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!

 

The Blue Angels Are Coming Home

Our favorite High Fliers are heading home this week!  The Homecoming Air Show is held at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, on Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3, 2012. Gate admission is free. Gates open at 8 am each day.The show begins at 9 am, with the Blue Angel Flight Demonstration Team scheduled to fly around 2 pm. The Blue Angel pilots do sign autographs after the show. Over 100,000 people are expected to view the show daily. Visitors are directed to the air field parking from both gates, but are encouraged to use the shuttle parking lot to avoid very long walks. Buses will make the rounds, taking patrons to and from the air show site. The show includes static displays of aircraft of all types, food, beverage and vendor booths, virtual reality experiences and other attractions that make this show a favorite excursion for folks from all over the country. There will be a Kids’ Zone, virtual games and bungee jump to entertain children of all ages. For those who have never attended an air show, be advised the aircraft can be VERY noisy and young children need protection for their ears. It can also be windy on the tarmac and layers of clothes are recommended. Patrons may bring blankets and chairs, however, no coolers, backpacks, food, drinks or pets are allowed. (Baby and infant needs are allowed – but no glass bottles) Small camera and diaper bags are allowed but subject to search. A handicap area is set aside for wheelchairs and an accompaniest only.
Admission: Gate admission is free. Bleacher seating is available for pricing and to buy tickets visit Blue Angels Website .  https://www.naspairshow.com/

Fort Morgan Ship Wreck

A must see while you are here was recently unearthed during Hurricane Isaac.  Hal Scheurich recently wrote the article below for Fox10tv.com.  Be sure to visit the ship while you are here.  It will be covered up again soon! 

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) – Only a shell of what she once was, the 150 foot sailing vessel thought to be the Rachael, is attracting attention again on Fort Morgan.  Word had spread that the storm surge from Hurricane Isaac had uncovered her once again and plenty of folks came with their cameras.

The Rachael was an early 20 th century schooner that ran aground.  Buried for decades, hurricanes expose what’s left of the vessel every few years.

“It’s just something that you really have to go see,” said Adriana Mutan as she walked around the burnt wreckage taking pictures.  “I mean, I’ve seen so many pictures…heard so many stories and now I’ve seen it.”

According to the Alabama Historical Commission, the three mast schooner met her fate in 1930 while carrying a load of timber.  Commission archeologists Amanda Hill said the belief is the vessel ran into a storm and had too few crew aboard to maintain control.  According to interviews with witnesses that were alive at the time of the wreck, the ship was looted of its cargo and set on fire.

The ship has been exposed several times over the decades from beach erosion during hurricanes.  The last time was during hurricane Ike several years ago.  There was always speculation as to its origin.  Many even thought it may have been a blockade runner during the Civil War.  Assistant Professor, Greg Cook of the University of West Florida helped put those rumors to bed after doing a study of the vessel in 2008.

He noted that many of the riggings were post Civil War and dated to the early 20 th century.  After some more digging, it’s believed that the Rachael was designed and built in Moss Point, MS in 1919.

Billy Berrey grew up in Gulf Shores and remembers seeing the ship as a child.  It’s now closer in than ever and he’s worried about the amount of attention it gets.

“I’ve always thought it would be kind of cool for them to excavate this thing and move it…preserve what they can and take it to the museum,” said Berrey.  “The last time it was uncovered, people were pulling things off of it.”

There is a problem.  The ship now rests on private property and the folks that own the homes are concerned about liability in the event someone gets hurt by the wreckage.  They would like to see, at very least, the ship covered up.

The Alabama Historical Commission looked into that after hurricane Ike but found that it would cost too much to do anything with it and since it’s on private property, the owners would have to foot the bill.  They did say they would assist if someone else funded the effort. 

For now, the ship will sit until Mother Nature decides to cover her back up once again.  Owners just ask that sightseers like Dusty Bones and his family respect their property while they visit.

“We really like history.  We like going to see things like the Battleship and stuff like that, so to see a piece of this is really interesting.”

Although much is now known about the ship than just a few years ago, there is still much mystery and intrigue.  Who was on board and where were they going?  Was it a hurricane or just a bad storm that caused her to run aground?  They’re all questions that keep visitors coming to the little stretch of beach with they’re cameras ready to capture a little piece of

LA Adventures: A Guide To Lower Alabama

A walk on the beach, glass blowing, animal adventures an shrimping intrepid journalist, Jordan Rayne, was intent on discovering all that south Alabama had to offer.   I believe Rayne accomplished this feat in just a few days!  The trip started with a promise to keep everything about Lower Alabama a secret,  the recent article highlighting Rayne’s trip appeared in the American Airlines in flight magazine American Way.  This beautiful article highlights hidden treasures and local hot spots.  One of the hidden treasures highlighted is Sunset Properties!

We certainly loved the article as it mentioned so many of our favorite places and things to do.  We were completely surprised that we were mentioned in this article and humbled by the recommendation.  Take a look at Rayne’s adventure for yourself.

We hope to share our secret with you soon!

41st Annual National Shrimp Festival

There are so many awesome things to love about fall in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. The days are still warm but not hot. The evenings are just right for a light jacket when you take that walk on the beach. The summer crowds are gone, and you can cruise right in to your favorite restaurant for fresh, local seafood.
Speaking of seafood, October also means it is time for the 41st Annual National Shrimp Festival. The shrimp festival starts Thursday, October 11th and will continue on until Monday the 14th.  For four glorious days, the fun will be at the main public beach in Gulf Shores with mouth-watering shrimp and other seafood treats as well as traditional festival favorites, fine art, crafts, live music on two stages, children’s activities and so much more.

