Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Longest Ride* {4th of July in Orange Beach, AL}

* is that a Nicholas Sparks title? Meh, I make no apologies. 

* a/k/a: 15 Hours in the Car with Small Children Makes Everyone Want to Pull a Sylvia Plath...

... Even the Baby.

Our bambinos are pretty damn lucky to have grandparents who both insisted upon beach trips this summer!  Happy to be taggers-alongers, we loaded up the car to hit the shore for another go 'round - this time in Orange Beach, Alabama. 

Early on in our relationship, E and I adopted the motto "Happy Couples Fly"... a mantra we've  ratified into our family code.  Sadly, holiday airline fares and flight times were quite uncooperative, soooooo... road trippin' it was.  Google Maps told us the journey would take a mere 10 hours, but we ended up tacking on five extra {THANKS, LOUISIANA HIGHWAYS} {and also: teeny tiny child bladders}.  We thought we'd be wily and gently transfer the kidlets from their warm beds to the car around 4 am so they'd snooze through the first couple hundred miles, but HA HA HA no dice on the whole going back to sleep trick. Way to go, Amateurs.  B did end up taking a brief nap somewhere in Mississippi and was surprisingly pleasant for 80% of the drive, but I think L watched something like 11 hours of Peppa Pig on the iPad and was as angry as a wet cat every time we suggested more brain-friendly entertainment. 

I would not say it was a fun day.  

But!  There were cold beers and pizza {and BEDTIME for the meatloaves} awaiting our arrival in Alabama, and the beach {also: waffles} greeted us the next morning!   

we look like beach-going Mennonites... no sun-spots for these gals!

We enjoyed the sun, sand, and waves {and pounds upon pounds of fresh Gulf shrimp!} for four days and nights, including a super stellar Independence Day.  B did not totally hate the shore this time {so long as his shoes stayed on and was kept far, far away from the water}, so perhaps we'll slowly convert him to a beach bum via exposure.  It was the first year L has been able to stay up to see fireworks, and we could see probably a dozen displays from our balcony.  This was a pretty perfect way to accomplish this particular "first" - no crowds or traffic; the ability to hang out in PJs and play with all her toys while waiting; unfettered access to snacks; etc.  We were also far enough 
removed from the shows that the noise wasn't too frightening. The fire alarm that got pulled by asshole teenagers in the middle of the night causing an evacuation of the entire high-rise, however... 

We are still dealing with preschooler anxiety over that one. 


For anyone interested in traveling to this part of the coast, here are a few details / thoughts about our trip...

We rented a condo in the Caribe Resort.  The space itself was very, very nice {we had a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath for 7 people} and quite spacious.  The balcony had views of the pool, the beach {across a major road -- more on that in a bit} and the harbor.  The actual resort... felt like a huge resort but without any of the conveniences {no beach towels or detergent or dish soap; minimal TP; front desk staff only until 5 PM; obviously no room service or housekeeping}.  With it being a holiday weekend, the whole place felt suuuuuuper crowded {and some of the pools - especially the indoor ones - could have been cleaner}, and parking was sometimes a pain in the ass.  Even though the Lazy River was probably 67% urine, the pools were great for tiny waterlogged meatloaves -- loads of fountains, water slides, and wading beaches.  The actual beach was across the highway, but the trolley service provided by the resort was surprisingly prompt; I think the longest we waited was 15 minutes and that was around noon on the 4th - so, totally understandable.  Once the trolley dropped you off, it was a bit of a hike down a boardwalk to the beach.  Trolley + Boardwalk + Kids + Beach Gear = Please, Children, Do Not Pitch a Shit Fit Within 25 Minutes of Arrival.  If you're traveling with kids who still require naps, I'd highly recommend seeking accommodations with direct beach access.  Since it was the 4th and we weren't staying a full week, that wasn't possible for us.  We had fun at Caribe, but I think it would be more appropriate for folks with older kiddos. 

We ate several meals out, our very favorite being at Cosmos. They do not take reservations and apparently are perpetually slammed, so we arrived a little before 5 pm like the cool early birds we are... There was still about an hour wait.  But!  The patio was cool{ish}, the bartender was quick with the adult beverages, there was live music and a gift shop that sells reusable sticker scenes, so we were all pretty happy in the interim.  I don't remember what everyone ordered {I do recall firecracker shrimp for the table... B ate about thirty, even though he pretended as if we were poisoning him every time he put one in his mouth... weirdo}, but my shrimp poboy was on point, and we all left very fat and happy. 

We also dined at Cotton's and Flora-Bama.  Both places provided good eats, but Cotton's ambiance left a bit to be desired, and we hit up Flora-Bama {which everyone and their mom seems to rave about} on a Sunday afternoon, which I'm guessing was a lame move on our part.  I hear it's hopping at night! 

All in all, we had another fun trip to the beach!  Our drive back to Austin was slightly shorter / better {not offering iPad usage until after lunch was a huge improvement}, but I do think we'll be going back to flying the friendly skies if at all possible! 

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