We made our second annual beach trip on Thursday. It’s a tradition that we love already and plan to continue: in early September, after all the “normal” children have gone back to school, Perry takes a day off in the middle of the week and we drive down to the Gulf of Mexico. For two years in a row, we have found the beaches all but deserted. It’s Homeschool Day at the beach!
This year we left the house at 9 AM, hoping to hit the sand just after noon. Instead, we decided to take a slight detour and ride the ferry across the channel this time. The descriptions on the internet said it was a free 10 minute ride with a minimal wait and a good chance of seeing dolphins.
Well, it was free with no wait at all. We can’t exactly ask for our money back. But we were so underwhelmed it was comical. The posted signs said to remain in our vehicle until the ferry started moving, but the trip across took less than 3 minutes. If we had gotten out to look for dolphins, it would have been a chinese fire drill: “Everyone out! Run to the rail! Get back in! Quick! Quick! We landed 4 seconds ago and the car in front of us is already leaving the boat!”
Live and learn. The ferry only added a few minutes and a few miles to our trip and now the kids can say they’ve ridden one. Next time, we go straight for the sand.
Last year we went to Mustang Island State Park. This year we decided to drive another 15 miles south and try out Padre Island National Seashore.
As expected, there was lots of water.
It was amazing. There was a huge school of fish just past the first sandbar for much of the afternoon. We could see their silvery six-inch bodies flashing the in the sunlight, riding the crest of every wave, nearly covering the surface.
The water was warm enough not to traumatize our cold-hating baby who goes into hysterics whenever a draft from the van’s a/c reaches him.
When he did get fussy, we took turns with our 50 cent No Sew Mei Tai and the umbrella stroller.
We had stopped at a gas station to buy a kite, which proved to be a very good investment. The kids took turns – once their dad was done with it.
We also bought a frisbee. No pics, because we were all busy playing! It was the first year we’ve had a big family game like that, and it was a blast! There were 8 of us big enough to throw and catch reasonably well. I only wish we had 3 or 4 frisbees to use at the same time. [scribbling notes for next year]
We saw a surprising variety of living creatures: tiny ghost crabs that looked and moved like spiders, diving in and out of sand burrows around our table; living sand dollars that moved about and slid under the sand; jellyfish, both living and dead. Three of us were stung in water. After that, we took to calling them jelly-bees.
The little ghost crabs were fun and cute, but the big crab was the most exciting.
He allowed himself to be herded, but every now and then he made feints at us, just to let us know he wasn’t really scared of us.
Kaitlyn was the only one who got the nerve up to actually hold it. Deanna used her Brown Pelican feather to herd him, but he grabbed it and wouldn’t let go.
Here’s why Deanna wanted her feather: it was her stylus. She used it to to draw a Precious Moments style picture of Bethany. Isn’t it adorable?
Of course there were gulls everywhere, begging for scraps just like lapdogs. The girls tossed bits of tortilla in the air over their head and drew in great crowds of huge hovering birds.
Sunset was surprisingly beautiful, considering that the sun does not set over the water like on the Pacific coast. The water turned a deeper shade of blue, the white crests of the waves nearly glowed, and the smooth shallow waterline took on a pink hue that exactly matched the sky above. Of course we failed to capture it with the camera, so you’ll just have to visit the gulf coast yourself.
So this means that staying until sunset was a good idea, right?
That’s when the vampires came out.
to be continued