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Bucket List: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Friday, June 27th, 2014
Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival Mass Ascension

Cross ballooning off your bucket list on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Up, up and away! The butterflies never came as we gently lifted into the air. Waving goodbye to our ground crew, the scene before us got smaller and simultaneously opened up to bigger views of the sky and ground. It was just after sunrise and the soft dawn light and puffy clouds provided the perfect backdrop as more balloons followed behind us.

The beauty of a mass hot air balloon ascension is undeniable and totally accessible. *Every year, the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival brings balloonists from all over to the small town of Foley, Alabama, just minutes from the beautiful coastal city of Gulf Shores. Entry to the festival is free, and the entertainment includes an interactive hot air balloon display, a hot air balloon glow and mass ascension, tethered rides, live music, a frisbee dog show, kids zone, arts and crafts village, retail marketplace, antique tractor display and more. The festival always takes place on Father’s Day weekend, so keep that in mind when thinking about a unique gift for dad. Daredevils can schedule a tethered ride, which usually cost $15-$20 per person.

*Update: As of August 2014, the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival has been permanently canceled by event organizers.

Hot Air Ballooning on the Gulf Coast

It truly was a stunning end to the 10th annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival.

10 Things I Learned From My Hot Air Balloon Experience

  1. Hot air ballooning is one of the earliest forms of flight, and it is actually very safe. Leave the butterflies at home!
  2. During tethered rides, if a large balloon had just one tie-down, it could lift up an entire van.
  3. You can’t just take off and touch down anywhere. Landowner relations are an important part of determining your launch site and landing place.
  4. Direction is determined with a mylar balloon. To find our launch site, we drove into the wind, away from our predetermined landing spot.
  5. You don’t turn in a hot air balloon. You rotate.
  6. Your job is to help watch for power lines, even if the pilot says otherwise. Beyond that, just lean back and enjoy!
  7. Ballooning is a very expensive hobby. By supporting a pilot with your business, you help keep the art of ballooning alive and well.
  8. Because of their massive size, shape balloons are a dying art. One shape balloon can cost up to $200K for just the balloon itself and can weigh up to 1400 pounds.
  9. Larger balloon generally have a smoother landing due to their weight. It helps if you soften your knees.
  10. Hot air ballooning is fun — really, really fun!
Orange Beach Hot Air Balloon

Take dad for a tethered ride on Father’s Day weekend at the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival.

If you would like to schedule an untethered ride in a hot air balloon with one of our local pilots, be sure to contact them in advance. Winds must be less than 5 mph to fly, so balloonists are very restricted in terms of when they can go up. Typically, your flight will be scheduled at dawn, because the winds can die down to almost 0 mph around that time. Ready to check something off your bucket list? Here are some local balloon pilots and their contact information.

Balloon: Let’s Get High
Pilot: Captain Ellis Calvert
Location: Orange Beach, AL
Contact: 251-752-2248

Balloon: Hope Floats
Pilot: Tommy Rachel
Location: Magnolia Springs, AL
Contact: 251-970-FLYU (3598)

Pilot Warren's pirate balloon

If you were to hold this image to a mirror, it would read “Not all treasure is silver and gold me mates, for a gift of flight be precious. A Pirates Life For Me!”

If you are travelling to the area, we highly recommend you stay near the coast! Meyer Vacation Rentals has one of the largest selections of condos and beach houses in the area, and the search feature has a variety of different filters to make your search easy. How does that sound? A beach getaway and a magical hot air balloon ride. Share in life’s wonderful experiences with your friends and family.

I’d like to send a special thank you to Pilot Tom Warren and crew of American Balloons (Land O’ Lakes, FL) for the fantastic, fun and thoroughly safe experience, as well as Pilot Tommy Rachel for all of his hard work organizing the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival and finally Meyer Vacation Rentals for being a sponsor of this local event and helping to keep ballooning alive and well on the Gulf Coast.

American Balloons in Florida

Thanks to Pilot Tom Warren and crew for the wonderful experience!

Perdido Key Kayak, Barbeque & Blues Festival

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Perdido Key’s first annual Kayak, Barbeque & Blues festival is being held Saturday, August 31st over Labor Day weekend. The two and four mile race course starts and ends at Galvez Landing. There will be solo and tandem kayak races, as well as a paddleboard competition. Following the races, you can head to Hub Stacey’s for live music and BBQ. The BBQ cook-off will be judged by a blind tasting, and all the entries will be available for purchase.

