Saturday, June 15, 2013

Balloons at Night

The Alabama Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival is about wrapped up, but here are some shots from Saturday night's ascension and tethered rides.

The festival is Father's Day weekend and if you have any questions, contact the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.

Balloons Ahoy!

As mentioned before, the 9th annual Gulf Coast Balloon Fest is happening in Foley June 13-15. There was a competition to see which balloonist could maneuver his/her craft to drop a weight on a target. Here is some of the action:

Balloons fly when the air is still.
That means early morning (Yawn) or late afternoon.

The first balloon makes for the target

This one came down well off target.

These two also missed.
It was quite a sight
The target is the white cross on the ground between the
orange and Remax balloons.

Overhead! This one came very close!

Filling an envelope w/ a fan so the crowd could get a good look.

One of the balloonists decorated the chase vehicle.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Obey the flags

Water Closed to Public

High Hazard
(High Surf and/or Strong Currents)

Medium Hazard
(Moderate Surf and/or Currents)

Low Hazard
(Calm Conditions, Exercise Caution)

Dangerous Marine Life

The flags above, courtesy of the City of Gulf Shores website, are flown at the entrance to every beach I know of on the Alabama and Florida Gulf coast.
Folks, the flags are there for a reason. The Gulf might look placid and inviting (and it does, most of the time) but under the gentle waves might be a rip current or other danger (more on rip currents later.)
I have swum the Gulf with green, yellow and single red flags (always with an adult “spotter” on shore in the case of a red flag) and I am the first to admit that a little wave action makes it fun.
But there is a difference between fun and stupid. We have drownings. More put themselves and lifeguards in harm's way and had to be rescued.
What a way to ruin a vacation.
It does not have to. Learn the flags. If the beach has a double red flag, you can still walk the beach, collect shells and make all the sand castles you want. If there is a single red or yellow flag, you can swim, just be aware that it might be rough for a weaker swimmer. And a green flag does not mean let your guard down. Kids are darn fast and may go out too far because they have spotted a fish or dolphin and want a closer look.

Rip Currents
Sounds scary, doesn't it? Rips currents are only scary if you don't understand. Below is an illustration taken from Wikipedia:

Rip current mechanism: breakers cross sand bars off the shore, the water travels back to sea through the gap in the sand bars, creating a fast "rip" current

OK? A “Rip” is just the ocean trying to get back to itself. But if you are caught in one, it feels like you are being swallowed. Even scarier, if you see little Charles or Cindy Lou Who being sucked out to sea, your every instinct is to jump in.
Bad idea. That is how most people die, trying to save someone else.
First: If you are caught in a rip current, the websites I have seen and my experience says swim parallel to the shore, and then get on land once you are out of the current. If you can't swim parallel to shore, then float or relax until the current dissipates. It will. You can then swim to shore, avoiding the current.
Second: If you see somebody trapped in a rip current, try tossing something that floats to that person, without going too far in yourself. Get someone to call for help or notify a lifeguard. If you MUST go in, have a flotation device or something that floats with you. We do not want a double tragedy. When you reach the person, again, swim parallel to the shore or wait until the current stops pulling you and then make your way back to shore. Someone (remember don't swim alone) should have called for help.
This is something all visitors to ANY beach ANY where should know.
Stay safe and have a good time.