Tag Archives: sunset

Day 17 – Rockville MD to Santee SC

E: I miss the houses. I miss all the houses.

L: I miss all the houses, too, buddy.

E: I feel sad.

L: I feel sad, too. It’s okay to be sad.

My conversation with Elliot yesterday morning sums up how I feel about being on the tail end of a wonderful vacation. Clearly, he misses the people who live in the houses. Who he can’t keep straight because he is three and there were so so many loved ones we visited with over the past two and a half weeks.

As we drove home, I just wanted to be home already. If we couldn’t be en route to a loved one’s abode, then I just wanted the trip to be over. Especially when we were stopped in traffic in Maryland and Virginia and the we were all achingly sad with leaving our final friends’s house. We all dealt with our feelings in different but typical ways. Henry kept scratching his brother. Elliot threw things around the vehicle. Then Henry would throw things back. I anxiously tried to ignore everything, but did a terrible job because of the confined space. Keith stayed level-headed until all the other mess happening in the car got to him and he exploded once.

These bad behaviors occurred so briefly on our vacation that they stand out in memory as exceptions to the overall awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong, they often occurred when we rode in the car for an extended period of time. But then laughter would fill the air as Henry decided to make Elliot laugh instead of hurt him because that was more fun. Or we’d all listen to an audiobook waiting to hear how things would end for “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “Ugly Cat and Pablo.” Or a kid would fall asleep mid-sentence bringing the car to a peaceable silence. I couldn’t ask for better travel companions. I love them all the most.

We stopped at Santee State Park on the edge of Lake Marion before checking into our hotel for the night. A last-minute decision, its beauty at sunset filled the sky with warmth. We stood near the docks enjoying the cool breezes the end of the day brings, and then raced to the playground for the kids to burn off their sitting-all-day energy. We’ll have to return another day to conquer its several hiking trails. On our way out of the park as darkness surrounded us, we discovered 7 deer alongside the road including a fawn. The boys found them especially delightful. I forget how rare it is for suburban kids to see wild animals outside a zoo. I think I’m going to work on finding the wonder in the ordinary and see what happens.

Pass-a-Grille Beach

A few weeks ago we realized that Elliot had never really been to the beach. Sure, he’d dipped his toes into the Gulf following his first trip to Frenchy’s, but that was it. And since the beach is one of our happy places we decided to go catch the sunset one Sunday night down at Pass-a-Grille. 
We don’t usually go to the beach during the day. We’re pale, red-headed creatures who burn easily and have family members continuously getting skin cancer removed – it’s just not a great place for us during the day. But the hour or so before sunset at the beach is a magical place. It’s not so hot, the sand appears to glow, and there’s a relaxed atmosphere to it all. 

We chose to go to Pass-a-Grille since I had never been there, and Keith said it’s really beautiful. Sold. We were going. It’s a little south of St. Pete Beach, in a neighborhood full of beautifully designed beach homes. There was plenty of parking on a Sunday night and little traffic – important things when traveling with toddler and baby dictators. 

Henry loved digging in the sand and building castles. He also has an epic shell collection thanks to Keith scouring the sand looking for new ones. I think Henry could spend forever at the beach without getting bored, but again, his super white skin coupled with his fair hair prevents this. Elliot was his chill self and relaxed on a blanket for a while. He also liked (my) walking while wearing him in his Baby K’tan wrap. He could see the surf, shore birds, and people, and hear all the sounds of the beach. I think he loved it, too. We’re definitely making the beach at least a monthly priority, because why not…it’s a perfect, happy place.

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation (Part 3) – SGI Playground of the Week

This week’s Playground of the Week is located on St. George Island at the foot of its lighthouse at the beach. We rode our bikes along the island-wide paved trail every night to the playground so Henry could get the last of his energy out. There were swings, slides, games, balance beams, and things to climb – with the sea breeze keeping things cool and the bugs (mostly) away. It was never crowded, had public bathrooms, and was a perfect spot to end our days.    
One evening we road bikes to the foot of the bridge connecting the island to the mainland to watch the sunset. It’s weird to watch the sunset over the mainland when we are so used to watching it set over the Gulf where we live. Weird, but still beautiful and worth the extra ride. I loved how we could visit anywhere on the island by bike (a lot of people used golf carts – not as cool as biking!), and we definitely took advantage of that.


What We Did On Our Summer Vacation (Part 2) – St. George Island

We rented a lovely little two bedroom vacation house on St. George Island for our relaxing week of family vacationing. We breakfasted together on its screened in porch, spent our mornings visiting the area, siesta-ed/napped in the afternoons, and finished our days with an evening bike ride and playground date. It was pretty perfect. 
Here are some of the activities we did:

The Beach! Hanging out at the beach was our primary activity on SGI – the beach is one of he best in the country. We splashed in the water, picked out shells to bring home, threw our frisbee around, and dug in the sand. Our house was two blocks from the beach access, making it an easy walk to the shore. 

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. On the cloudiest day, we biked about 16 miles round trip to SGI State Park, which is located at the eastern end of the island. The ride to the park was great, and the park itself is a grand preservation area with the oldest stand of slash pines on a barrier island as well as giant sand dunes. We didn’t beach it up here, because the Hen was set on playing at the campground’s playground. It was nicely shaded and a great break. The campground and its bathrooms looked excellent and clean; we may have to camp next time we visit! Our way home from the park was the hardest bike ride I’ve ever attempted. The wind from the encroaching storm made pedaling difficult. We had to take multiple water breaks, and each time we did neither of us wanted to hop back on our bikes, but we forced ourselves to do it. I have never been so excited to see condos in my life (to block the wind gusts). We were soaked, and our legs were bonked when we got back to the house, but it was totally worth it. 

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Located in Eastpoint, the education and research center has sea life tanks, beautiful boardwalk trails, views of the bay, and Henry’s favorite – microscopes where you can look at shells and exoskeletons close up. He could have spent all morning looking through the lens, but he also loved playing with the stuffed animals and watching the fish. The center is free and open Tuesday through Saturday 9am – 4 pm. 

City of Apalachicola. We loved this small town full of antique shops, pirate/fishing gear, and Southern charm. Well, maybe not so much charm when we were told on multiple occasions that we were not from Florida since we lived in the Tampa Bay Area (but being from Jacksonville was closer to living in the Sunshine State). We found a couple of lovely Spanish tiles to decorate our home (place of decoration to be determined). Henry’s favorite part of town was the Battery Park playground, of course. In the shadow of the bridge overlooking the bay, it’s set back from the road and featured a variety of playground equipment for Henry to climb all over. My favorite thing there was this oversized chair, perfect for taking silly photos. 

Apalachicola Maritime Museum. Keith was really excited to visit this museum, which provides information about the history of oyster fishing and boating in the bay area. It also offers courses in boat making (we didn’t do this) and a variety of affordable boat tours of the area. We took the Sunset Cruise and lucked out that we were the only ones on the boat besides the driver, Richard. Richard has lived his entire life in Apalachicola and knows things you couldn’t read in a history book like who owned what building on the river and what family business they were up to. It was a fascinating tour of the town before we headed out to the bay to see the sunset. We ate our dinner of Piggly Wiggly sandwiches on the boat, and then Henry co-drove the boat! It was his absolute favorite thing about vacation – he still talks about driving the boat under the bridge in the bay.