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BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals --- An Alabama Gulf Coast Vacation Amusement

The title of this blog should be:

Beach'n'River's Excellent Adventures ---A Journal of Reflection Written to Inspire, Offer Tips and Motivation To Those Who Challenge Themselves Daily To Take The Road Not Taken

In this blog you will discover how "River Rick" and "Beachin' Betty" spontaneously purchase a piece of property near Gulf Shores, on the Bon Secour River in Foley, Alabama while on a carefree Airstream Roadtrip to becoming proud owners of a kayak rental business --- BeachnRiver Canoe and Kayak Rentals.

Follow in this journal to discover how our dreams are nearly crushed by personal injury, natural disasters and financial hardships. Learn of our day to day struggles and triumphs meeting the challenges of self-employment.

Most of all discover yourself through this adventure.

Find the threads of commonality between us --- the desire to live a free life, to be happy in life --- and for some of us --- the desire to pass on some happiness to others.

If you like what you read and can identify, feel free to email or comment. We'd love to hear from you.

Most of all, if you chose to vacation in Bon Secour, Foley, Ft. Morgan, Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, we hope you will consider choosing Beach'n'River Canoe and Kayak Rentals for your amusement and recreational desires.

Follow along on our adventures --- or better yet --- join us for a "Beachin' Good Time!"


What Do BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals Guests Desire?

 
BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals Eases The Minds of Parents With Children
BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals Does Their Best To Ease The Minds Of Even Their Smallest Guests.

BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals' Exclusive Guests Desire:

  • Tranquility --- This says it all. Because of our advanced ages and laid-back lifestyle, the "feeling" starts as soon as you arrive onsite.
  • Freedom --- You want to spend a day paddling with whom you choose, exploring where you choose, for as long as you choose.
  •  "Down Home" Friendliness and Hospitality --- Because you are a special, "invited" guest, we treat you as such and give you undivided attention. We are old-fashioned. You won't catch us texting or answering reservation bookings in your presence. We don't even own a cell phone!
  •  Integrity --- We care about the river we live on and want our business to have a negligible to zero impact on our river and on our neighbors.
  • Fairness --- BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals does not offer discount coupons or other gimmicks to attract guests. You chose our business because you are special. You will pay the same "special" rate as all our special guests.
  • Clean, Well-Kept Equipment --- Your boat, paddles, vests, seats are washed after each use. Paddles are routinely sanitized. Vests are re-freshened.
  • To Read, Review Info As Much Info Possible From The Comfort of your Home/Lodging: We care so much about your comfort we REQUIRE you to review all pertinent info PRIOR to making a reservation!Should you choose to come prepared with Waivers of Liability and Rules Contract already signed with personal identification and proper cash ready, you will enjoy the most comfortable experience. Getting in the water will only be a matter of minutes and we, as hosts, get to spend more time making you comfortable in the boat instead of handling money and doing legal paperwork.
  • A Good Reputation --- You can feel good about kayaking with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals. We have many excellent reviews and testimonials posted on our website. Read guest reviews on TripAdvisor.com and on Facebook. 

Kiddos Get a Kick Out of Being Captain Of The Family Kayak
Discover YOUR Inner "Huck Finn" At BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals Where You'll Have A "Beachin' Good Time!"



Top Five Questions To Ask Yourself Prior To Choosing A Kayak Rental In Gulf Shores/Orange Beach/Foley/Bon Secour, AL Area


You can feel good about paddling with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals.
PHOTO BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- Paddling still, clear rivers and creeks is what BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals specializes in offering. Kayaking guests enjoy the cool, shaded canopy on a hot Al Gulf Coast day.
With so much interest in Eco-Tours, Geo-Tourism and Water Sports while visiting the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Foley and Bon Secour area, it will be an easy decision to choose KAYAKING as a "Fun Thing To Do" water sport.

Kayaking uses paddle power so it is one of the most ecologically sound ways to enjoy the area's rivers, lakes and bayous.

Negotiating a kayak is fairly easy to learn --- especially if you are considering a paddle on one of Gulf Shores' creeks and still, calm rivers --- like the Bon Secour River.

But with all the new choices listed in travel guidebooks and on signs along the highway touting "Kayak Rentals" how do you know which kayak rental will be a good "fit" for you, your friends and family?

Following is a list of

 "Five Important Questions You Must Ask Yourself Prior To Choosing A Kayak Rental Excursion In the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach/Foley/BonSecour Area":

  1. Do You Plan To Set Aside At Least A Half-Day Or Full Day To Kayak?

  2. Are You Comfortable Launching Where You Must Be Transported By Boat Or By Vehicle To Your Destination?

  3.  Do You Mind "Sharing" Your Adventure With Strangers (Or A Guide) Or Do You Prefer To Paddle Alone With Your Chosen Family and Friends?

  4.  Do You Smoke And Won't Consider Paddling Fun Without A Cooler Filled With Alcohol?

  5.  Are You After An "Adventure" Or Just Want To Tick Off A "Bucket List?"   


 If  you answer "No" to Question #1 "Do you plan to set aside a half-day or so to paddle?" then a kayak rental that offers an hourly rate will be your best choice.

In Gulf Shores you may want to check out the Gulf State Park at Lake Shelby where you will paddle the lake, or the "Down Under Dive Shop" were you will launch into a Lagoon. If you have no fear of alligators you will feel perfectly fine paddling in both bodies of water. You must keep in mind you will paddle in open water where there is no shade or respite from the sun.

