I know this is not what you want to hear, you want me to blog about the meeting with PoshMum. But I’ve got to tell you about Gulf Shores first.
On Saturday, RGirl and I went over to Gulf Shores. The reason this came about was because all my NO friends said Biloxi is kind of shit, and we should go to a proper beach. First off, Biloxi wasn’t really as shit as they said, but to be fair, Gulf Shores was so much better.
This guy I used to know from working in the pub in New Orleans has a condo on the coast of Alabama. He said that he couldn’t make it out to see me this weekend, but if we wanted to borrow his place we could have the keys. In the end, RGirl, myself, and two other mates I know from New Orleans met us and we had one-day to party on the coast before I had to hop back across the pond. (Look at me acting like the jet setter, ‘hop back across the pond’.)
But it wasn’t necessarily the full day of merriment that stands out in my mind (although, it was a brilliant day), it was the scenery. After my gap summer, I can now say that I’m fairly well travelled. Yes, there are people much more worldly than me – I have no problem admitting that – but I’ve seen my share of nature scenes, and until now I thought all beaches were roughly the same. (Yes, some are tropical and some are stoney. But it’s all a bit of water meeting the land.)
I was wrong.
From Biloxi we drove to Alabama and turned off I-10 and went down this highway. (I have no idea which one.) And for the most part it looked just like the Louisiana back country I got used to when I lived in New Orleans and travelled about. We stopped at a fruit stand and bought some fresh peaches for the journey. It was all looking familar and making me nostolgic for my gap summer in New Orleans, until we got to the shore. I have never seen anything so expansive.
The white beaches weren’t just a bit of sand that stretched meters from the land, it was miles. Or so it seemed. White sand and blue skies with brownish green blades of tall grass shooting out from place to place within the dunes. While there were small hills of sand and buildings and tatty souvenir stores, the expansive setting wasn’t broken up by these things, Instead, it stretched onward forever.
Maybe I’ve been in Britain too long now, and I wouldn’t have found the white sands of Gulf Shores so impressive if I still were travelling. Here in the UK our beaches – in comparison – feel cloistered. Boxed in by cliffs, seaside resorts or even farmers’ fields. But in this region of the US, everything was open to the strong winds and blazing sun. I felt so incredibly small, like one of the specs of sand.
We picked up the key to the condo from the management company, and when we reached the building my friends were outside waiting. It was one of these tower type establishments, and my friend’s condo was several floors up. We hugged and carried our stuff inside, where we found a balcony over looking the sea. A ‘V’ of pelicans flew by at eye level, and looking across the beach and out to the ocean I felt like I was on top of the world.
Like a child, I was dying to get out into the surf. Normally, I’m not too much into the whole outdoor thing, and I burn to a crisp at even the weakest of sun. But something about that ocean, I wanted to get in.
After a double application of sun cream I was out in the warm water. The ocean was quite rough, and my southern friends, who have spent a good many holidays in Florida, showed me how to body surf. The rest of the day was spent with water up my nose, seaweed in my top and sand down my pants, and I actually loved it. I kind of even wished Fife and the kids were with me. They would have been over the moon.
We spent the entire day on the beach, lying in the sun or out in the water. We chatted, drank Abita bear and ate our fresh peaches.
The sun set to this lovely pink colour and we went inside to get dressed and find a place to eat. There were some local info packs in the condo and we spied a place called Flippers. It was on the Bay side of the town, and all I have to say is thank god for SatNav because we would have never found the place without it.
I had an amazing dinner of fish covered in pecans, and just as we finished the band started to play. But we didn’t stay, instead we headed over to the FloraBama, a bar right on the state line of Florida and Alabama. We drank and sang and danced until the place closed, then we stumbled home. RGirl had the good sense not to drink so she could drive home, but back at the condo we couldn’t force ourselves inside. Instead it was a drunken stroll along the beach with a torch in hand, my mates pointing out the hundreds of sandcrabs that ran under our feet.
That morning we woke-up to a rough sea and grey skies. I had a flight to catch back in Biloxi and there was a tropical storm on the way. So we all packed up. My two New Orleans friends headed home, as did RGirl but with a detour to the airport to drop me off. (And then a full two days of travel for me. Bleck.)
Last weekend may have been about work, but I’m so glad I had that extra day. I’m totally bummed that more of my NO friends couldn’t make it over to Gulf Shores or Biloxi, but with short notice I can’t blame them at all. Also, I’ve already decided, if I can find a way to save the Agency – thus keeping my job – I’m taking a full holiday to New Orleans with a side trip to the coast. I miss those guys so very much, and I love that region of the country. The only sad part is that RGirl and R won’t be in New Orleans the next time I can get over, by then they’ll be living in Denver. I guess I’ll have to make plans to go there as well.
Right, I know you’re dying to know how it went with PoshM. It didn’t go great, but it didn’t go badly either. It’s just all a bit up in the air. However, my lunch is nearly over, and I’ve got to get going. I’ll fill you in on the rest if/when I get a chance to blog later in the day.