Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Minus 126 Days - Rehearsing for Dinner in Seagrove Beach

In Poland, the Catholic tradition of Candlemas celebrated on February 2 is called, "Mother of God Who Saves Us From Thunder." We need it today here in Destin, Fla., where heavy thunderstorms are forecast all day and into the night.

I’m here with Debra Lindley, formerly Operations Director for the Louisiana Folklife Festival for the past 11 years.
After hurricane Katrina soaked up the funding sources for her job in our sister state, she decided to move to Hot Springs. I’m taking full advantage of her event planning and floral design talents to help me plan Wayne’s rehearsal dinner at the Old Florida Fish House, an casually upscal new restaurant just past Eastern Lake, headed east on scenic Highway 30-A.

To help choose the rehearsal dinner menu, we tried seafood gumbo and corn crabmeat bisque for our soup selections. Fresh mixed green house salads were enhanced by homemade dressings. Debra chose blackened redfish with angel hair pasta and crawfish tails for her entree. I had grilled tournadoes of beef with scallops and lump crab meat nested under a delightful hollandaise-type sauce. Double yum!

Right now, we’re staying Gulfside at the Holiday Inn on the Beach, a three-star family-oriented hotel now undergoing extensive renovation in preparation for peak season. The rest of the day, we’ll explore other options for accommodations closer than 27 miles to the wedding and rehearsal dinner sites. At the rate traffic was moving on our way in at at 4 p.m. yesterday, a 27-mile trek during tourist season would probably take two hours. Seriously.