A Runner’s Paradise…Sunset Properties

NOTE:  We have a guest Blogger for this post, Road Runner Girl,  Mindy,  joined us with her family and wrote a blog for us of her adventures.  Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!!!

This weekend we headed to the beach for a mini-vacation. You would think since we live on the Gulf Coast that we would visit the beach more often. But sadly we do not. I was super excited about getting in some rest and relaxation with my wonderful family!

We were staying at The Dunes Condos in Fort Morgan, AL. These condos are a part of Sunset Properties and are fabulous!

So after my long run, we headed south. It takes us a little over an hour to get there but it’s paradise once we are there! Before we made it to our destination we stopped to walk on the beach. Unfortunately it was super super windy (I’m talking 25 mph winds) and it was hard to enjoy the beach as much as we would have liked. It was also cold…and the wind made it colder. But we didn’t let the chill spoil our fun too bad. We still walked around, took some pictures, and collected some seashells.

The red and purple flags were flying. A red flag means the surf is dangerous and to swim with caution. A purple flag means there is dangerous marine life in the water. Hmmm…I was kinda glad it was too cold to swim. I didn’t want my boys going into the water with these flags flying!

After we had enough of the wind and cold we climbed back into the warm car and headed to Sunset Properties! Everyone was so excited!

Sunset Properties has several properties to choose from. They have two condominiums that overlook the Gulf of Mexico…The Dunes and The Indies. What’s really awesome about these condos is they have a gulf view from your room…and the front part of the building has a view of Mobile Bay. Sunset Properties also has a property located on a marina…Navy Cove…so you can park your boat and stay in luxury! They also have beach houses available that can sleep from 9 to 19 people. So you can find any type of beach front accommodations that you are looking for at Sunset Properties!

The Dunes building looks very “beachy!” It is a pinkish or coral color.
We were staying in a one bedroom condo that sleeps 6. It had two bathrooms. It had a fully equipped kitchen. There was even a washer and dryer! Perfect for my two boys and me and my hubby!

The condo was decorated soooo nice! It had a touch of home with a beachy feel. LOVE!!! As soon as we opened the door we were greeted by this cute display in the foyer. The boys loved the chair with the fish on top of each corner!

I absolutely LOVED the red couch in the living room area! I told Andy we needed a red couch!

The boys were so excited about getting to sleep in bunk beds. Of course we had a fight over who would sleep in the top bunk. A quick game of pick a number from 1-10 solved it…and Hayden won. The best part…each bunk had it’s own TV equipped with DVD players and game jacks! The boys stayed in bed the entire time we were inside the condo!!!

The master bedroom was gorgeous! And I LOVED the king size bed! Andy and I have a queen size bed at home so it was a luxury to us! And we enjoyed watching a movie in bed on the large TV.

Another favorite of the boys was the private balcony! It was a little cold to stay out there for long but the boys loved going out there and being able to see the gorgeous view of the beach and the pool below.

