Life’s a Beach Vol. 1

Once again, Janet Podolak has graciously allowed staff writer Jason Lea to borrow her blog while he visits the Alabama portion of the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast oil spill was a calamity, no doubt. It flowed for three months, released about 185 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and, lest we forget, killed 11 and injured 17.

But what hurt Alabama portion of the Gulf Coast even more than the oil spill was the perception of the oil spill.

Kim Chapman, the public relations manager from Kim Chapman, said from May to August (normally, their peak season) tourism business dropped 41 percent. It did not matter if they had actual oil flowing in or just the occasional tarball.

Chapman said most of the struggles with encroaching oil were finished by the end of July, but people still avoided the area, expecting to find petroleum-choked beaches.

“We went to YouTube to show people. Every morning we would shoot video of the beach and have it uploaded by every afternoon, so people could see what it actually looked like,” she said.

Chapman and I spoke in Dinner at LuLu’s, a restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffett’s younger sister, Lucy. We ate fried oysters and blackened shrimp. (Both caught in the gulf, both tasty.)

(Only fried oysters, French fries and jalapeno hush puppies are pictures. The blackened shrimp got eaten before I could photograph it.)

The restaurant also features live music…

and this beauty. It’s called a three-layer margarita. It’s lime, strawberry and tangerine flavors tiered in a single glass.

I only arrived in Alabama yesterday evening, so I didn’t have much of a chance to see anything but LuLu’s, but here’s the view from the condominium (provided by Young’s Suncoast Realty) in which I am staying.

-Jason Lea

P.S. I love flying through the Charlotte airport for one reason. It has a Jamba Juice. I became addicted to Jamba smoothies when my wife spent a summer in New York. Sadly, the closest one to Cleveland is in Indianapolis.

Trust me, it’s not a smoothie. It’s Jamba Juice.

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2 Responses

  1. Greg says:

    Thanks so much for the accurate Beach info on the Alabama Gulf Coast (Gulf Shores & Orange Beach) Also, great mentions for LuLu's and Young's Suncoast Vacation Rentals!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the accurate beach update for the Alabama Gulf Coast (Gulf Shores & Orange Beach) We appreciate The News-Herald getting the "Good" news out to everyone! And thanks for the mentions of LuLu's and Young's Suncoast Vacation Rentals!