PHOTO BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- As beautiful as this photo looks, it was taken on an overcast day. Paddling the Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores will offer no respite from the sun. You must be aware that this Lagoon links to the same body of water as Lake Shelby at the Gulf State Park and alligators are often seen traveling the waters.


If you choose to paddle in Orange Beach, consider launching from behind Tacky Jacks Restaurant or from the backyard of the owner of "Paddled-By-You." Both locations will take you through a canal-like body of water near busy marinas and public launch sites launching boaters. Most likely you will get a map to paddle to one of the "Islands" where you can lay out to bask in the sun along with throngs of other boaters/ kayakers prior to returning to the launch point.

I would describe this kayaking experience as a very "social" kayaking adventure.

The water is very choppy due to high boat traffic. There is a strong undercurrent. Winds can be high because you are out in open, unprotected water. You will need to pay close attention to other boaters, tour boats, pirate ships, sailboats and zooming personal watercraft.

Why not follow up with a meal or beverage from Tacky Jacks Restaurant? You will have earned it!



PHOTOS BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- Kayakers can launch from this point and head North under the bridge to a couple of  islands that become extremely crowded during peak summer months. To paddle these waters near this Intra-Coastal location you must consider the wind, wakes and be adept at dodging large boats, tour boats skeedos, sailboats and even Pirate Ships!

You can also rent a kayak hourly from Zeke's Marina and SanRoc Cay Shopping Center into a bay. We've never witnessed anyone launch from either of these locations, but the launches are located where large fishing boats depart and arrive. Although there is a portion of the water that is "No Wake," since you are in wide open "big" water, you will feel the wind and wakes from the large boats. There are restaurants located at both sites so you may feel inclined to paddle after a meal, then follow up your excursion with stiff drinks.

Rates range from $10 to $15 for "by-the-hour" paddling.
As you can see you will paddle in big, open waters popular to boaters.
PHOTOS BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- It will be important to note that launching from Tacky Jack's in Orange Beach will put you immediately in a body of water that is very popular with boaters, skeedos. You must be mindful of large wakes, wind  and possible strong undercurrents.


This is a good "by the hour" experience.
PHOTO BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- As you can see double ocean kayaks are lined up ready to rent at SanRoc Cay in Orange Beach. You will paddle in big, open water and feel the wakes from tour boats and other boaters even if you paddle in the "No Wake Zone."

Kayak Rentals by the hour is the perfect choice for folks who just want to "Tick Kayaking Off  From A Bucket List."

If you are really feeling adventurous you'll rent from "Ike's" in Gulf Shores and paddle the Gulf.

To explore any of the many rivers and backwaters, you may consider having kayaks/SUP's delivered from "Gulf  Shores Beach Rentals" "Go Go Kayaks" or "Alabama Paddlesports" to your lodging --- if allowed. It will be best to confirm lodging rules and storage requisites beforehand. To our knowledge all kayaks are Ocean, Sit-On-Top style. Most rentals offer seats for an additional fee.

Consult a map of public boat launches and put-ins and check, check and CHECK off each tour you complete! Remember: Respect Private Property = R.P.P. and "Leave No Trace"
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If you have planned to set aside a half-day or day to paddle, there are a few options where your kayaking adventure will include a ride in a pontoon boat or being  dropped off via vehicle at your launch site.

According to web info, the "Coastal Kayak Excursions" owner/Captain offers a tour on a pontoon boat in a Bay where you will be dropped off at one of the "Islands" to paddle around. Reservations are needed for half or full-day rentals. This adventure is guides you to where there is heavy boat traffic with strong winds and a stiff undercurrent. As mentioned earlier, these "island" locations are a main attraction and can be heavily populated with partying boaters. These are considerations if your group has elderly or young children.

"Wild Native" of  Mobile, AL ---5 Rivers and now of Gulf Shores, just introduced a kayak adventure on the Bon Secour River where you park your vehicle at Happy Harbor at Oyster Bay off County Rd.6 (Gulf Shores)  and board a shuttle vehicle driven by an employee to an unspecified launch-site up river (most likely Foley). The rate includes the vehicle transport and a $10 meal voucher to eat at the Happy Harbor Restaurant. The website suggests the tour is a guided 3+ hour tour with self-guided tours available. You will paddle in Double Sit-Inside-Kayaks on the return to the restaurant unless you pay extra for a single kayak.
The Mobile Delta is filled with Alligators.
PHOTO BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- It is not unusual to see alligators in Mobile Bay, the 5 Rivers, Lake Shelby, the Little Lagoon, the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores, Phlash Island and in other warm canals and bodies of water along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Although all kayak rentals should disclose there is a possibility to see an alligator BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals has not found one while paddling the Bon Secour River for the past 14 years. We cannot say the same was true while paddling 5 Rivers area of Mobile, Bay. This photo was taken by the Wade Ward Park in Gulf Shores.

Reservations are required. Rates for these types of trips range from $45 to $65 for up to a half day of paddling.  Web info does not state whether these excursions include tax. You should allow for tipping when budgeting these excursion.

It is important to know when choosing your kayaking adventure: All property along the Bon Secour River is privately owned and there are NO PUBLIC KAYAK LAUNCHES ON THE BON SECOUR RIVER. This also means authorities WILL be contacted if you are caught trespassing! Check this link for a list of public boat and kayak-trail launches in the Orange Beach, AL area. 