Most importantly the condo was super clean. The sheets and towels looked brand new. The floors didn’t leave dirty marks on my socks when I walked around (hey that’s important to me lol). Even the balcony door was spotless…no fingerprints or smudges anywhere! The kitchen counters, sink, stove, and refrigerator were spotless. I truly felt at home!
So what did we do on our beach vacation? That night we headed into Gulf Shores for some dinner. The boys wanted pizza so we ate at Papa’s Pizza. It was really good and we had a blast playing “I Spy” with the boys while we enjoyed our dinner. After dinner we headed back to the condo and the boys watched a movie in bed and so did me and Andy! Perfect relaxation!
After a wonderful night of rest (that bed was so comfy) I got dressed for a quick recovery run! I was a little sore from Saturday’s 12 miles but I couldn’t resist running along the beach! The scenery was breathtaking along the road! And the road was perfect for running! There isn’t a whole lot of traffic and there is a wide enough space on the side of the road for runners or cyclists.
You can see our condo behind me!
The condo is set back about 300 yards from the Gulf of Mexico so there is a nice little road to walk (or in the peak season you can ride their golf cart limousine) to get to the private beach. Well forget walking…I ran it! You can see The Indies condo building behind me and all the beach houses all around me. The Dunes community is so gorgeous!
Then of course I took my route out onto the actual sand. I’ve never run on the sand before…it is really hard lol! If it had been warmer I would have definitely run barefoot! It was awesome hearing the waves as I ran!
I ended up only running a mile…but it was the perfect recovery run. And I couldn’t have asked for a better place to run!!!
There are also several trails I saw along Fort Morgan Road. Next time I would like to check those out!
After my run we headed to explore Fort Morgan. Yes there is an actual Fort about 1.5 miles down the road from the condo! The boys had a blast exploring the fort and learning some history of our area!
Overall, our stay at Sunset Properties was amazing! We will definitely stay here again! And as a runner this is the perfect place to stay! You can run on the road, on trails, and on the beach!
I would love to bring some of my Sole2Soul Sisters here for a “run retreat!” It would be so much fun to relax and run in a different place!
If you are ever looking for somewhere to visit and stay on the Alabama Gulf Coast then definitely check out Sunset Properties! I know they will have what you are looking for! I highly recommend them!
In addition to their website, be sure to check out Sunset Properties on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+!
Disclaimer: I received a free night’s stay through Sunset Properties. I received no other compensation. All opinions in the above post are mine and mine alone!
 
Mindy

Top 5 Beaches or Cruise for your vacation???

Thanks to AL.com for the information on our beautiful area being rated as one of the Top 5 Gulf Coast Beaches.  While we were celebrating this wonderful accolade the disabled cruise ship the Carnival Triumph was being towed past us at the end of the island carrying 4000 vacationers!  Our hearts couldn’t help but be sad for them and what they have experienced during a time when they were supposed to be relaxing and making wonderful family memories.

Our hope is no matter where you choose to cavation that your trip is worry free and full of fun memories!  When doing your considering consider our beautiful beaches in Ft. Morgan!!!  Check out this great article below on why our beaches are not to be missed.  Then give us a call and book your worry free vacation.
GULF SHORES, Alabama — Together, Baldwin County’s beach cities were named one of the top 5 “Best Gulf Coast Beaches” by the Travel Channel.
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach were joined by Galveston Island State Park in Texas, West Ship Island in Mississippi, and two Florida cities, Destin and St. George Island.

On the Travel Channel’s website, it mentions how the Gulf Coast region has rebounded from the 2010 BP oil spill. “Today, the charming seaside towns and sugary white sands are again beckoning travelers with promises of emerald waters, brilliant white beaches, picturesque sand dunes with waving sea oats, excellent nature hikes and ample bird-watching,”

For Pleasure Island, the article says that for some Alabama may seem to play second fiddle to the Florida Panhandle. “Oh, but they should reconsider.”  It highlights attractions such as Gulf State Park, and the popular public beach in Gulf Shores and mentions kid-friendly beach entertainment such as Adventure Island and Waterville USA.

Fun Things Going On In Gulf Shores

We are so proud of Gulf Shores and hope it is your favorite place just like it is ours!  Gulf Shores is fortunate to have nabbed one of fifteen finalist slots in Budget Travel’s America’s Coolest Small Town Contest! We’d love to win, of course, and that means we’ll need people to vote so the whole country knows about our cool destination. Your role couldn’t be more simple – vote daily and include this link (https://bit.ly/VxUcfd) in your communications via social media channels, and help push us to #1. Contest ends Feb. 15.

Part of why Gulf Shores is our favorite place is because our environment is important to everyone who lives and works here.  One of our newest adventures in this area is An Artificial Reef!   As you may have seen or heard via The Weather Channel’s video clips and promotions, the sinking of the Lulu by our local Reef Wranglers is set to air Feb 12th at 8 pm. Lulu’s is planning a viewing party that evening – please call them if you would like more details.  I know we are planning to watch and can’t wait to see our new reef grow.

