Wednesday, June 18, 2014

De Soto National Memorial, Anna Maria Island, Siesta Key, and... Shark Tooth Beach (again!)

It was still pouring rain the next morning, so going to the beach was out.  That's ok though, there was a NPS site in the area that we wanted to visit.  The De Soto National Memorial was our first stop of the day.

Upon entering the Visitor Center, the Ranger gave each child a Jr. Ranger book, pencil, and a compass (that they got to keep!).  Since it was pouring rain outside, we started our tour with the movie.  We were the only ones there, so after the movie the kids just made themselves comfortable and got to work on their books :).

There were a few interactive exhibits that the boys really enjoyed...

After reading the rest of the exhibits, the kids were able to finish up their books and turn them in for their badges and certificates.  The rain had slacked off at this point, so we did a (very) quick tour of the grounds and then made a dash for the car.

beautiful Gumbo Limbo trees

It was still raining too hard to go to the beach, so we decided to go have lunch somewhere and hopefully it would stop.  It worked!  By the time we were finished eating, the rain was gone and we were off to see some of the area beaches.

First, we went to Anna Maria Island.  Ya'll, I had the dangdest time finding the actual sand...or rather, access to the sand!  We tried following the GPS, but it was determined to take us to a dead end.  So, we just drove along until we could actually SEE the sand and water down a side street.  We were fortunate, I pulled down the little street with the peek-a-boo view of the Gulf and there was public parking along the side of it.  Room for about 3 cars and I snagged the last spot :).  Works for me!

I have no clue where we were at to tell ya'll the name of it, I just know we were on the beach on Anna Maria Island :).

It was pretty, a wide sandy beach with some nice shells...

The water was too rough to go swimming, so we didn't stay long.  We took a little walk, soaked in the view, then headed back to our car and on to the next beach.

Up next was Siesta Key.  We had been told that we simply HAD to go to Siesta Key.  Supposedly it was the most fairest of them all amongst the area's beaches.  Ok, let's go...


I'm sorry ya'll, but we were not impressed.  Maybe Siesta Key was just having an off day, but we didn't really like it.  Way too many...everything.  I think that was the problem for us.  Just all the...everything.  Does that make sense?  Just everywhere we looked we saw "stuff".  Buildings, people, people's stuff.  I think if we could have ignored all that, the beach would have been beautiful.  Maybe we will have to find out when the reallllly slow season is there and give it another try...!

Our third and final beach stop for the day was an easy choice for us.  We returned to our Shark Tooth Beach :)!

The storm had washed up so many wonderful treasures...

tiniest conch EVER :)

We were walking along, marveling over all the shark teeth and other things we were finding when a lady started talking to us.  She was so sweet, pointing out bits of different fossils and shells that we didn't know the names of.  The children quickly realized that she knew the names of many of their treasures and that she was happy to share what she knew with them...they were drawn to her and kept finding new things just so they could ask her what it was :).  Long story short, by the time we left the beach that day we had made a very special new friend.  We exchanged numbers and have been keeping in contact with our new friend M., a wonderful treasure indeed :).

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