Flora Bama

Alamo, Tennessee– When we got to Perdido Key and trying to find the condominium, we passed by the Flora Bama.

I’ve only been there once when me and my family ate at the Ole River Grill in 2017. I’m not sure what it’s like now, but when I was there last, I didn’t care for it. The food wasn’t that good and the atmosphere was for someone that likes to party.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m just saying that my partying days are over unless it’s a special occasion.

Located on the Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida line, it’s been voted one of the world’s top beach bars and has long been a landmark on it’s famous location.

Since 1964, it’s been the place for live music and good times.

It has five stages for live music and features bands of country, rock, dance and beach music.

For people like myself, it has several beach-front bars where you can sip on a famous bushwhacker and enjoy the beautiful sunsets on the water.

I am a nut for sunsets on the beach so that would suit me perfect.

Another fun fact about the Flora Bama is that it is featured in Kenny Chesney’s video for his song Flora Bama.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe I’m just getting old.

Maybe they had a bad cook the day I ate there.

Who knows?

What I do know is that if you’re looking to party with some friends, the Flora Bama is your place.

A piece of advice, if you do go, be sure to get there early. It gets packed quick.

That’s my view from the chair!

A Piece Of History

Alamo, Tennessee– We got on US-45 and stayed there all the way to Meridian Mississippi. When we got to Meridian, we took I-65 which took us all the way to Mobile Alabama.

Going through downtown Mobile, I spotted the U.S.S. Alabama.

I’ve seen it plenty of times before but never wrote about it until now.

The historic battleship was launched and commissioned in 1942. At the height of WWII, it had 2,500 crew members that led the American Fleet into Tokyo Bay on September 5, 1945.

It began its WWII adventures in the North Atlantic in 1943, then went to the South Pacific seas later that year. It ended up in Mobile, Alabama as a National Historic Landmark and memorial.

Nicknamed the “Mighty A,” the U.S.S. Alabama was earned nine battlestars during its brief three year tenure as the “Heroine of the Pacific.”

Along with the U.S.S. DRUM, they were both at the island of Majuro in the South Pacific in June 1944 being refitted for continued combat. It is the only known time that the BB-60 and SS-228 were in proximity during WWII.

The U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park opened to the public in Mobile on January 9, 1965. Since then, it has had more than fifteen million visitors and a statewide economic impact approaching one billion dollars. It is easily the most recognizable symbol of the state of Alabama.

Every year, I say that I’m going to go tour the historic ship but I never get around to it. It’s only about an hour away from where we stay when we go to the Gulf.

I grew up in a military family. Both of my grandfathers served as well as my stepfather. I also know a ton of other people that have served.

I’ve also always been a history buff. I’ve always enjoyed learning about historical landmarks like the U.S.S. Alabama.

Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to go tour it.

That’s my view from the chair!

Message Received

Alamo, Tennessee– I’m all about seeing the sights when I go to a new place or to a place that I haven’t been to in a while.

From the time we went through Mississippi to the time we arrived in Perdido Key, I kept seeing something that really caught my attention.

Crosses, crosses, crosses!

Now, I’m not talking about small crosses or the ones that you see on the side of the road when someone dies. I saw them too. I’m talking giant crosses like you see at these big churches. Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, for instance.

If you’ve ever been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

These crosses, big and small, were everywhere.

It didn’t really phase me until we got to our condominium in Perdido Key.

In the area between the living room and the dining room, there was a book entitled “Devotions On The Ocean.”

That’s when it hit me and I realized that God was trying to tell me something. At first, I had no idea what it was. I just knew it was something.

I never read the devotional. Mama kept telling me that we should do a devotion every day but it never happened.

My fault, I know.

I hate to admit it but I’ve been struggling with my faith lately. Im not perfect. I get that. But I know better than to struggle with something that’s been a big part of who I’ve been since the age of eleven or twelve.

It hasn’t been the best couple of years but that’s no excuse. There are no excuses.

The choices I’ve made have not been good and I have been allowing the devil to get to me and control my life.

However, James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.“

Bingo!

That’s what God was trying to tell me!!

The crosses and now the devotional book, it all makes perfect sense now!!