Other fun nature lover adventures this winter include Guided Nature Walks at the Bon Secour Refuge.  Come join us and learn about the plants, wildlife, ecology, and history found on the refuge.Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge will be offering free guided Nature Walk tours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week starting on January 15th 2013 and continuing until February 28th 2013. The tours are free to the public however a reservation is required. The tours are limited to 12 people per tour and will consist of a 1-2 hour walk. The tours will start at 9:00am on Tuesday and Wednesday and 8:00am on Thursday.We request at least 24 hours notice for cancellations. We encourage you to bring binoculars but they are not necessary to enjoy the tours. Restroom facilities are available at the refuge office and on the Pine Beach Trail.
Admission: Free to the Public

 Of course there are these and so many more adventures to have in Gulf Shores this time of year.  You just have to look for something that fits your interests.  Weather its painting , hiking or enjoying a parade there is something for you to enjoy in Gulf Shores.
See you soon!!!

To Bring Your Pet Or Not To Bring Your Pet???

I am an avid pet owner! My husband and I have two dogs and a cat. We love our animals and it is completely possible that they may be the only “children” we ever have. Thankfully we have people who love them as much as we do who can watch them while we are away. Not everyone has this option in fact many people choose to travel with their pets. I wanted to give you the pros and cons of traveling with your pet for a rental companies point of view. So you can make an informed decision.

You know your pet loves you and if they could choose would be with you most likely. However you are coming on vacation and want to do things outside and away from the rental property you have chosen. Most dogs cannot go shopping nor are they welcome in any nature walk / historical areas. So this confines your precious dog in a strange place without you for long periods of time. This strange place is often a condo or duplex that other dogs have recently left. So the likelihood of your quiet, non-destructive pet not to panic a little is unlikely. We have seen the best dogs damage furniture, have potty accidents, and /or bark incessantly because they were left alone in a strange condo. I can’t say this happens every time but please consider how your dog will react in a new place without you. If these things happen at a kennel or with a sitter you won’t be asked to leave or charged extra for damages.

Be sure your pet is welcome where you are going to stay. There are size and breed limits in most places you can stay. Also, most places do not allow any thing but dogs. I know in our area cats are not welcome because of a federally protected Beach Mouse. In the condos that we rent dogs must be 35 pounds or smaller, there is a mandatory pet fee and your dog must be leashed and cleaning up after them is an absolute must.

We love that people bring their dogs and there are owners who welcome the dogs in their condos and houses. As a dog owner I only want to see what is best for each pet so consider your decision carefully. I know my little dogs wouldn’t do great in a condo. Would yours?

Christmas To Mardi Gras At The Beach!

Each year we decorate our office and Christmas tree in a very beautiful and frankly elaborate way not only for us but our neighbors, friends and guests.  To me it is fun to have the lights up and all of the decorations.  I get to really enjoy Christmas even though I am rarely at home to see my own tree.  After the New Year rings in our tree converts to a Mardi Gras tree.  I didn’t realize many people do not know anything about Mardi Gras.

So for a very brief explanation Mardi Gras!  It was brought to the U.S. By the French.  This is a celebration of, well, excess!  This is a holiday that grew from a Catholic celebration of having rich food and celebrations prior to giving up those things for lent. The Mardi Gras tradition actually started just across the Bay in Mobile.   It has changed greatly over the years and morphed into months of balls given by societies or Krews and Parades. Locally, we typically have a Mardi Gras Parade in each city until you get to Mobile where they have days of parades and the kids get out of school to enjoy the festivities. Mardi Gras Activities are Family Friendly at the beach.  So if you have a weekend to getaway come down and enjoy the parades around town.  At the Sunset Properties office we are much more relaxed we have our pretty tree and we never turn down sweets around here!  We hope to see you soon.  Below is the parade schedule for the area!