Regional blues artists Larry T. Wilson & Big Muddy play from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by Johnny Barbato and The Lucky Doggs from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Johnny Barbato and the Lucky Doggs won the duo award in both 2011 and 2012 for the regional roundup of the International Blues Competition, representing the Gulf Coast and the Gulf Coast Blues Society.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m., South Florida’s Blues Brothers Soul Band will be rocking the stage with their musical talent and entertaining antics. The Blues Brothers Soul Band is a tribute to the original Blues Brothers with the stage presence to prove it. If you need a break from dancing, browse the booths of the arts and crafts vendors on site. Who doesn’t love festival goodies?

When the music’s over, they’re not turning out the lights. Don’t miss the stunning fireworks show, planned and produced by Pyrotecnico, a fireworks company with more than 100 years of business behind them. And to give the whole event a little extra local flavor, they’re ending it with more water sports. They had to get permission from the Coast Guard to make this happen, so make sure you stay for the flyboarding demonstration! The flyboarder will be wearing an LED suit, so that it’s visible to the crowd.

Want to Participate?
Prizes will be awarded to the top athletes in each class (solo, tandem, & paddleboard). First place for the two mile course will receive $200, followed by $100 for second and $50 for third. First place for the four mile course will receive $400, followed by $200 for the second and $100 for the third. If you register in advance, it’s only $25 for the two mile course and $45 for the four mile course, and they’re giving military personnel a 25% discount. You can also get half-price kayak and paddleboard rentals (that would be $25 a half-day) if you rent from Perdido Paddleboard Company and Pensacola Kayak and Sail at the race location.

Where to Stay
Meyer Vacation Rentals has you covered. The BBQ and Blues Festival special is running through September 2nd, and it include a free nights at all non-gulf-front condos. Search available properties to find out where you’d like to kick back and relax. Mark your calendars!

SEC Beachfest 2012

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Start warming up your arms for weeks of high-energy fist pumps. Begin your food planning for weekly sports-related snacks. Get your voice back in shape to enthusiastically sing your favorite school’s fight song.

SEC BeachFest, football, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Meyer Vacation Rentals, Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Meet current and legendary coaches, play beach games, swap stories with players and fans, enjoy two great concerts, and participate in even more family-friendly fun at SEC BeachFest August 23–26, 2012 in Gulf Shores, AL.

And now there’s one more preparation for an awesome SEC football season: Pack your bags and head to the beach!

Get psyched to meet current and legendary coaches August 23–26, 2012, during the first SEC BechFest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. There’s no question that you’ll know these names: Nick Saban of Alabama, Gene Chizik of Auburn, Les Miles of LSU, Pat Dye of Auburn, Gene Stallings of Alabama, Vince Dooley of Georgia, R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M, and Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee.

ESPNU’s SEC preview show will be broadcast from the beach, and it will include the current coaches. Get the inside scoop from these hard-hitting leaders during town hall discussions with the fans. You may even learn a few new moves from the icons of Southeastern Conference football at the FanZone sports clinics and games.

For some, it may be hard to understand that SEC football isn’t at the top of your loved one’s list. We understand your disappointment. But don’t leave those folks behind! Fueled by BP, FanZone will also host family and kids’ activities such as a sandcastle-building competition, beach games, beach volleyball, touch football with SEC legends, a 5k run and one-mile fun run, and a waffle breakfast. You can even get a foursome together and participate in the SEC BeachFest Golf Scramble.

In keeping with the excitement-filled “something for everyone” weekend, you’ll be treated to two fabulous evening concerts: Celebrate 35 years of rockin’ beats with the B-52s on Friday night, and dance on the sand Saturday night to Grammy-winning voodoo funk by Dr. John.

Each SEC school will have a fan/alumni headquarters at LuLu’s (Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee), Tacky Jack’s Gulf Shores (LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas A&M) or Tacky Jack’s Orange Beach (Alabama, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri), so be prepared to swap stories and relive great football and school memories between 5:00 and 8:30 each evening.

To make the weekend even more appealing, we’ve arranged for you to get your 3rd night free in a condo or your 4th night free in a house when you stay with Meyer Vacation Rentals—AND you’ll get FREE passes to the weekend’s activities (each ticket is a $25 value). Get all the details, then get busy warming up for a fantastic SEC football kickoff event at the beach!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Summer Beach Games

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

“Ready . . . set . . . go!”

beach games gulf shores coast 360 summer 2012

Kids compete in beach games Thursdays at Gulf Shores Public Beach.

