Friday, April 14, 2017

24 Hours on the Coast: Fort Frederica and the Beach!

We had a choice between Fort Sumter and Fort Frederica, both about equidistant from our hotel, both in interesting spots to explore for the day. Fort Sumter is more historically important, but you have to have a reservation for the access ferry, which you have to also pay extra for, and Fort Frederica, although relevant, is further south, so just that much warmer on this just-at-the-cusp-of-spring day, and it has, I discovered during my research, an award-winning Junior Ranger program.

An award-winning version of our favorite family vacation activity?

We drove south to Fort Frederica!

Check out this bagatelle game. We studied this during our History of the Video Game unit years ago, and even made a DIY version, but this one looks even more DIY-able than the one that we made. I want it!
What's that in the shelter behind Syd?

It's a soldier lying down on the job!

Are you wondering what the kids are wearing in these photos?

Along with their Junior Ranger book, they're requisitioned a uniform hat and haversack equipped with necessary supplies--

--as well as important information necessary to the completion of the Junior Ranger books:

This Junior Ranger experience was just as awesome as I'd been led to believe.

We also found another historical garden that I felt jealous about--

--and yes, I did get Will to sneak me another lavender cutting. It's sitting on my desk right now.

Speaking of Will... you are not going to believe what that lucky girl found here:

Another painted rock! We're going to have to set up a little rock painting station here at home next week, so that she can create her two replacements and set them off into the world.

On this day, our first really, truly beautiful day in Georgia, the kids began talking about how they wished they lived in Georgia. It took just four hours of nice weather to get them wanting to immigrate from Indiana! To be fair,  it snowed TWICE in Indiana while we were gone, at the same time that it looked like this down in Georgia:

Heck, I was ready to move, too, especially to a nice little beach house under a tree covered in Spanish moss, but I told the kids that before we moved, we had to come back to Georgia in August and see how much we liked it then.

Wanna bet that we'll still want to move down there from Indiana then?

Fort Frederica had a much smaller and recreated fort, far different from Fort Pulaski--

--but Will still claims that forts are her favorite places to visit. And even without a giant for to explore, we still had a fabulous time wandering the grounds:
Creepy old cemetery is creepy.
Before and after Fort Frederica, we hit a couple of beaches on the coast, because even though the water was freezing and sometimes so was the air, obviously nothing was going to keep us from the beach!

Heck, we barely got our stuff in our hotel room the previous night, before we headed back out to explore the beach that it faced:

Her favorite pastime is chasing seagulls.
On these Georgia and South Carolina beaches, we found a lot more critters than I've ever seen on a beach before. And not just critters in their shells, although there were plenty of those--

We observe them and then put them back, so they can carry on with their little critter lives.

--but also plenty of these!
dead cannonball jellyfish

There were SO MANY dead jellyfish on the beach! We were flummoxed, but apparently it really is just a thing that happens.

To a kid, though, you know what a bunch of jellyfish on a beach means?

It's time for jellyfish funerals!!!

Here's one I got a picture of before the jellyfish was interred. Each memorial reads "Jellyfish 2017-2017. Good jellyfish."
I mean, surely my kids aren't the only ones who like doing this...

Weirdly, though, the dead horseshoe crab that we found the next day on the beach of St. Simons Island did not get the same treatment:

This inscription reads "Seagulls eat here," and there's an arrow pointing to the dead crab. Okay.....
The best critter sighting, though, happened on our first night at Hilton Head. We were walking along the beach near sunset, and we stopped to examine someone's abandoned sand castle. Everyone had turned away from the water to look at it, but I happened to turn back for a second, something in the waves caught my eye, and I pointed and screamed, "DOLPHIN!!!!!!!"

We raced to the water's edge, me hoping the dolphin would surface again so the kids could see it. We stood there, eyes peeled, and then...


It was a busy dolphin, making its way north up the beach, never more than this far from the shore, never waiting more than a minute to surface again. We chased it on foot, pacing it at a jog, sometimes stopping to have to look for it again, sometimes discovering that it was suddenly way ahead or suddenly way behind us, sometimes discovering that it was surfacing right in front of us. I even managed to take one short video of it:

We must have followed that dolphin for two miles, at least. Eventually, Will and Matt fell behind and Syd and I kept on for nearly another mile before we noticed how far back they were, how dark it was getting, and how much farther back our hotel must be, and sadly let the dolphin go on its dolphin business without our escort. 

Oh, my goodness, it was a long walk back to Matt and Will--

--and it was a long, long, LONG walk back to our hotel, and pitch dark by the time we finally made our way there, but everyone knows that things like that are just the welcome price that you pay when magic finds you.

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