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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Port Aransas trip

We were blessed with one unscheduled weekend in May to do one item off our Texas bucket list. (This entry is out of order- this happened before our Globals trip, right before Nathan moved to Utah to begin his new job. I was going to be packing and prepping for the move alone for a few weeks, and he was flying back the day before our move. This was our last weekend together for some time.) Also- I didn't want to risk ruining my nice camera with sand or water, so we took a very old battered camera along- which explains the poor picture quality. 

 So we took our family to the beach. I knew it would be a lot harder to visit the ocean once we lived in Utah, so this was our priority on our bucket list. We loved the Rock Port beach very much, but decided to try someplace new. So off we went to the beach town of Port Aransas, located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico.  Oh what a blessed trip it was!

We drove down Friday after school, and stayed in a hotel overnight. Friday evening the children were so excited to head straight to the beach. For fun, we collected mussels and other shell fish. We found a fun way to vibrate our hands in the sand right when a wave washed over the area, and the hidden shellfish would just pop up onto the surface of the sand. Then it was a race to see how many we could scoop up before they dug into the sand again.  It was akin to finding treasure. 

We collected buckets of them and had such fun playing with them before setting them free again. We added some sand and water to the bucket, and would watch the shellfish expose their muscles to dig down in the sand. 

We also walked along the beach collecting shells for our Family Museum. Last year we started collecting rocks or soil from different places we visit. We label them and put them in a little apothecary jar. It's a fun collection of different colors and reminds us of our travels. Everyone had fun scampering across the sand finding shells to take home. 

After playing in the ocean until dark, we swam in the lit outdoor pool of our hotel. The air was brisk and cold to me, so I retreated to the hot tub while the rest of the family frolicked in the pool. They played for an hour, and we discovered a monstrous bull frog in the grass. It was such fun to play with him for a bit before carefully placing him in a secluded spot of the bushes. 

After spending a childhood in Idaho, palm trees always seem so exotic and magical to me. Even though they weren't uncommon in central Texas, I still felt a thrill any time I saw one.  Port Aransas was full of palm trees. I really enjoyed watching the palm trees sway in the wind.

After a lovely breakfast, we headed into town to explore the area a bit. This town had so many fun shops! One of our favorite stops was an eclectic candy shop. It was full of antiques and oddities (including a live pet rattlesnake) so it was intriguing to peruse. Each child was allowed to choose a type of candy for the family to share. It was such fun to try so many new things. The shops often had places to stop and take pictures. 

Of course there were many shops selling beach toys, shells, swimsuits, and other ocean-themed souvenirs. Our favorite shop had a giant shark for a front door. We had such fun exploring the shops and picked up some shark tooth necklaces for the boys, and a shell necklace for Sarah. 

I love the color and personality of island towns! Most of the houses were painted bright colors. It's so cheerful to be surrounded by color throughout the entire town. 

That afternoon we found a new spot on the beach to play, near the entrance to the harbor. Check out this fun optical illusion. Doesn't it look like a beached ship? 

Here the waves were bigger, so we waded into the ocean and rode the waves for hours.  It was exhilarating! 

We were in water 5 feet deep when we rode the waves.  It was thrilling and simultaneously scary to feel the waves tug at me when they receded to the ocean. I was so afraid of rip tides or being pulled out to sea...but it was such fun to feel the wave lift me off my feet. 

Sarah and Nathan took Joseph into the ocean, each of them clutching one of his hands. Then they would lift him and swing him back and forth over the water, letting him kick the waves as they rolled by. He loved it! He also dearly loved building sand castles on the beach and scavenging shells to decorate it with. 

We also caught more mussels to play with. It's so fascinating! 

 Poor Matthew was stung across his shoulder and back by a blue jelly fish. It was so sad! It hurt very badly, so we walked down to a ranger station to get treatment. They had a spray bottle of vinegar to apply, then meat tenderizer to sprinkle on the skin. Matthew was in so much pain, and was afraid the vinegar would make it sting worse. He asked me to spray the vinegar onto his hand so he could apply just a dab of it to his skin. Unfortunately the spray bottle was very powerful, so our first jet of vinegar ricocheted off his hand and straight into his eyes! It's a funny story we laugh at now, but at the time he was devastated.

It was an hour or so before he ventured into the water again. When he did return, he was soon out in the waves again with the family having fun.

 As evening drew near we headed home. The way off the island was a ferry ride. We actually rode it three times that day. We drove onto the boat and it took us across the lagoon entrance. The kids loved the new adventure.

 I am so grateful we had this weekend to spend together. This was such a special weekend to share adventures.