This morning we got up and headed immediately to the beach for a little physical education and Science. We got there almost as the tide was at its lowest. It was sunny and nearly clear of the fog that was so dense yesterday. It was still humid enough that our hair was once again wet by the time we left. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the large amount of shells we were expecting but we did find a lot (hundreds) of small Portuguese Man of War. Barry and I were stung by larger versions of the species several years ago so we were very careful not to let the girls (or us) get caught between the incoming waves and the dead animals. We stopped to investigate several of them. I contemplated assigning a report on the curious little creatures but the older girls are up to their ears studying Kingdom Protista in Biology and Eva is enjoying Botany. (I can’t say that the older girls are enjoying Kingdom Protista!)
After lunch and school, we headed back to the beach. This time we went to another area of this very large state park. Barry and the girls had planned on going out into the waves with boogie boards but we found even more Portuguese Man of War than on the previous beach. We found several that were a pretty good size so we decided not to risk any stings but to walk the beach instead.
The farther we got away from our truck, the more wicked the sky north and south of us grew. We ended up hurrying to the truck with just moments to spare before we got pelted with rain. The sky remained gray for the rest of the day delaying our plans for a nighttime walk on the beach at high-tide. Instead, we enjoyed a quiet night at home and a good supper.
If all Alabama state parks are like Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, they get an A+. With over 5 miles of white sandy beaches, a beautiful campground in an alligator habitat, hiking trails, the Gulfs longest pier, and…AND very nice, clean bathrooms this is a must stop if you ever visit southern Alabama. The Nature Center, indoor pool and laundry facilities are new and well kept. There are also a lot of areas in which to bike.
The town of Gulf Shores offers a lot of shopping, restaurants and new hotels. It’s close to Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, other state parks and Gulf Islands National Seashore. We didn’t do much except for walk the beach but we loved our time here and hope to return!
(The picture of the dead trees is part of the state park at which we are staying. After Hurricane Ivan hit, the salt water didn’t drain out of the swamps but just sat there and killed the trees. This gives some of the park a rather eerie look. It looks almost like the remnants of a nuclear disaster. Still, we found some very large eagle’s nests perched atop some of the trees. There are other parts of the park that are thickly forested.)
Gulf State Park: http://www.alapark.com/gulfstate/ (Make sure you watch the two videos and look at the pictures on the pier page.)