Farewell to Florida

A month goes by in a wink, and we soon found ourselves preparing to say goodbye to Florida…It had been a busy few weeks, full of remodeling and unpacking and encouragement and teaching and learning, and in our last week we found ourselves saying farewell with some very special treats!

Just down the road from the house where we were staying was a little park called Turkey Creek. It boasted a forested boardwalk, which we wanted to be sure to check out before leaving the area, and so we picked an afternoon to explore, uncertain whether we would be encountering a refreshing woodland walk or an endangered-mosquito-protection-preserve, lol!

A sharp contrast to the beaches, this was a shadowy, muted marshland world where looking down tumbles and swirls delightfully into looking up!

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The water is brown with the tannins of all the trees that are keeping their “feet wet” in its cooling ribbons, but it is clear and clean and sandy-bottomed…

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Appearing to drift lazily along…

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But with a surprisingly strong current!

Which we learned on a quite personal level, when Joe uttered those fateful words, “It fell out of my pocket. The camera fell out of my pocket.”

We tried to stop. We tried to walk back upstream to look for it, but the current was simply too strong for us to make any headway! So, we floated to the next dock, where the kids and I sat and dangled our feet over the water while Joe ran back up the trail, floated back down the river, and walked slowly along until…

He did actually find the camera! Hurray and thank you, Lord! It had settled right to the bottom, and was already almost completely covered with sand, with just the little red wrist-strap adrift in the swirling waters…And so, all of these great photos of our float down the creek were thankfully preserved and able to be shared!

The water was quite cold, but so exciting!

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Oh, happy paddlers and drifters and splashers!

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Sometimes, it was hard work trying to navigate from creek-bank to creek-bank, in search of a spot where our feet would touch, and we could all group up again…

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And sometimes it was just good, floating, kicking, dunking fun!

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The banks were full of flowers and dragonflies, and thankfully nothing else of the biting or slithering or snapping varieties!

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Underwater, the rushing and waving grasses and roots sometimes felt a little creepy, but it was all really quite lovely and serene…

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We ended our float on a sandbar, chilled to the bone, and happy-tired after such excitement!

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Later in the week, we were treated to a farewell dinner in Destin, which put us out once again at the sugary beaches, enjoying them for the first time at sunset…

This beach was a family-fun-extravaganza, with plenty of sand-play (of course…)

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A zero-depth-entry wave pool…

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A photo booth with picture-perfect backdrops…

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A knee-high kiddie pool, just right for even our youngest water-adventurer…

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Followed by a sandbar, where bigger kids can enjoy bigger waves and everyone else can enjoy being nearby in the shallows!

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How lovely to watch as the bright turquoise waters cooled down to a deep and thoughtful slate blue while the sky turned rosy and peachy, and the clouds caught fire in turns…

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As the evening light faded, the boys turned into a blur of “surfing”, as again-and-again they tried standing on their boards in the shallow waves…

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And then the sinking sun set the surf aglow…

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And the moon rose over the Florida beach…

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Goodnight, goodnight!

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And then it was also time to say farewell to Beach Church!

It was a bright and clear and calm day, the waters barely rippling, more swimming-pool-like than we had ever seen them.

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The narrow “greenbelt” of seaweed that had always been there was gone, and the waters sparkled crystal-clear as far as the eye could see.

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But there were newcomers to our beach experience – jellyfish! Jellyfish everywhere! Delicate and translucent and almost-unnoticeable…And then, once you saw one, you realized that they were everywhere! Sometimes alone, sometimes in groups of 3, 5, 20 at a time, lazily drifting and looping along with the gently rippling waves…

Not stingers, thankfully, but “fragile comb jellies”, characterized by tiny iridescent filaments running in rows along the length of their soft, oval bodies…They were super-fabulous, and we stared and stared and took photo after photo as God’s precious gift added new grace to a familiar landscape! 

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And, of course, Asher caught one for observation :), and we all admired his rainbow-sparkly filaments up-close, but he was soon released!

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And we enjoyed one last lovely beach-church-day of swimming and paddling and splashing and sun and surf 🙂

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And then, as a final surprise, my friend treated us to a day at Big Kahuna’s waterpark! An especially special gift for my three kiddos who, I realized, had never been to a waterpark! Splash parks, pools, waterfalls, sliding rock, swimming holes, beaches – yes; but waterpark – no!

How exciting, after having passed by several times and admired the huge slides, to have the opportunity to spend the afternoon enjoying the thrills-and-spills of a waterslide park!

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I wondered if little-miss-Genevieve might be relegated to a kiddie-pool, but it turns out that she’s so tall (and so brave!) that she was able to ride just about everything! Beginning with this huge racer, which she gleefully jumped onto twice!

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And followed by a variety of other tubes-and-slides-and-chutes of all kinds!

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Where is she? Oh, there she is! (Left side, under the wave 🙂 ) Armed with goggles, and unafraid of water in her face, she was cheerfully caught by Joe or I at the run-out of each slide, ready to go again!

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Although sometimes I laughed because I could barely see her inside the giant floats…

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She had no trouble keeping up with us all day long 🙂

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And at the end of the afternoon, all of us enjoyed the kiddie-pool, which is actually just as awesome as the rest of the park, lol!

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And so this chapter in our life drew to a close. Having completed the work that the Lord had given us, having enjoyed His abundant provision of an integrated vacation, having been astonished again at the indescribable beauty of his infinitely-varied creation, we said goodbye to Florida. We set our sights once more on Alabama, where I hope that we will soon see the pieces of a picture begin to come together…A picture that looks like a little slice of land where we can build a little house, a picture of tall trees and green pastures and quiet waters, where we can live and love and praise the God who gives us all good things!

 

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