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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beach Trip- Day 4

Day 4 started off late. We slept in and leisurely packed up our stuff. We got the car loaded and checked out of the hotel. It was about noon when we pulled into TCBY for "breakfast." Don't judge! Frozen yogurt for breakfast is awesome! But you have to eat it fast. Noon day sun is brutal on frozen treats.
 Next stop Alligator Alley in Summerdale, Alabama.
Gators, gators, everywhere!
Alligator Alley is home to 450 alligators, from hatchlings to mature adults, that were picked up as "nuisance" calls. Lucky gators. They have the sweet life here. They live in a large natural environment that is safe for them. They get quality care and food. My boys were super excited to visit.

We lucked out and arrived as a feeding was starting. Clark shot these photos from a deck up high. He was mightily impressed with the size of the gators and the bravery of the handler, Wess. 

Wess banged on the lid of the cooler to let the gators know if was feeding time. Sure enough, they started swimming toward the bank. They kind of lined up and waited to be fed.
 This guy has a mouth full of pig ribs. We heard the crunch of his bite.
Meet "Shifty." He was one of the big guys. He wouldn't come all the way out of the water for his food, despite Wess' best efforts.
Funny story- Wess said to the audience, "Do ya'll wanna see me stick my head in Shifty's mouth?" 
The audience yelled, "Yes!" Wess said, "NO! The difference between me and someone that will stick his head in an alligator's mouth is a mullet and a lack of education." Ha, ha, ha!

After the feeding we began checking out all the enclosures for the youngest alligators.
They had baby gators. This one was 1 year old.
They had 3 year old gators.
Said in my best Alabama accent, "This is the stuff nightmares are made of!"
We held a 3 year old gator.
It was a lot like holding a Chihuahua.
After holding a gator, the boys were all jazzed up to go on the nature walk on the elevated boardwalk to see more alligators in their natural habitat. It was a great way to see the swamp environment up close. Alligators were everywhere. Seriously.
The big alligators are scary but I think I would be more afraid of these younger ones should I happen upon one in the wild. Seems to me like they could run faster and catch me quicker. Eeeek!
 Meet Capt'n Crunch. He holds the world record for bite strength…2,982 pounds!
Crunch is over 800 pounds and is 13 feet 2 inches long. Apparently he doesn't get along with the others so he has his own enclosure.


 The boys loved this place and vowed to return some day. It was a great way to end our mini vacation.

We hopped in the car and aimed it towards Texas.

Funny story- We stopped in Louisiana for our next meal. The boys chose IHOP. They love their pancakes. Clark got strawberry cheesecake pancakes, Mason got buttermilk, Dane got chocolate chocolate chip. I ordered scrambled eggs and sausage.

I asked the waitress for some pico de gallo for my eggs. She replied, "We don't have that here." I must have looked dumbfounded because she added, "I don't know of anyone who serves that around here but we have hot sauce or salsa." I said, "Great. I will take salsa."

The food comes and the waitress leaves me with my eggs and a little bowl of suspect looking salsa. I gave it a try and it is weirdly sweet. Sweet salsa?!?!?! Not for this Texas girl. So the next time the waitress stops by to check on us she looks pointedly at the little bowl of uneaten salsa and asks, "Did you add onions to that?" Dumbfounded yet again, I ask, "Me? Um, no. But now that you mention it, this isn't like the salsa I am use to back home. This is off. It is sweet." She says, "Oh, I am sorry it wasn't good." And off she goes.

Late my bill arrives and I check it over before I pay it. Guess what the last charge is for? Salsa. 99 cents. Good god girl! Get a grip! You and your no pico and nasty sweet salsa, with added onions I apparently pulled from my sleeve!

Made me want to get back to Texas that much faster.

And we did just that. We made it to the driveway in Spring right at midnight. We were tired but excited to share all adventures with Ed. It was a really great time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Beach Trip- Day 3

Day 3 started out with a "Dolphin and Nature Cruise" in Wolf Bay at Orange Beach, Alabama. We, along with 41 other people, plus the captain and co-captain set off on a pontoon boat in search of dolphins and other wildlife.
 We got lucky and spotted several dolphins right away!
Our luck was in full swing when we saw this mom and baby swimming around. 
Super cool!
Next the boat headed to the swampy section of Wolf Bay.
Here is an Osprey in the tree watching us watch him/her.
 This is a three year old Osprey nest. They are big nests that get bigger each year as the parents come back each year and add on to it.
 The landscape started to change the further back we got.
 A Swamp Lilly.
 Swamp Grass which helps filter the water in the bay.
 A Blue Heron hanging out on a marooned barge.
As we headed away from the swamp, Captain Russ called for any kids that wanted to drive to come take a turn. Clark was so there! Go, Clark, go!
Co-Captain Janie took family pictures for all the families on board.
 After that fun cruise we stopped at a restaurant called, Big Fish, in Orange Beach, for a late lunch.
My fish tacos look good, right?
With full tummies we drove to a funky gift shop called Purple Octopus for some souvenir t-shirts. Dane had a run in with a pirate- Aarggh!
 And we stopped for gas......
Later that evening we hit the beach again, this time for some water fun. I didn't take the Canon out again so these few pics are from my phone. Nonetheless, we had a ball jumping over waves and floating around. We stayed out in the water until it was so dark we couldn't see anyone else. Ha!
 Another long and fun day at the beach!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Individual Beach Photos

I loved spending these days on vacation with my boys. They are truly amazing people each in their own brilliant way. They are smart, funny, caring, adventurous, and brave. My heart swells with love when I think about how remarkable they are. I am lucky to be able to spend this precious time with these precious souls.

These individual photos show glimpses into their characters and personalities. 
(They picked their own poses.)
I LOVE each one.

Mason, age 17
Clark, age 20
 Dane, age 12