It is said a day at the beach restores the soul. We gave it our best shot last week with our vacation to “L.A.” (Lower Alabama).
Step-daughter Jo Ellen, grands Addi Claire and Ellie Kathryn and I headed south last Wednesday to Orange Beach to enjoy five days of sun, sand and surf. We accomplished it all.
I booked us in a condo with all the amenities – water slide, lazy river and easy beach access – with the intentions of it keeping us all very busy. I was anxious about the trip, which we’ve taken every year as soon as school ends, being our first without my late wife Lisa, or “Nana” to the girls.
All the extra amenities happily proved unnecessary as the girls much preferred the beach to the pool, which thrilled Jo Ellen and me. We carried all our gear to the sand early each morning and stayed until lunchtime when we ventured out for some good eats. We hit the Shrimp Basket for its ease, made the “Hangout” one day and enjoyed our favorite “The Gulf” twice.
I’ve written about “The Gulf” before. We’ve never missed a visit to the unique, beautiful, outdoor setting and fabulous menu located in the bright blue shipping containers at the bottom of the Perdido bridge.
I love the blackened grouper and/or snapper sandwich and the raw oysters. Ellie loves the gift shop. Jo Ellen, like Lisa, was addicted to the Mahi tacos. Addi Claire, as she has since the day she was born, just loves us all being together, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing.
The best of times were on the beach where Addi Claire, 10, has become a master of the boogie board – catching waves, which were large our first two days, about 20 feet out and riding them all the way to the sand. Ellie, 7, preferred to just stare the waves down and then just as they crested high above her head, dive straight through them like an Olympic swimmer entering the pool. She would disappear for just a moment, then as the wave rolled on to the beach, Ellie would be standing behind it in full laugh. I could have sat there at the water’s edge watching it the rest of my life.
Another personal treat was Ellie brought a soccer ball. When we loaded it in the car in Bruce, she showed it to me and said she was bringing it so we could play on the beach. I never truly expected us to kick a ball around, but we did every day. It’s a special feeling when your granddaughters ask to play your favorite sport on the beach and seem to be having almost as much fun as you in the process.
We beached all day, went back out to eat at night and hit the arcade for some go-carts and games, and returned to the beach late at night for sand crab hunting. It was a catch-and-release game that’s all about the hunt. Addi Claire was pretty good with the flashlight and finding the crabs. Ellie would get bored quickly and try to catch your eyes with hers.
The trip wasn’t without its difficult moments, as Lisa is always ever present in our hearts and minds. I’ve always found serenity between the sand and the sky. I’m not certain true serenity exists anymore, but sitting at water’s edge with my girls as the waves rolled over our feet was as close as I’ve gotten.