I woke up at 5:30 this morning in Memphis, Tennessee, and here I am, twelve hours later in Gulf Shores, Alabama, sitting in the dining room of our beach house for the next week, and letting the smooth crash of the waves wash all of my cares away. We didn’t have to be on the road at any specific time this morning, but since I wasn’t going to Orange Beach with the other side of my family this year, I wanted to make sure I did however get to eat a meal there this year, so the plan was for my wife and I to make it to Orange Beach for a late lunch, then go on to Fort Morgan just in time for our four o’clock check in time. We made pretty good time driving, but did encounter a couple of hiccups on the way. We were in New Albany, Mississippi and it was sometime between seven and eight. My wife had awoken from her slumber and I had managed not to fall asleep and wreck the car up to that point, despite only getting a few hours of sleep the night before, so we started talking about getting a good breakfast to give us the energy needed to get through the rest of the trip.
When I was a kid there was no breakfast I wanted more than McDonald’s, even when my great grandmother had all the ingredients necessary to make sausage biscuits from scratch, I still voiced my opinion in favor of the golden arches, and if I’m being completely honest, I still go there every once in a while as an adult, because sometimes, a greasy breakfast sandwich really hits the spot. I got off at an exit that had a McDonald’s and turned right, following the direction of the area under the logo, saying it was a half mile from the interstate. That seemed unbelievable to me because when it comes to McDonald’s, the golden arches are generally visible from the interstate, but apparently Mississippi just does things a little differently, so I drove along the road for a few minutes before dejectedly turning the car around, accepting that there would be no McGriddles for me at this exit. Just as we pulled back onto the interstate I saw the McDonald’s on the other side, the one opposite from where the sign was pointing. Maybe that’s what people meant when they say Mississippi is a backwards place.
We finally got food we so desired and continued on our way to the beach, spending about twenty minutes in downtown Mobile, Alabama, trying to figure out which way to go because Siri, the idiot inside my phone, kept sending me in circles and I was getting nowhere, but eventually we went through the underwater tunnel and left Mobile, where we sat in slow moving traffic for about half an hour. How dare anyone else’s vacation inconvenience my own. We arrived in Orange beach a little after 1:30 and we went straight for Doc’s, a place known in the area for their fried seafood, and apparently their gumbo, according to the flashing sign out front. It wasn’t until my last trip to Orange Beach that I really gained a liking for Doc’s, because I think in previous years it always just seemed like a place overcrowded with tourists, and the one time we did go there when I was younger it looked pretty dirty inside, but since then, my family has one by one come around and now we’re all pretty big fans of the place.
Despite being close to two when we arrived, Doc’s was pretty busy and we had to wait about fifteen minutes before being seated, but eventually our thing buzzed and we were ushered to the back of the restaurant. Our ordered a combination platter of fried shrimp and fried oysters, that came with crinkle cut french fries, cole slaw, and hush puppies. The fries were forgettable, more of a plate filler than anything else, but the hush puppies were pretty good and the coleslaw actually provided a nice sweet contrast to the savory seafood, which is the first time I think I’ve ever made that connection before. The shrimp was good, but not as good as I remember, lacking flavor beneath the deep fried surface. The oysters however were excellent, however a couple of them had to go uneaten when I bit into them and realized there were pieces of the shell inside of them, which was really disappointing because they were easily the tastiest thing on the plate. Two years ago in Orange Beach I think I ate Doc’s three times in the span of a week, but even if I was staying closer on this trip, I wouldn’t be going back. Maybe I’ll go back sometime in the future, or maybe I won’t, but I’m not going to worry too much about it. I’ve got some relaxing to get back to.