Figured I'd better blog now, since the Seinfeld Season 4 DVD's come out today and American Idol is on tonight. I'll be watching lots of TV.
We decided to meet at Kyle's parents house, because of the reason, Friday afternoon. I was coming from work, so I was gonna be wearing jeans. He said he was gonna wear shorts. Well, I decided to change into shorts before I left work. So when I arrived, Kyle walked out in jeans. He was like, "I thought you were wearing jeans." I replied, "I thought you were wearing shorts." And on that oh-so-hetero note, we were off.
Left Decatur shortly after 2:30. Arrived in Gulf Shores around 8:30 after about a 45 minute traffic delay in Bham. Turns out there was only one hotel open on the beach in Gulf Shores. It was $182 per night. After Kyle asked for a government or Asian immigrant discount, we were off to Orange Beach. There were three hotels open there on the beach. One of them was full, so we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. $169 a night. Ouch. Now I think I know what the Abu Ghraib prisoners felt like. Our first room smelled like a sewage. However, we did entice two hotties to come in and smell it, so it wasn't a total loss. After they left, we got another room, and for some reason, didn't give them our new room number.
By this time it was about 9:15 on Friday night. I called around to see if I could find a restaurant open. Lambert's had already closed. Hazel's closed at 8:30. What the crap? It's Friday night on the beach. This should let you know how sparse the crowds were. Now, about 3 months ago, while I was watching the SEC men's basketball tournament, they interviewed our governor, Bob "tax-increase-our-beaches-are-back-to-normal" Riley. He gave the impression that everything was open for business. Well, take it from me, it's not. I was wondering why there were so few people on the beach, yet the few hotels and condos were almost full. I realized later that the rooms are mostly taken by workers and construction crews. I also figure that's why the rooms were higher than normal, because the hotels know the construction companies will have to pay whatever they charge.
Anyway, we ended up eating at a new place called Gulf Island Grill Friday night. It was good. The weather was nice the entire weekend. Drove over to Pensacola Saturday morning to check out more storm damage. It appeared to be much more back to normal there. Came back to Foley and ate lunch at Lambert's. We got there right at Noon, and there was no wait at all. So there's another sign of how few people were there. Spent the afternoon on the beach, where we tried unsuccessfully to pick up two girls who unfortunately turned out to be lesbians. At least that's what we told ourselves. The water was fairly rough, so I played in the waves for awhile. The beaches were easily the best part of the trip. They've put a lot more sand out. I guess that was the easiest and quickest part of rebuilding. However, late Saturday, during some ultra-intense frisbee, I stepped on something sharp (a seashell, hypodermic needle, or something) and cut about a two-inch gash in my right foot. When I came to (j/k), Kyle had some plastic gloves on and was administiring some alcohol to the open wound. I was thinking, "Dude, do you know what the crap you're doing?" I knew he wasn't certified in first aid, then I remembered, we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before. So I felt much better then. Or no better at all. You can see a picture of my wound below in the beach pics post. It looked much cooler when it first happened and blood was pouring out.
Had dinner at Hazel's Saturday night. Made sure to get there before 8:30. Hung out at The Track for awhile with all the teenagers and cute single mothers. Or all the mothers who I just imagined were single. Stopped at a couple of souvenir shops. Got up Sunday and went back out to the beach for a bit, packed up, checked out of the hotel, then went to Sea-n-Suds for lunch. Stopped by the outlet mall for just a bit, then headed home.
So, what's open and what's not? Well, if there's a particular restaurant or attraction you have a question about, just ask me and I'll tell you if I know. I would say maybe 30-40% of the beachside condos are open. And like I said, four hotels on the beach are open in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach combined. The Pink Pony Pub and Sea-n-Suds are repaired and open. The Track and Waterville are open. The State Park resort and beaches are completely closed. The Gulf Shores public beach was open, but all the restaurants right in there are closed. The Spot and Fat Tuesdays, if I recall, were a couple of those. And there are cranes and heavy construction equipment almost everywhere along the beach. The Hooters in Gulf Shores is closed, which was really disappointing. The Holiday Inn at Gulf Shores is gone, and the Best Western is heavily damaged. The Flora-Bama is closed, which really put a crimp in our normal late-night freebasing lifestyle. Or had absolutely no effect whatsoever. Once you get off the strip and start back up 59, the majority of those businesses are open. So, my advice? Number one, don't listen to anything Bob Riley says. Number two, I would wait until next year to visit Gulf Shores. If I were going to plan a beach trip, I'd check to see about Destin or Panama City. It's a little sad to see so many places I've hung out at and stayed at closed down or gone completely. It was worth the trip just to see for myself though. And the beach was there. That's all I really go for anyway. I can only imagine what it must have been like eight months ago. But if you're looking for people and night life, definitely go somewhere else, at least this year.
Oh, here is a good article about the beaches and rebuilding which came out Sunday.
"I know you're gonna keep turning away. But I've been there and if I can survive, I can keep you alive. I'm not above going through it again. I'm not above being cool for awhile, if you're cruel to me I'll understand..."