Friday, October 25, 2013

At the Shore

perfect day
We are home again and I'm really missing the beach. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's currently 32° here. Our trip was just about perfect. We spent time walking the boardwalk, playing on the beach, checking out a retro arcade, eating good food, visiting a nature center, and watching far too many episodes of Chopped on the Food Network. EM has developed a Chopped addiction! Unfortunately for him, we don't have cable at home, so he's suffering from withdrawal.

builders at work
Friday was a beautiful day. We spent the morning on the boardwalk checking out the shops. Two years ago when we visited it was later in the season and most of the stores were already closed. This time we had a bit more available. At lunch time, we walked a few blocks back into the center of town and had a nice lunch. After a quick stop at the hotel for our beach gear, we hit the sand. Because the temperatures were much lower on our previous trip, the boys had not even set foot in the water. Now they finally had their chance to play in the sand and surf. EM was especially thrilled by the experience. He could barely contain his excitement. JT built a very elaborate castle and town along the edge of a puddle at the high tide line. The beach had very few people on it. It was a school day and the numbers did pick up a bit after 3pm, but mostly we had lots of room to spread out. We headed back to the hotel, had supper, and hit the pool. More Chopped episodes and we were ready for bed.

salt water marshes
Saturday morning we packed lunches and traveled south to the Wetlands Institute. Here's an excerpt from their overview page on their website:

We believe that people will value wetlands and coastal ecosystems if they understand how they work and why the health of those systems is so tightly intertwined with ours. That belief is the moving force behind all our programs.

JT has been reading a great deal about ecology in the last few weeks. He's starting to zero in on exactly what he wants to study in preparation for a career. The Wetlands Institute was a great place to further those interests.

The institute has an observation tower for a great view of the surrounding wetlands. They also have an aquarium and touch tank, a terrapin station, horseshoe crab exhibit, a gift shop, and a trail through parts of the marsh. We ate lunch in the picnic area while egrets went fishing nearby. In the afternoon, there was a 'creature feature' that focused on crabs. Brooke Knapick, the director of educational program development, did a wonderful job with the presentation. The four of us were the only attendees, but she still did a complete program, allowing us to handle several different crabs and other animals commonly mistaken for true crabs, such as hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs.

rescued terrapins
After the program, she told us about their terrapin conservation program and allowed the boys to hold some of those as well. Many times we find ourselves visiting places during the off-season. Sometimes it means we don't get to experience all of the things available at busy times of the year, but more often than not, we end up getting the full attention of staff members. This allows the boys to get all of their questions answered and not have to just be one in a crowd.

Probably the most exciting thing we saw at the institute was the feeding of Ollie the octopus. We arrived just in time to watch her work to open a plastic pretzel container to retrieve the yummy fish swimming inside. I had read many things about how smart octopi are, so seeing her in action was really cool. My husband wants a pet octopus now. As if our family wasn't weird enough already...

Sunday we had to pack up and come home. It was hard to leave the relaxation I was enjoying. Even though I took almost nothing to 'do school' the boys did plenty of learning.  The trip to the Wetlands Institute was educational, but even if we were not homeschoolers we would have visited. Learning is so much more than schooling for us. It is woven into everything we do.

Life is learning.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

We don't have cable either but we do have a Roku box and we are able to watch Chopped on it! My daughter misses The Weather Channel the most and they seem to be one of the few stations that do not stream live on the internet.....