May 132007

We’re back, from what is likely our last trip to Gulf Shores that will not place us at the mercy of the public school calendar. Everybody had a great time.

The Beach
The weather was marvelous, despite vaguely threatening forecasts for Friday and Saturday. We had no rain and almost no wind. Thursday was about 82 degrees; Friday and Saturday were about 90. The Gulf of Mexico, doing its best Smith Lake impression, was calmer than I’ve ever seen it:

It wasn’t so good for body-surfing, but ideal for venturing out with two tentative little boys. It was a bit cold at first, but if you persevered just a bit you could eventually get your whole body wet without discomfort. There were no nasty currents and very few jellyfish.

Of course, the calmness also meant it was silent, which was a minor disappointment for me. One of my favorite things about staying at the beach is listening to the surf at night. Nevertheless, the boys had a blast:

The Food and the Beer
Thursday night we went to our standby Mikee’s, where Lea had the barbecue shrimp, I had broiled scallops, and we had the clam strips appetizer. All was lovely. We each had phenomenal fresh snapper (mine blackened, hers grilled) and the fried alligator appetizer at The Original Oyster House on Friday. And last night, we turned left out of the condo for the first time for dinner and ate at Tacky Jack’s 2, within shouting distance of Fort Morgan. It’s an interesting place on the bay, with attractive Czech women running around and beachy-kitschy ambience. My blackened crawfish/shrimp salad was excellent. My next-door neighbor Jeff tells me we should eat breakfast there next time.

We went chain (and landlubber) and ate lunch at The Mellow Mushroom yesterday, where the pizza was excellent and our server was about a C+. I had a Left Hand Sawtooth Ale and a Rogue Dead Guy Ale, neither of which was outstanding, but both of which I’d get again.

The beer discovery of the trip for me was Flying Dog’s Road Dog Scottish Porter, which Lea brought out of Bruno’s after I asked her to get “something fun.” Oh man, it’s yummy. It reminded me a bit of Abita Turbodog, but with a more complex middle and a come-hither finish that lingers without pestering. I’m going to have to look for it around here. It may be a top 10 for me.

I also had some Landshark Lager. It was hardly repulsive, but really rather forgettable–maybe like a Corona with a little sugar.

The Touristy Stuff
We took a second trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, and had a good time. Mind, this is Gulf Shores, Alabama, so don’t expect the second coming of National Geographic Explorer. However, chances are good it’s more impressive than you think. It’s attractive, clean, and well-organized, with a wide selection of animals, all of which appear to be in good condition.

This is Chuckie, the Hurricane Ivan escapee who made national news:

This peacock was in the crook of a tree and was fine with my camera less than a yard from his face:

Just something about big cats, isn’t there?

We spent some time at the Tanger Outlet Center too, though the only thing I was interested in was Zodiac automatics at the Fossil outlet, and they didn’t have any. Lea did find some things for the boys at Osh Kosh B’Gosh, though.

The Drive
Thanks to Papa Ross and Grandma Martha for the travel DVD players they got the boys for Christmas. They are a huge hit with everyone: with the boys for obvious reasons, and with me because they’re easy to set up and take down.

The previous-generation Honda Odyssey remains my favorite trip car of all time. Acceleration, braking, ride, handling, seat comfort, ergonomics, features, visibility, and interior capacity are all exemplary. It is an absolutely non-fatiguing experience. I’m ready to do it again whenever I step out. Moreover, Lea’s ’04 turned in 25 mpg at a consistent 78 mph (with occasional brief excursions to 85 or so), with the air conditioner running continuously. Make no mistake: this is a large vehicle that acts like the Accord it’s based on, except for the cavernous interior. I’m impressed.

My hat is off to Lea, Nathan, and Aaron, as they are hardened road warriors. From lunch at the Bates House of Turkey in Greenville, I drove home nonstop. That’s 227 miles with nary a complaint from two little boys (5 and 3 next month). I had to pee way worse than anyone else when we got home.

In Conclusion
I think it was the smoothest vacation we’ve ever taken, thanks largely to Lea, who plans, packs, and executes flawlessly. Everyone definitely got their leisure on, with no logistical problems.

But it’s still satisfying to hit our own pillows tonight.

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  3 Responses to “Gulf Shores, May 2007”

  1. So. damn. Jealous. I love Gulf Shores.

  2. I’m bound for Sanibel Island later this summer – I’m SO excited!!!

  3. If we ever have enough “extra” money to afford it, I want a place at the beach. I LOVE the beach. This happened to be an especially enjoyable trip, too, since the weather and the beach conditions cooperated so well.

    One of these days we might actually break out of our rut and try a different beach – I have friends that swear by Grayton (sp?) Beach and San Destin – but it’s hard to switch to an unknown location when you are happy with what you’ve already found. Although, is there really a BAD beach? 🙂

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