5.T he furthest west I have ever been was Alabama. Our vacation was booked at the Marriott Hotel in the Florida Keys. The bags were packed and we were driving down the next morning. That’s when the news hit that a hurricane ( I believe it was Charley) that would not affect Florida; would. It was set for landfall in the Keys and possible north of that as well. The Keys were being evacuated and no one was going in. The bridge was one way-out! The kids were upset to say the least! After waiting all summer for the only vacation time we could take, we were desperate! Since we were lucky to be using marriot points for our stay, the Marriott was suggesting other hotels in their chain in Florida, but these would most likely be affected as well. Then, I spotted Alabama. We had never been. The drive, we thought, would be the same distance as the Keys-far, but doable. So, off we set for the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. We had to drive a way we had never gone-no GPS -just an actual map! Instead of our usual trip down I-95, we turned off around Charlotte and took I-85 or 65? It was quite an adventure! We arrived in the middle of the night and our room was not available. What was so funny is that we fell asleep in the car in the lot waiting for morning, and when we awoke, all the tennis and golf players were arriving. When we were given our room, we knew we had made the right decision. The place was lovely and we filled our days with kayaking, biking, sunning, swimming, croquet, crafts and tea in the afternoon! It was perfectly serene. Mobile Bay was our beach.
After that, not sure what Point Clear would be like we had decided to go to Pensacola and drive home from there. We drove along the shores of Alabama and could not believe its beauty! Pensacola was a switch from Point Clear, but we were on the Gulf this time. The beach was so beautiful. We could see the fish down by our toes. No disrespect to our own beautiful Jones Beach, but this was gorgeous. We also did not have one bad day! The hurricane had turned and reeked havoc on Florida (not the Keys!) and the Eastern coast. Even at home it was pouring.
How lucky we were! We walked on the famous pier at Pensacola and ate at restaurants on the beach. Very sadly, after we were back at home, and September started, another storm was brewing. This was Ivan….the terrible! It tore apart Pensacola (and its famous pier) and Gulf Shores and ran on through Alabama, practically destroying The Marriot Grand Hotel. What was also sad was that Hotel was quite historic, having been a Hospital in WWII. We actually called the hotel a few weekes later, afraid to hear just a dial tone, and they were repairing and reopening soon after. Not everyone was so lucky after Ivan.
After 5 years of repair, the pier in Pensacola has been reopened.
So, that was my furthest trip west, I have been to Canada-just on the other side of the falls, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, all the way down to North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.-east and west coast. I have only flown to the Bahamas, Bermuda (honeymoon) and Puerto Rico; we have driven everwhere else! So for our trip this summer, if you have suggestions, I would love to visit the Gulf Coast again! Or if you have another place, let me know-please comment!