I’m a little bit embarrassed about how long it’s been since I’ve written. So, I thought to make up for my long absence, I’d marinate a bit on my favorite place to be: THE BEACH.
It’s not my fault, really. It started with my dad. See, Daddy makes a distinction between trips and vacations. Trips are when you go places and do things, like when they took me to Natchez and Vicksburg, or when all four of us went to Disney World and Charleston, SC. Trips involve agendas and buying guidebooks and asking people what restaurants to visit. There are things to do and places to see.
Vacations, on the other hand, offer no such thing. It’s a chance for Mom and Daddy to sit on the beach, listen to Jimmy Buffett, sip their favorite beverages, and just chill out. They both have pretty stressful jobs, so the opportunity to unplug is savored.
Clearly, they’re getting it right.
What does that mean for me? That means that, no matter how hard I try, I cannot resist the siren song of the Alabama-Florida Gulf Coast. For example, I haven’t been to the Gulf in over a year, since TR and I visited Apalachicola and St. George Island after visiting the law school at Florida State. I was NOT about to pass up an opportunity to get some beach in — you just can’t be an hour from the coast and NOT GO. It’s un-American. Or at least un-Southern.
So, we spent a long weekend on Florida’s Forgotten Coast, and can’t wait to go back. There wasn’t a single bad thing about the trip — our hotel, everything we ate (TR gorged himself on Apalachicola oysters), and everything we saw, all of it was just perfect. For a couple of kids more used to the commercialized beach experience offered in Gulf Shores, Destin, and the like, Apalachicola was a breath of fresh air providing the perfect laid-back Gulf Coast experience. Maybe it was the time of year, but there were very few people on the beach, and very few people in town, even with the Historic & Antique Boat Show in town.
Next time, we might stay on St. George Island, since we had to drive over to the island when we wanted to go to the beach, but we might not. It only took about 15 minutes each way, and the accomodations at the Gibson Inn were lovely.
But I haven’t been to the beach in prime beaching season since 2001 or so. I’ve been begging TR to escape to the beach for a long weekend with me pretty much all semester. This whole going-back-to-school thing has been pretty stressful, and being the daugther of my parents, I know what to do to unwind! We were pretty discouraged at first because accomodations in Gulf Shores (TR’s preferred destination) and Destin (mine) were not exactly in the budget. But then I remembered that Seester and her crew down at Auburn spend their holidays on Dauphin Island.
So, I did some research and found a motel with rooms for $89 a night. Not quite a bargain, but much lower and I’d be afraid to stay there! The motel got great reviews on TripAdvisor, so we took a deep breath and made the reservations. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.
PS — I find it interesting that most of my favorite places in the world are on water — Gulf Shores, Destin/Seaside, Charleston, New Orleans, New York. I don’t think that’s a coincidence!
UPDATE: Don’t show up at night. The Gulf Breeze Motel was nice, very clean, reasonably close, and a short walk to the beach. But I cried when we got there because Dauphin Island is very, VERY dark at night, and EVERYTHING just looked sketchy. But we were VERY happy with our trip, and if we decide to throw some tax dollars toward a beach trip, we’ll probably hit up Daupin Island again. Also, do not EVER try to eat at Barnacle Bill’s. The food is fabulous, but it took us 2 hours to get ANYTHING, including our salads, and there were only about 5 other tables in the restaurant. Not worth it. Don’t got. The Oar House, on the other hand, is great, and they have breakfast, too! Also, check out the Lighthouse Bakery. It’s off Church Street, and their treats are to die for!