When we left the story, Bella had lost a tooth and we were wondering what the Tooth Fairy would bring - and if indeed the Tooth Fairy would find us on vacation! Well, wonder no more: The Fairy did indeed find us, and she left Bella FIVE beautiful sand dollars - two large, three small. It was a great surprise, and Bella was very happy.
After all of the excitement of the previous days, we were up for a mellow day. The kids stayed in their pajamas until 10, watching Harry Potter on the iPad... the family decided to park at the beach for sand castles and reading. I took a run up the beach - 3 miles round trip with a nice breeze, but whew, that sand is rough on the calves. Ok, I ran-walked. Half and half. But don't tell anyone. Then it was some beach reading time - gotta say the beach is one place where that old kindle screen would be a lot better than the Kindle Fire with the LCD screen, but it was readable nonetheless.
What else to report about Tuesday? I think Bella spent most of the day lazing about watching movies and doing artwork. Isaac and Papa and I did go back into the ocean - I'm applying for honorary marine mammal status. I just love being in the ocean: It has a way of both reminding you that you are a very small part of the world, but also that you are a PART of the world. A nice sense of belonging.
We ate in the whole day, and if I left the property in the car, I can't remember it. In the afternoon, we connected with an edina neighbor, with her two kids: Isaac formed an INSTANT connection with the 6 year old Jonah, and the two of them played at their resort (just up the beach) for a couple of hours. It was fun to be in the pool at another resort, but it was a little deeper and more kids there, and a bit more work to keep an eye on everyone, so it was just fine that it was time for them to have dinner and we went home... The rest of the night was mellow - nothing to note...
But as Isaac was going to bed, he heard the TV on in the living room and asked: "Dad, what are they watching? Is is something that would be inappropriate for me?" I just had to giggle.
On Wednesday we were ready for fun again: Up early for shelling on the beach, a warm breakfast of eggs and sausage to get started, and we decided to head to the Ding Darling marine sanctuary: But first, we needed a few things from the supermarket, so Pamela and I got on our rented cruiser bikes and headed on the 2 mile path to Jerry's. It was a pleasant ride, and a fun exercise to figure out how to get all of our groceries divvied into our bike baskets, but it went well. Unfortunately, I got lost in the zone and accidentally left Pamela in the dust as we set off for home. I need to remember to check my surroundings. SORRY! In the meantime, Isaac got a little AM playtime with Jonah... and was severely disappointed with the time came for Jonah to go back to his resort... But hey, it was time to go to Ding!
We piled into the car and headed to the Ding Darling refuge - just a few miles up the island. We were all collected for our tour when Captain Dave came out and introduced himself and the tour... He said "this will be a lot more fun if you all ask questions, so does anyone have a question to start?" Isaac raised his hand: "What do YOU do?" was his question. Captain Dave decided this kid was allright.
The tour started with a petting zoo including hermit crabs, conchs, starfish, and a very antsy horseshoe crab. I was worried about the quality of the tour but then Captain Dave jumped in sharing fun facts about how that conch preys upon that clam: Its strange to think of a snail like thing being a predator, but dang, they go AFTER those bivalves! Then it was on to the boat for a one hour tour of the bay in the hopes of seeing some Manatees or dolphins... of course we saw a ton of egrets and pelicans and learned a lot... but it was a pair of Manatees who stole the show, keeping pace with our boat around 20-30 feet out, surfacing and flopping around over and over for us to see. Not SUPER close, and none of my pictures turned up more than a brown smudge in the distance, but believe me, we were all pretty dang happy.
No dolphins though. But we saw dolphins earlier in the week, so we got that checkmark on our list already. Also worth noting - Captain Dave made a big deal about the fact there IS a bathroom on the boat for emergencies, but ONLY for emergencies. Isaac decided to have an emergency. That's just how he rolls.
The afternoon had us back at the ocean of course, and I ran out to get us all a bunch of food from Schnapper's: 12 years earlier, it was something of a joke with Anne, Tony, and Pamela that I was such a fan of Schnapper's, and history was clearly repeating itself. But when the food came - fish and chips, hot dogs, burgers, fries, rings, and shakes, nobody was complaining. We ended the day with another long shelling walk - almost as far as I ran the day before. By the time bedtime came we were all VERY ready for it.
Thursday started a little slow, but after breakfast we wandered over to the pool for 90 minutes of swimming (and I took a nap... and narrowly avoided being baked beet red). Then we wandered out to the beach to discover there was no beach: The ocean was whipped up into a frenzy and had crept up 20 feet up the beach, creating a nice sand bar and tidal pool where we usually put our umbrella and chairs. It was truly amazing to watch the ocean with more strength. We all kept a little distance - we had no desire to be swept away in the crashing surf, but Papa said it reminded him of his youth in Brighton and plunged in head first - leaping across the breakers and being swept a good 50 feet down the beach in a matter of seconds. He dusted himself off, looking a little shaken, but happy. Even isaac needed no coaching to keep a little distance.
We headed "into town" to Jerry's for lunch (same Jerry's from Edina) and some shopping - and the kids had one idea: With that sort of wind, we needed kites! So we got two kites and launched them on the beach immediately. Bella had a nice diamond kite with a sea turtle that was happy to stay up in the air. It was like a happy pet at the end of Bella's string, just hovering nicely. Isaac picked a delta kite with a jolly roger on it that had an unmistakeable thirst for blood: It would launch up, fly for a few minutes, then do two rapid circles, gaining speed, before crashing straight downward. Its first suicide mission almost took out two retirees, and I had to keep an eye on it... It never got that close to a kill again, which I think broke its spirit - after a while it just decided to give up on even trying. But we tried.
Isaac, after the first few minutes, decided that the ocean was a lot more interesting. By this point the surf had receded so he was back to cavorting in the water, grabbing handfuls of sand and "feeding the ocean".
It was time for a break from the ocean, so we played a little shuffleboard (total time of interest for the kids - 90 seconds), a little catch with tennis balls (around 2 minutes), and more time practicing on our bikes: For those who don't know, Bella has never enjoyed a bike, and at the age of nine is still not happy without training wheels. But on this trip, she asked to try again, and so as of today, we've had three biking sessions with her on an adult sized cruiser bike with the seat low. Pamela has been wonderful walk/running with her to keep her upright. I've been riding up and down the driveway with Isaac, who is loving his rental BMX bike (with training wheels).
We cooked tacos (beef and chicken) for dinner, and then went back out for some sunset beach walking - the full moon was out, and for a while, it looked like mid-day on the beach. We gave the kites another go, and the Jolly Roger resorted to simply being dragged along the beach. It was sulking, we could tell. Bella's kite was happily up in the air. Isaac didn't really care. Got some great pictures of the bright moonlit beach, and came back in for margaritas (and a scotch) to relax. Isaac is asleep, Bella is almost there, and we're not far behind.
The say we might get rain tomorrow, and you know what, that would be ok with us. It's been such an incredible week, we could use the change-up.