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This trip was intended to be a beach trip and that’s how it’s working out.  We have spent hours on the beach shelling and wading.  It’s been wonderful.  In between beach time we’ve hit the pool. All in all it’s been very relaxing.

Some of our treasures

We’ve found lots of shells, none of them incredible but treasures nonetheless!  To learn more about shells we visited the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum just outside of town.  There we saw two movies about the creatures who live in those beautiful shells.  Mollusks are very interesting critters!  Did you know that whelks’ egg casings are two to four feet long and they take about eight days to lay them?!?!  Neither did we!

Big Jellyfish!

Our favorite evening  dining spot so far is the Starfish Grille.  Soft blue neon lighting; illuminated starfish hanging from the ceiling; and a huge tree trunk upside down in the middle of the dining area.  Sounds odd, but trust me it works.  The seafood there is awesome, too!

We’ve also visited the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge which covers about two thirds of this island.  The first time we took a guided tour.  Our subsequent visits were on our own and free because they accept the National Parks Pass.  We’ve seen four large alligators (No rocks were thrown at them.), lots of different birds and even tree crabs.  Who knew trees had crabs!?!?!

Trees Got Crabs!

 

Yesterday morning wasn’t as fun.  I was on the beach when I got a text from Mona, “I’ve fallen.  I need u!”  I rushed back to the condo to find that she had taken a full body slam after slipping on the tile.  Bruises up and down her left side.  These aches are now added to the two badly stubbed toes she already had.  She has managed to soldier on and went with me on a guided shell walk later in the morning.  She even managed to float around in the pool for awhile, but she spent most of her evening with a heating pad.  (Yep, we packed a heating pad for this trip.  The last few trips we’ve needed one.)

Becca (in black) teaching us about shells

The Shell Walk was led by a marine biologist (I always think of the Seinfeld episode when I hear that.) who has a Masters in Squid.  Seriously.  She, Becca, thinks squid are the most interesting creatures in the sea so she spent all those years in college studying them.  I think that’s totally cool: knowing what you love and making a career of it.  Becca also knows everything there is to know about shells and she walked the beach with us explaining what we were seeing and filling us in on all the details.  She knew every detail about every shell and she could spot even the tiniest shells.  One of the coolest things she showed us was a whelk egg casing.  The casing was about four feet long and had about a hundred pods.  Each pod was filled with tiny whelks…you could fit 20 of them on a dime.  Amazing!

 

It’s now the day after Mona’s fall.  She’s bruised but not broken.  We walked the beach for a couple of miles, then relaxed in the pool.  The rains came back so we went back to Doc Ford’s for appetizers and then to the Sea Breeze to listen to live music.  It’s time to turn in now.

BTW: Today we found out that mermaids are for real!  Found one that had washed up on the beach!

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