4th of July, 3 Day Weekend

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I could get used to this whole 3 day weekend thing.

A couple of the girls included me in their 4th of July/long weekend plans. I was THRILLED! 1. To be remembered, 2. that I was actually HOME that whole weekend.

We talked about getting a hotel room for Saturday night down in Orange Beach, AL. I’d looked at it before and contemplated taking a day trip there myself but I never knew where I could park and the whole production… We secured a room for 6 of us and the plans were set!

And then we added on…. 3 of us found out that Toby Keith was playing in Biloxi at the Harrah’s  Gulf Coast Casino Great Lawn and tickets were $27… ummm duh. Let me just sign in to my Ticketmaster real quick. Oh, and Amy had an in with the Hard Rock Casino for a place for us to stay. Perfect!

Erica tends to always offer to drive, which I absolutely love her for. She also has a company vehicle…. which makes it all that much better. She got a little sick on the way to pick me up first so we threw her jeans in the washer and I took over driving to pick up Amy to get on the way to the Gulf Coast.

Traffic was… HORRENDOUS. It felt like every road was backed up so it took us a good hour just to get out of New Orleans. Once we finally got on the road we kept hitting pockets of stop and go traffic but thankfully Waze didn’t make me get lost and we made it to the Hard Rock…. Talk about over-stimulation!

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It’s very loud, lots of clanging & music (duh) but lots of fun. It was actually a really great and comfortable room. We’d already decided to come back before the end of the summer to test out the swim up pool bar. Sadly they didn’t have any rooms open for July 3-4 so we couldn’t book that.

Dinner was of course at the Hard Rock Cafe in the lobby. A mediocre mac and cheese and a grilled cheese served on a kids guitar plate then sent us into an Uber (which just arrived THAT day in town) on our way to the great lawn…. about an hour and a half after the concert started. We didn’t know who the opening act was so we weren’t really in a hurry. As we pulled up (we were our driver’s second ever trip) I thought I recognized the songs, yup… .Toby was on. We jumped out, scanned our tickets and walked into the most beautiful setting for an outdoor concert.

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A nice sea breeze, I even managed to make a friend and score a beer. 😉 Dad would have been so proud!

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Back to the Hard Rock for some much needed sleep and to try out their breakfast buffet which included 2 mimosas or bloody marys 🙂

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Amy and Erica tried their luck at the slots too…. Sadly they both ended up down $2. We piled all our stuff BACK into the car (we packed way too much for 2 nights away), and headed towards Orange Beach. Traffic was even worse. It took us about 4 hours… or an eternity to finally get to the hotel. It was a good location – a Fairfield Inn and Suites across the street from the beach with a little golf cart that could take us across the parking lot to the main road where we walked across, onto the boardwalk and to a sandy spot by the water.

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There was a wedding or vow renewal happening and I lucked out to snap this picture of the group doing the jump shot.

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While we did jump onto the beach for a couple hours that evening, after the sun went down it was time to maneuver 6 girls in and our of the shower, get dressed, put faces on, and find a ride to a famous bar named Flora-Bama. It’s on the Florida & Alabama state line so you can literally drink a beer in two places at once. I went with an amaretto sour.

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And after being herded from one room to another I came to the realization of why I don’t go to bars like this anymore…. It’s just not my scene anymore. 3 of the other girls were on the same page so we went back to the hotel around 12:30am (lasting a whole hour at the bar) to get some beauty sleep.

Alarms went off at 9 to jump on the free breakfast provided by the hotel, readying beach totes and packing the cars to have our group beach day. Yes. I wore sunscreen…. No I apparently didn’t apply frequently enough and came out a little crispy after 5 hours.

 

Like I’ve said previously, I have turned into my mother…. Super over prepared for anything. Big jug of ice water? check, blankets & towels? check. Beach umbrella? “oooh good call” yup. Water guns (we picked up at Target), backpack cooler of beers & neck cooling thingamabob… and baby powder to clean sandy hands. Works like a CHARM. Yes, we also had one last bag of Nana’s Snack mix & pretzel pieces 🙂

Alas 4:30 rolled around but instead of making the 3 hour drive home, we booked another hotel room in Gulfport… juuuuuust because we could. And Erica found a promo for a free buffet dinner at the casino there if you signed up for the players club.

Let’s see…. free players club sign up for free dinner? SIGN ME UP. We also got a couple bucks for free slot play 🙂 I lucked out with the $15 promo for gambling, so the casino pretty much paid us to eat and play. Can’t fight with that! We walked Amy through how to eat crab legs properly, went back for seconds, thirds and dessert before testing our luck. I came out with a WHOPPING 14 cents. :/

I’m pretty sure we all slept like rocks that night…. I don’t think I moved because I woke up very sore on my left side. Another continental breakfast and we were off to shop the Gulfport Premium Outlets. Did I need anything there? nope. Did I buy stuff? Sure did.

A new pair of Nike running sneakers – the associate was SUPER helpful. Which reminds me I need to take the survey for him, BCBG – top & shorts, and hanitizer (hand sanitizer) from Bath and Body Works…. plus a SUPER cute Mermaid Off Duty bag 🙂

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I was also a little upset that the following phone case did NOT come in a Samsung Galaxy S5 size. Fix that Rue 21!

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The 3 of us got lots of compliments on our patriotism and festive outfits. To which we added sunnies to. I left the Selfie headband there.

We walked the entire length of the outlet mall which tuckered us out. Back into the car which is now piled precariously high and with JUUUUUUST enough space for the 3 of us to sit semi-comfortably. Hangry pangs took us to Olive Garden and then home.

How beautiful the silence was to walk into my apartment. But I had to pack for Tampa… life never stops!

I also could NOT miss fireworks on the river. So I loaded up my bike (and put air in the tires… again) to make the trek downtown.

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I had a bunch of glow sticks left over from memorial day so I put them to good use and then stuffed the rest in my backpack to hand out when I found a spot on the river.

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There were some fun comments about my bike, and the 3 packs of glow sticks hanging out my backpack, but as soon as I took them out and cracked them, the kids starting getting interested. It was funny, a lot of people were asking how much I was selling them for and looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told them I was just giving them away. One dad even tried to give me a few bucks, but I just told him to “pay it forward”.

The fireworks are described as a dueling barge, but its more of a mirror image (even though the panorama photo doesn’t really look it). They fire the same works at the same time to get a double take effect. It was perfect!

Here’s to the men and women that continue to fight for our freedom day in and day out. THANK YOU. #4thOfJuly

 

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