LuLu’s Krewe De Lu Roux Mardi Gras Ball
Feb 6, 2013 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
LuLu’s at Homeport Marina

Mystical Order of Mirams Parade
Feb 8, 2013 6:30 PM
Begins at Wintzell’s

Mystics of Pleasure Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 9, 2013 5:30 PM
Begins at Wintzell’s and ends at Zeke’s Marina

Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 12, 2013 10:00 AM
Begins at Hwy 59 from bottom of Intracoastal Canal Bridge and ends at Main.

Orange Beach Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 12, 2013 2:00 PM
Begins at Wintzell’s and ends at Hwy 161, Orange Beach

LuLu’s 9th Anniversary Celebration and Mardi Gras Boat Parade
Feb 12, 2013 3:00 PM
Intracoastal Canal-Begins at The Wharf and ends at Lulu’s.

What Not To Bring To Fort Morgan

One of the most common questions we receive is what should I bring to my beach vacation?  We put a list of what we provide in your confirmation letter but for those of you planning ahead let me give you a more detailed list of what NOT to bring.

LINENS –  We provide linens!  Professionally laundered sheets and towels are provided for each property we rent.  We also provide a kitchen towel and cloth for your kitchen use.  What you will need is BEACH TOWELS.  While we typically have several sitting around that were left by guests. We cannot provide them for everyone!

COOKWARE, POTS, PANS, SILVERWARE!  All of these are provided!  You should have everything you need to make wonderful meals for you and your families.  If you need something special like a crock pot, you definitely need to bring that along.

HAIR DYE  –  For some reason coming to the beach brings out a need for change in our guests!  We see this change most often in hair color.  I’m not sure why but dying your hair on a beach vacation is an extremely common thing!  Not only does this often ruin linens that you have to pay for, it also is basically a waste at the beach.  Between the sun, chlorine, and salt water that’s enough to ruin the best hair do.

INSTANT TAN – Ok Guys, you are coming to the beach to play in the sun!  I completely get protecting your skin with sunscreen!  This is a good thing and we totally support it!  There is no need to bring instant tan and apply it while you are at the beach.  Almost everyone is here to get a tan, so you are all in the same boat together.  So pale people on the beach is the norm. Please don’t bring your instant tan and ruin our linens with it!!!!

YOUR TOOLS – We have a full maintenance staff fully equipped to handle everything from a major leak to a battery change.  All you have to do is call us and let us know.  We will have someone there as soon as possible to fix it.

YOUR CLEANING PRODUCTS – If you check in and you find a cleaning issue of some sort all you have to do is again is call us.  We will have a housekeeper in to solve any problem you may run across.  We pride ourselves in our housekeeping and never want a guest to feel that they came into a dirty condo.  So always call us!

WORK – In this day and age with all of the technology we have it easy for someone to bring their work to the beach with them.  We suggest that you never take work on vacation with you.  Vacation is for getting away and leaving work behind, relax, get some sun, and have fun.  Really take a break even for a few days for the office.  Everything can wait or can be assigned to someone else.

PROBLEMS / DRAMA – It is hard to relax if you bring your problems with you.  It is good to deal with drama and problems before you come to the beach or leave them behind for a little bit.  Being at the beach with the calmness of the water and warm breezes it tends to give people a new perspective on all things in their life so leave those problems and drama behind for a while.  Come back with a new view on life.

I am of the opinion that you should leave your phone and laptop behind as well!  This is a little extreme for most people but keep in mind service is limited in this area and technology only lets people find you on vacation!

We hope you can make it down to to the beach with packing a little as possible and have as much fun as possible while you are here.  If you have any questions on what to bring or what not to bring.  We are happy to help!  Let us know what you think.  What do you have to bring and what should be left behind????

Christmas At The Beach!

I am crazy about Christmas.  My tree is already up at home and I am really enjoying decorating our office slowly.  Our very beachy area has one fun event after another for locals and visitors to the Gulf!   A list of some of my favorites is below.