Each Thursday through the end of July, ten children between the ages of 7 and 11 will have the opportunity to participate in old-fashioned beach fun.

From 11 a.m. until approximately noon at the Gulf Shores Public Beach, these kids will race, throw, bend and twist their way through games as they compete for the winning position.

Register at 10:45 to play Hula-Hoop, Fish in a Barrel, Bucket Ruckus, Low-Tide Slide and Seafood Scramble. But be there early, as there is only room for ten children, so it’s first come, first served. The top three will receive special awards, but all participants walk away with a souvenir for their efforts.

You’ll find the fun—whether participating or watching—at Lifeguard Station #4. For further information, call the game sponsor, Coast360, 251-967-7572.

Still looking for the perfect vacation place for your family? Look no further! Perhaps a 3-bedroom condo or house in Orange Beach will fit your needs, or maybe a 2-bedroom Perdido Key property is just right. With more than 1500 vacation rental properties on or near the beach, all sizes and budgets, it’s easy to find what you are looking for.

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Vacation Rentals on Twitter and Facebook.

Bands, Barks and Brews

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It’s a public play date for Spot, Rover, Fido, and their owners!

Bands, Barks and Brews 2012 baldwin county humane society gulf shores alabama orange beach the wharf

Bring your dog to Bands, Barks and Brews this Sunday, April 29, 4–8 p.m. at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama.

This Sunday, April 29, bring your friendly, leashed dog to the marina lawn at The Wharf for a little social engagement with his or her neighbors during Bands, Barks and Brews presented by Ginny Lane Bar and Grill. A leash-free area will be available for the furry friends to romp and run together.

Between 4 and 8 p.m., you’ll enjoy activities such as the weiner dog races and pet exhibits. An energetic show by the very popular dance band The Tip Tops will keep things lively throughout the event. Admission is free, but bring along a little cash for the art show, food and—of course—a brew or two.

Fans of Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa will have opportunities to purchase $5 raffle tickets at The Wharf merchants. The drawing will be held at 8:00, when the winner will be awarded four VIP tickets to the May 4 concert at The Amphitheater at The Wharf. (Need not be present to win.) All proceeds benefit The Humane Society of Baldwin County.

Stay with us for the concert May 4—or any time before May 16—and get an extra night FREE when you reserve at least three nights in a condo or four nights in a house. The Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is waiting for you!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Real Estate on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

Sand Volleyball Competition

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Some would insist that the best place to play volleyball is on the beach. We do agree, but we’d have to take it a step further and say that the best place is on OUR beach!

Collegiate Women's Sand Volleyball Championship Tournament Gulf Shores Alabama

Cheer on your favorite collegiate women's sand volleyball teams and duos as they compete April 27-29 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

And that’s exactly what the American Volleyball Coaches Association determined. You will understand when you come to the Gulf Shores Public Beach this weekend, April 27–29, 2012.

The first AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships will crown a team winner from four top women’s collegiate teams (College of Charleston, Florida State University, Long Beach State University and Pepperdine). Elimination rounds begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the final matchup at 5 p.m.

Beginning Friday at 11 a.m. is a 16-team pairs competition featuring the best duos from the University of Southern California, the University of Hawai’i, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of North Florida and Stetson University, as well as the No. 1 and No. 2 duos from the four schools in the team championship. The single-elimination tournament will culminate with finals Sunday morning at 8, and the championship round at 11 a.m.

Junior and adult tournaments will also be played throughout the weekend. You’ll be treated to free live music Saturday evening beginning at 7 p.m. when Scars on 45 and ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) perform as part of The Road to The Hangout concert series. And if you are present for the Sunday morning playoffs, you can register for a chance for free tickets to the sold-out Hangout Music Fest to be held May 18–20, with the winner announced at approximately noon.

CBS Sports Network will be there to film the weekend’s events for two one-hour broadcast segments scheduled for June 6 and 13. Spectators are welcome to view any and all activities, and admission is free. Be spontaneous—join us for this exciting weekend!

Stay informed of local activities, vacation rental specials and more by subscribing to this Discover Alabama Beaches blog and Meyer Muse, and by following Meyer Real Estate on TwitterFacebook and MySpace.

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