|Heading Towards Sanibel!|
|This was Lydia as soon as we left the restaurant!|
First we went to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We had been there recently with Grandpa Beaver, so the kids weren't quite as curious about the museum part this time. We built a bird again, we pushed all of the buttons on the audio and video exhibits, we got to go into one of the conference rooms that was loaded with amazing photographs of local wildlife. We went to the birding room and tried out their binoculars. No birds. Except on the wall. There was a big picture on the wall of the local wading birds so I asked the kids to point to their favorite bird. They both immediately ran to the roseate spoonbill, but then JoyAnna changed her mind in favor of the little blue heron.
After walking around for a bit, touching animal pelts and making fun crayon rubbings of different animal shapes we decided to get back in the car and take the Wildlife Drive, which is something that we couldn't do last time we came because it was closed. But before we could get back in the car, James explained that he had to go potty. For those of you who know us, this is no small ordeal.
So the girls and I waited outside on the deck. They entertained themselves by racing back and forth and peeking through the railings. I sat on a bench enjoying the breeze and my carefree girls!
JoyAnna found a shiny penny under my bench. It reminded me of going to the grocery store with my Granny and Gramps as a little girl and getting so excited over finding pennies in the parking lot! Gramps would say: "Find a penny, pick it up. All the day you'll have good luck!"
When James and Daddy finally emerged from the restroom we eagerly climbed into the car for our adventure through the wildlife drive. We were really hoping to see some alligators and identify new birds.
Immediately after we passed over a weir I noticed a horseshoe crab by the shore. Josh pulled over and we all jumped out of the car to check it out. Despite having grown up in New Jersey, I have never seen a live horseshoe crab in the wild. That one turned into dozens! As we looked up and down the shoreline, we noticed them all over. Pretty neat!
Down the road a little bit there was a boardwalk that led to a pier. We saw mullet jumping and more horseshoe crabs. We even saw fiddler crabs all over the trees. One lady who was visiting from Colorado said that when she first saw them she thought they were big spiders. Then she realized they were crabs. Walking back to the car and said, "You can always tell who is a tourist and who is a local!" But, seriously, thanks, tourists, for paying our income tax for us!
While we DID see a species of bird that we had never seen before, we did NOT see any alligators. And THAT was very disappointing to certain individuals.
Josh was guessing that these were some kind of stilt. James, JoyAnna and I have the bird book out now. First we thought it could be a long-billed dowitcher. But their beaks are not long enough. Now we believe they are willets. What do you think?
We were all hot and tired by the time we got back in the car! We had wanted to hike the Indian Mound Trail towards the end of the drive, but it would have been too much. Josh promised we would come back to Ding Darling and do it another time. The weather was surprisingly nice for May, but it would be better to go back in October or November.
By the time we got back into town the kids had taken a nice little nap in the backseat. So we picked up sandwiches at Publix, got a large lemonade and then visited the local mini-golf course. This was the first time we've ever taken the kiddies mini-golfing. They were VERY excited! JoyAnna kept saying in the most incredulous voice, "I can't a-bleeve I'm mini-gaw-fin!!" (Translation: "I can't believe I'm mini-golfing!!") Lydia didn't get to play really. We let her drop the balls into the holes after we finished. JoyAnna enjoyed petting the fake zebra. We learned that James might do better at the driving range. Josh made two holes in one, I made one and JoyAnna made one. And out of those 4 holes-in-one, not one of them was the mystery hole! No free games for us. Oh well...it was a blast anyway! (And Josh said he might take me back so we can do the batting cages together!)
Baa, Baa, Baa-Baa!!