 COASTAL CHRISTMAS EVENTS
AS OF DECEMBER 5, 2012

To get the whole scoop on Coastal Christmas, please visit www.alabamacoastalchristmas.com
Nov 12 – Dec 12  Santa’s Helper | Toy Drive
Nov 27 2012 Christmas Tree Lighting at The Wharf
Nov 29 Christmas Market by Delta Kappa Gamma @ Lester’s in Orange Beach
Nov 29 Gulf Shores Christmas Open House
Nov 30 – Dec 2 Junior USTA Tournament
Nov 30 Holiday Open House
Nov 30 Taste of the Islands
Dec 1 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 1 Christmas Angel Breakfast
Dec 1 Pics With Santa
Dec 1 Dinner Party
Dec 1 Gulf Shores Christmas Parade & Beach Celebration
Dec 2 – Dec 10 Nativity Open House
Dec 2 Chris-myth Busters
Dec 2 Children’s Christmas Musical- GSUMC
Dec 2 Handel’s Messiah
Dec 7 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 7 Edward Jones Holiday Open House
Dec 7 “Light Up the Arts” on the Coast
Dec 8 Santa Drop at the Flora-Bama
Dec 8 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 8 5K Jingle Bell Run
Dec 8 Cookie Extravaganza
Dec 8 Merry Market at The Wharf
Dec 8 Billy Claus Arrival at LuLu’s
Dec 8 Wharf Christmas Open House
Dec 8 Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade
Dec 9 Christmas Concert at GSUMC
Dec 11 Santa Claus at the Orange Beach Public Library
Dec 12 Friends of the Library Christmas Open House
Dec 13 Chamber Holiday Open House
Dec 14 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 15 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 15 Breakfast with Santa
Dec 15 Santa’s Sleigh Pet Portraits BARC! Fundraiser
Dec 16 CLC Kids Program
Dec 21 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 22 Sail with Santa on Wild Hearts
Dec 25 Christmas Potluck
Dec 29 Flora-Bama Make it to the Line Run/Walk
Dec 31 – Jan 1 Flora-Bama New Years Eve Bash
Dec 31 Noon Year’s Eve
Jan 1 Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip
Jan 1 Hangout/Kiwanis/Gulf Shores Polar Bear Dip

It is Time for a Girl’s Getaway!!!!

I don’t know about you but I am ready for a break.  Thankfully, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I can’t wait.  Between the election , the looming fiscal cliff, the hurricane in the North East and one national scandal after another good new doesn’t come along nearly often enough.  My personal plan is to spend at least some of my little bit of time off helping the economy!  We don’t have much to spend but I will be looking for  few special things for those I love.  My Plan is to not only hits the Black Friday Sales, but do A little unconventional shopping as well let me give you and your girlfriends a few great ideas!

If you and your girlfriends are heading this way to do some shopping this is the best time and one of the best places areas to shop.  We have your traditional stores that are all over the country but we also have Tanger Outlets where you can find almost anything you want if you are shopping for fashion or for your home.

Tanger offers great coupons and they are having a Midnight Madness Sale starting Thanksging night.  I may spend a little time at the outlets but my shopping tends to be a little less traditional.

I like to give and get gifts of experiences, maybe a romantic dinner, or a glass blowing, or painting class.  The Alabama Gulf Coast is a treasure trove of experience gifts to give.  My Dad is history buff, and my Mom loves genealogy.  I know some great places to send both of them.  There are museums where I can find the perfect book for dad or maybe even get him involved with volunteering for an archeology dig in the area.  I think a day trip for my mom to the Creek Indian Reservation in Atmore will help her to add some much needed information to our family tree.

My sister in law is starting a new career now that her boys are all in school and she is in need of a little wardrobe update.  I think I am going to get her the biggest bang for her buck.  There are tons of resale shops across the area.  A gift certificate or two or a preloaded debit card, maybe even cash would be great for her and of course a baby sitter for her and a shopping buddy.

