When Ann heard about an event in Orange Beach, Alabama, called the Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip, she thought it sounded like a great idea. Knowing full well which one of us would get to run headlong into the Gulf of Mexico on New Year’s Day, (and who would stay dry to take pictures) I had to think about it a little. So, after very little thought and a Bushwacker drink, I agreed to take the plunge.

Into the Gulf of Mexico

I’ll admit that shortly after agreeing I began to have second thoughts. Did I really want to immerse myself in the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of winter? I wasn’t so sure. After all, I enjoy maintaining a regular body temperature. But at the same time, I thought it might be fun and it was one of those things I could forever say I’d done.

Flora-Bama Lounge and Package

During our 5,000-mile road trip across the south, we found ourselves in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the new year. On New Year’s morning, we drove east down the highway to the Flora-Bama Lounge. Located right on the beach, smack dab on the Florida-Alabama state line, they have made the Polar Bear Dip one of their signature events. Participants who go completely under water even get a free meal and a beer. We got there almost an hour early, found a place to park across the road about a block away, and headed in not knowing what to expect.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip costumes

On entering, I knew we’d made the right decision to come. Sure, I was still a little nervous about hypothermia, but was too busy taking in all the crazy-fun costumes that people had worn to the event to care. It turns out that people dress up to jump into the water and freeze. This gentleman, for instance, was feeling quite patriotic.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

We wandered around, chatting with people, and sipping on one of the Flora-Bama’s signature drinks, the Bushwacker.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Bushwhacker

I’m not sure what all is in this frozen concoction (they don’t tell you), but I will say that it was tasty. Throughout our time, we kept snapping photos of folks in costumes far more creative than my Postcard Jar t-shirt.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

Heading to the beach for the Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip

Finally, the time came to bite the bullet and take part in the Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip. With the sun shining and the temperature at 74 degrees, the idea of jumping into the Gulf of Mexico actually started to appeal to me. We made our way out onto the beach with about 5,000 other participants, learning along the way that this was probably the most participants in the event’s 32-year history.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

We spent a few minutes waiting for noon to arrive, and loved walking around the beach taking in all the different groups in costume.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Costumes

The Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip

Finally, noon came and the crowd began to move. Someone threw something into the water, and the owner’s dog went to retrieve it, leading the way and kicking off the event. With a great shout, several thousand people ran, following the dog into the water. I stumbled in, lost in a mass of humanity. I dodged flailing arms and legs and felt the chilly water cover more and more of my legs, then my waist. Finally, I found a place deep enough to drop down under the surface of the chilly water and let it wash over my head. If I hadn’t been awake before, I was now. I made my way back to shore, dodging people who were behind me still running in.

Flora-Bama Polar Bear Dip Steve

I’d done it. For a brief moment I felt strangely proud of this accomplishment. Then, remembered there are people who do these dips in places like Minnesota where they cut a hole in the ice. Oh well. I forever get to say I did a polar bear dip, and I didn’t have to freeze that much.

All the picture takers!

Ann, for her part, said she would take a video me taking the dip. But, as there were a couple thousand other people who also had planned to video, and Ann is just 5’4″, things got a little out of control. Here’s the video Ann got.

After getting back to shore, I found Ann, grabbed the towel, and dried off. We wandered back off the beach, opted to skip the line for lunch and headed back to the car, the hotel, and a warm shower. As we pulled out, the line of cars parked along both sides the road for this event ran for almost a mile! It turns out that going a little early had really paid off.

For me, travel is all about experiencing new things, even when it involves plunging into cold waters. And, it turns out, I’d like to this thing again someday.


PIN FOR LATER

  • We had a few windy days in the #FloridaKeys this week that stirred up the waters. It created the most gorgeous colors in the Atlantic Ocean including this area at Sombrero Beach.
  • We miss waking up on the Celebrity Edge. That's all.
  • We've been having the best time in the Florida Keys visiting Steve's mom and dad this week. Today, it was cold for Floridians, but we loved the sunshine (and were thankful for awesome neighbors who were likely shoveling the snow from our driveway back home).⁣
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We are so thankful for a flexible schedule and opportunities like this one to share time with family. Life seems to pass us by so quickly the older we get and we're fortunate to be able to travel and share experiences with the people we love most. ⁣
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Feeling especially blessed tonight, in the beautiful Florida Keys.
  • We enjoyed a delicious dinner tonight at Hideaway Cafe on Grassy Key with Steve's mom and dad. We went early at 5 p.m. for the sunset dinner menu which has smaller portions and the most beautiful views of the sunset. ⁣
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The food was fresh and made-to-order and served by gracious and professional staff who made us feel right at home. ⁣
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Hideaway is a great restaurant choice for dinner if you're in the Florida Keys. Get a reservation ahead of time, as it fills up quickly, even at 5 p.m.
  • Need some inspiration for staying healthy while traveling? Good news! We are taking over the @noom Instagram stories this afternoon and hope you’ll all follow along as we share tips on how to make healthy living choices while on a cruise ship. We’ll take you inside the beautiful @celebritycruises Edge and show you how we stayed on track with our Noom goals while still enjoying a fantastic cruise vacation. Be sure to follow @noom! Our takeover has just begun. 😁
  • The Rooftop Garden is a unique space on the top deck of the @celebrityedge. There’s no water slide on this ship, no go-carts, and the’s no rock wall for climbing. Instead the Rooftop Garden provides a “living urban playscape inspired by childhood playgrounds and designed to waken the inner child in all of us,” according to the Celebrity Cruises website. There are live plants, comfortable outdoor seating, and unique art installations that set the space apart from anything else at sea. @cruisecelebrity
  • Blu is a restaurant on the Celebrity Edge that is dedicated to guests in Aqua Class.  It serves “clean, crisp flavors and inventive cuisine” in a gorgeous blue venue. To give you an example of the types of entrees served, for dinner tonight Blu is offering seared duck breast with wilted chard, farro risotto, and black cherry jus; a cracked pepper corn-crusted tuna salad, watercress, and dijon vinaigrette; and pumpkin gnocchi with sautéed arugula, sundries tomatoes, marinated artichokes, goat cheese and basil pesto. What would you order?
  • Yes, cruise ships are huge, but if you do a little exploring, you’ll find that the designers have included many small spots perfect for intimate conversation and watching the world go by. We found this nook in Eden, on deck 5 of the Celebrity Edge, near the stern.

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