More information is listed on the Beach Is Calling Blog dated March 17, 2015 entitled: "Where To Kayak in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach"  http://www.gulfshores.com/blog/2015/03/17/where-to-kayak-in-gulf-shores-orange-beach/ 


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Shoes and cares melt away at the sight of this launch at BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals.
BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- Shoes, cares and stress typically melt away by the time first-time guests see the white-sand "beach" launch at BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals. River Rick aids all kayakers into their boats and helps them get their "sea-legs" before sending down the Bon Secour River.
BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals offers "Self-Guided" Summer kayak excursions from our private property up-river in Foley in comfortable, Single and Tandem easy-to-maneuver Sit-On-Top Kayaks launching in the still, shallow and clear Bon Secour River's end.

Newly offered are seasonal "Self-Guided/Guided" tours of equally clear, still, shallow neighboring creeks and rivers.

Since the rate of $35 for singles and $75 for double kayaks includes a put-in from 7 a.m., you can choose to paddle in larger, unprotected, sunny portion of the Bon Secour River exploring any number of  the creeks and bayous along the way, so long as you return to the property before 3 p.m.  you will more than likely return before the daily, seasonal pop-up storms!

If you opt to bring along a separate cooler, you may choose to purchase fresh (frozen) shrimp from a number of shrimpers along the river. You must keep in mind you may not park on any road or gravel or upload our kayaks at any home, on any privately-owned land or at any business along the Bon Secour River. All shopping transactions must be carried out while you remain in the kayak.

BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals can accommodate up to 50 kayakers and is prepared to host private parties, scout functions and other large group functions.

Reservations are required and Strict Rules must be followed. "No alcohol, no smoking and no cussing is allowed ... and we're not kidding. "

What sets the BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals excursion apart from other kayak rentals? 
  1. You will launch from our beautiful, shaded grounds.
  2. Our rates are comparatively the lowest offered.
  3. You will deal with owners from the time you make your reservations until the time you are escorted to your vehicle waving goodbye.

BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals located off the Bon Secour River in Foley is the only kayak rental option where you park in shaded on-site parking entering onto a shaded property offering a launch into a clear, shallow creek you can feel safe sinking your feet into.

Because of the owners' love of flowers you will find an abundance of birds, flowers, butterflies and life buzzing all around the launch site. The air is heavily scented with a mix of sweet floral aroma and faint brine. The atmosphere is calm --- with a quiet ambiance of the sounds of nature sprinkled with the sounds of happy children squealing.

The "green" of the property at BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals promotes a calm coolness.
PHOTO BY BEACHNRIVER KAYAK RENTALS (Foley, AL) --- Every single sprig of Liriope, every shrub, every flower was planted within the past five years so guests at BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals will feel a connection to nature. It is not unusual for children to chase butterflies, smell flowers and see bunnies or ducks pass by.
You, as guest decide what type/length of paddling experience you will have. BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals offers you the opportunity to paddle at your own leisure and explore where you want to go.

For example, you can paddle, swim, picnic in your kayak for a full eight (8) hours for the inclusive rate of $35 per single, Sit-On-Top kayak --- the easiest and most comfortable kayak to negotiate in and out of the water. Paddling Sit-On-Top Kayaks also means you also have the freedom to move your limbs (and cool your toes as you paddle.)

BeachnRiver Kayak Rental's double Sit-On-Top Ocean Kayaks include comfortable adjustable seats for no extra charge  --- and based on total weight can hold two adults and a child for $75 inclusive. There is even ample room for freedom of limb movement and to strap an ice chest behind!

Because BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals only allows "invited" guests onsite --- and we do not launch our kayaking guests from other business properties --- we offer you the most secure environment for your vehicles and belongings. We constantly monitor our grounds for added peace of mind.

We require all our potential guests review website posted information --- from what to expect on a typical three hour tour  -- to Rates, Rules, Days and Hours of Operation and even "Suggested Items to Bring"  PRIOR to phoning for reservation information.

Our "Liability Waiver" and "Rules Contract" are conveniently online to download so you can complete, sign and arrive with them ready to kayak within 10 to 15 minutes of your arrival.  

Why does all this matter you ask?

All these steps add to "peace of mind." It is better to peruse the information at your own pace in the cool, comfort of your air-conditioned lodging than out in 80 degree or higher temps. Wouldn't you agree?

You will arrived dressed appropriately, prepared to paddle and will have little need for explanations other than description of landmarks for turnaround on the return trip.

BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals is "off-the-beaten path" from busy Gulf Shores attractions, but because we offer limited launch times from 7 a.m to 10 a.m., if you paddle until you must return at 3 p.m. you will also avoid busy traffic drive times --- assuring plenty of time to return to your lodging to take in other activities.

As owners of the highest-rated, most popular, family-friendly Kayak Rental business in the Gulf Shores area for the past four years, BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals has become acutely aware of what our "exclusive" paddling guests desire. 


BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals' Exclusive Guests Desire:

  1. Tranquility --- This says it all. Because of our advanced ages and laid-back lifestyle, the "feeling" starts as soon as you arrive onsite.
  2. Freedom --- You want to spend a day paddling with whom you choose, exploring where you choose, for as long as you choose.
  3. An Environment Free from Smoking and Alcohol Consumption --- You chose our business because this agrees with your sensibilities. You sign a contract. We expect you to honor it.
  4. "Down Home" Friendliness and Hospitality --- Because you are a special, "invited" guest, we treat you as such and give you undivided attention. We are old-fashioned. You won't catch us texting or answering reservation bookings in your presence. We don't even own a cell phone!
  5.  Integrity --- We care about the river we live on and want our business to have a negligible to zero impact on our river and on our neighbors.
  6. A Family-Friendly Setting To Launch and Return To --- You will feel like you've returned to a long-lost relative's home.
  7. Fairness --- BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals does not offer discount coupons or other gimmicks to attract guests. You chose our business because you are special. You will pay the same "special" rate as all our special guests.
  8. Clean, Well-Kept Equipment --- Your boat, paddles, vests, seats are washed after each use. Paddles are routinely sanitized. Vests are re-freshened.
  9. To Read, Review Info As Much Info Possible From The Comfort of your Home/Lodging: We care so much about your comfort we REQUIRE you to review all pertinent info PRIOR to making a reservation! Should you choose to come prepared with Waivers of Liability and Rules Contract already signed with personal identification and proper cash ready, you will enjoy the most comfortable experience. Getting in the water will only be a matter of minutes and we, as hosts, get to spend more time making you comfortable in the boat instead of handling money and doing legal paperwork.
  10. A Good Reputation --- You can feel good about kayaking with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals. We have many excellent reviews and testimonials posted on our website. Read guest reviews on TripAdvisor.com and on Facebook.

As mentioned above, there are plenty of kayaking choices in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach and Foley/Bon Secour area. To insure our guests to the Alabama Gulf Coast enjoy the best type of kayaking experience possible during their visit, we compiled this info as a service to make it easier to determine which kayak rental option will best fit your personal style.


CALL TODAY! We'd love it if you'll choose to kayak with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals where you can "Discover your inner 'Huck Finn,'  'Captain your own Eco-Kayak Tour,' and 'HAVE A BEACHIN' GOOD TIME!'"













How To Gently Change A Vacation Mindset From 'Things To See' To 'Things To DO' --- i.e. KAYAK (Do You Know How?)


Most Visitors To Gulf Shores Are Unaware Kayaking Offers Up This Beauty.
There are places in this world you will only "see" by "doing."


Foley, AL --- I don't have a clue how to do that. Do you? 

For the past four years BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals has offered kayaking a nice, clear, unspoiled still-water river as an easy and safe option for a fun "Thing To Do" while visiting the Gulf Shores/Alabama Gulf Coast area. We are rated by former guests Top  #1 activity/amusement in Foley, AL on TripAdvisor.com 
Sit On Top Kayaks Are Fun And Easy To Maneuver
Kayaking  In Sit-On-Top-Kayaks Is The Easiest Way To Enjoy Kayaking.



We blog about the fun adventures we have paddling the area's waterways. We Tweet. We "Facebook." We post photos and funny and beautiful videos. Our business is featured in al.com PensacolaNewsJournal (PNJ) articles and at one time on local tv throughout Gulf Shores thanks to COAST 360 "Island Tv." 

Yet over and again when the question is asked on social media sites:  "What to Do' in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, AL area?" "Experts" and frequent contributors to forums yell, "Lulu's," "The Hangout" "Sea-N-Suds" "Mikees" (all are local restaurants) as a "Do Not Miss" "Thing To Do." 

Visiting bloggers sponsored by businesses and the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach CVB offer up "Top 5 Unique Things To Do" and suggest a visit to historic landmarks, a nature trail,  (a Naval) museums, a sail or pontoon excursion.

The majority of folks on FB, travel forums and other social media scream "Do a Dolphin Tour!"

"Kayaking" is rarely mentioned. 

Yet somehow when season starts, the calls come. Every year I marvel. And every year I pray a prayer of thanks because when asked what made our guests choose to kayak with us, most answers seem out of happenstance.

So I wondered: What prompted me to canoe/kayak

I was prompted (cajoled) by a friend, a relative and/or enticed by photos on ad pages of favorite magazines like Southern Living Magazine and such. 

I am not brave. In fact I'm pretty chicken when it comes to water sports. For years I never paddled without three life vests (I kid you not!). I didn't learn to swim until well past the half-century mark.

Having an adventurous spouse and children who crave active outdoor activities means mom must paddle or be left behind. I do not care to be left behind. So I paddle.

It wasn't until River Rick and I first canoed, then paddled the Bon Secour River in Foley, AL that I realized "THIS adventure is SO much less scary than canoeing down a rapid --- with boulders --- and river rock beds --- out in the middle of nowhere where no one lives  --- and miles over treacherous mountains away from any civilization" --- like those river experiences we've paddled in the past!

River Rick and I have noticed the increased number of vehicles toting kayaks heading South toward Gulf Shores beaches. We make a mental note as we drive by Blue Water Ship Store when inventory goes from eight to six to finally two lonely kayaks for sale. 

We've noticed (thank you, thank you, THANK YOU) the Sweet Home Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar books (pg 59) mentions kayaking back waters as an option --- and on some pages have pretty photos of happy-looking kayakers floating on a wide-open body of water. 

We've noticed the increased number of kayak rental businesses that have popped up. The fact that many vacation rental homes now offer a couple of kayaks for free use with a week's rental must indicate some type of increased interest. Eco-tours on the Intra-coastal Waterway now feature kayaking as part of their package. 

And yet? There are so few mentions about kayaking on blogs and forums.

So today I got motivated to go against all the advice from unsolicited solicitors about SEOs and "rank" and "sponsorships" and ad purchases and I thought to myself, "from now on we must not be fearful to speak and act from our heart --- and whatever that brings us shall be right for us." 

Today River Rick and I rewrote our BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals home "About" page. We toiled over word choices. I stressed over grammatical errors. He wanted concise. I expanded. We got personal

You may have on your "Bucket List" to kayak while vacationing in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach.

Here's the thing: YOU, as a potential guest, or first-time guest to the Alabama Gulf Coast  are not going to know the difference between one kayaking adventure or another --- or of the unique "quirks" of negotiating the many waterways.

Believe me you will not have enough time in a day to do what it takes to compare rates, terms, conditions, locations and the like to make a qualified decision --- and this after trying to choose lodging, restaurants and deciding on what clothes and shoes to bring.


You may read blogs, pick up rack cards, look at pretty photos --- and even get recommendations from folks (who may-or-may-not-kayak-but-see-others-do-it and make a recommendation) but have no clue whether you will be paddling out in the hot blazing sun dodging adrenaline-pumped teens on skeedos (ditto party boats, giant yachts and Pirate ships shooting off loud cannons), or with stiff undercurrents (yes, Ole River, the Intra-Coastal Waterway at the Pass are prone to stiff undercurrents), strong and never-ending winds prevalent on large bays or lakes --- or even waters teeming with alligators (read: 5 Rivers Delta area, Lake Shelby at the State Park and in the Little Lagoon. This fact we know by first-hand paddling, scary, close-encounters-of-the-alligator kind experiences. Never. Again). 

We may not be experts in paddling, but I can assure you: if you are out on a giant lake or body of water without a hat and water and without sunscreen applied in the middle of an Alabama Gulf Coast summer afternoon, you will not think kayaking is so fun after about one half of an hour of it. 

(And if you don't think your first kayaking experience "fun" you are most likely not going to want to "try" another ... right? )

Neither might you think it fun if your first-and-only experience to kayaking is to hop into a bus or onto the back of a vehicle or ride along in a boat with 49 of your closest strangers who smoke, curse and whoop-and-holler about every living thing imaginable, then plop into a double Sit-Inside Kayak to follow a guide you will not be able to hear --- especially if you fall behind, your paddles smack the kayak repeatedly and the wind blows in the opposite direction of earshot. 

I've kayaked in the Gulf. It was FUN! 

But I wore a life vest and never paddled further than the first wave break. I call the experience "kayak surfing." I didn't try to paddle anywhere, I just "rode" the waves. I lasted all of 1/2 hour. I'd recommended this type of Gulf-kayaking for those who really do have abs of steel and whose arms are not jellified. 

Would we recommend kayaking the Gulf for a "first-time" kayaking experience? Not. At. All.

But then, we close our Summer Self-Guided Kayak Tours when temps get too intensely hot, the water is not optimal (especially after torrential rains) and cancel Off-Season Guided Kayak Tours if winds are greater than 10 mph and temps are lower than 60 degrees.  

Why do we cancel when others don't, you ask

Because we learned the hard way that no matter how wonderful the experience we think the adventure, if guests get wet and cold and they have to paddle hard to get to a destination, it is the antithesis of what we want to be known for: a comfortable and tranquil way to enjoy the water.

We want you, our guests, to have the very best of all possible kayaking experiences --- first-timers or not. 

After four years of "experimentation," interactions with guests and listening to their feedback, we have come to realize the best way we can facilitate a good paddling experience is to employ these tactics:

1) We "help" you to have the best possible kayaking experience by requiring you and all your kayaking guests familiarize yourselves with our adventure PRIOR to making a reservation (hence there are few "surprises");

2) We limit our "put-in" hours to ensure our guests enjoy the coolest temps and safest time to paddle during hot summers (early a.m. --- this way you can return prior to almost daily afternoon storms);

3) For your added comfort and safety, and to differentiate our experience from other kayak rentals, we enforce non-negotiable "rules" (we want to be good stewards of our river and not pollute with noise or with trash).
 
Here's the thing: We live on the body of water we put our guests in. We chose to live on this body of water because we especially love it and want to preserve the unique treasure that it is. We feel we must be a responsible gateway to allow only those folks who are as conscientious as we are access through our property. 

So here is our new home page. It speaks to you personally. River Rick and I hope that you will feel our sincerest desire for you to understand where we come from.

And mostly? 

We hope you will make a decision to "DO" this kayaking thing --- with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals of course!

http://beachnriverkayakrentals.com/ 

Remember to Respect Private Property (R.P.P.) On The Bon Secour River
The water under this bridge connecting to a private island is yours to enjoy by kayak --- respectfully, to pass through.

Kayaking Is a Great Way To Discover Nature Like You've Never Seen It


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Foley, AL --- Many guests that visit the Alabama Gulf Coast area marvel at the wildlife and sea birds while enjoying the beaches. Herons are frequently seen catching fish and stalking the shoreline for their next meal. But how many times do you get a chance to see a mama feeding her young? Taking nature tours off the beach can offer such unique opportunities.

Recent kayaking guests Dr. and Marlene Johnts of Northern Alabama rented kayaks from BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals, Foley, AL in search of peace, quiet and adventure paddling the Bon Secour River located just 10 minutes North of Gulf Shores, AL. They marveled at the beauty of the water and of the gorgeous wild flowers. They took photos of a heron's nest found high in the indigenous pine tree and of this native orchid.