God was telling me to resist the devil and to submit myself to Him!!

He was telling me to resist the temptation. Resist everything that’s been going on in my life and to submit myself to Him and give it all to Him!!

Message received!!

That’s my view from the chair!!

My happy place

Perdido Key, Florida- Nothing makes me happier and more content than the beach.

As I’ve said in the past, I’ve been everywhere from Fort Walton to Daytona to Gulf Shores to Perdido Key. Every beach that I’ve been to holds a very special place in my heart for a number of different reasons.

I’ve been vacationing in Perdido Key with my family for the past week. This is the second time I’ve been here since that conversation I had with an old friend about starting my own blog. Since then, every time I come here, I can’t help but think about that one conversation and think about what it’s led to.

The weather here has been fantastic but some days have been hotter than others. It rained one time for a few hours then it moved out.

I’ve gotten a lot of relaxing done, done some fun things, eat some fantastic food and even made some new friends along the way that I will be writing about later on. One of those people in particular has inspired me in more ways than one and he doesn’t even realize it.

The best part about this trip for me is that I’ve gotten to escape reality and forget everything that I’ve been going through. Mama and I have had one on one time every day. We sat around the pool area talking, laughing and cutting up.

I took a book and my journal out with me every day. There’s nothing like reading a good book while listening to the waves and drinking your favorite beverage.

If there was anything negative that happened, it was when we got here. My wheelchair lift messed up and we couldn’t get it fixed until the following Monday.

That meant I didn’t get to go out to eat on Sunday with my mother and stepfather.

It bothered me but not too bad because I got to stay out later and watch the sunset.

I’m a nut for sunsets on the beach!! There’s nothing like it!!

The entire week was filled with traditions, new experiences, new faces in old places and so much more!!

I can’t wait to share it all with you guys!!

Stay tuned!!

That’s my view from the chair!!

An Evening With Chicago

Chicago performs at the Grand Ole Opry House on Wednesday, December 15th 2021

Alamo, Tennessee– An item was checked off my bucket list earlier this month as I had the honor of seeing the rock band Chicago for the first time in Nashville.

I’ve been a fan of the legendary rock band since I was in middle school and the story of how is pretty amazing given the fact that I’m only thirty five years old.

I remember going to music class one day when I was in the seventh grade. I remember going in and hearing a Chicago greatest hits album playing on the teacher’s stereo. I started listening to them and remember thinking that Peter Cetera was Aaron Neville.

I listened to that entire album and fell in love with their music.

I remember going home all excited and telling my mother that I had found a new band that I really liked named Chicago. I remember her looking at me and saying, “Dusty, Chicago has been around since the 60s. I’ve been listening to them since I was your age.”

I had no idea!! I just knew that I liked their music!!

I remember getting the same greatest hits album that my teacher had and I’ve still got it to this day. I also have another greatest hits album of theirs that I got for Christmas last year. It has more of their hits than the other one does.

Anyway, back to the concert.

If you’ve been to a concert in the 60s and 70s, you know that most bands didn’t have these special entrances that they have now. Most bands would just walk out, play, take a bow and walk off the stage.

Chicago was just like that.

It was your typical 60s-70s concert atmosphere and I enjoyed every second of it.

Chicago took the stage at around 7:45 central time and played a two set show with a twenty minute break in between sets.

I’ve never in my life been to a concert where the band takes a twenty minute break.

Their two sets were hit after hit. I think they sang all but four of their MAJOR hits.

They opened the show with “Introduction” and ended with “25 Or 6 To 4.”

I’m still talking about talking about one certain part of the show. They sang “You’re The Inspiration” and I remember lead singer Neil Donnell hitting a high note and holding it for I know a good ten seconds.

Now, Donnell isn’t Peter Cetera, Jason Scheff or even Jeff Coffey but the guy can sing. He’s Canadian and one of the best singers I’ve ever heard.

I remember looking over at my mother and mouthing WOW.

I still get chills every time I think about it.

By the time the show was over, I barely had a voice from all the screaming and singing, but the little voice I did have, I was asking everyone what in the world just happened.

I couldn’t believe that I had just seen Chicago. I still can’t believe it. It felt like a dream then and it still feels like a dream now.

