Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend several days in the resort community of Gulf Shores, Alabama, located along that state's coastline with the Gulf of Mexico.
I was there along with several friends who kayak and hike together, at the invitation of our friend Dee, who owns a home in Gulf Shores. This photo shows our group as we are coordinating our shuttle arrangements, on the first day of kayaking, at the Highway 98 bridge (Bay Watch Park) beside Weeks Bay. The shuttle system we used called for everyone going first to the final take-out spot, where a vehicle is left to "receive" the returning kayakers and their kayaks, when they are finished. Then everyone re-arranges as necessary to all drive to the put-in spot, where one of the vehicles is left. Then, upon completion of the float, one of the drivers takes the owner of the vehicle left at the put-in point back to her vehicle, so there is "no child left behind". Sound complicated??--IT IS!
There were six ladies in our group, and on the first day, the bravest of the ladies, used her paddle board, rather than her kayak.
Our entry point on the first day was a very secluded, and easily overlooked, public access spot, in the small village of Magnolia Springs.
The Magnolia River runs through Magnolia Springs, and their "claim to fame" is that they are the only town in the continental USA, where residents who live on the river, can have their mail delivered to their dock, rather than their front door! To read more about this unusual and scenic location, visit www.townofmagnoliasprings.org .
I was fascinated with this unusual form of postal service, and recalled all the times I have dropped mail, onto the ground, as I was taking it out of my mailbox located on land. However, dropping mail as you retrieved it from a mailbox on your dock, could lead to some very soggy correspondence!
The wildlife was plentiful along the Magnolia River, and these pelicans did not seem at all disturbed as we passed by them.
Likewise, the pelican on this tree stump seemed to be posing, as Dee drifted past it.
I was eager to give my "Paddling Victory Salute", to show how happy I was, to have made it this far, without rolling over into the river!
Dee, who was our RC---which stands for River Coordinator---located a small tributary to the river, which we paddled into, to disembark for the sack lunches we were carrying with us. The location was completely lined with magnolia trees, which was very appropriate, since we were floating on the Magnolia River.
As we paddled into the sprawling, and less protected, Weeks Bay, we saw evidence that the weather has not always been as accommodating on previous days as it was on the day we paddled. This sailboat was completely marooned on land.
Another sailboat nearby was still at anchor, but almost completely submerged.
One lady in our group was a retired rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal service. She became concerned when she saw one of the mail boxes, full and bulging over with mail, with the lid hanging open. Concerned that the contents was about to spill out into the water, she used her paddle to gently close the lid, and hence protect the contents. I realized later that it was a perfect illustration of one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17) Her job as a rural mail carrier had been to protect the mail, and that is what she did!
Our second day of kayaking was not on a river, but on the Little Lagoon, within the Gulf Shores city limits. We put in at a public access near our friend's home, and paddled across the lagoon to have lunch at the very popular restaurant across the lagoon, called The Original Oyster House. As you can see from their sign, they are famous for their Key Lime Pie!
Our group is raising their hands in delight, that we are having a seafood lunch at this scenic location on the water! The wonderful waitress we had for our group meal, very kindly agreed to take our photo outside on the porch. This is a culinary destination I would highly recommend, and when you go to their website ( www.originaloysterhouse.com ), you will see that most diners come to their location via land, as it is conveniently located on Highway 59.
My friends will tell you I was more than a little "spooked" by the alligator stories I read about on the Internet, supposedly occurring in the very rivers we were exploring. Fortunately, this alligator statue at the restaurant, is the closest thing I saw to the real thing!
This photo shows the sign warning about alligators, in the waterway adjacent to the car parking lot of the restaurant. However , when we paddled up to this location to get out of our kayaks and go into the restaurant, the sign was not pointing towards the water, where we were stepping out of our kayaks. I guess our noisy disembarking scared the alligators away!
After we left the restaurant, we paddled to the far side of Little Lagoon, and admired some of the mansions built along the waterfront. Further down the shore, there are also several high-rise condominiums.
On our final day of river kayaking, we put in at the public access dock Civil War Park along the Fish River.
The "mascot" for our kayaking group is this rubber duckie, and she sits on the boat of the RC (River Coordinator). She even has a name---Ms. Kay Aker!! I took this photo at the sandy beach, where we stopped to have our lunch, along the Fish River.
Since this trip took place in the fall, we were able to see a few of the trees changing color, as evidenced by this tree, which was the same color as my kayak!
Before going on the trip, I had read on the Internet that there was more boat traffic on the Fish River, than on the Magnolia River. We definitely found this to be true, although none of the boat traffic caused the kayakers to roll over. However, there was a time when a particularly fast boat, made one of the paddle boarders decide to "take a knee", rather than risk falling in!
When we finished our kayaking on the last day, we made the drive to Aquila Seafood, to get some of their famously fresh seafood ( www.aquilaseafood.net/ ).
I was impressed that the market had a wall rack, complete with a complementary copy of the "Mariners Holy Bible", and gospel tracts written with a nautical theme. Since the name "Aquila" is used in the New Testament, and it describes a bi-vocational preacher, I theorized that the folks at Aquila Seafood saw themselves as "fishers of men", as well as "fishers of seafood"!
The Aquila fleet is equipped with the special equipment needed to bring in the most popular shrimp (Royal Reds), from the deepest depths, and the boats are moored right at their retail location in Bon Secour, Alabama.
We had one of those old-fashioned "seafood boils", and it was all delicious! I have so much gratitude in my heart to Dee for inviting us to her home, and to all the other ladies who played a part in making this such a fantastic experience!
If you would like to learn more about visiting the scenic locations in and around Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama, just log on to their website at www.thebeachiscalling.org . A trip to this location will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia