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Surf, Sand, and the Blue Angels

Orange Beach, AL

sunny 90 °F

We spent the week before we left watching the Weather Channel for updates on Hurricane Irma and how the storm was tracking. It didn't look like it was going to affect the Alabama gulf coast much besides rain or wind. But as the weekend drew closer, we nervously wondered if we should just cancel our vacation altogether. It was due to make landfall in Florida on Sunday afternoon when we would be on the road headed in that direction. Was it possible that once it hit land, it could change it's path? Being landlocked in Tennessee, we don't have any experience with hurricanes so it seemed kind of crazy to drive toward one.

Sunday

Travel Day

We finally decided to pull the trigger and start our drive down. If we saw a mass exodus coming our way as we got closer to the coast, then we could always turn around.

Fortunately, we arrived to a beautifully decorated condo and pretty good weather. It was windy but the skies were blue.

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After unloading our car and settling in, we decided to head out for dinner and drinks to celebrate the start of our vacation. We ended up at the Anchor Bar & Grill for an Alabama Pimm's Cup, fish tacos, and a Cuban sandwich. The place isn't very big but they have great seating outside on a covered deck overlooking the water. It was the perfect place to kick off our vacation. The menu has a very limited selection but everything we ate was made extremely well.

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Monday

One of my favorite things about the beach is getting up early to watch the sun rise and walking along the water. I love the solitude and seeing the few others that are out there enjoying it, too.

Afterward, Eric and I had breakfast at BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets. It was a cute place with lots of character and feline d├ęcor.

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Eric was really excited to try his breakfast hollah - a delicious roll filled with bacon, egg, and cheese.

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We also shared one of their huge cinnamon rolls and picked up more for breakfast back at the condo later in the week.

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That afternoon, we tried to hang out at the beach but the blue skies were deceiving. It was still pretty windy from the hurricane and it literally felt like we were being sandblasted. So we resigned ourselves to reading and relaxing on our balcony and taking in the views.

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Eric also practiced his hurricane preparedness maneuvers.

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We then decided to head back to the Anchor for Happy Hour to try the Blonde Bushwackers that we saw on the menu the night before.

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It was still kind of early, so we had the place to ourselves. The views were fantastic.

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This little guy greeted us on our way out.

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For dinner, we went to Doc's Seafood Shack. As soon as we walked in, we noticed a huge blackboard on the wall that read, "The BEST bushwackers on the island."

So, I had to check it out...you know, for comparison purposes.

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It turns out, that it was the best one I would have all week. We had never heard of the drink but it became a daily...sometimes twice daily habit while we were in town.

We also had oysters, shrimp, fish, and stuffed crabs.

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The place was extremely busy and with good reason. The food was great and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Tuesday

No time for a walk on the beach this morning but I did watch the sunrise from our balcony.

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I had booked a catamaran sailing trip for 8:30am and waking Eric up early on vacation is like trying to wake the dead. For me, this means I have to start plying him with coffee at 6:00am in order for him to be ready to leave at 8:00am.

We arrived at the dock to a beautiful morning as we waited for the crew to get the boat ready to sail.

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After a safety briefing by our captain and breakfast of various pastries and fruit, we set off!

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This is a view of the Flora-Bama as we sailed by on our way to Pensacola.

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We arrived at a deserted little island just in time for Eric's birthday surprise...watching the Blue Angels practice from our own private beach. He absolutely loved it and even I had to admit...it was pretty cool. One of my best days EVER.

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After the show, we went back to the boat for lunch and a little time to play in the water and explore the island.

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Sailing back to Orange Beach, we even caught sight of dolphins swimming around the boat.

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That night, dinner was at Big Wave Dave's for lobster rolls.

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They serve popcorn while you wait so Eric was pretty happy.

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I also discovered my newest summer love...the Samosa! It's when a sangria and a mimosa decide to have a love child.

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We started with the chorizo stuffed oysters.

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I had the Lemonade lobster roll which was drizzled in lemon and white wine butter. Look at that lobster claw on top!

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Eric had the New England Classic.

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Both were delicious!

Wednesday

After another sunrise walk, the morning started off with cinnamon rolls and coffee.

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Then we set off for the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

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Growing up as a Navy brat, I thought this would be just another hangar full of dusty planes with me sitting off in the corner patiently waiting on my airplane obsessed hubby.

All I can say is "Wow!"

There was so much to see and do. In addition to the planes, there are Imax movies, flight simulators, models of aircraft carriers, a hall of honor, and lots of neat displays. The volunteers working there are retired military and happy to share their knowledge with you. I thought the place was very well organized.

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We saw the Imax movie "The Magic of Flight" which lets you fly with the Blue Angels and see how they train.

Eric was happy to eat more popcorn.

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The museum is sectioned off by different eras so you can go to one area to see planes and displays specific to a particular war.

Eric found his favorite WWII fighter plane stenciled with his favorite pilot's name, Pappy Boyington, inspiration for the 1970's TV series "Black Sheep Squadron."

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We also saw an exhibit which simulated what it was like on the deck of an aircraft carrier while jets were taking off and landing complete with vibrating floor and wind blowing through your hair.

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I thought the PBY Catalina was a neat exhibit. It was a cross section of the plane which shows where crew members would be stationed on missions.

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This is a Lockheed L-10 Electra like the one Amelia Earhart flew.

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Checking out some of the displays.

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After leaving the museum, we stopped at the Pensacola Lighthouse which was literally a stone's throw away. Unfortunately, it was completely covered in scaffolding but it was still beautiful. I was wearing flip-flops and told I couldn't climb up unless I went barefoot. That didn't really appeal to me so we just walked around the grounds. The lighthouse is supposedly haunted and they have ghost tours on certain nights during the month.

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Driving back to Orange Beach, we passed the Flora-Bama and decided to stop in. Neither one of us had ever been , but we had high expectations.

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We started off with oysters, bushwackers, and bull blasters out in the patio area.

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Afterward, we moved inside to watch a couple of bands play, but something felt off. Looking around, we realized it felt like a geriatric happy hour. Lots of silver sneakers hobbling around on walkers and canes. I think the subdued mood was likely due to the time of year. The place is probably a lot more festive during the busy summer months.

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Exhausted from our day, we stopped in at Bubba's Seafood House since it was close to our condo and proceeded to stuff ourselves silly with more seafood.

Thursday

This morning, I awoke to a fiery red sky. It was a beautiful start to the day.

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We spent most of the day lounging around at the beach, reading and relaxing.

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Later, we pried ourselves off our chairs for a late lunch of burgers and milkshakes at Flipdaddy's.

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That evening, we stopped in at "The Wharf Uncorked" which was a wine and food tasting by local chefs benefitting the Make-a-Wish foundation.

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Afterward, we capped off our vacation with a ride on the ferris wheel that was nearby. Tomorrow we would be heading back to reality.

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We both agreed. This was one of our favorite beach vacations. A mix of great food, relaxation, and sightseeing that left us with renewed spirits until the next time.

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Posted by tammy_b 20:25 Archived in USA Tagged orange_beach blue_angels pensacola_lighthouse naval_aviation_museum

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