I had the time of my life and it felt so good going back to concerts again.

I had already been to one earlier in the year when I went to see MercyMe for the second time in four years.

Before that, the last concert I went to was in August of 2019 when I went to see the Backstreet Boys.

However, the Chicago concert felt different.

I could feel the adrenaline pumping, which was something I haven’t felt in a long time, if ever.

It was an experience that I will never forget.

That’s my view from the chair!

A Frightening Night In December

Photo Credit: Salena Lunsford Kirby

Alamo, Tennessee– I live in the northwest part of Tennessee. I’m used to seeing severe weather. However, I’m not used to seeing it in December.

We were expecting a strong cold front to come through the area last Friday night and bringing with it a chance of severe storms. The main threats were expected to be damaging winds and a chance of tornadoes.

The national weather service in Memphis had us under an enhanced risk for severe weather on Friday all week. As Friday approached, the risk was upgraded to a moderate risk with a TORCON of 7, which meant a 70% chance of a tornado within a fifty mile radius.

Like always, I was concerned but I was trying to stay calm and positive. Nine times out of ten, when there’s a chance of severe weather, we might get a severe storm here and there but nothing major.

A tornado watch was issued around 3:00 Friday afternoon for our area and it was scheduled to expire at 11:00 that night. However, it got extended until 2am and for a second time until 5am on Saturday morning.

Things started to really fire up around 6:00 that night. Super cell thunderstorms started firing up ahead of the main line and tornado warnings were starting to be issued for counties in Arkansas. The warnings went on pretty much all night until at least one or two on Saturday morning as the main line came through right around midnight.

Tornadoes touched down in five different states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois). Two nursing homes in Arkansas took direct hits and were destroyed. One nursing home in Monette Arkansas had two fatalities, five seriously injured and at least twenty trapped in a basement at the time the tornado ripped through.

An Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville Illinois also took a direct hit from a tornado. At least six people died after the tornado caused a major portion of the building to collapse. Forty-five people were confirmed to have made it out of the building.

The state of Kentucky was hit the worst as a suspected EF3-4 tornado nearly leveled the north half of the city of Mayfield. The tornado was on the ground for 235 miles or more which is the longest tracking tornado in US history and possibly in the world on record.

As of yesterday, the confirmed death toll in the state had risen to seventy four with twelve of them being children. Over a hundred were still unaccounted for.

Combined fatalities from the outbreak in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri totaled at least fourteen, making the death toll from the outbreak eighty eight across five states.

The last time I ever remember seeing a tornado tear up one town was in 2008 when one ripped through Jackson Tennessee, just sixteen miles from me, and tore up Union University.

I have NEVER (that I remember) seen anything like what happened 0on Friday night.

Quite frankly, I hope I never do again.

Fast forward to today, things are much calmer.

After everything that went down and hearing about all the damage, injuries and deaths, it’s made me have a better appreciation for life. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and the people in my life more because I never know when it could be taken away. I’ve learned never to take anything for granted. I’ve learned to live my life to the fullest because it can be taken away in an instant.

I’m so thankful that me and my family are safe and that I am able to tell the tale of that very scary and frightening night.

The good Lord was definitely watching over us, that’s for sure!

That’s my view from the chair!

Angels Among Us

Alamo, Tennessee– I lost my grandmother in September of last year to Alzheimer’s disease. Those of you who know me well know that other than my mother, my grandmother was the most influential person in my life. It absolutely killed me when she passed and it still bothers me to this day.

Other than my sister, my grandmother literally helped my mother take care of me, especially when I was sick and my mother had to work. She was at every doctor visit and even stayed with my mother and I all the times I was in the hospital having surgery.

She taught me things that I still rely on today. Probably the biggest lesson she’s ever taught me was to reach for the stars and never give up on my dreams.

Long story short, we had a very close relationship.

On our second to last day in Daytona, my mother, sister and nephews went on a sunset cruise. I couldn’t go because it wasn’t handicapped accessible so there was no way of getting my wheelchair, even my manual one on the boat.

So I ended up staying at the condo which didn’t bother me any because that meant more time out by the pool looking at the ocean.

