Concerned about your Gulf Coast vacation plans? It’s understandable, considering the oil spill is affecting so much of the area’s beaches and ocean. But don’t cancel that reservation just yet. There are hundreds of miles of beaches, some of which haven’t been affected—yet. I spent a wonderful weekend with my family in Gulf Shores, Alabama, this Father’s Day. The streets were less crowded than usual, as were restaurants and shops. Everywhere we went, we were greeted by grateful business owners and locals. Our waitress at Lulu’s (the restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister) asked where we were from and thanked us for not changing our vacation plans. The owners of The Oar House restaurant in Foley even opened their doors to us when we, not realizing they were about to close for the day, arrived for a late lunch.
Knowing the residents of the Gulf coast rely partially on tourism to survive was the main reason we kept our plans to travel there. Another reason: the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach post oil spill updates on their Web site daily (thebeachfacts.com), and we could keep up-to-date on the real impact to the beaches. Some other reports had the sand covered in tar and smell of oil in the air—the truth was many of the beaches were still clear. During our stay, clean-up crews lined the beaches, but there were few signs of oil. In fact, I spotted only one 50-cent-piece-sized tar ball the entire trip. Once the temperatures hit the upper 90s, I even ventured into the water. So did several other vacationers along our stretch of white sand. All in all, it was a relaxing, successful trip, and we were glad to do our part to support the Gulf coast.
—Tempy Segrest, Senior Designer