A Purple Flag Means Dangerous Marine Life!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

DSC01452 We had a lot to do this morning before leaving Gulf Shores, Alabama. Barry and Jenna took our cat Tugger to the vet (nothing major, just a routine procedure) while the other two girls and I finished up school.

The laundry facilities at the state park were really nice so I planned on getting a little done before we left. On our way to the laundry-mat, an older gentlemen on his bike stopped and asked if we were interested in seeing an alligator. He told us exactly how to find him. Alligators definitely trump laundry so we left the dirty clothes behind and headed out. We were thrilled to find about a 6 footer laying up on the bank of a bayou taking in someDSC01457 sun. Barry and I have seen alligators before but this was the first time the girls have seen one in the wild. They were in awe. It’s amazing the sense of wonder that children bring to us adults!

 

The man who told us about the alligator is from Missouri and has spent many years wintering at Gulf State Park. After we found the alligator, we talked to him at length. It’s  too bad we didn’t meet him when we first arrived at the park because he was a wealth of information about the area and the places to visit. He knew a lot about pre and post Hurricane Ivan and its effects on the park.

The girls wanted to visit the Nature Center one last time to say goodbye to their kitty friend, Wooly Booger. (That’s really his name.) A state park employee was in the center so we were able to learn about the cat who was adopted by the state park after Hurricane Ivan. He is very good with children so they are quite certain that he got separated from his family as a result of the hurricane.

DSC01468By the time we left the center, it was time to make lunch and pack up. We all hated to leave such a great state park but we have to keep moving and we feel a responsibility to let Alabama dry out from our stay! : )

When we arrived at the new park in Florida, Jenna told us that green liquid was leaking from underneath our fridge. Yikes! I thought,DSC01465 “What in the world?” I soon found out that a full bottle of dish soap which is kept in a cabinet underneath the fridge had fallen over, lost its cap and made a huge mess. It was not easy to clean-up but after two rolls of paper towels, it was done.

  As soon as we took care of the mess and minimal set-up, we headed for the beach. We noticed right away that a purple flag, which means dangerous marine life, and a red flag with white lettering, which means beach is closed, were flying above the state park. After walking the long boardwalk to the Gulf, we knew immediately why both flags were being used. Thousands of Portuguese Man of War littered the beach (pictured at middle left). The sand is even whiter here than it was in Alabama so the blue animals were unmistakable. We still enjoyed a long walk and saw a beautiful sunset of pink and gray. Yes, Florida, we have arrived and have brought our rain clouds with us!

The boardwalk to the beach has signs along the way telling about the marine and plant life in the area. Eva was delighted to see that hammerhead sharks are among the species that frequent the area. I was delighted that there were Portuguese Man of War that caused a purple flag to keep us out of the water!

DSC01496When the last rays of sun hid behind the horizon we reluctantly took off to find a grocery store. On our way, we saw the neatest looking restaurant, Fudpuckers (not to be mistaken with Fudruckers). We decided to go in and order appetizers. It is by far the most fun restaurant we have ever visited. The best part is a pool with many live alligators. One of the workers brought a 3DSC01492 footer out for us to ‘pet.’ We had lots of questions! The most interesting thing we learned is that a snap of the jaws of that little 3 footer is so powerful that it would be like having a 300 lb. fridge drop on you from 6 feet in the air. (That’s 300psi!) Feeding the alligators was also a lot of fun. Barry and the girls bought little chunks of meat that they put on the end of fishing poles. Soon there were several alligators in the area in which they had cast their lines. Eva enjoyed a really neat play area while we waited for our food and then enjoyed some gluten-free popcorn shrimp. (They have a gluten-free menu for adults and for kids!)

What a great night we had in our newest state! We’ll be spending a lot of time here and look forward to lots of new experiences!

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