While I was out there, I kept looking at the clouds for whatever reason and I spotted six clouds within an hour that were in the shape of angels. I like to call them angel clouds.

Now, I’ve seen “angel clouds” before and each time it caught my attention. But there was something about seeing them at the beach that made me go “woah!”

I’d already been thinking a lot about my friend from Daytona that got killed on his motorcycle five years ago and now after seeing those clouds, it made me start thinking about my grandmother.

Each cloud was different in size and shape but all of them were shaped as an angel.

As I was looking at them, I couldn’t get Psalm 91:11 out of my head.

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (NIV).

I have no doubt in my mind that it was a sign from God letting us know that He was with us and protecting us. He was watching over my mother, sister and nephews while they were on that sunset cruise.

I also believe that it was my grandmother visiting us in the form of clouds. It’s been rough on all of us since her passing so I believe it was her telling us not to worry and that she’s with Jesus. She’s watching over us and protecting us as well.

While I do miss my grandmother very much, it brings me peace in knowing that she is in heaven with Jesus and that she’s always watching over us.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has seen “angel clouds” before. I’m also sure that just because we see one, it doesn’t mean that something bad is happening or about to happen. It could just mean, like in my case, that your guardian Angel is visiting you to let you know that everything is okay and not to worry.

That’s my view from the chair!

Me and God

Alamo, Tennessee– Remember when I said that I felt closer to God in Daytona Beach? I was being dead serious.

On our first full day, we went to dinner at a place called Crabby Joe’s. It’s literally in the middle of a pier that was right down the road from our condominium.

When we got there, we had to wait a good forty five minutes to an hour for a table. Everyone else went looking around in the gift shop while I went to the end of the pier.

That’s where I found myself having a conversation with God that I haven’t had in a very long time.

I started pouring my heart out to Him and telling Him everything that’s been going on these last few years. Everything from the devil turning me into something that I wasn’t to my experience with depression and addiction. I even talked to Him about mama coming down with Covid and about my grandmother passing away and how it’s affected me personally and mentally.

I talked to Him about personal family issues.

That forty five minutes to an hour of me, God and the ocean is what I needed.

Not to mention the view was absolutely gorgeous!

I remember feeling so much better when we got seated at our table.

Having that one on one time with God helped me to realize that He is always with us no matter what.

He loves us and wants to have a deep relationship with us no matter what.

He forgives us for our sins no matter what.

When we call on Him, He listens and He answers our prayers.

The only thing is that He does it on His time and not ours.

The Bible says in Acts 1:7 that it is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.

Our job is to have faith and put our trust in Him. He does the rest.

Also, we CANNOT stop praying.

God wants to hear from us every single day AND night.

He wants us to talk to Him during the good times and the bad.

A lot of us, including myself, only go to Him when things are bad. We can’t do that.

He’s there through both so He expects us to go to Him during both.

If there’s anyone on the face of this earth that needs to be better at that, it’s me.

The time on that pier helped me realize that.

It woke me up and helped me realize that I haven’t been the Christian that I need to be and that I KNOW I can be.

I’ve recently (like the last 10-15 years) focused all my time and energy on things that were not important. Some good and some bad.

While the good things were actually good, it took away from time I needed to spend with God.

I’m still thanking Him to this day for taking me to that pier and for the forty five minutes to an hour wait. It’s because of that wait and that time on that pier that helped me to realize that I need to do better. And I WILL do better!

The valuable lesson I learned during that conversation with Him is that sometimes it takes ten years to get to that one year that will change your life.

Keep going!

That’s my view from the chair!

Familiar Places

Krispy Kreme Donuts, Daytona Beach Florida

Alamo, Tennessee– When we arrived in Daytona, I immediately started seeing places that I honestly couldn’t believe were still open. For instance, we passed by a Krispy Kreme donut shop that we used to get breakfast at every morning when we were there.

The place has been there for as long as I can remember.

I don’t know if it’s owned by the same people or not, probably not.

I do know for a fact that out of all of the Krispy Kreme’s I have eaten at (too many to count! I love the place!), this one, my opinion that is, is the best one.