Pictured above is a heron in nest and wild native orchids along the river banks of the Bon Secour River located in Foley, AL. (photo courtesy Dr. and Marlene Johnts.)

BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals Hosts First International Guests From Bulgaria

--- FOLEY, AL (shown from left: Petya Nedeva and Vladimir Donchev from Bulgaria). Beachnriver Kayak Rentals is proud to announce our first International guests for the year --- Nadya Nedeva, Petya Nedeva and Vladimir Donchev from Bulgaria. Petya and Vladimir visited the Gulf Shores, AL area the past two weeks and chose to end their adventures kayaking the Bon Secour River with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals.
The bubbly and energetic Nadya said they enjoyed kayaking the Bon Secour River because it is so scenic, easy to paddle and relaxing. They considered kayaking after watching "Island TV" and observing  others kayak on the Gulf but ultimately chose BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals saying jokingly, "We came to RELAX!"

Although today is their last day visiting Gulf Shores, Alabama they said they had a wonderful time and challenged their friends to consider kayaking with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals adding, "they don't know what they're missing."

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Guy Fieri Helps Promote Gulf Shores, AL By Attending "Supper On The Sand"

One year after the worst environmental catastrophe to befall the Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores, AL offers up a "Supper On The Sand" celebration to thank those who dedicated their time, money and energy toward bringing the Alabama Gulf Coast region toward "wholeness" and to tell the world "We're Back" and our seafood is wonderful to eat.

To bring national awareness to the Alabama Gulf Coast Chef Pete Blohme, owner of Panini Pete's in Fairhope, invited Guy Fieri, New York Times best selling cookbook author, restauranteur and host of Food Network's "Diners, Drive-In's and Dives," to attend the event to lend his stamp of approval that Alabama seafood is not only safe but good to eat.

Watch this video and get excited at the prospect Gulf Shores, AL might host "Supper On The Sand" as an annual event.

To read more about this historic gathering check out Third Coast Cuisine blog: http://www.thirdcoastcuisine.com/2011/04/guy-fieri-helps-celebrate-gulf-oil.html

Celebrity Chef Stuart Reb Donald Pledges A Portion Of The Proceeds Of His Latest Cookbook To Aid Clean-up of the Gulf Oil Spill: http://www.thirdcoastcuisine.com/p/cookbook.html

To read more about the future of the Gulf and to learn what you can do to help: http://healthygulf.org/

Better yet --- pick up the phone to reserve your next vacation on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

.... Are you calling yet? Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Info




"Hope On The Horizon" Says Dr. Guy Harvey ... But "It Takes Cash To Care"

Billy's Seafood Market On Bon Secour River, Bon Secour , AL Is Beautiful At Sunset.
JOURNAL ---  The photos above are of Billy's Seafood --- the only open air fish market located at the end of the road of a quaint fishing village of Bon Secour, just 15 or so miles NW of Gulf Shores, AL. The photos were taken at sunset--- a particularly beautiful time on the Bon Secour River.

The Workers At Billy's Seafood Market, Bon Secour, AL Are Helpful And Will Help You Make Selections.
The appeal of Billy's Seafood Market lies in the imperfections of the place. Billy's is basically a wooden shack perched on the water. The parking lot and bank are made of cast off oyster shells. The workers have names like "Bubba" and some sport mullets (the hairstyle) along with their white shrimping boots. Large shrimping boats dock in and around Billy's to unload their catch. 

Billy's Seafood Market In Bon Secour, AL Is The Only Open-Air Seafood Market Located On The Bon Secour River. Shrimpers Deliver Their Catch To Billy's Market And To Other Waterfront Markets Along The River.
The place smells fishy. It is not air-conditioned, yet fish and shrimp are nicely displayed on ice. That it still stands is a testimony of owner Billy Parks who has re-built after Hurricane Ivan  --- despite not having insurance. In my mind, it is one of the best and wholehearted reasons why I am hopelessly in love with where I live.



This place is filled with resilient "overcomers."



But Park's business/livlihood, along with countless other businesses (like ours), is struggling to survive after the BP oil spill attacked our coast.
Signs On Cty Rd 10 Foley, AL Direct Guests To Plenty Of Fresh Seafood.


Tourists To Gulf Shores, AL Hired Shrimping Charters Prior To BP Oil Spill.

The Captain's Galley On The Bon Secour River Was A Favored Restaurant To Enjoy Seafood Prior To BP Oil Spill

Up the road a bit The Captain's Galley --- a restaurant that has been in business for the past 25 years (except to rebuild after the past three hurricanes: Ivan, Dennis, Katrina) is now closed due to lack of customers --- thanks to the BP oil mess killing our tourism business. Report from Locust Fork News of Captain's Galley Closure

The Captain's Galley Has Been A Foley, AL  Business For 25 Years But Did Not Survive BP Oil Spill.
Countless other businesses are teetering on financial failure and the local news media has daily coverage of one business owner or another who says they may not survive until the end of the month --- yet alone the entire winter season. (I consider them the lucky ones --- at least their stories get picked up on the wires and get regional and national attention --- which may in fact boost their business. The businesses who are obscure from media attention will suffer most.)



These days are a real test for any "overcomer" and it takes shear will-power to remain "positive" in thinking --- especially when successful and long-standing businesses are falling like dominoes all around.




I was listening to a Joss Stone song earlier this morning, "The Choking Kind," and the lyrics "you can kill ... with a knife or you can take her pride" choked me up. "How true, I thought." Although the song had nothing to do with oil spills or financial struggles it got me to thinking about what has been the worst part of this whole BP mess --- the assault on our region's pride.


I get a knot in my throat when I think of how pristine our little Gulf Shores was prior to the oil spill.

As You Walk Gulf Shores, AL Beaches You Are Struck By Beauty Of Sugary White Sand.
Aside from having the whitest sandy beaches in the country, we are home to countless endangered species and a refuge for so many others.  Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Cleaning oil from Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Freshly Caught Shrimp Bon Secour, AL.
Oysters Served "Nude" Wintzells, Orange Beach, AL
The pride in our area is almost palpable. You don't just eat a plate full of raw oysters --- you are eating potentially the catch of the day from some happy local oyster man.

Royal Red Shrimp Are An Alabama Gulf Coast Pride.
Signs suggesting tourists buy "Alabama Wild Shrimp" were put up to help the industry --- yes --- but they are the Gulf Coast's bragging right. Our "Royal Reds" are a unique specialty that taste like lobster and come from no other place on the planet.


Our Gulf Shores tourism didn't rise on the backs of theme parks, high rise entertainment centers or the glitzy glamour found along many coastal areas.

Fishing Alabama's Gulf Coast At Gulf Shores Is A Favorite Pastime.
Our appeal was as a laid back "natural" destination --- a fishing destination --- a place to take the family to bathe in all of God's natural glory --- the kind of thing that some tourists long for but never get to see once the filter of commercialization sets in.


Speaking for myself, I didn't fall in love with Gulf Shores/Orange Beach because of nearby outlets and malls and proximity to numerous chains found in many "destination towns." I fell in love with the area because of the many "mom and pops" along the one road Hwy (59) and beach boulevard. 

You Can See Gulf Shores Beach Boulevard From The Inside Of This Popular Souvenir Shop.
In my mind these type businesses are what gives the "character" and charm to the area. It is not a forced "theme" park imposed feeling --- it is the "real thing" --- and the "character" comes from the owner's stamina to survive years of struggle forging a living where sand, water and wind continuously impose their will to overcome. 

This Photo Of A Rainbow Was Taken After A Gulf Shores, AL Storm.
You can't buy this type of  "feeling." 

"You Have No Events Scheduled Today"

OPINION --- For the past week these are the words I read when opening my email, "you have no events scheduled today." 
This is not a comforting statement to an owner of a kayak rental business catering to tourists.

The phone has not rung in the past week (except for one caller who I referred to a river tubing business on account they had two small children I couldn't accommodate).

In fact, everything I said that might happen in my last blog post seems to be happening. 

Can you guess why I posted the above photo? I posted it to show the lack of traffic traveling South on Hwy 59 toward Gulf Shores, AL. This photo represents the first time hubby and I were able to drive South toward Gulf Shores beaches during peak summer tourist season and have the highway virtually to ourselves. 

This is not a good thing folks. 

We, like most "locals" travel back roads to do our business so as not to get bottle necked in tourist traffic. We may have complained. Alright we did complain ... at times ... and for that ... I repent. 

In fact, right about now hubby and I wish we could take back every inconvenience we endured during summer "tourist" season because we  (I'm sure other local business owners would agree) would rather have "too much" business than have NONE. 

We are ever so grateful to the loving and kind visitors who have kept their plans to vacation on Alabama's Gulf Shores despite the scary images shown nightly on TV. 

For every home/condo/hotel rented, for every meal eaten, for every dollar spent in our gift stores and yes, for every fishing/kayaking/tubing/sailing adventure taken --- maybe one less teacher will lose a job, one less business will shut down, one less home will be put up for sale. 

I've been closely reading and participating in the threads on the Alabama Gulf Coast Facebook Wall. For the most part guests are sympathetic. Many "friends" ask in what ways they can help and several offer condolences.

But there are a few who smell the blood in the streets. 

These "friends" insist everything be discounted to free with the disclaimer "after all we are choosing to support you and your community by our presence." Some have gone so far as to suggest a for profit amusement park offer their facility to guests for free ("their losses will be re-reimbursed by BP --- all they have to do is file a claim," they argue).

While I'm the first person to admit I am a bargain hunter (and free is quite a driving bargain) my mind kicks into empathy whenever I hear of an area devastated by a disaster. My sympathetic heart (which has endured now three major floods, hurricanes, a devastating ice storm, a fire and business losses due to an ailing economy) engages in ways seeking to support communities I'm fond of by breaking my "vacation" bank. 

Although Hurricane Katrina damaged some local areas, our beloved Gulf Shores was mostly spared a direct hit. We knew our neighbors in Biloxi, MS were devastated. We also observed their nominal National media coverage compared to that of  New Orleans, LA. 

Hubby and I made trips to eat at open (read: struggling) Biloxi restaurants and play in the casinos. The town was a mess. Roads were closed and there were several detours. Debris was still in yards. Buildings were barely standing. Century old live oaks were missing from the well known boulevard. The lighthouse leaned. In essence --- the landscape was not a pretty sight. 

Discounts nor aesthetics factored into our decision to try to support their economy. We simply wanted to use our (hard earned) dollars to support an ailing neighbor. 

Trust me, I understand those who say this oil spill mess is a different scenario. I agree the presence of oil on our beaches is disgusting, probably toxic and can have a negative effect on a person's health if inhaled/touched. To those who are concerned of long-term effects and have health issues I say: stay away from the beaches ... or at least stay indoors in an air-controlled environment overlooking the beaches.

