into catching position than it is to watch the parade.

Chief Slacabamorinicoco still marches in Mobile during Mardi Gras. 2013 marked the 27th year that retired pastor and Mobile historian Wayne Dean portrayed the chief.

There are numerous formal balls including those that are "invitation only" for secret mystical society members. Local pubs and nightclubs host their own special Mardi Gras events. Mardi Gras Mobile Alabama ends on the Tuesday night before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the Lenten Season.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Brown Pelican

The brown pelican is a large and mostly dark brown bird, with touches of white, and black legs and feet. This bird has a long beak with a large pouch underneath and a hooked tip.

Toes are webbed and their legs are fairly short, giving them a somewhat waddling gait when walking. Wingspan is more than two meters and they soar exceptionally well. Both males and females look alike.

There are seven pelican species living around the world. The brown pelicans' breeding ground runs from Anacapa Island, which is off the coast of California, all the way down to Chile and from Maryland in the East down to Venezuela and over to Trinidad. After breeding, their territory may cover British Colombia, and across to Nova Scotia. They only live within close proximity to water and never venture more than twenty miles out to sea or inland to fresh water. They love puttering about estuaries and at shallow bays.

Brown Pelicans in Flight

Pelicans all dive down to fish then scoop up mid-sized fish into their pouch. Sometimes they feed on anchovies or sardines, but mostly consume non-commercial fish. Brown Pelicans are the only ones that dive so steeply. When fish are caught in a pelican's pouch, they force the water out by going to the surface. After that, they can swallow any fish caught. Young pelicans swim near their elders on the surface and learn how to fish that way. A pouch may hold up to three gallons of water. Sometimes, they also eat invertebrates.

Brown pelicans love to nest on islands that offer some protection. In the extreme Southeast, you can find them in mangrove swamps. Their nests are flimsy and they often build them on the ground. Because they breed in colonies, they can get disturbed by fishermen and tourists. About two or three eggs are laid in April or March. It takes a month for the chicks to hatch and both parents have parental duties. Regurgitation of the catch of the day feeds the babies. Chicks do not fly for about 75 days, after their feathers are sufficiently developed, and then they are on their own. They can breed after 2 to 5 years. Brown Pelicans in Flight

Brown pelicans were once very endangered in the U.S. due to pesticide poisoning. After DDT was banned, they recovered totally on the East Coast and are slowly climbing up in population numbers elsewhere. Some threats still exist -- overhead wires and discarded fishing line among them. Human encroachment into habitat and reduction of food source due to overfishing are also dangers.

It's great to see the recovery of this bird. Often, large flocks can be seen flying in a typical V formation. Some of these skeins contain many birds and it's heartwarming to know that nature can renew herself, if given a chance. Although any animal doesn't need a reason to exist, seeing these large birds wheel over the ocean as the sun is setting, gives human beings hope for the future.

You will not have to look hard to find brown pelicans in the Gulf Shores area. They are always flying over the beach and swimming in the coastal waters. It is easy to get close enough to them to take good photos. If you want to see them in a feeding frenzy, visit an Orange Beach marina fish cleaning station just after the charter boats come in for the day

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Even More Gulf Shores Alabama Photos

Beach Pictures

Lazy River Phoenix West Photo

Kathy and I with Jaiden on the Lazy River at Phoenix West in Orange Beach.

Several tour operators on the Alabama Gulf Coast offer dolphin tours, and most of them guarantee that you'll see dolphins.
Dolphin Tour Boat Perdido Pass
Dolphins can always be seen swimming about, especially early in the morning and late afternoon.

Dolphin Tour Boat Perdido Pass

I hooked this stingray while fishing of a dock at the Caribe. It buried into the sand, and I had to cut my line. I re-rigged, caught my old line with my new hook and pulled the stingray in by hand. First time that I've ever done that.

Plane Pulling Ad Gulf Shores

Low flying planes pulling ads run a regular route over the beach during the busiest times of the year. I didn't realize until I uploaded my photo that I also caught two kites and a seagull in this shot.

Kayaking the Bon Secour River

We spent one pleasant afternoon kayaking on the Bon Secour River.

Lagoon Pass Gulf Shores

Little Lagoon Pass on West Beach in Gulf Shores is a good place to spend the day. Fishing is often very good in both Little Lagoon and the Gulf. Kids like the shallow water on the Lagoon side.

Fishing on Perdido Pass Bridge

This guy had a good idea - climbing onto the bridge support. Fishing is usually very good under the Perdido Pass Bridge. The swift current makes it tough to keep a boat anchored on many days.

Taking Beach Photos Alabama Gulf Coast

This is a common sight at the end of the day - vacationers all dressed in white for beach photos.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

More Gulf Shores Alabama Photos

Gulf Shores Beach Photos

Jet Skis Orange Beach Alabama

Kids having a good time jet skiing near Perdido Pass at Orange Beach.

Trolling Orange Beach Alabama

Trolling near Perdido Pass, Orange Beach.

Red Snapper Orange Beach Alabama

We didn't go deep sea fishing this week, but we did visit the marinas to see what others caught. The best time to see the charter boats come in is about 2 PM. Here is a good catch of red snapper. The biggest fish we saw come off the boats was a 140 lb tuna.

Rod in Sand Spike Orange Beach Alabama

This rod is waiting for a fish. If it's a real big one the rod might get yanked into the sea before the owner can grab it. Seen that happen. Even lost one myself.

Lounging At the Pool Orange Beach

Kathy with our son Chris and his cousin Cindy talking it easy at the pool.

Hammerhead Shark Kite Orange Beach Alabama

There's always kites flying on the beach. Some beach lovers fly them for hours. This one is pretty creative - a hammerhead shark.

Pelicans in Formation Orange Beach

Brown Pelicans are common on the Alabama Gulf Coast. They fly in formation.

Sunest Over Rery Cove Orange Beach

Sunset over Terry Cove

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gulf Shores Alabama Photos

Recently much of our extended family gathered for a wedding on the beach. I usually have a camera with me, and I'm constantly taking beach photos. However, the photos on these pages were all taken during the last week of May 2009. They show just a portion of what can be done during a typical week at Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Actually, as busy as I was with my camera, it just scratches the surface. The Alabama Gulf Coast is a busy place.

Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo

A surf fisherman with a pompano, pound for pound, one of the hardest fighting fish in the sea, and it is one of the tastiest. Earlier he caught a 32 pound redfish, which he released. He was fishing just west of Perdido Pass.

Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo

My daughter Leslie with her friend and her little girl, along with my niece Jaiden, stepping into the Lazy River at the Phoenix West.

Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo

This parasailer is pointing at me taking a photo of him.

Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo

I parasailed one time in Cancun, Mexico. That was more than fifteen years ago, before parasailing was popular on the Alabama Gulf Coast. For me it is one of those "glad I did, but once is enough things."

Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo

Sailboat at dusk in Terry Cove, Orange Beach.

Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo


Fisherman with Pompano Orange Beach Photo

Three Dog Night

Kathy and I went to the America and Three Dog Night concert at the Wharf Amphitheater on May 24. The Amphitheater is a great place to see shows and some are very inexpensive - Ten dollars a ticket for this one, five dollars a band. That's a deal. On July 31, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan are going to play the Wharf. Now that's a show. Tickets are going to be considerably higher than $10, but still - Bob Dylan in Orange Beach. Who'd have thought that just a few short years ago?

Three Dog Night Wharf Sign

While it's best to get tickets to a show you'd like to see early, especially for the currently popular big name acts, sometimes tickets are still for sell as late as they day of the show. Look for the Wharf event sign as you cross over the toll bridge.