Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tybee Island Adventure, Day 7

[Composed 8/5/2021]

We started our day with a dolphin cruise. Driving to the boat launch I noticed some whitecaps in the bay and worried that the water may be too rough for the kids. Fortunately, I was wrong; the kids had a blast.

We had a chill cruise around the Tybee Island beach area and saw countless dolphins. The kids perched themselves at the front of the boat for the ideal view of the surroundings and we took turns shouting "dolphin!" whenever they had a sighting.

We also got up close to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, which is Georgia's smallest lighthouse. The narrator on the boat kept up a pretty constant stream of commentary which everyone enjoyed.

Tomorrow ends our vacay, so we used the afternoon to do some much needed cleanup. The house and car looked like a Toy store exploded with Legos, Pokemon and other fun-related detritis everywhere. To the kids' credit, they didn't complain and picked everything up; I was truly amazed.

After cleaning up, I had wanted to go explore the nearby Tybee Beach Pier but after days of threatening, the rain finally showed up. For the last four days, every morning's forecast looked the same: the day was supposed to be filled with rain. Yet, the rain kept pushing back giving us an opportunity to do whatever activity we had planned. Our luck finally ran out today. But I was prepared!

I busted out some Shrinky Dinks and the kids had a blast creating jewelry, keychains and other odds and ends. I have vague memories of making Shrinky Dinks as a kid, and I'm delighted to report that the activity holds up quite well. What's nice about them is that everyone can put in as much effort as they want into coloring the various creations. The only catch is that we had to shrink them in the regular oven versus the toaster oven, so the kids weren't able to get a good view of the process. Still, it was a delightful activity for all.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing games, watching for lightning from the storms that passed through and taking in more of the Olympics. Specifically, we watched the various forms of Karate that were making their debut. It was a chill way to close out our trip and rest up before the exhausting travel day ahead of us.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Tybee Island Adventure, Day 6

[Composed 8/4/2021]

We started our morning with a fantastic trip to the UGA Aquarium. What this aquarium lacked in size, it made up for in quality. It didn't hurt that we had the place to ourselves. This allowed the kids to flit from tank to tank, ogling the amazing creatures within. We even caught feeding time for one of the tanks. Note to self: those turtles don't play when it comes to grabbing for food.

After viewing the tanks and working up the courage to touch some horseshoe crabs (which have 10 eyes! and predate the dinosaurs!) we completed the 1 mile nature hike found on the grounds. Yelp reviewers heaped so much praise on the hike that I found myself a tad disappointed. It was a nice, flat, hike through the woods. While we saw some wildlife, including many box crabs, a few fish and a pelican, what I found most impressive wasn't what we saw, but heard.

As we hiked along D remarked that he heard a cardinal, nuthatch and Carolina wren. I was impressed. How did he master identifying these birds through their song? Surely, there was a YouTube channel or app that taught such things. Nope, he had learned them through simple observation. Amazing.

After our time at the aquarium, we made our way to Skidaway Island State Park where we took a short hike to an observation tower which we used as our lunch spot. We then hiked back, hit up their bathrooms and made our way to their impressive playground where the kids ran around for a good hour.

After our day of exploring we came back to the house to recharge and have an indoor adventure. T had set up a scavenger hunt. We split into teams and worked our way through the various clues that she had planted. She did an amazing job and we all had a blast. For prizes, she provided us each with a hand written note. It was all so well done and so sweet. And all this happened with zero prompting from Shira or Myself.

Never one to under-do it, we decided to squeeze in one more adventure for the day. To the beach! By now we had our beach setup tuned: we put our towels and a few snacks into the wagon the house provided and everyone got doused in sun-screen. J, being the muscle for the group, pulled the wagon without complaint or even being asked.

We walked the three blocks to beach where the kids immediately piled into the water. An expert by now, I set up our shelter and marveled at how good it looked.

I then joined the kids in the water. J and G were fearlessly taking on the waves. D and T were a bit more hesitant, holding my hands and ensuring I didn't get too deep for their comfort. You might think that after days the kids would be tired of frolicking in the warm, wavy water. Nope, they were just as excited to be there as they were on the first day. Visiting in the evening was nice as the sun wasn't quite as scorching as it had been other days.

What a day! And man, does that beach work as a sleep aid. Everyone is wiped out! Tomorrow we take to the sea!

Update: One of the highlights our trip to the aquarium was to get up close to the loggerhead sea turtle, Neptune, that was on display. We wondered if the tank Neptune was in was to small for her. Turns out, we were right: that was just her temporary digs. Apparently, Neptune has been released back into the wild. What a treat it was that we got to see her before she left the nest.