Monday, September 17, 2007

Holden Turtles

Well, I'm back from a week at Holden Beach, North Carolina with the kids (and Oma, Grandpa, and my sister's whole family of 7). It was loads of fun. This was the first year that my sons took a real liking to the waves, either jumping them or riding them on boogie boards. Lil Mis "L" was scared to death of the water for the first half of the week. Granted the waves were pretty ginormous, but even after she was OK with wading in knee deep, she'd completely freak out if she saw me out there swimming.

The most exciting part of our stay this year (no we weren't evacuated this time) was the nest of sea turtle eggs right near the dunes by "our" place. Not only that, but it was the week that they were expected to hatch! Now I didn't see the nest "boil" as they say. (That's when the sand bubbles up because the baby turtles are pushing their way up and out.) But I did see the most adorable little tracks in the sand one morning. Sea turtles are heavily protected on Holden Beach. They've got a Turtle Patrol specially equipped with red t-shirts and ball caps monitoring the whole process. They had the nest taped off and they dug a trench out to the water to give the hatchlings a better chance of making it to the sea. Two days after the hatch, the Turtle Patrol noticed a crab hole down in the nest, so they carefully hand dug up any remaining eggs or hatchlings. There were five babies left. I asked if I could touch one of the broken pieces of shell. Would you believe it's ILLEGAL to touch a piece of shell? I can understand why touching the endangered turtles would be a problem, but a discarded piece of turtle eggshell? C'mon. I wasn't asking to keep it. Oh well. We all got to watch them walk the trench, some much faster than others. We placed our bets and named them, but since they all looked the same it was hard to be sure who really "won". They didn't crawl into the ocean either, they were collected at the end of the trench and then placed in the water. A thunderstorm was approaching and the Patrollers wanted to speed things along a bit. Still pretty amazing. Most likely a once in a lifetime experience.

*Because the turtles are attracted to light, we weren't allowed to use flash photography, so I didn't bother taking any pictures since it was dusky when they made their way down the beach. The one I found online, however is pretty good and shows the cute little tracks they make, like the ones I saw.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ren Fest, Races, and Rides

Last weekend, as in just over a week ago, I took my three darling children to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Huzzah! It happened to be the hottest day in August, but we went anyway, and I think we had fun. Sometimes, when it's very hot and humid, and I can feel sweat sliding down the valleys of my body, it's hard to feel anything other than hot and perhaps a little irritable. I made some cloaks for the kids to wear, but guess what? I forgot to bring a camera, so a whole day of photo ops was lost. I tried to make a conscious effort to store up some vivid memories, though. Let's see, we started out by spending nine bucks for three snow balls, and then walked over to the playground area. On our way over there, I noticed a sign a for free pony rides, and L wanted one, so she got to ride around the ring once on a little brown pony. She wanted the white pony, but didn't make a fuss. (That's my girl.) Our quest for the day was to enjoy as much shade as possible, and the playground was mostly shady, but unfortunately the jousting was not. We stood off to the side in a small patch of shadow cast by a small spindly tree and saw two jousts. The boys wanted to know why no one was knocked off his horse. We watched two plays. The first was Robin Hood, the children's theater version where volunteers from the audience act out the story. We sat still and watched. The shade shifted and we got a little baked in the sun. Then we walked around a bit, bought some wooden swords and then watched most of the Hack and Slash show, we were late and the best shady seats we could find were behind some posts and trees so we had to lean to get a good view. Oddly enough, even though it was so hot, and we were sweating quite a bit, I guess the kids were well hydrated because it seemed like each time we visited the "privies", five minutes later someone else had to "go" again. I was losing most all my water through my skin... After about 4 hours of wandering around peering in shops, and spending too much money on beverages and food, we all agreed it was time to leave. It would have been much more enjoyable on a cooler weekend, but this was the one when kids were free!

Friday "Grandma" took all of us to the Maryland State Fair. I usually don't like the fair. You see, I have lived for 30 years only about a half mile away from the fair, and it gets old. I also get annoyed with all the increased traffic and lack of parking at the shops, but actually this year it wasn't so bad. Maybe I just stayed home more this past week. Anyway, we went to the fair on Friday and had a really fun time. We saw lots of cows, horses- part of a pony show, pigs- with 4 day old piglets, chickens-and just hatched chicks, and other farm animals, prized vegetables and local honeybees, but L was disappointed that the cows babies weren't being born as scheduled. Grandma also bought us tickets for rides. I took the boys on a little caterpillar roller coaster, L on a merry-go-round (and tried not to get sick), and we all went through a mirror maze fun house. We got to look through a telescope and see the sun. It just looked like a bright yellow circle, no spots or flares, probably because it was a little overcast. D won a stuffed animal for popping three balloons (for $5) by throwing darts at them, and then the man gave L a little blue bear just for smiling at him with her big blue eyes. Then, since I have never once been to the races here in town, we watched two horse races as well. Grandma placed a two dollar bet on number 6, her first bet ever, but he came in 4th place. Oh well, at least the parking was free. It turned out to be a much more educational "field trip" than I had expected too. We learned a good bit about erosion and global warming and how it would effect our wildlife and streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed area. Overall a rollicking good time. Experienced through the eyes of my children, it was like being a kid again myself. Thanks again Grandma M!