(intentional black & white shots of Big Talbot Island Park beach)
...by a certain someone who came to her senses at the last minute and decided that an 11:00 a.m. departure for a 113 mile (one way) trip to a river where the number of daily riders are restricted and the suggested latest arrival time is 2:00pm – not to mention the prevalence of afternoon thunderstorms which can ruin a tubing day in a hurry – might not be prudent. Yes, the group was disappointed but she doubted that any of them had ever driven two hours (one way) only to miss a cut off time by a matter of moments, and she wasn’t keen to repeat that experience. The departure time had migrated a bit throughout the morning, and by 11:00 she suddenly got the feeling that it was entirely possible they’d drive all the way to Ichetucknee and be turned away at the gate.
The eleven children involved pulled long faces when a daycation detour was proposed. But (in my world) the adults prevail, and so it was that two very accommodating mothers – and me – drove the kids up to Big Talbot Island instead. It’s a short ride across the St. John’s River on the charmingly down-home Mayport Ferry, and across a bridge to the lovely Big Talbot Island.
It took a while for the eleven to give over to the change of venue, and there was residual crabbiness even while they romped on the ‘trees beach’ at Big Talbot Island. So they passed a few hours playing and complaining amidst the trees on this very picturesque beach.
They were fed sandwiches and sodas and Cheetos and watermelon and Red Velvet cupcakes. And while they did smile and play for a short time, there was was an undercurrent of discontent amongst them all. Someone cut their foot. Another one missed his video games and wanted air conditioning. There was no euphoria. I guess I’d deflated that when I pulled the plug on Ichetucknee earlier and they weren’t so eager to get over it.
So when the eleven pretty much decided they’d be happier at Huguenot Park beach, I conceded defeat and we backtracked to Huguenot, which is the first park just off the Mayport Ferry.
I hadn’t loved that first visit to Huguenot last week but this time we chose a different place to park the car on the beach, and what a difference the location made!
The eleven insisted we park the cars at the spot just before the intracoastal waterway melds into the Atlantic. We arrived at exactly low tide, so there was an enormous beach with a wonderfully large tidal pool. The girls of eleven excitedly grabbed their masks and snorkels (intended for the clear waters of the Ichetucknee River) and spent the next few hours face down as incoming tide swelled the shallows with marine life. The boys immediately set off for a different locale. The intracoastal’s small lake (a/k/a the “mucky bottom” lake) at low tide had a small island in the middle and they zeroed in on that. They swam back forth from “island” to beach until the island was once again subsumed with water a few hours later.
And I finally relaxed because now everyone seemed happy.
Even the gulls were talkative in a musical sort of way. The flock was chattering in such a chorus in the distance and it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. Today I felt magnanimous toward them. On other days, I admit to being totally annoyed with people who toss food into the air to “feed the birds” on the beach. The swarming mass, flapping and cawing for those few bits of bread, fly low overhead and are known to let loose without regard for those of us who just want to read or snooze without the threat of being shat upon. I’m not above asking people who insist on food-throwing to take it on down the beach, if they would, and I might not even say please.
But not today. The light on the Huguenot beach in late afternoon was shimmering, lustrous. The eleven were now lighthearted and happy with their respective Huguenot adventures. We’d added a couple of kids (and a third mom) to the mix; the two post-script children met up with us after the Ichetucknee letdown so they weren’t holding a grudge to begin with.
The treasures the snorkelers found was a magical way to end the diverted daycation.
(look closely and you’ll see the little hermit crab’s legs peeking out of the shell.)
Soon, the tide reclaimed our borrowed treasures, and then the day was done. We made it in the nick of time for the ferry’s last crossing with our bodies sunburned, a car full of beach sand and several sea gull souvenirs dotting the van.
I think the eleven would agree that it was a good day after all.