On our previous trips to Daytona, I can’t remember a time that we didn’t stop. It’s that good!

Obviously on this trip, we didn’t stop.

But like the saying goes, you can’t always get what you want, right?

Photo credit: cruisincafe.com

One other place that we passed was a restaurant called Cruisin’ Cafe. If you’re a fan of NASCAR, good food and live entertainment (including karaoke), this is the place to be!

I’ve only eaten there once or twice but it was a very fun experience. The entire restaurant is covered in NASCAR memorabilia.

If you’re interested in learning about the history of the sport, there’s this restaurant and another one called Racing’s North Turn that’s on the other side of town that you need to check out.

Racing’s North Turn is on the actual spot that they used to race at on the beach back in the day.

Cruisin’ Cafe has good food, but I was more into how much history about the sport was in that place.

Every table salutes a former Daytona 500 winner.

There’s pictures EVERYWHERE as well as other memorabilia such as hoods off of cars, old time fire suits that the drivers used to wear, flags, old car tires etc.

If you’re there around the time they’re racing (February and August), you just might get a surprise visit from a current or former driver!

One of the things I remember about eating there was doing karaoke afterwards.

There was a mini stage set up where people could go up and sing.

I only did it one time. If I’m not mistaking, I sang Kenny Chesney’s “Young.”

I was so excited to see these two places as well as other places that I haven’t seen in YEARS.

It made me relive some very special memories that I will keep for the rest of my life.

I hate that I wasn’t able to make new memories at Krispy Kreme, Cruisin Cafe and even at Racing’s North Turn on this trip.

However, Lord willing, I’ll be back to Daytona sooner than later and I’ll make some new memories at these familiar places then.

That’s my view from the chair!

A Long Awaited Reunion

Alamo, Tennessee– I’ve always said that Daytona Beach is heaven on earth and my home away from home. It’s my happy place. It’s the place I like to go to when I need to clear my head. It’s where I feel closer to God at.

2020 was very hard on all of us but especially on me. My mother got sick with COVID worse than any of us. She had to be put on a ventilator and no one knew what was going to happen. We were all preparing ourselves for the worst but hoping and praying for the best.

To this very day, I still don’t know how she pulled through and is alive.

On top of all of that, I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s. That really tore me up because she had always been like a second mother to me.

Needless to say, when mama and I started talking about vacation, we both said that we wanted to go back to Daytona.

Yes, it’s a long drive (12-13 hours), but there’s something about Daytona that feels like home.

I don’t know what it is.

I haven’t been there since 2016. That’s when I met Reece Smith, the owner of the Jackson Generals baseball team.

Little did I know that it was going to be the last time I ever saw my friend Tom (he was over the umbrellas and chairs) again.

We went in the spring and he got killed in a motorcycle accident that summer.

When it happened, I told myself that I would never go back there again. That changed after about a year or so. I was ready to go back and I knew that Tom would want me to go back.

When what happened to mama happened, I really didn’t think I’d be going back.

Even though she pulled through, knowing how long of a drive it was, I thought there was no chance.

For once, I was glad to be wrong.

After a five year hiatus with one of those years being a year of uncertainty, I finally made it back to Daytona.

I have to say that it hasn’t changed much since the last time I was there.

The beach was just as beautiful as it was and the food was absolutely delicious.

We went to every restaurant that we used to go to which brought back a ton of special memories.

There were places that were surprisingly still open that brought back a ton of special memories.

However, just being back and seeing the most beautiful thing that God created was mind blowing. We relived a ton of special memories and made new memories as well that I will keep for the rest of my life.

I said I was going to take in every second and live it up. That’s exactly what I did.

I witnessed some unbelievable things while I was there and I learned some very valuable lessons that I will share in a later post.

This trip was exactly I needed.

I needed to get away from everything and everyone for a few days and just chill out and live a little.

What made this vacation more special was having my mother with me.

She’s the one that introduced me to Daytona Beach a few years back and not having her there would’ve ruined the whole trip.

Who knows when I’ll be back. It could be another five years.

For the time being, I’m holding on to these memories until I can go back and make more.

And believe me, I WILL be back!

That’s my view from the chair!