(As usual I’m posting this after the fact, so don’t get confused! I didn’t realize Huck was publishing the posts from this week already :))
Todays agenda: Tate’s Hell State Forest, Oysters and the Free Nature Center AND Apalachicola
Boy we packed a LOT into this day! At the end I’ll post Huck’s flikr album so you can see more of the pics.
The museum director told us that Lynn’s was the best place to get oysters. We decided to go there for lunch the next day. On our way we drove to the board walk in Tate’s Hell State Forest. There are acres of dwarf cypress trees. It is a mystery they haven’t solved. If you take a seed from one of these trees and plant them elsewhere the tree will be full sized. But not here. They are only about about 8 feet tall. And it is odd as we had driven through miles of pine forest and you can see the cypress are surrounded by pine forest. (Later someone told me there used to be a lot more cypress around until they got cut down.) There are supposed to be a lot of alligators in the waters under the board walk, but it must have been too cold for them as we didn’t see a sign of one anywhere. And we looked long and hard!
I do wonder what the counter guy At Lynn’s thought of us! All the staff were super nice and I explained we are from CO which is why we have sooo many questions and know so little about oysters. He was patient and even demonstrated for the kids how to eat a crawfish they sold there since we missed that experience in NOLA. We asked if the oysters they sold were local oysters and he said, “yes ma’am. Just a week ago allowed to start harvesting them again. Right over there on this side of the bridge.” (the bridge that goes over to St. George Island.)
We had raw oysters, Rockefeller oysters, and another version that was steamed and had cheese, cream cheese and jalapeños. It’s more accurate to say Dacen and Brielle attempted to eat the raw. They didn’t technically consume them. They did go on to try at least one other version each. We also had shrimp dip and crackers and we tried a tomato based version of gumbo. I felt like we needed to try another version of gumbo since we didn’t love the one in NOLA. I’m so glad we did! This one was much better! I think the kids even ate the okra in it.
It was fun to watch the pelicans and other birds while we ate. It was so gorgeous and peaceful and fun out on the back deck. I was trying to get a pic of the boat and the pelicans with their throats expanded when this bird photobombed us at the right time!
The nature center was the other item on the agenda that day. It was free and it was AMAZING!!! We had so much fun and learned and explored so much. It was very well organized and laid out. I was so impressed. I loved the tank with the turtles the best (and evidently didn’t get a pic!) There were several different varieties and they were fun to observe.
We learned about the biology and importance of estuaries. What is an estuary? I’m so glad you asked! It’s where a river meets the bay or ocean. We learned how they are affected by so many factors that occur upstream. Floods, drought, pollution, dying off of species, etc. all contribute to the health of the estuary. That in turn affects the bays and oceans. And vice versa, things that happen in the ocean afect the estuaries and can affect life upstream. (particularly animals, plants, microorganisms, and insects).
There was the most amazing classroom! It had carpeted risers like you find in an elementary music room. All around were displays of skeletons in groups such as crustaceans, animals, etc. And you can touch them!!! The kids had so much fun touching and examining them. That is the bone of a sawfish in the pic on the right. There were also jars and jars of specimen that were preserved. There were microscopes with samples you could look at. I know my dad, a science teacher and entimologist, would LOVE this place. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to read this post and know what the kids experienced. 🙂
There was a board walk and I was hoping we would see some of the wildlife we had just learned so much about. Especially river otters! Nope. Just a couple of birds. Oh well. We walked along the nature trail they have there also. We saw lots of native vegetation and trees. One guy was excited to make sure the kids saw the squirrel. I didn’t tell him we were not impressed by squirrels since we have soooo many that live in our own trees and eat our pumpkins! 🙂 I was glad we didn’t run into the black bear that were posted about all over the place. Or alligators for that matter.
We went over the bridge to Apalachicola in hopes of seeing some of the animals that are supposed to be in the estuary. The town was super cute, but I don’t think we were in the right area for otter sightings. And we didn’t have a lot of time to go looking for the right spot. But we found what might be the largest Adirondack chair ever! And Caden was inspired for a super creative picture! He’s actually near the top of this tree!
At the pygmy cypress
In the trees
Overlooking pygmy cypress
Waiting for lunch
Caden ate a raw oyster
Steph ate a raw oyster
Steph and Caden
Dacen tried a raw oyster
Brielle tried a raw oyster
Hurricane evacuation plan
Pelicans photobombed by seagull
Check this out
Shells and bones
Fresh water marsh trail
Boardwalk to bay
Tradin'in the RV for this baby
We're spelling Wach
This oar that?
Wee wittle Wachs