I have wanted to go to Marco Island since FOREVER and it ended up that Memorial Day was perfect! It's about two hours away, but you drive on the Tamiami Trail the entire way-so it's a really fun drive. The Tamiami Trail basically takes you from the Atlantic side of Florida to the Gulf side of Florida and straight through the Everglades the entire time. Sterling promised we could go back because we didn't get any pictures. On the way there the kids were fighting nonstop (we had friends with us and so all three carseats were in one row, it was horrible) so we didn't stop for anything, and then it was raining/hurricane weather the entire drive back. But we passed two blinking panther crossing signs, one huge statue of Bigfoot?, some incredible swamps/mangroves/rivers, a hilarious little post office (the size of an outhouse), and two MASSIVE statues of a panther and an alligator. As well as about three visitors center. So we will definitely have to drive the Tamiami Trail again.
Luckily, we made it to Marco Island, crossed over the gorgeous bridge, and took instructions from the incredibly nice old man at the gate to Tigertail Beach--to walk around this lagoon to get to the Gulf and find lots of shells. It was great advice, but it was a WALK! It felt like I was in a desert and the sun was beating down on me, and apparently to Will it felt like that times 1,000...which made it feel...a lot worse. But in the end we made it! The Gulf of Mexico!
|Our friends Brent and Janessa came and I am so glad! They were SOOO much fun to have and our kids love them so much!|
|Once Will could see water, he was revived.|
|It was such a pretty beach!|
I was nervous that it would be PACKED for Memorial Day so we left Miami at 8am to get there at 10am. It was almost empty in the morning, and was only starting to get really busy at around 3pm, which is when we left.
|Molly got to ride across the great sand desert, lucky duck.|
One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Marco Island was because I had heard they have the most beautiful seashells! Miami beaches sometimes have a couple here or there, but not very big ones and not very many. Case in point, last week at Crandon beach we found an entire bucketful of seashells, all about the size of a quarter or smaller and it took us (five people) the entire day to pick out that many. But I had heard that the shells on Marco Island can just be ginormous and there are sooooo many. The kids were in HEAVEN.
|Ruthie is such a good swimmer these days!|
|This is my favorite picture from the day. IT IS COMPLETELY UNEDITED. The water was that clear, the sky that blue, the sand that beautiful. Oh, it was heavenly.|
|Will and Molly and I made some attempts at sand castles. The seashell-y sand made it much more difficult. Mostly we just decorated everything with seashells and it was still a grand time.|
This is only the second time that Molly has really started trusting her puddle jumper and not relying on being held. She was CRAZY. She rode the waves, kicked her feet, flipped from front to back, and generally grinned and made us all laugh the entire time. NO FEAR from that little one. She was all about the warm Gulf of Mexico!
|Awww, daddy/daughter photo.|
|She's got a frog kick going on!|
|Standing over their loot.|
|Looking for shells.|
|Me and my little man. Don't mind the massive farmer's tan!|
|And straight into the water--all by herself!|
We went on a walk up and down the beach because we heard you can find incredible shells, sand dollars, and such. But we didn't. We DID see two stranded jelly fish (Ruth remembered being stung and was very stern with Will and Molly to NOT TOUCH IT!) and a horseshoe crab. Janessa and Brent saw a manatee. I think I saw it make a few waves, but I'm not sure. We saw TONS of tiny little fish.
|We called it quits at 3pm and as we loaded up the car, these clouds rolled in. This is driving over the bridge off of the island and back onto Florida.|
|The Everglades with rainfall like only Florida can muster!|
|And some more blurry Everglades.|
We had so much fun! I want to go back really bad--mostly to experience more of the Tamiami Trail, but also, those shells! It was such a fun beach! Poor Sterling, the tops of his feet are FRIED. We put sunscreen on FOUR TIMES (it was HOT and that sun beating down on us was NOT messing around) but I think his feet are just not used to it--he always has socks and shoes on. Luckily, I kept the redhead covered enough that she emerged unscathed. :) It was such a great Memorial Day and I'm so glad we found the time to explore more of Florida while we are here!