The cardinal rule of blogging is that you must keep up with it every day. I have more than broken the rule! This has mostly been because we hit school very hard the first couple of weeks we were in Florida. We wanted to be able to spend as much time as we could with family and friends we have in the Sarasota area and we also wanted to be able to take a spring break without getting behind. I’ll give a brief rundown of the days I’ve missed and then I’ll hit Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park in separate posts.
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Yesterday, January 28, was supposed to be a sight-seeing day but we all decided to stay put and enjoy our current park and the beautiful weather. The girls and I took a couple of walks on which we noticed buds on the trees. Spring has come to Florida although it’s hard for us to really appreciate it having not gone through a winter. Flowers are beautiful anytime of the year, however, and we are enjoying all the azaleas, roses and many other flowers. The weather has been perfect: 70s during the day and cool enough at night to be perfect sleeping weather.More
Barry got a business call yesterday morning as we were packing up to leave Henderson Beach State Park. The girls and I stepped outside to make sure we had everything packed up when we heard the roar of the waves from the Gulf. A storm was moving in so we quickly ran down to the beach to see how high the waves had become. We found them to be a only little bigger in height but massive in length. There was no telling where some of them began or ended. They also formed much farther out and came in much faster. They seemed to explode when they hit the shore. It was a beautiful morning so it was hard to imagine that a powerful storm capable of producing tornadoes was on its way. Eva was delighted to find the high-tide had spared her ‘sandman.’ She even put her cheek next to his and gave him a big hug goodbye!
Today was one of those rare days when it’s not too hot or too cold, too windy or too still, too sunny or too cloudy. There weren’t even any bugs to deal with. The girls and I did some extra school last night so we wouldn’t have so much to do today. We headed to the beach as soon as we could!
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 some 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!
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.)
Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things. ~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal
Today was very foggy. The weather report said that the fog would lift by 9am but would linger near the Gulf. It lingered!
Earlier in the week we had chosen a church to attend this morning that is closer to where we are staying but then someone invited us to attend their church so we went their’s instead. We’re glad it worked out that way as we very much enjoyed First Baptist Church of Foley, Alabama. The Akins, a southern gospel group, was there to lead the service. We had never heard of them before but enjoyed the service very much.
After we ate, we headed for the beach. By this time it was very foggy. We watched a couple of men fish for awhile but as the fog thickened and they couldn’t see where their lines were cast, they packed up and left. We took several walks on the beach going only until we could barely see our big bag of towels, books and water. The gap between us kept closing up and we walked less and less distance each time. Jenna and I didn’t go into the water but sat on the beach reading but you would have never known it. It wasn’t long before our hair was dripping wet from all the moisture in the air.
As a mom, this was the perfect day. There’s nothing like watching your children thoroughly enjoy themselves with a real sense reckless abandon. Mom and Dad were watching and doing any worrying that was necessary. Mikayla and Eva ran along the shore and into the waves the entire time we were there. All three girls collected shells as we walked and we all marveled over the largest jellyfish we have seen yet. We stopped and talked awhile to a women who was walking along the beach about some dolphins she had seen just a little earlier. They had been very close to the shore. We laughed over and over at the comical little sandpipers that so diligently searched for food along the shore. It was fun to not have anything to do other than being together.
Finally, the fog grew so thick that we decided we should go home. We had a street to cross and we knew that visibility was very low. It was very strange crossing when you could hear the cars but not see them until they were very close. I think we all gave a sigh of relief when we reached the other side. We could still hear the ocean even though we couldn’t see it. This mom, however, has the day locked into permanently into her memory!
A happy childhood can’t be cured. Mine’ll hang around my neck like a rainbow, that’s all, instead of a noose. ~Hortense Calisher
It’s been awhile since I posted. Our Suburban ended up at the shop for a couple of extra days so we stayed at the campground and focused on school and the businesses. It was actually kind of nice not being able to go anywhere.
On Friday, January 21, we left the beautiful Styx River Resort in Robertsdale, Alabama. I should say that we hated to leave. It was very quiet even though it was almost completely filled up. They had started planting the flower beds the day before we left so everything looked so nice. The Styx River is very clear and pretty. It reminded us of Michigan.More
Today was pretty much dedicated to school for us and work for Barry. We noticed yesterday that our truck was having some difficulties so Barry inquired with the park management as to a reliable, honest mechanic and then took it in. He and Jenna sat at a nearby diner working and doing schoolwork until he was told that the car won’t be done until tomorrow. The mechanic was very nice to drive them back to the park. It’s kind of been nice being grounded!More
“A real friend is someone who takes a winter vacation on a sun-drenched beach and does not send a card.” –Farmer’s Almanac
We never take these Monday holidays off but would rather have the girls in school learning about the holiday’s significance. Last week was really busy. Somehow we completed five days of school and two full days of sight-seeing. Even our Saturday ended up being busy with an unexpected side-trip to Stennis Space Center. The sightseeing was fun but most of it was educational in nature with Eva completing four Jr. Ranger Badges. I knew they my three pupils (and the teacher) were ready for a little R & R so we took the day off.