Day 1: Bay Saint Louis to Orange Beach
We had Aussie Bites again for breakfast. We took the slow route to Orange Beach, avoiding I-10 except for one stretch through Mobile that we also could have skipped. US90 through Mississippi was pretty with white sand beaches on one side and vacation homes on the other. No high rises other than in Gulfport and Biloxi.
It was a little harder to navigate the scenic route in Alabama; there weren’t many signs for Alt US98. But we drove through Fairhope, which looked charming, and found a nice park outside Daphne to have lunch. Steve saw a bald eagle on a post along the shoreline.
We’re glad we’re only spending 4 nights in Orange Beach. (We split Orange Beach and Panama City beach 4/7 because there was a good weekly discount on Panama City Beach.) It’s supposed to be quieter than Gulf Shores but it’s still plenty loud. The way the condo building is constructed the hallway just echoes.
We checked out Luna’s for dinner but there was a wait for a table outside so we ordered takeout from Doc’s Steak and Seafood here by the beach. It was pretty good; we may do it again. Lots of non-maskers around here.
Day 2: Rosemary Dunes and Catman Trail
We ate the last of our Aussie Bites for breakfast, then crossed the busy 5 lane road to Gulf State Park to the trailhead near Hotel Indigo. One of the main reasons we chose this particular Airbnb condo was its proximity to the state park, where we plan to hike while we’re here.
We walked a little connector trail from the trailhead to the Rosemary Dunes trail, then followed that up to the Catman trail intersection by the Forest Pavilion. We took the Catman trail around a small lake to the Cross Park Trail and followed that until it met up with the Rosemary Dunes trail again. It was about a 5.5-mile loop overall. Very easy walking on a wide paved trail or boardwalks. Lots of bikes on the trails. We saw an alligator, a bald eagle nesting, and two armadillos. Finally! I was expecting lots of armadillos in Texas in January. Nada. Then we get to Alabama of all places and here they are!
Where the two trails intersect there’s a butterfly garden, manmade boulders to climb, a screen house, and restrooms and drinking water.
We picked up Subway for dinner. It was cloudy and cool, high around 57. So no beach time.
Day 3: Beach Mouse Bypass and Campground Trail
We had breakfast bars this morning and then went off to hike. Starting from the same trailhead, today we went in the other direction. We took the Beach Mouse Bypass to the Canal trail to the Campground trail, skirting the edge of the campground. That met up with the Cross Park trail at the same place as yesterday and we walked back to the trailhead. Probably pushing 6 miles overall. We never did find a trail map that listed lengths for different segments. The trails are well signposted and there are signs with maps scattered around so the network of trails is easy to navigate. There was lots more boardwalk than paved path today. Beach Mouse Bypass was almost all boardwalk. Easy walking again. We saw a nesting osprey, a turtle, a red squirrel, and more armadillos.
We hit Rouse’s Market for supplies and bought dinner of chicken tenders, wings, and potato salad from their deli/ready-to-eat selection. A little warmer today, high of 61. Still cloudy.
Day 4: The Beach
Cherry fritters for breakfast. It was sunny today so we walked on the beach and then went down and sat on it. The condo complex is right on the beach. It also has a couple of pools, which we did not try. The beach is beautiful white sand and great for walking.
There was a karaoke machine on the beach. And I thought loud music was bad. The beach here is nice white sand and easy walking, with tropical colored water. It wasn’t too crowded either. Some people were fishing from shore, something we’ve not seen before. We saw a dolphin in the distance.
We didn’t feel like foraging for dinner so we ordered Domino’s. Lame, I know, but it’s a treat for us being able to have pizza delivered. Checkout is 10 AM tomorrow so we took some stuff down tonight. They had carts available for hauling things and an elevator, but we don’t like to be rushed first thing in the morning.
We were unimpressed by Orange Beach. We’re not into high-rises and it’s not really walkable, since the lodging is mostly strung along the beach and the restaurants and shops are in strip malls on the opposite side of a 5-lane highway. It WAS handy being near the state park, so it was fine for this four-night stay but we don’t see returning here.
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The condo is a little smaller than I expected, though big enough. It’s a two-story condo with the bedroom upstairs. Having the bedroom upstairs was as awkward as we thought. We got steps in! It might be quieter for sleeping. At least there’s a bathroom on the main level and one upstairs. We had laundry and a kitchen again too, and a private balcony.
There were lots of restaurants in Orange Beach. Thanks to COVID-19 and preferring not to drive to dinner, we only sampled takeout from one.
We drove our own car. You’ll want one if you stay on the beach along the busy highway.