Archives For Traveling

After making a solo trip to Atlanta weekend before last, I felt so refreshed that I didn’t even mind packing back up to head out again this past weekend. This time Nick and I went together and it was fabulous. We spent Friday night at my parents’ house in Slidell and then Saturday morning left Jack and Juliet behind to get spoiled by their grandparents. We drove east through Mississippi, then headed south and took a ferry from Dauphin Island across the mouth of Mobile Bay. It’s a route that I’d never taken before, and both Nick and I enjoyed the ferry. We were having so much fun that Nick took my picture. Don’t I look relaxed and happy?

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A few moments later, another passenger started feeding the seagulls cheese puffs. I thought it mildly inconsiderate, but Nick was much more concerned. “Let’s go get in the car,” he said. “These birds are about to start crapping everywhere.” I told him to stop worrying so much and just enjoy the rest of the ride. And literally, right that second, I looked up and saw bird poop flying at me in slow motion. Fortunately(?), it landed on my face and sunglasses, rather than in my hair or on my clothes, and I was able to clean it up pretty easily with some baby wipes I had in my purse. At least I was able to laugh about it!

The ferry deposited us in Fort Morgan, a rural stretch of coastline about 15 miles west of Gulf Shores. It was, in a word, amazing. There were no high rise condos, no traffic jams, no crowds. I’m not sure I even saw a streetlight. There were two restaurants and a whole lot of adorable beach houses.

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We were there to meet up with some of Nick’s friends from college who were staying there for the week. They’ve been doing fantasy football together for years and now that they all live in different states they meet in a central location for their annual draft. It’s not exactly a kid-friendly event, hence the decision to leave Jack behind. We only stayed for one night and I’m not sure we could have handled anything more. Those folks know how to party!

As much fun as I had visiting with old friends and pretending like I was 21 again, my absolute favorite part was the few hours in the afternoon during which everyone was drafting their teams. I’m not in the league and have no interest in it whatsoever, so I took the opportunity to hang out on the beach by myself. Considering that the last time I was at the beach I had my two year old in tow this was pretty great. When I started to get burned, I moved to the shaded deck where I sat and read. I really enjoy spending time alone and I don’t get much of it these days so I savored every moment.

That night we stayed up entirely too late doing things we’re entirely too old to do, then the next morning Nick and I slept in til the leisurely hour of 8am, bid farewell to various people sleeping on various surfaces, and stopped at the local restaurant for a quick breakfast before hopping back on the ferry and beginning the slow transition back into reality. I never would have thought it’d be worth it to drive all the way to Alabama just for one night on the beach, but it so was!

We returned yesterday afternoon from a much anticipated trip to Gulf Shores, AL–the westernmost section of the beautiful beaches in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle collectively known as the Emerald Coast, Flora-Bama, or, my favorite, the Redneck Riviera. Since we were in the most affordable area it was extra redneck, but the particular stretch of beach we enjoyed was less developed and thus delightfully uncrowded. There were lots of seashells and plenty of room to spread out. And the weather was amazing!

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We went with our friends Cassie and Nic and their daughter Olive.¬†Jack and Olive haven’t ever spent this much time around each other before but they were fast friends. Jack started every morning while we were there by wandering the condo calling for Olive until he found her. There were lots of hugs and cuddles. It was adorable.

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Nick gets free car rentals as a perk from his job so we loaded up all four adults and two littles into a minivan packed to the brim with gear. This is the first time I’ve ever done the beach like a grown up, with a canopy and chairs and even a little tent for the babies. In the past I was doing great if I remembered to pack a towel and some sunscreen. Maybe I’d buy an overpriced beach chair while I was there. But this time we were prepared and it was awesome. We even cooked and froze meals before leaving, which is something we did when we traveled with Nic and Cassie a few years ago (before Jack was born). Cassie made lasagna and chili and I made chicken enchiladas. Delicious and so much easier and cheaper than going out every night or trying to buy a bunch of groceries to cook while you’re there.

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Jack and Olive found love at the Waffle House. Just kidding, they’re babies. But seriously how cute are they?!?!?

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To be honest, this trip was too short. Before we had kids we could go to the beach for a weekend and really make the most of it, lying in the sand and playing in the ocean from morning ’til night with only short breaks for meals, but with babies it’s a different animal. They need naps and real food and they get cranky. Babies cannot hang. We were lucky to spend a couple of hours out there each day. I’d definitely like to stay closer to a week next time so that we can get our fill of the beach in small doses over several days. Also different with babies: no daydrinking. It feels irresponsible to be imbibing while your child plays near water, and even if that weren’t the case we had enough crap to carry without adding a cooler full of beer.¬†Every night after the kids were in bed we poured some drinks and went out to the balcony for card games. Nick and I had played Cards Against Humanity when visiting our friends Lauren and Ryan in Atlanta last summer and when we learned that Cassie and Nic had a set that they hadn’t even opened we insisted they bring it. That game is a RIOT.

Overall, we had an amazing time and as much as I dislike traveling I’m sad to be home. I love love love the beach and even with the challenges of tiny humans it’s still quite possibly my favorite place on Earth. I’ve already started thinking about our next visit!