Monday, October 3, 2016

Last Minute Vacation!! Gulf Shores, Alabama

As all of the kids in traditional school headed back to school, we decided that would be a fantastic time for our family to take a little vacation.  We were thinking of the lower rates on hotels and condos, less traffic, and less crowds.  It was completely last minute.  We realized that Drew had 5 more days of unscheduled vacation that we needed to use before the end of the year and we needed to plan those out.  Our plan originally was to use those days sporadically, to make long weekend road trips.  But, we decided with all of the Holidays coming up and Luke's baseball games on the weekends, a trip during the week may be the only way to go.  So, that is what we did.

We wanted to make a stop through the Houston area to visit Drew's family as well, so we needed to pick a spot in that direction.  We landed on Gulf Shores, Alabama as our vacation spot--the last week in August--just after all the other kids headed back to school.  I know a lot of people who have been there in recent years who have loved it.  It's drive-able with small kids--especially when we split up the trip.  Plus, our route would take us right through New Orleans, LA and our family had never visited there.  So, we would plan a day of vacation to spend there on the way back.    It was a last minute, inexpensive, totally fun trip!!

On our stop through Houston, Drew's sister, Erica, took us on a fun excursion on kayaks.  I love Kayaking!  Abbey was the "Queen of the Nile" here.
Luke, on the other hand was not relaxed at all.  My little guy was very concerned we were going to fall in and drown.  He said to me as I was trying to take a few pictures, "Get off your phone, Mommy.  Focus."  And, he thought we were going to run into things.  "Watch out careful," he said repeatedly.  Who was being the parent and who was being the kid here?  Ha!

We also did a little early birthday celebration with our nieces, Audrey and Lauren, since we would't be there on their birthday.  After our short little trip in Sugar Land, we headed to Gulf Shores.

I took this photo with my cell phone as soon as we arrived.  We ran down to the beach and the kids were so giddy.  Drew and I may have been a bit excited too.   Look at those faces on the kids.  So much joy!!  This was Abbey's first beach trip (we took a little trip to Galveston when she was just 5 or 6 months old, but of course she doesn't remember that.)

In awe of the water, tide, waves, sounds, and sand.
Here is a video that shows the sounds of the "squeaky" sand.

We had fun running in the sand and hearing the squeaks. It was very squeaky sand. 

We had the beach to ourselves all morning long, and then would go exploring other places during the afternoons.  One afternoon, we played some mini golf.  The kids loved it. 
We also took a fun ferry ride to Dauphin Island one afternoon.
We visited a fun little aquarium and learned about sting rays.
A beautiful tree on Dauphin Island.

But mostly, we did lots of playing at the beach.   We loved how there were absolutely no crowds there.

Luke loved making sand "forts"  We saw some civil war forts in the area and taught the kids a bit about the civil war.  So, Luke was very interested in forts.  He constructed some really cool ones in the sand.  Abbey, on the other hand, played differently in the sand.  She loved pretending with the sand.  The sand became ingredients for her restaurant.  This video shows some of her pretending in the sand.

Our little mermaid.

We found lots of beautiful seashells.

We took a big boat out to look for dolphins on our last evening in Gulf Shores. It was a beautiful evening for a boat ride. 

They had a big water gun fight on the boat. Drew got soaked. 
While on the boat, we stopped by some crab traps that the owners had and checked them to se if they had any crabs in them.  They took one of the blue crabs out to show us.  It was fun to watch it.  Here is a short little video of it.

Abbey got to be "captain" for a bit.
The last day of our vacation included a short one-day trip to New Orleans.  We were surprised at all the fun stuff there is to do for families.  We visited the children's museum just after we arrived. And we, literally, had the whole place to ourselves. There was maybe one other family there.

Seeing what it looks like to have eyes of a hawk.

Cutest little Winn Dixie Cashier ever!

We loved the architecture there.

And the kids LOVED riding the trollies to get around town.

What a fun little family vacation!  Lots of memories were made.

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