Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer 2019 Roadtrip - Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan

This summer has officially proven to me that spontaneous trips are the best trips.  We had been lounging in the pool the week before we left, when the need to be at the beach struck. Discussing schedules, I realized that I only had four days left this summer with no plans - luckily everyone else's schedules aligned with those four days. We struggled in finding a place to stay in the Gulf Shores area so last minute, and had all but given up when a 4-person VRBO magically appeared - obviously as a sign confirming our need for sun and sand. The weather looked good and the "book now" button was clicked in record time. Unfortunately, only a few days later, we saw a hurricane was predicted for the area. The day before departure we still weren't sure we would be able to go because of weather (and also this flesh-eating bacteria business!) Thankfully the morning of it looked as though the worst of the storm would miss us, and we knew that even if it rained all weekend, we could still have fun.

Day 1: Thursday, July 11, 2019

We left at 6AM for our trip to Fort Morgan, Alabama. Never before has a nine hour drive gone so fast!! Time flies when you're having fun! Apparently it also flies when you have Cookie Monster giving you directions while jamming to 90s country...As soon as we got to Gulf Shores, we stopped for food and snacks (priorities!).  You know how you're not suppose to go grocery shopping when you're hungry? Oops. Somehow we managed to squeeze all of our supplies in with us and our luggage into my little Corolla.

Beach Day 1
The second we got to our condo, we put on our suits and headed to the beach - unpacking could wait, as according to all of the weather apps, this could be our only opportunity to experience the beach with the sun in the sky. (Spoiler: it wasn't!) On our way there, we met the security guard, Earl. Our introductions provided him with fake names (because safety first!), and he was quite smitten with "Allie." 😝 He gave us directions on getting to the beach.  We sat in the sand and chatted, letting the waves wash over us...or sometimes wash us away!

Since we were on the outskirts of Hurricane Barry, the waves and wind were insane. There were riptide warnings posted everywhere, unsurprisingly. As soon as one wave headed back out to sea, another one was rushing in. It was easy to see why it was advised for people to be wary of going into the gulf.  The waves were able to carry us away, I can't imagine having children near that. Standing in the dry sand also provided a fun opportunity to get pelted with sand particles that felt like a bunch of tiny missiles - the wind, y'all!

I had gotten out of the sand to attempt to rinse off, when I saw something move. "Crab!" I yelled, causing the rest of them to look where I was pointing, scream, and fight the incoming waves to get up and away from the crustacean. The palm sized ghost crab scattered away, gliding sideways along the sand, as we laughed about how unexpectedly hilarious the situation had just been. It was the first of many ghost crabs we would see over the course of the weekend.

Eventually we headed back towards the condo, rinsed the sand off with a hose, and slipped into the pool on site. We had an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub. Side note here - we stayed at the Dunes Condos, which we would all recommend for grown up gatherings. There isn't a lot for children to do in the area, but the beach is much less packed than the Gulf Shores beaches. From our room we could see the beach from the balcony, and the bay on the opposite side of the peninsula from our doorway.

Karaoke Ready!

For dinner we popped in a pizza from the store and got ready for the evening.  We had been told by a friend that Tacky Jack's had karaoke at 9, and we love our karaoke! It was only a 0.2 mile walk from the condo (again, great location for adults looking to escape the chaos of children!) Our song choices for the night were "How Do You Like Me Now" by Toby Keith, and "Two  Piña Coladas" by Garth Brooks, inspired by our 90s country carpool karaoke on the drive down. No one booed us, and the guy in charge of karaoke decorated us with boas, so I think that means we rocked it. After a late night, and fun conversation, we wandered back to the condo for leftover pizza and laughs before bed.

Hiding out from the rain

Day 2: Friday, July 12, 2019

We all slept in this morning and enjoyed donuts and coffee (not me!) for breakfast.  The sun was out, which we weren't expecting, so we wandered down to the beach to take a stroll.  On our way down to the beach, it started to downpour! We ran to the nearest beach house and hid under the carport until it tapered off. 

Luckily it didn't take long, and we sauntered up and down the beach for an hour.  It was crazy to see the damage from the wind the night before.  The steel beams from beach canopies were bent and mangled, and there was plenty of other debris scattered about the sand.  The wind was wild, but all of the sand was wet, so we didn't get attacked by it like yesterday.

