Continuing our journey to Riverbend….
When we were RV newbies, way back in 2011, in addition to Florida, one of the first areas we visited was the Alabama coastline, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to be specific. The gorgeous white sand beaches, the myriad of dining options, the fish markets with offerings of Royal Red shrimp and other delights from the sea, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Bike Trail, and the general friendliness of the local people quickly captured our hearts, beckoning us to return over and over again. The last time we were there was in 2015, so we were long overdue for a visit.
Hard to imagine, but when we arrived in Alabama this would be the first time we had seen the ocean since September 2017! Our southwest journey had us totally land locked this past winter – while we were in CA, we never found the time to head over to the Pacific Coast!
Available sites at our favorite Gulf State Park were non-existent – yes it was spring break after all. Fortunately a relatively new resort, Sugar Sands RV Resort had an available site for three nights. Perfect! The daily rate ($59) seemed a little high but they did give a 10% senior discount.
Although it was raining when we arrived and the passenger side wiper was broken making it hard for me to see much of anything, it was still easy to tell that this was a lovely, well maintained resort with beautiful landscaping and wide, well spaced, level sites.
During our brief stay here, we drove over to Billy’s Seafood in Bon Secour where we purchased a couple of pounds of Royal Reds (yummy) and lingered awhile at Perdido Pass where there was a new (to us) boardwalk.
While driving around, we noticed lots of construction happening in Orange Beach. Apparently this is part of the $15 million Gulf Place revitalization project. A new Gulf State Park Lodge which will have 350 rooms is being built to replace the original lodge and convention center that was wrecked by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. New pedestrian bridges were under construction which will allow beach bound visitors to safely cross the highway without fearing for their lives.
Noticeably absent from the landscape across from the beach was a zip line owned by Gulf Adventure Center. Because of a contract dispute between the state and the owner due to the revitalization project, the zip line has been moved to The Wharf. In its place across from the beach is the new Lake Crossing Trail at Lake Shelby which connects the Gopher Tortoise Trail to the picnic area and the Beach Mouse Bypass, a mile-long boardwalk near Middle Lake that offers people a chance to observe wildlife and alligators. Details and photos of all the changes can be found here. The area should be even more awesome once completed.
Now of course our plans were to enjoy a delicious meal at our favorite restaurant, Shipp’s Harbour Grill but we learned that sadly a kitchen fire on July 25, 2017 resulted in the restaurant being permanently closed. Bummer! But the good news is that the owners of another local restaurant, Fishers (we have been there several times for lunch and really liked it) has purchased the property. And even better news is that when they reopen, they plan on offering many of Shipp’s menu items including our favorite, the Grouper Pontchatrain.
Instead we decided to try the Ruby Slipper Cafe for brunch. We debated on trying this new place or returning to the Brick & Spoon which we really enjoyed the last time we were in the area, but I guess we were in the mood to try something new.
The place looked mobbed when we arrived but surprisingly we were seated immediately. Although the inside decor was quite nice, the dining room was extremely noisy! Quite a variety on the menu but after much deliberation and help from our waiter, we both decided to have the Peacemaker ($15) which allowed us to mix & match any two of their Signature Benedicts. My two were:
- Eggs Cochon, which was described as slow-cooked, apple-braised pork debris served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, and finished with hollandaise.
- Hot Smoked Salmon Bennie, hot-smoked salmon served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, finished with red onion, flash-fried capers & dill hollandaise.
Rob’s two choices were:
- Chicken St. Charles which was fried chicken breast served over a buttermilk biscuit,
topped with two poached eggs, finished with a pork tasso cream sauce.
- Corned Beef Bennie, a housemade corned beef hash served over a buttermilk
biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, horseradish cream, finished with hollandaise.
Although both meals were very good and the service was excellent, we weren’t totally thrilled with the noise level, so afterwards we commented that we probably would have preferred going to the Brick and Spoon.
All too soon it was time to depart this lovely area and head further east to Topsail Hill State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, another favorite State Park of ours. But more about our stay there in our next post!