Sunday, May 29, 2016

Birthdays and BFFs

Sunrise from the beach cottage
In honor of my most recent birthday, a group of friends and I went down to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for a long weekend. There were four of us, and we found a lovely beachfront cottage online with four spacious bedrooms, three baths, a full kitchen and a GORGEOUS back deck (right on the water, a prime spot for sunsets). One rental agreement later, we were set.

We drove down, checked in, and decided to rustle up some dinner. We noticed online that Bill's by the Beach was close. None of us had ever been, so we drove over to check it out. Smart move, ladies!  This turned out to be a good choice! We ordered a few drinks (and the bacon and crab cheesecake - OMG), then entrees. We were there on a Thursday night in the off season, so the place wasn't crowded. We were able to relax and enjoy a leisurely meal. Then, we went back to the beach cottage and talked until late in the night, as girlfriends tend to do on trips like this.

(Incidentally, I have known these ladies for more than 13 years. It amazes me how long we've been friends. We still meet once a month for dinner. In many, many ways, the bedrock of my happiness is built on the relationships I have with friends like these. Treasure.)

Zip lining was so much FUN!!
The next morning, it was off to the Gulf Adventure Center for some zip lining! I'd passed this place several times during previous trips to Gulf Shores, but I'd never gone in. They have a great zip lining course. It's more than one mile of line, strung between six or seven towers. After signing waivers, you get suited up in your gear. Then the instructors take you through a short training course on the ground. After that, you're up! You zip over land, over water, and you can really pick up some speed! It's so much FUN!!

There's a lot of step-climbing involved, so bring your quads! Also, the course operators take photos of you while you're zip lining, and you can purchase them afterwards. I loved this! The moment my son is heavy enough to do it, I'm taking him down there!! The Gulf Adventure Center offers other activities, too, like kayaking and paddle boarding. It's located at the edge of Gulf State Park, and I bet bird watching is amazing out there, too. The views from the zip lining towers were beautiful.

Dessert at Voyagers
The next day, we started with a long walk on the beach. All told, I think we went 3 or 4 miles, but we were so busy gabbing and laughing that we hardly noticed. We relaxed back at the cottage for the afternoon, snacking our way through lunch, before venturing out for dinner at Voyagers, where we topped off our seafood entrees with a remarkable dessert souffle. I'd never been to Voyagers before this trip, and it was a great experience. Our waitress was a HOOT, and the food was fabulous!

We still had a bit of life left in us after dinner, so we stopped by the FloraBama for some music (and some lottery tickets - the jackpot was humongous). If you've never been to the FloraBama, it looks like a complete dive from the street. (Aaaand maybe from inside, too . . . ) It's a Gulf Shores institution, though, a beachfront bar/restaurant where many a woman has peeled off her bra to hang it from one of the clotheslines suspended from the ceiling. (Not me, though. Lord, I DO have SOME dignity.) They had a couple of good bands playing, so we danced
We danced to live music at the FloraBama
for a while and tried to remember what 30 felt like. ;-)

After getting our ya-yas out, we tumbled gratefully into bed. The next morning, we breakfasted and then headed home.

The older I get, the more grateful I am for those friends who know all of my faults and love me anyway. I couldn't have come up with a better way to celebrate another trip around the sun!


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