Quite the week-plus it has been. I was so busy in the lead-up to our spring break trip to Alabama that I left two in-progress posts behind when we left town on April 1. My apologies! As they were both time sensitive, they shall be filed away in my local archives in case they can be used sometime down the road.
Anyway, we had an excellent week. A fortuitous week, as well. The week before we went south, it rained nearly every day at our destination, Orange Beach. On April 1 it rained so hard that there were flood warnings. When we arrived on Saturday, there was standing water on the sides of the roads and the retaining ponds in our complex were over-flowing. This coming week, there is a >50% chance of rain four of the next five days. Meanwhile, in our six days there, it was perfect on five of those days. And our on our “bad” day, it was cloudy and windy, but we still went to the beach and spent the afternoon at the go-cart track.
We split the drive down into two days, stopping in Huntsville on Friday evening. We had a chance to run into the old downtown to pick up dinner and it looked like a really cool city. Both historic and artsy at the same time. It would have been fun to walk around a little more in daylight hours. There was a canal next to the hotel we were staying in that was filled with massive Koi and other ornamental fish. The kids loved looking at them. And across the canal was a small arena, that just happened to be hosting a tractor pull or monster truck event of some kind that night. Our room faced that direction and it was a little difficult to go to sleep with the sounds of loud engines every few seconds.
Saturday we completed our drive to the Gulf Coast. We were staying in a fairly new area, recommended to us by the Murray/Reid family. In fact, several of the homes in our complex were still under construction. Our friends the Heberts were staying just down the street from us, so we spent most days either hanging out at the pool or beach with them, then had dinner together most nights.
I was worried about the weather when we went down. Not just because of the previous week’s storms, but also because of the forecasted highs. It was only supposed to be in the mid–70s during our visit. That seemed just a few degrees too cool for ideal hanging out in and near the water. It turned out that was absolutely perfect. While the air temperature was in the mid–70s, the sun generally felt warmer. Warm enough to sit in the sun in just swim trunks. Yet it wasn’t so hot that you were sweating all the time, or that you couldn’t walk barefoot on the sand or pool deck. Like I said, it was perfect.
If you’ve read my beach trip summaries over the years, you know I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to these trips. I’m perfectly fine sitting in the sun all day, having the occasional drink and either reading or socializing with the friends/family who have traveled with us. This trip was no different. We didn’t get out and see any local sites, or make day trips to Pensacola or Mobile. We just soaked up the sun and chilled. It was very relaxing.
Three years ago, on our first beach, spring break trip, we were amazed by how many people from Indianapolis and Kansas City were staying at our resort on Captiva Island. Last year there were a lot of Indiana folks running around the island again. This year, while the people in the house next to us were from the just down the road, Orange Beach seemed to be dominated by people from Michigan and, surprisingly, Alabama. You couldn’t walk 10 feet on the beach without seeing some kind of Michigan sports gear, be it Wolverines, Spartans, or Tigers. And while I was surprised there were so many people from ‘Bama rolling around, I guess they have to go on spring break, too. And that’s a pretty easy trip.
We had seafood four times, which is surely the minimum you can get away with down there. We went out to a couple spots and Mr. Hebert cooked some fantastic grouper on the grill for us two other nights. We also got some pretty fine barbecue one night.
We tackled the drive home in one, long slog. We left Alabama at about 5:30 local time Saturday, and arrived home around 8:00 Indiana time. Traffic wasn’t terrible – only a couple slowdowns of significance – and our girls behaved as well as they ever have on a long car ride. Each of them listening to Harry Potter on their own iPods probably helped a lot.
So we had a fantastic week on the beach. The kids were mostly good. We came home tanned and semi-rested. We are still friends with the Heberts after spending a week together. It was a successful trip.
Indiana had fairly bad weather while we were gone: a couple big wind storms and then snow/sleet on Friday night. Of course, we laughed about that. Perhaps we should have held our laughter, as karma hit us when we got home: our 25-year-old furnace died while we were gone. It’s been a pretty chilly couple of days/nights since our return. We’ve been cranking up our space heater in our room before bedtime and then letting the girls all sleep on our floor, buried in layers of blankets. Sunday we kept the fireplace lit all day. We have a couple chilly nights ahead of us. Naturally it will pop back up into normal spring temps right about the time we will be able to get a new furnace installed.
The girls went back to school this morning. Amazingly, they have just over seven weeks before the school year ends. And then we’ll set off on our next trip: a week in Boston and Cape Cod.
- “Grouper? I don’t even know her!” My wife’s favorite thing to say whenever this fish comes up in conversation. ↩
- Indianapolis is almost straight north of Orange Beach. But they are in different time zones. That 6:00 AM sunrise was a bit of a bitch. ↩
- Saturday night the lows were in the 20s and we woke to hear sleet hitting the roof in the wee hours. ↩