Ryan and I, although we live and met in Ohio both have southern roots in our blood. Ryan was born in Alabama and his dad and many family members still live south. I was born in Ohio but my dad was born in Alabama and also have family who still resides there. It just so happened that our work schedules worked out that we had a long stretch of days off together and as with most getaways. We decided last minute to head south and see family.
Ryan, myself and the two girls headed south right before the girls nap time. This time of day worked out really great. We missed any big cities rush hour and the girls actually handled the trip really well. We landed our first night outside of Birmingham at my great aunt Sherry and uncle Jimmys lakehouse. The next day we woke to a home cooked breakfast. Sherry took us on a small driving tour around the lake telling quirks of her little gated neighborhood and how they came about landing their retirement home after living on a farm for as long as I’ve known them. We did lunch and sadly had to head south to arrive at our final destination. It was sweet to finally introduce my husband and children to some of my own southern roots.
Our home-base for the next three days was the Gulf Breeze Motel on Dauphin Island. Dauphin Island is a small, quiet and quaint little place off the bottom coast of Alabama. The center of “town” has the essentials- gas station, small grocery store, church, couple restaurants and a bakery/coffee spot. When you first drive onto the island there are these “birdhouses” that caught my eye. A row of tall skinny houses for deep sea fisherman to stay at. The color palette of the homes help you feel like you have arrived on an island in the sun. The motel didn’t have much online information and with it being spring break time there was limited lodging, so we took a gamble and booked it. In the end the motel offered exactly what we needed traveling with two toddlers. We booked a “suite” which consisted of a two bedroom, living room/common area and a kitchen. We set up the two pack in plays in the second bedroom and brought our own two highchairs. With each getaway we learn a little more on how to make traveling with toddlers easier. Bringing these pieces of furniture have proven to make life work outside of our home and I think help ground the girls in the chaos of changed routines. The motel is a bit old fashioned with a mom-pop ownership feel. The sky blue exterior really kept us feeling like we got away to the tropics.
We spend our first half of the day on the island exploring. Got treats and coffee at the local bakery. Drove west away from town to the strip where all the ocean front homes are lined up. On the other end of the island there is a beach, historic Fort Gaines, Estuarium, and a ferry to take you over to Fort Morgan/Gulf Shores. We took the girls to the beach (their first ocean experience). Hattie couldn’t get enough water. So much so that she would just run into the waves with no fear in sight. (Lots I’d fear for this mama). Hazel- not so much. She clung to her dads legs, hands, arms-whatever she could to feel safe.
Ryans family lives outside of Mobile (less than an hour from where we decided to stay). Ryan reminisced as he drove me around his hometown. Pointed out homes he lived in and where nearby family lived or still lives. I finally met extended family Ive heard so much about and got to catch up with family I had already met. The most special part was watching family meet Hattie and Hazel. There’s something special about little ones connecting everyone together. The girls couldn’t get enough of the warm outdoors and all the family to interact with.
This trip may have been quick and a lot of driving but so necessary. We wanted everyone to meet the girls and take the opportunity to get away when we can. Ryan and myself have enjoyed traveling together since the beginning of our relationship and we think the girls have come to enjoy the change of pace too. Its fun to watch them experience new things and (on this trip) meet the people who care for and helped shape their parents.