Spring cruise

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

The stars fell into alignment last week and I was able to come along to the lake with Dave for the first time since last spring. Can’t believe it has been so long.

We made a rather haphazard departure from home and after arrival discovered that we left more stuff at home than we brought along: Ketchup, biscuit mix, a half-dozen fresh eggs, cheese crackers. The inverter that allows me to run my laptop on 12-volt power. A tube of analgesic to soothe the fly bites. And a long-sleeved shirt for coolish evenings. All on the AWOL list.

The normal level of Lake Eufaula, a.k.a. Walter F. George Reservoir, is actually about 188 feet, with the occasional full pool of 190. From the sportsman’s perspective there are few shallows and fewer stobs to run into. They’re glad to get back to fishing.

The weather is beautiful, enough cloud cover to moderate the temperature. Today, however, we came back into the marina to take showers and then drove into Eufaula for some of the missing items.

Most of the shopping went as expected, until I asked for a half-dozen eggs at – oops, I’d better not identify the food store in case the manager’s superiors disapprove. When he heard my request, he shook his head. “A half-dozen eggs? We’ve had requests for five dozen eggs (and he gestured toward the cooler) but never a half-dozen.”

He obviously wondered why we wanted six eggs. “We’re living on a small boat on the lake and the fridge is about this big,” I said, shaping with my hands a box not much larger than a shoe box. Then the dairy manager chimed in, saying he had cartons of eggs that had unbroken eggs mixed in with broken. Why not take six good eggs and charge half what a dozen would have cost?

The store manager pondered this brilliant plan and was satisfied. The dairy guy almost trotted through the door to the dairy department and out again with a box of six fat white eggs marked “77 cents/dairy.”

We eat breakfast aboard most of the time, relaxing with coffee, binoculars, and a bird book on the rear deck. Lunch may be nothing but crackers and cream cheese. Dinner is usually a container of leftovers from the prior evening’s dinner at home.

As we get older, I find myself getting lazier about cooking and we tend to eat out a lot more than we used to. I must share with you a recommendation for one of the nicest meals we’ve ever had.

The west bank of the Chattahoochee forms the border between Georgia and Alabama on the bluffs which gave Eufaula its nickname – “Bluff City” – a stunning example of poor or no planning or at all.

Eufaula has several blocks of the most exquisite antebellum architecture you’ll find anywhere, unfortunately surrounded by the ugliest of mid 20th century commercial expansion. “Junk” is what I call it, but Dave defends it as unregulated growth typical of older towns.

I’d better rein this in a little. Eufaula gave the world Cal Beverly, after all.

Back to the accolades. Downtown business leaders, perhaps, changed the location of “downtown,” situating two squares within a block of each other. (I’m doing this from memory now.) The larger of the squares, the one through which U.S. 431 passes, has a Confederate memorial on it, flanked by decorative metal filigree. And so has the square a block to the east.

I direct you to a restaurant on the larger square, occupying most of a former grand hotel. It has also seen better days, with numerous lessees, boutiques, lunch counters and such, but its historic name is Bluff City Inn. The restaurant now in the corner property is called Cajun Corner and its décor is, well, Mardi Gras, I suppose.

Dave had a chicken dinner in a delicious sort of goulash they call swamp stew. He had an exceptionally nice salad and shared dessert with me. It was a chocolate pie kind of confection, drizzled with chocolate syrup.

I had a delicious seafood gumbo, followed by an entrée of grilled oysters (of course, you can have them fried, but why would you?) and tender, 4-inch long sticks of grilled eggplant.

Wooh! Have you ever seen such a collection of adjectives? And every one of them deserved.

We’ll be heading home in a few days. The marina at Lake Point Resort, where we keep the boat, has a tiny restaurant open while the big Lodge is being re-built. A single employee, who will return to the lodge kitchen when it re-opens, now takes orders, cooks, serves, clears, and manages the cash register. I found out a year or so back that if you ask nicely and she’s not too busy, she’ll grill a couple of catfish fillets to perfection.

And there’s a better-than-average local place at the airport on US 431 just north of Eufaula. Shortly before the presidential election we were served there by a young woman who let us know in no uncertain terms that a vote for Barack Obama was a vote for anarchy or worse. I don’t remember what we had to eat there, accept that Dave liked it.

At which of these will we stop for dinner the last night on the lake?

And were are those eggs?

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