Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Leaving Mexico Beach

After spending almost a week in Mexico Beach, we have come to really enjoy our little town on a beautiful beach. We never have taken a picture of any of our Sunday morning worship services, but this one was certainly in a unique location. This was taken ten minutes before the 8:00 a.m. beach service, and our crowd would expand greatly in the next few minutes. For example, the couple next to the water was out for a morning jog on the beach, and ended up joining us for church instead. Coming ten minutes early meant that Mark got asked to be one of the morning's bible scripture readers.

We have almost forgiven our Rustic Sands campground for the awful flood because we have enjoyed the local entertainment there so much. On Tuesday and Saturday evenings, Randy and Art play an incredible guitar/saxophone duet of musical fun. There's some audience participation for sing-alongs, and they play an occasional two-stepping song. So once again, we were happy campers.

After our one day of rain, we have had incredible blue sky days. In six days here, we have visited St. George Island, Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, and St. Joseph Peninsula beaches. On our last full day in the area, we returned to our very favorite of all--Crooked Island Beach. We are so glad we read about this hidden gem on a fellow blogger's site!

We are always amazed at the wildlife we see at the beach. Being from a land-locked state, all these salt-water creatures are still foreign to us. Mark got a water-view of this crab, showing off the fact that the crab has eyeballs on stems on the top of his head.
Crabs look a little different from a bird's-eye perspective. This guy was a little shy when we started taking pictures . .

and headed for his hole. He was wishing that hole was a little deeper when the photographer followed him home.

A little further down the beach we found a dead horseshoe crab belly up. This was a big crab, about twice as long as Mark's foot.

Walking about a mile north from the parking area brought us to an area with more shells than we had ever seen. We literally walked past millions of sea shells today.

Most of the shells where basic vanilla and about an inch in size. But some were so big we just had to bend down to pick them up. These cockles were as big as Denisa's hands.

Out of the millions available, Denisa selected a choice few to spell out the word "Florida" on the white sand about three miles from the entrance point. It was high enough on the beach that tides shouldn't disturb it, and we didn't see anyone else that walked this far today. We wonder how long "Florida" will stay intact on the beach.

Even though we didn't see any people this far up the beach, we had plenty of feathered friends to entertain us. Denisa loves to watch pelicans hunt for food in the Gulf. From their view flying over the water, they plunge head first through the air into the surf below. Denisa usually giggles and yells, "Boom!" when they hit the water head first. Today we noticed that each pelican seemed to have a fishing companion. About the time they surfaced from the water with a fish in their mouth, a sea gull would appear to try to grab a piece of it. We watched as the working pelican/lazy sea gull pairs worked their way along the coast.

As we got closer to the parking area, we had more beach wanderers to visit with. This woman was holding a star fish inside one of those huge cockle shells. A fisherman had caught the starfish on his line.

We talked to the fisherman, who explained that starfish seem to like the bait he was using that day. He caught another star that was lying in the sand now.

Still alive and flexible, mark picked up the starfish to give more perspective of its size. We feel like we have been particularly blessed to see so many of God's wonders on the beach today!

When we started our three mile walk back to the car, Mark spotted two sand dollars right away. That started a race, to see who could find the most. We found a few lying on the beach, but the most fun was grabbing them out of the water as they tumbled to land for the first time. Mark's eagle eyes led him to an impressive win of 9 to 4. We also spotted three olive shells, some sea coral, and a tiny jewel box shell.

But our most interesting salt water encounter of the day was at the entrance to the beach where a small crowd had gathered. It seems that a local fisherman had snagged a baby shark, and the children on the beach were very interested in seeing it.

The hook was removed without too much damage to the baby shark,

and he was thrown back into the surf. We watched as he hit the first wave, and then swam back out to the sea.

We have really loved these long walks on the beach during our stay on the "forgotten coast" of Florida. We will probably return some day, but for now we are wandering on down the road to witness even more of God's wonders.

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