Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Good Ole Gulf: Gulf Shores, AL

I'm sitting here at my desk. It's January. January= Dreary in Missouri. We had the most beautiful weather yesterday. It hit 70 something degrees, sun was shining, and of course I had to work. Poo. I should be grateful for my job and blah, blah, blah but seriously.... IT WAS 70 SOMETHING DEGREES IN JANUARY!!! IN MISSOURI!!! I so badly wanted to soak it up because I know for a fact that weather like that doesn't come back for another 4 months. Ugh.

So, since I didn't get to enjoy the sunshine yesterday, I'm going to bring back some sunshine memories.

WARNING: I am about to talk about a trip outside of Missouri. Now remember, I never promised I was just about Missouri. I'm mostly about Missouri. But occasionally, I do get to get out of Misery. Ok, that was a cheap shot. It's not so bad here. Most days.....

Last May, we planned my first-ever trip to Gulf Shores, AL with my sister, her husband, and their 2 kiddos. We booked a house "right on the beach". Well, we thought it was "right on the beach" but if it sounds too good to be true, it is right? It wasn't exactly right on the beach but it was close enough. No complaints.

Our view from the deck. Glorious.

Not a bad little house. Not a bad little house, at all.
 Most of the homes down there seem to be vacation homes so pretty much everything is available online to rent. Robby's mom and sister came down during the same week and rented a real nice condo. The house was nice. We had everything we needed. The deck up top was just outside of the 2 master suites and then of course the huge main deck was plenty spacious. The house came equipped with plates, silverware, and the like so we did quite a bit of cooking in.

Bonus: My brother-in-law is an expert griller. Mmmmm.
These were some fresh gulf shrimp my brother-in-law bought from some fresh seafood place down there. Red Lobster, eat your heart out. These were to die for!

Gulf Shores is a GREAT place for family vacations. The guys golfed one day. There looked to be quite a few cute little shops that I would have loved to browse through but I was too busy soaking up every ounce of beach time I could afford. Of course we took Olivia with us but she was 7 months old at the time, so there's only so much time a baby will tolerate sitting on a blanket in the hot before she is DONE. She did do pretty good though and seemed to enjoy the pool more than the beach.

Apparently, the ocean waves are a bit scary for some tots.

Like I said, we went in May and I highly recommend it. The weather was gorgeous and the beach only had scattered tourists. One of the locals who owned a condo just beside us said the rest of the summer is pretty packed and that we had come at a great time.

I didn't realize the new thing was to bring an awning large enough to fit a wedding party in! We had our little beach umbrella for Olivia but now people are seriously setting up these huge canopy-tent-thingys and are leaving them up for the duration of their stay. What this means is that when you come onto the beach in the morning, there's people's junk all up and down the beach because they're too friggin' lazy to take down and put back up. I know it doesn't bother some people but it did me. I had never seen such before! So imagine the dog days of summer, beach packed, and people's personal crap everywhere. Yeah, May was a good time.

We did run out to the Fort one day just to give Baby O a break from the beach. It was neat in it's own historical way. I have been to so many forts and it's kinda like, once you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. So I wasn't real impressed but it wasn't the Fort's fault, I promise.

Very Fort-y. Don't you agree?

There were, however, absolutely beautiful views.

I would have liked to take the ferry to Dauphin Island just to explore some more but Robby talked me out of it. Turd. Oh well, maybe next time.....

You definitely have to take a stroll down the public pier though. The water is so clear you can see the schools of thousands of fish and all the sting rays. It was great to watch sea life performing in their natural habitat.

You can just barely see 'em. The stingrays. See, right there?
We did make a lunch stop at Lulu's. Lulu is Jimmy Buffett's sister and this is her famous restaurant. It's not ocean side but it is harbor side. Open air setting. Good food. Very tourist-y. Who cares?

Favorite Trip Pic:

Look at that sweet, sweet face!
Highlight of my trip:
          Sitting on the beach, alone, book in hand, by myself while I drank several cold ones one afternoon. One never treasures alone time until one becomes a parent. It was fabulous.

             Gulf Shores is absolutely kid friendly. Family oriented. Great for small family vacays or large bring-one-bring-all types of vacays.

Pan's Pick:
           Get up super early one morning and stroll on the beach for seashells. It's so cliche yet it was so enjoyable for me. Robby stayed in with Baby O while I took a quick jaunt. The sunrise on the beach is nearly magical.

Look at 'em all! Just look at 'em!

**Helpful note: The beach crews scan the beaches multiple times each day to scoop up tar balls left from the huge oil spill. I never saw a tar ball although my sis did. Other than these few-and-far-between balls, there is no evidence that there was ever any damage. Thank God for that!

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