On Thanksgiving morning we loaded the kids into our packed car and took off for the beach! No typical festivities for this family…we want some adventure. We were on our way to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park down in Florida. It has a campground, but we were in it for the Wilderness area…the last 7 miles of the peninsula off into the Gulf is all-natural and just waiting for us to hik
e into it. On the way we stopped in Tallahassee for a buffet Thanksgiving feast – a place called Kacey’s that was listed in an article as one of the few spots open for the day. It was fine; not the best food but when our bill came out we decided it tasted pretty dang good. $6.71 each! what! yeah…just for Bryan and I too. Zoe was $3.75 and Avi was free. Our whole Thanksgiving feast cost less than a lunch at Chick-fil-a, so we overtipped the waitress and were on our way!
Arriving at St. Joseph was a surprise as there is an Air Force installation at the beginning of the peninsula, fancy beach houses in the middle, and then the state park. As advertised, we registered to backpack into the wilderness and paid our $5. At the trailhead the kids ran around while we got stuff together. Bryan had most of the camping junk in his big backpack. I carried Avi in the kid-carrier backpack, plus food and some other randoms. Zoe carried a little pillow, doggy, and snacks in her backpack. We were on the trail around 3pm though it felt later in the day since the sun sets early here. The hike was easy; a sandy winding trail through a scrubby woods. Zoe stopped a ton, though, to pick up stuff or make trail markings for other hikers. She did great and seemed to have an awesome time! There was a marker at a mile and a trail up over the dune to the beach, so we figured it was time for us to find a campsite. You aren’t permitted to camp on the beach – just over the dune. We hiked up the dune area and along it for a bit before finding a cool little spot just down in the scrubb that had been cleared. Surely people had camped here before.
After setting up the tent we spent the rest of the evening at the beach. We waded in – the water was too chilly to swim. Both kids love running in the surf. Zoe got a huge shell collection. There were so many shells at this beach!!! Like, piles of them. It was a fun relaxing evening. We then watched the sunset from the dune, and then it got cold! Avi and I retreated into the tent to play while Zoe and Bryan took another walk on the beach to see all the stars. It was a cold night, but we all stayed super comfy in the tent. In fact, Avi slept better than he has in days.
The morning was also cool. But, once the sun came over the trees we warmed up. The kids spent the morning playing in the sand, climbing scrubby trees, and messing around. Bryan and I packed up and we got walking. We decided to return via the beach. It seemed like it would be easier since the sand would be packed down – and nicer scenery. It made a great little loop hike. Again, Zoe did great hiking. We did have to prod her along a bit since she kept collecting shells and getting distracted. This time, Avi fell asleep in the backpack staring at the pelicans. Looked like another wonderful sunny day! We spent some time to explore the rest of the park and then got on the road again.
After our St. Joseph backpack trip we drove an hour up the road to Tyndall AFB. Spent the rest of the weekend here at the TLF. It’s been a nice home away from home for us. We even brought the kayaks and took a paddle around the bay inlet. Zoe loves it and Avi did pretty good, too! He has a nice new lifevest, so we are excited to get in the kayaks some more with the kids. As always, a trip to Tyndall must include a night at the bowling alley and a day at the beach. Our beach day was short, though. It was sunny out, but super windy…sometimes the wind whipped the sand up enough that it zinging our legs. Zoe swam in the gulf, which blew my mind since the water was chilly. But, she is a little fish! Avi went in a bit, but wasn’t committed enough to swim – he mostly dug in the sand and ate snacks behind our wagon-turned-windbreak.
Now we are back at home, and getting into the Christmas spirit! Holiday after holiday this time of year…keeps the time moving. Bryan and I are really feeling antsy to go – I can tell it’s been two years and we are looking forward to orders in the spring.