Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. –Seneca
I couldn’t tell you exactly what I expected when I planned a stop in Alabama. What I discovered was an incredible, surprising part of the world. Did you know there were soft, sandy beaches stretching for miles and miles in Southern Alabama?
Sand so soft it feels like flour. And the Gulf of Mexico so warm, you can just walk out into the ocean and go swimming with the dolphins. Ok, not literally with the dolphins; they’re a little further out! But there are lots of fish right at your feet. Taio had a blast exploring the ocean with his new goggles. It truly is a spectacular place. So in case any of you are looking for a less touristy but amazing travel destination check out Orange Beach, Alabama. At least at this time of the year it’s quiet. Apparently it’s not such a secret to Southerners who flock there in the summertime and the population balloons from 3500 to 30,000! But in late October it’s desolate and beautiful and the weather is sunny and warm.
Originally we intended on staying for a night for two, perhaps three. In the end, we stayed six! We also got a great deal on a condo, right across from the beach which encouraged our longer stay. Now before you go ahead and judge on my minimalism, let me defend with a simple, rational cost analysis. It was approx $35/night for campsite plus tax, which is a hefty 11% in Alabama. Clint found a super stellar deal for a condo at $50/night. Don’t report me- but we paid cash and therefore no tax. So for an additional ten dollars per day we slept in beds, swam in the very nice pool and enjoyed the luxuries of living indoors (laundry, dishwasher, oven). It’s amazing what I’ve come to appreciate over the last couple of months! And because there was a pool onsite, the beach across the street and a grocery store around the corner we spent next to nothing on activities and ate in for all our meals. It seemed like a no-brainer and I still felt that we were maintaining some form of minimalism!
So after a lovely week in Orange Beach, we carried on with our adventure and crossed over into Florida! Our last state (for now) on this incredible journey. We returned to camping, setting up at a State Park in Panama City Beach. Our campsite was right on the beach which offered an incredible opportunity to experience wildlife up close. We saw numerous cranes and birds and all sorts of fish in and around our patch of paradise. I have to say as much as it was convenient, warm and cozy to have a roof over our heads, I actually missed camping. Being close to nature, the fresh air, cooking simply outside, falling asleep to the sound of the water lapping against the shore. It’s not Costa Rica(yet) but this is still pretty great!
What’s been incredible about this journey and one of the many reasons we chose this sort of adventure, was to expose our kids to unique and interesting experiences. Getting them (and us) outdoors and in touch with nature and our surroundings. It is truly amazing how they can busy themselves for hours with the simplest of things. A bucket and a shovel or a spoon and recycled food container and they can dig dirt and sand, fill their receptacles with leaves, berries or nuts, build, destroy, explore and above all have a total and utter blast. Not once during all this did they ask to go inside and/or watch TV!
I am writing now almost reminiscently, as we arrived today at my parents place in Clearwater, Florida. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come (literally) as well as a family. We’re all still talking and amicable for one! And in fact we are more deeply bonded. I have witnessed remarkable developmental milestones in the kids and have seen firsthand how hard Clint is working on building the business and this amazing lifestyle. Previously, work was done in his man cave. He has adapted, seemingly effortlessly, to working from campsite picnic tables, parks, libraries, on the road while I drove and most importantly under challenging internet connection circumstances. I’m pretty sure there are parts of the third world that have better connections than what we’ve experienced in most of rural America! He was definitely more patient than I! I intended to write and post more frequently along the way, but at some point I decided to let go, take in the full experience and store the memories. I guess you’re just going to have to wait for me to write a book now!
Although the road trip portion is done for now, stay tuned for more adventure and posts. We plan on exploring the Sunshine State over the coming months, including (hopefully) a shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral in December. And in January we take this trek global as we head to Central America!
In the meantime, I’ve posted some new pictures of Texas and the Deep South 🙂
And here’s a photo of my two magical wizards from Halloween last night.
Y’all have a great weekend!