We came back to the condo and got ready to go into town for lunch.  We went to ACME Oyster House, where I promised I would TRY an oyster.  I ordered fish and fries, but I did try one of Angel's oysters. It was actually pretty good, but don't tell her I said that. 

We stopped back at the store for a few more supplies before heading back to the condo.  The sun was still out, so we changed into our suits and went back down to the beach.  We sat in the water for awhile, but the waves were still so crazy from the hurricane to the west of us. We could be sitting in the sand having conversation one second, and the next thing we knew a two foot wave would pick us up and carry us ashore.

We were promised that an awesome band would be playing tonight at Tacky Jack's, so after showering and getting ready, we hung out for awhile before heading back down the road. As we walked in, we were greeted by people who remembered us from the night before.  We met some others from Tennessee as well, and had a great time. Before we knew it, it was after midnight and we were heading back to our condo for more pizza. We sat on the balcony for awhile, cracking up over the fun we'd had so far, and creating more memories. Do you ever start laughing and feel like you can't stop?? Because that is 100% what this weekend felt like. The walks back from Tacky Jack's and our evening balcony chats were my favorite. 💗

Day 3: Saturday, July 13, 2019

As I woke up, everyone else was still in bed, so I went out on the balcony to listen to music and watch the waves. We came into the weekend expecting rain the whole time, but thus far we had barely experienced any! It was raining HARD this morning though, coming down almost completely sideways. I watched the palm trees trying their hardest to stand their ground, but when the rain began to drench the balcony, I went back inside. Normally stormy weather would ruin a vacation, but since we had already gotten more sun than we expected, the weather made sitting inside together even more cozy.

We hung around the condo for awhile, chatting and deciding what to do for the day. Two years ago it would have driven me crazy to plan a trip such short notice and have no actual itinerary. The Gretchen of today LOVED this.  Because the trip was a spur of the moment decision, we had no schedule to stick to, which meant we could fly by the seat of our pants and do what we wanted when we wanted, which meant that today we were getting milkshakes for lunch!

We headed back into Gulf Shores, about a 20-30 minute drive, to go to The Yard Milkshake Bar.  A small shake was more than enough to fill all of us! There were a billion choices, and we each picked different ones.  I had the unicorn - I love cotton candy ice cream!!

After "lunch," we drove back to the condo.  Stuffed to the max with our sugary treats and exhausted from our late night before, we each snuggled into our own comfy spots to nap/read/listen to music for a couple hours. Our trip was meant to be relaxing, so we made sure to get some R&R!!

We had packed plenty of games just in case we were stuck inside all weekend due to weather, so after our solo chill time, we figured we should play one. Mary brought Mexican Train Dominoes - it was so fun!!

The time came to decide our goal for the night - either go back to Tacky Jack's or hang out at the condo and play games. Since we had a long drive ahead of us the next day, and we were already in "chill" mode, we decided on staying in. It was nearing sunset, so we wandered back down to the beach for one last walk.  We were extra excited about this one, because we knew the ghost crabs would be out! (Okay, maybe we all weren't excited about the ghost crabs, but I certainly was!!) We took off down the beach in the opposite direction that our walks had been so far.  On the return, we spotted ghost crabs EVERYWHERE! We had to move in slow motion to get pictures of them, otherwise they would scurry off into their holes. Luckily there were so many of them that we had a lot of opportunity!!

Can you spot the ghost crab?

Following our beach walk we went back up to our floor and pulled out What Do You Meme? It was the first time they had played, and we were rolling in laughter!! (If you've never played, its like Cards Against Humanities except with memes and captions). What a perfect ending to an already incredible weekend.

Day 4: Sunday, July 14, 2019

None of us were thrilled about this trip coming to a close. I'm usually ready to be home in my own bed by the end of the trip, but something about this summer has been different. I love home, but I love adventuring with friends even more. For me, home is people, more than it is a place, and since my Tennessee people were with me, home was at the beach!

We slowly got packed up and loaded up the car before heading into Gulf Shores for breakfast.  Of course this day happened to be sunny!! Mary had been to a cute little diner in the area before, so we decided to go there.  Hazel's Nook was exactly what you expect when you go to a breakfast diner in Alabama. The food was good and it the atmosphere had a very southern feel to it.

After eating, we begrudgingly got back in the car for the long drive home.

Girls' trips are the best, y'all. My heart is so full.

You can find all travel posts from Hey Dreamer Blog here.

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