However, there is so much more Coastal Alabama has to offer tourists in terms of sightseeing, history and culture that in my mind if the beaches were permanently closed I would still brag and encourage visitors to vacation here. 

When is the last time you were able to see live guides tell Civil War stories in an old fort? 
Can you say you've been to the oldest city in the United States? (No, it's not St. Augustine, Fl it is our neighbor to the East, Pensacola)

If you love to garden, landscaping and love flowers, are you aware Bellingrath Gardens is considered the "Castle of the South" and boasts spectacular landscaping with hundreds of variety of flowers?

Do you have loved ones in the Armed Forces? How proud would you feel to see the inside of a real "heroic"  battleship? 

There are so many reasons to explore the Alabama Gulf Coast  --- all within an hour drive from Gulf Shores, AL. If you think of it, many of us choose our vacation spot based on only a couple of reasons. 


 
For example, hubby and I once chose to explore a State Park because of the WPA architecture. We traveled all the way through Florida's "Forgotten Coast" to see why it was "forgotten."

Get this: we traveled to Bayou La Batre because we enjoy the movie Forest Gump and wondered what about the shrimping village inspired the author .

We then traveled to Fairhope to explore the streets the author may have walked.


Here's my point: unless your heart is dead set on going to a beach to lay out in the hot sun taking occasional dips in a) either a cold ocean and/or b) sharing your space with throngs of others who have the same plans, why not search your heart and think about what you most enjoy about your stay along Alabama's Gulf Coast?

My guess is it will have something to do with Gulf Shores fun restaurants, shopping excursions, natural scenery and "Southern" hospitality. 

Ya'll come down! WE MISS YOU!

p.s. Can I pencil you in?










It Was A Bittersweet Day Today --- Oil Washes Ashore As We Celebrate Record Bookings


JOURNAL --- Today is a bittersweet day for BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals. We celebrate one of our busiest kayak rental days as we learn of the nasty oil invasion on our beautiful beaches. The event is coincidental --- we received a referral from the Tin Top Restaurant and despite rain, a large party from Mobile, AL celebrate two birthdays with their friends kayaking the Bon Secour River. All kayaks are on water --- a first for us since the oil spill was announced. 

As a new business, this year was to tell us if this whole "kayak rental" idea would pay off. Rentals were going gang-busters during Spring Break, the rhythm of bookings consistent with our expectations. It was Spring. The water was still cool and we had many rain-outs. We anticipated Summer would tell a different story. 


On any other busy day hubby and I could hardly contain excitement. "Maybe the word has gotten out of the fun and value of  kayaking with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals," we might say. But this day we are almost somber. We don't jump for joy --- or even high five. We feel a tightness in our guts that this day may be an anomaly and we clutch the receipts as though we may never see them again.
 
Yesterday, June 4,  news broke of confirmed sightings of tarballs and oil on Gulf Shores, AL beaches. I learn this via Twitter."  An hour later I learn (via Twitter again) an advisary is issued for Gulf waters. The local five and six o-clock news stations announce with "Breaking News" and "Dateline" later portrays an ugly "Special" of the blight on our white sand beaches.

I refer to our local Gulf Shores/Orange Beach CVB online Alabama CVB Website to watch chirpy Rebecca Wilson tell on the June 5th edition "there is alot of seaweed" ...  "there are scattered tar balls and patches of oil.""Please do not pick up the oil of any form" she warns ..."the Al Dept of Public Health has issued a swim advisary for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach." 

Upbeat sounding as she is (ya gotta love her positive spirit) Ms Wilson ends the clip with "our beaches are still open ... you can sunbathe ... you can walk on the beach."

By now I'm thinking "euww" (Be honest. Aren't you?) Nine tenths of me wants to make the trek to the beach to see first hand this landmark invasion while the other part of me wants to close the lid on the coffin.
These are images I watch today: Gulf Shores Oil Invasion. 
 
For the past few days our tranquil "tropical" setting has been assaulted by sounds of military choppers flying low overhead. This is a strange departure from the occasional recreational plane with banner flapping announcing "Mikee's Seafood Specials." The air is seemingly and eerily quiet the rest of the time. I've yet to see a hummingbird. The feeders remain full. I can't say the last time I heard a heron squawk. 

It is as a calm before a major storm. My senses are attuned to the subtle differences of nature's song. I feel a nervous anxiousness --- a "fight or flight" kind of jitters is settled in. I'm sad. I'm prayerful. I'm remorseful. I make bargains I'll never keep (like promising to do my best to reduce my carbon footprint and live off the grid) and repent my little faith in the profiteering "Man."

I also want my life back (damnit! I'm mad enough to spit). After running down an inventory of all we've  overcome I retract my thoughts to count blessings --- then I think of the chirpy Ms. Wilson and wonder if I can be paid enough cash to ooze the confidence our life and the lives of all affected will ever be "made whole."  

I'm grateful for our kayaking guests. I'm grateful we still have beautiful water on the Bon Secour River to enjoy. I'm grateful BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals can offer our kind, out-of-town guests one more (natural outdoor) entertainment alternative to a themed waterpark, mini-golf or shopping mall. But never in my lifetime will I be happy it may come as an alternative to a trip to beaches along the warm, formerly beautiful, life-sustaining Gulf of Mexico. 

I'm choked. Aren't you? 

(As oil seeps toward the Loop Current I hope God keeps tally.)