There is also a 5 k you can participate in!  The history of the Annual National Shrimp Festival Run dates back to 1977. Having its start as a 5 mile race that started and ended at Bayou Village in Gulf Shores, AL. Over the years the race has made many transitions, even taking a temporary leave of absence in 2010.

The race is an officially sanctioned event of the Annual National Shrimp Festival, produced by the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce. Working with a strong group of dedicated volunteers, the 2012 Annual National Shrimp Festival 10K Run is planning the best event to date!

All net proceeds of the Run will be donated to Coastal Baldwin Education Enrichment, benefiting the local Gulf Shores & Orange Beach public schools. 

There is so much to do and see!  Be sure to book your condo soon.  See ya there!

Hurricane Isaac Aug. 29 10 am

We had a few updates from the beach.  All properties seem to fine a t first glance.  Our maintenance guys were able to get through the high water to take a look at things.  The power is back on for now at the end of the island and Becky will be in touch with you if you are coming in today.  Isaac has stalled a bit so we still have highwater on the road for a little longer.  Be sure to check out our Facebook fan page for current updates at  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sunset-Properties/5872428286

Thanks to Becky, Jim, Mark & Kathy for all of your above and beyond work during the storm!

Hurricane Isaac Aug. 28, 4 PM

Hi Everyone,

This is your update for Tuesday Afternoon.  At this time all of our staff are in their personal homes or with family.  We are seeing bands of heavy rain and wind come by every 3 to 4 hours north of the beach.  Below is a message from the beach!

Isaac is still predicted to hit near New Orleans as a Catagory 1 after 8 PM this evening. Be sure to visit Face book for Videos and updates!  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sunset-Properties/5872428286

We still plan to be back in full swing in the office by Thursday morning!  See ya soon guys!

Hurricane Isaac update Aug.27 1P.M.

Hi everyone!  This is the first of our updates for Hurricane Issac.  For those of you who are owners.  We have picked up, locked up and boarded up as needed.  We will be finishing these processes and sending our staff home to take care of their personal property tomorrow.  Below is the most current update from the city.  There are a few road closures pending at this time.

Gulf Shores, Ala – August 27, 2012 – City of Gulf Shores officials have announced no anticipated road closures or access restrictions to the island throughout the day today. 
Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27 the City anticipates closures at Highway 59 and Zoo Road and Highway 135 and Highway 182 at Beach Boulevard. Residents and others with proper credentials will still be given access to these areas until further notice. 
City officials do not anticipate any interruption in utilities; however, the potential still remains for disruption as conditions can deteriorate rapidly.

    Sunset Properties Beach Update Aug. 27

Best Beaches In The U.S.A.

Recently an owner sent an email to us with a report on the cleanest beaches in the United States.  We are so thankful that Gulf Shores is considered one of the cleanest places to visit!  Take a look below!

Editor’s note: On the list of 5-star beaches, Maryland’s beach was originally incorrectly listed here. It is Ocean City.

Bacterial contamination from stormwater runoff and sewage helped make 2011 one of the worst years in more than two decades for health-related closings and warnings at U.S. beaches, a major environmental group says.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s annual assessment, released Wednesday, analyzes government data from more than 3,000 testing locations nationwide. It found that water quality at America’s beaches remained largely stable last year, with 8 % of water samples violating public health standards, the same as the previous year.

 But there were 23,481 closing and advisory days in 2011, the third-highest level since NRDC began compiling their reports in 1990. That represented a 3% drop from 2010, which marked the second-highest number of closings and advisories since the group started its surveys. (The worst year, according to the NRDC, was 2006 with 25,643 closing or warning days.)

The Great Lakes region had the highest violation rate of beachwater standards – 11% of samples in 2011 – while the Mid-Atlantic’s Delmarva region had the lowest, with 4%. Individual states with the highest violation rates of reported samples were Louisiana (29%), Ohio (22%), and Illinois (12 %). States with the lowest rates of contamination last year – just 1% – were Delaware and New Hampshire.

For the first time this year, the NRDC has mapped more than 6,000 beaches nationwide, providing monitoring, closing and advisory information for more than half of them.

The searchable map includes a dozen beaches that earned the group’s five-star rating for violating health standards less than 5% of the time and for following such best practices as testing more than once a week and posting advisories online as well as at the beach. They include:

  • California’s Newport, Huntington State and Bolsa Chica
  • Alabama’s Gulf Shores Public Beach and Gulf State Park Pavilion
  • Delaware’s Dewey Beach
  • Maryland’s Ocean City Beach
  • Minnesota’s Park Point Franklin Park and Lafayette Community Club Beach>
  • New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach State Park and Wallis Sands
  • Texas’ South Padre Island

On the flip side, 15 “repeat offenders” stood out for persistent contamination problems over the past five years. They include portions of:

  • California’s Avalon and Doheny State Beach
  • Illinois’ Winnetka Elder Park Beach, North Point Marina and North Beach
  • Louisiana’s Constance, Gulf Breeze, Little Florida, Long and Rutherford
  • New Jersey’s Beachwood Beach West
  • New York’s Woodlawn and Ontario
  • Ohio’s Euclid State Park and Villa Angela State Park
  • Wisconsin’s South Shore Beach

Beachwater pollution nationwide causes a range of waterborne illnesses in swimmers including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, ear, nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other health problems. For senior citizens, small children and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal.

According to the NRDC, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed updates to federal water quality standards – due to be finalized this fall – “miss a critical opportunity to better protect beachgoers from the dangers of swimming in polluted waters,” and would put 1 in 28 swimmers at risk of getting a gastrointestinal illness.