Just in case you’re wondering, the beach was wonderful, incredible, exciting, fabulous, amazing, adventurous. How could it fail to be any of the above and a hundred more synonyms for fun? It was the beach. Some of us thought we would love to own a house on the beach and live there. Some of us thought the novelty would wear off too quickly. I would love the opportunity to learn who is right and who is wrong.
Since we were going to spend 2 nights and 3 days there, I hatched a plan to aid the sunblock and delay the inevitable sunburns: we would spend a few hours on the beach early in the morning, then for the heat of the day we would hide in our hotel rooms or the beach house rented by the extended family. The little ones could have their naps while the big ones played cards, visited, etc. After a siesta, we would once again hit the sand and play for the rest of the day while the sun sank low behind us.
We left our house insanely early Monday morning and arrived around 11 AM after a 5.5 hour drive. Immediately ditching the anti-sunburn plan, we all donned swimsuits, slathered on the BBQ sauce, and hit the surf.
We saw the standard seagulls, but also huge brown pelicans, soaring and diving around us. How can something so ugly be so majestic at the same time?
We saw whole schools of fish at the crest of nearly every way, all around us. We laughed every time one flipped out of the water and flew back in. We squealed at the seaweed brushing our legs, suspecting jellyfish instead. I spotted dorsal fins moving back and forth, surfacing and disappearing just beyond the nearby sandbar. When I pointed them out to the others with me, we convinced each other that they were just dolphins (I know, I know. They’re really porpoises).
When we spotted a whole
school fever of stingrays (yes, I had to look it up )on the crest of a wave 20 feet away, we decided it was time to join the little kids on the shore.
Late in the day Perry Boy spotted something alive on the shore. He screamed and pointed, “DAD! I see something like a CRAB!” It was a big crab, which we carried back in a bucket to show the rest of our group. Fortunately we got a picture of the exact moment he spotted it.
The next day, our plan fell through. We slept right through the cool morning hours, put on more BBQ sauce, and climbed back into the frying pan. It was great.
OK, I’m exaggerating a little. First we went to the free aquarium at the nearby Texas Sea Center, where I looked long and hard at the dorsal fin of every single shark on display. I was relieved to see that none resembled the dorsal fins I had seen the day before. They were just dolphins. Right? Right??
At the Sea Center, we crowded around the touch tank to touch all the different types of crabs – hermit crabs, shameface crabs, stone crabs, blue crabs, spider crabs.
We looked in the other tanks at the endless varieties of fish, large and small, drab and colorful.
We saw electric eels and morays.
The little kids had great fun making crayon rubbings at an art station, and left all of them lying there.
A few of the kids bought shark tooth necklaces for $2.
And then they begged to go back to the beach. Of course, nice parents that we are, we obliged.
We sauced up and hit the sand again while the sun was still at its peak. By the end of the day, most of us were nicely toasted.
Dinner was our first-ever shrimp boil. I think everyone agreed it was glorious, and we plan to do it again soon with or without seafood. My mom was wishing she had thought to serve meals that way back when she was serving 3 meals a day to 10 or 15 kids. Just think of all the dishes that would be saved! Then she realized that she did think of it, but Dad wouldn’t let her feed us from a trough. Somehow it seems much classier when you do it in a beach house.
At some point, a couple of the girls realized that they had hatchling crabs in their swimsuits and they showed us the tiny things, barely visible to the human eye. We compared notes and realized that the faint itchy/pinchy feelings we had all experienced in the water were probably not ant bites like they would have been at home. No, you don’t get ants in your pants at the beach. You get crabs in your swimsuit.
After a little thought, we cautioned the girls against telling people that they had crabs. Nice girls don’t get crabs, and we didn’t want to give people the wrong idea. Tact and discretion required a more precise name. We had infant crustaceans in our swimsuits.
On the last day, Kaitlyn made an incredible lifesize mermaid in the sand with lovely seaweed hair. Isn’t she lovely? My sister has a picture of Kaitlyn lying on the sand with her mermaid friend. I’m watching facebook to see if it shows up…
Oh, wait. She’s not a mermaid. See? No tail. Here’s a pic with Rachael and the sand-maiden:
Our last stop before we left town was the jetty, about a mile down the beach. Mom and some of my sibs drove over with us, and we all had a long, leisurely amble far out into the ocean.
The sun was blazing down on us but the breeze made it bearable, at least for those of us who had more tan and less burn. We finally got to see dolphins with dorsal fins that matched what I had seen while swimming.
We saw a freshly killed sea turtle with a plastic line wrapped around one flipper, and wondered just how it had died. Did a fisherman kill it because it had fouled a net? Did he find it suffering and kill it out of mercy? Did it simply climb up on the rocks to die? My brother took it by the line and swung it back into the water, avoiding the puddle of blood around it.
We saw schools of much bigger fish than we had seen swimming, and I saw several groups of what looked like angelfish. Perry suggested that our stingray sighting was actually fish like these, but Deanna accused us of ruining a perfectly good stingray story and I agree. They were not flat fish. We saw stingrays in the water.
We saw several piles of small fish that had been caught in nets by some of the fisherman. They had picked through them for bait, then left the rest to die on the hot rocks when they were done fishing for the day. Natalie and Becca were horrified at the waste of life and threw the ones that were still alive back into the water. I concurred. Hunting and fishing are good stewardship, but wasting the resources God has given us is just that: wasteful. Why wouldn’t these fisherman want to throw back the little ones for another day?
We found multitudes of tiny snails on the rocks where the waves washed against them, and I gently pulled some off to show Perry. He was scared of crabs, but loved these little guys. He was disappointed that he couldn’t take them home to keep as pets, but we assured him they would quickly die.
Credits for the photographer for most of the photos in this post:
er…the big guy. Not the little redhead, though I’m fond of her too.