Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lena & Gabe's Excellent Adventure (Days 7 & 8)

The last 2 days of our trip:

On Friday morning we woke up to the storm. Gabe and I cuddled up in the tent and had a long snuggle fest. Then we got up and went to the beach. Perdido Key is a very narrow strip of land, so if you stood in the right place, you could see the ocean on both sides. We’d been on the Gulf side up until then, but Gabe decided he wanted to explore the bay side. So we went to that side and walked along the beach. Gabe loved watching the sandpipers skittering along in their weird way, and the pelicans gliding over the water and diving for fish. It was all very nice until we came upon a dead octopus. Gabe thought that was just amazing, and I’d never seen one up close, so we went and looked at it. Then we noticed a big jellyfish in the water…and then we saw dozens more, all along the beach in the water and on the sand. They were humongous! We came across the behemoth one, about twelve inches across, and I had a stick so I opened up the ‘skirt’ and let Gabe see the tentacles. That sort of freaked him out, and he wanted to go back. He had lots of questions about jellyfish the rest of the day.

We swam a few times, jumping in the water for about ten seconds each time, which Gabe loved. Unfortunately, we both got sunburned that day, too. In the afternoon we walked the mile back to the car and went into town to get some hotdogs for our campfire. It was supposed to rain again that night, and it was cloudy off and on all day, but we were hoping for a little bit of time for a fire first. We walked back to the campsite, took a little nap, watched the most amazing sunset I think I’ve ever seen (of course my phone battery had died and I couldn’t take pictures, grrr). Then we dug a pit and tried to light a fire.

Okay, first of all, our wood had gotten wet in the rain the night before. Secondly, our paper had gotten wet TWICE and never fully dried from the rain the first night we camped at the state park. Then it had gotten damp again Thursday night. And if you’ve ever been to the beach, you know that nothing dries there. Nothing. Ever.

So we crumpled up our soggy damp paper and put our damp wood on top and about 5 pieces of kindling we’d found along the beach. I lit the paper about fifty times and every time it only smoldered and went out. I was getting really desperate. I hadn’t carried that huge bag of wood down the beach for nothing. FINALLY a piece of paper caught fire, and I lit about five others with the flame. They burned for about one minute and then went out. I was about to scream in frustration, but I moved some logs around instead, hoping that all the paper hadn’t burned and left us with a bunch of big, damp logs and nothing to start them with. And suddenly, a flame flickered up from the smoldering paper. We frantically fed pieces of cardboard into the flame, and eventually, our fight started up. It looked like the wood was burning really fast, so we started cooking hotdogs immediately. They kept getting charred, but we managed to eat a few. I put the last two pieces of wood on the fire and they lasted…for hours. We didn’t have any marshmallows, so Gabe decided we should roast dried figs on the fire, so we did that a while. Then Gabe looked at me and said, “This is the best night of my whole life.” And it was all worth it.

We threw a couple hotdogs on the fire so Gabe could see them turn black, which he thought was pretty cool. He also enjoyed poking them with his skewer stick, and lighting his skewer on fire and poking it into the sand to watch it extinguish. He sat in my lap and we huddled into the warmth when it got chilly on the beach. The fire lasted a long, long time, and I let Gabe stay up late until all the flames died out. He got to dump a bucket of water on the coals, which he also loved. And fortunately for us, it did not rain at all that night.

On Saturday morning we got up early and watched the most amazing sunrise while we packed up our stuff. I wanted to make it back to Arkansas that day, but it was such a long drive I thought we’d stop in Little Rock. But we left so early that we got back to Little Rock by 6pm, and it was so early that I thought I’d just stick it out. We drove 14 hours…remind me never to do that again. It was awful, and Gabe got bored, and we were both sore from riding so long. We got back late that night, ending our epic road trip. And we both survived.

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