For my little nephews, I think either movie tickets or zoo tickets, although they are big fans of toys like every other little boy.

Maybe a little online shopping for that.  For my brother well he is a little more tricky.  A planned guys night for him and buddies, or brother in law or a trip golfing with some friends.  My husband is the most tricky of all.  He is kind of techie but loves new experiences too!  So I think I will be getting him something for his current technology and maybe a great new sweater or scarf and well I don’t know but I’ll figure it out.

In this area there are tons of unique stores, outlets, thrift stores, antique stores and specialty shops.  Basically you can find anything you are looking for in this area for everyone on your list!  So pack up your shopping shoes, your girl friends and your beach towel.  Knock out your shopping and then relax and enjoy the rest of your girls getaway in the sun!

Alabama’s Gulf Coast: Where Kids Drive Home the Fun!

This is this first in a series of Blog Posts from and article by Annette Thompson of Sweet Home Alabama site.  She has some fantastic ideas for family friendly vacations across the Gulf Coast! 

Some of the best family memories are made on a beach vacation. Ditching your regular routine and setting out for Alabama’s 32 miles of sandy seashore welcomes a bit of magic into your lives. The special times aren’t simply limited to the beaches though. The entire coastal region – the wetlands, rivers, and bays – is a rich playground full of a variety of adventures.

Youngsters will not only like to play in the surf, but they also will soak up the culture of the coast. So plan your trip with a healthy mix of downtime combined with several outings to explore the watery ecosystem and the region’s role in American history. And don’t leave out a few squeal-producing activities.

Surf’s Up!

Until your teens or tots sink their toes in the sand, you haven’t really arrived at the beach. So make haste down AL Highway 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway) to land’s edge where you can slather on the sunscreen and catch a wave. All of the major resorts in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach maintain beach services with lounge chairs and umbrellas (typically about $25 per day), and some even rent kayaks or catamarans (typically about $50 an hour).

Look beyond the high-rises to discover less-crowded strands, where you’ll feel as if the entire beach belongs to your family. At these tranquil spots, you’ll need to bring your own blankets, chairs and umbrellas for comfort (don’t forget a cooler with cold drinks, snacks and wet cloths to wash hands and faces). One of the best sites along AL Highway 182 is Gulf State Park (20115 AL Highway 135; 251–948–7275 map). The 3.5 miles of sugary sands separate Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The park features the second-longest fishing pier (1,540 feet) anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico. (Kids younger than 16 don’t need fishing licenses, but adults do. They can be purchased right on the pier.)

Start planning now for your next beach getaway!  We hope to see you soon.

Enjoy Thanksgiving at the Beach!

The Beach is not the first place you think of to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Let me tell you the Top 10 Reasons to Have Thanksgiving At The Beach!

10. You can bring your traditions with you or leave them home.  Turkey at the Beach is great but seafood is our speciality here.  You can pick up your seafood Thanksgiving to go and enjoy the afternoon at the beach.
9.  No fancy china!  If you come to the beach for Thanksgiving your vacation rental is the fully equipped with all you need for the simplest to the fanciest dinner.
8.  No Decorating!  You don’t have to worry with holiday decorations when you have the beautiful beach scenery just out your door.
7.  No Snow!  Escape the cold weather for warm sunny days and cool evenings.
6.  Swimming on Thanksgiving Day!  Some of my favorite memories are swimming on Thanksgiving with all of my cousins before and after dinner.
 5.  Sales, Sales, Sales at the Tanger Outlets only 40 minutes away. 
4.  No cleaning prior to company coming and no big cleaning after they leave.  Do your dishes take the trash out and put the dirty linens by the washer.  Your Done!     
3.  Invite the family.  There are houses available if you want to stay together or everyone can have their own condo and go their separate ways. 
2.  Cooking or not when all is done you are still at the beach!  Warm days, beautiful sunsets, sandy toes, and salty air.
1.  Great memories are guaranteed any time of year at The Beach!