The Gulf Coast at Gulf Shores/Orange Beach is beautiful, and we picked it because it is nearer Oklahoma than a Florida destination. It was a bit cooler than we expected for a May vacation, but we didn’t let that slow us down. Two particularly things we enjoyed actually did not involve the beach itself.
One morning we drove to Gulf State Park, which was just across the highway from our condo. As we drove through the park, we saw cranes but not a lot of other wildlife. We were looking for a walk path, and finally saw a bridge from the road into a wooded area, so we parked and prepared for a hike.
As we started across the bridge, a group of hikers were finishing their walk. They said that they had been told by a park ranger that a mother alligator and her babies had been sighted down the road and to keep a lookout for them. We were glad for the alert and kept our eyes peeled for any sign of them.
As we walked along the wide, well-established path, we saw lots of Spanish moss hanging from the trees. You know it is parasitic, but it does present a pretty picture. We saw several ponds and a great variety of trees and plants but luckily, no alligators!
The other activity we thoroughly enjoyed was a sail in the Gulf. Captain Ryan Rayfield took the four of us on his lovely big sailboat Sailob. It was perfect weather for a sail, not too cool nor too hot, and it was just wonderful letting the breeze blow through our hair and view all the hotels and tall condo buildings from the water side.
Captain Ryan was a very interesting young man and his story made the sail all the more interesting. Though he was originally from the area, he had been part of corporate America after college. In 2006 he left the corporate world and in 2007 began his sailing charters at Orange Beach. Sailing in the Gulf of Mexico for day sails and overnights, he has won several awards, including the 2010 Best Sailing Charter on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
The trip was every bit as educational as enjoyable. Our only complaint was that the 2-hour sail was too short. We would have loved to do that every day of our stay in Orange Beach!