Sun…Sand…And Surf!

Fun with family at the beach!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Our family taking over the pool

We landed in Punta Gorda, FL last Friday a week ago, where my parents, niece and nephew picked us up, starting our family adventure in Ft. Myers, while celebrating my parent’s upcoming 50th Wedding Anniversary.  We weren’t at the hotel very long, before getting in the large pool, and what a delightful surprise to find it was heated!  Soon we were joined by my brother and sister and their families.

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A great photo-op at the Shell factory

We woke to the sound of falling rain Saturday morning and unfortunately it hung around for the day. So we all headed to the Shell Factory which turned out to be quite an experience, as it was filled with everything from shells and gemstones from around the world to a room full of pirates!  Needless to say the kids had a ball exploring everything, and even my little niece, Raelynn, feel in love with a skeleton pirate, and enjoyed her first horse ride with help from her Uncle Wes.

Raelynn is in love ~ Happy 1st horse ride

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Mom, Dad and Raelynn in the Shell Factory

We ate supper at the Shrimp Shack which was a treat for our taste buds!  While eating a gentleman from the table next to us stood up and said to my dad . . . “Larry Davis . . . Is that you?”  Looking over at them, we quickly recognized them, and we’re delighted that it was some dear friends and our pastor for many years when I was a teenager!  The air was filled with laughter and joyful sounds, as hugs were given after not seeing each other for 27 years, and it was a happy reunion indeed!  By then the rain had finally ended, so we spent the remainder of the evening playing mini golf at Smugglers Cove. Greeted by alligators and a life-sized pirate ship, our golfing adventure only got better as we went along!

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Marshall, Alicia, Haydyn and Tyler

We woke the next morning and we’re thrilled to see it wasn’t raining, so off we went to Lovers Key State Park, a favorite beach of mine in the Ft. Myers’s area!  Soon our happy toes were walking through powdery white sand, and within minutes in the water!  The kids were having a blast hanging on to my pink float and diving down to look for shells. They would pop up out of the water, holding shell treasures, which were placed on the float, and added to as more were found.

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Me, Haydyn, Bubba and Allison . . . a float full!

We decided to enjoy our picnic lunch beachside, while enjoying the gorgeous view from our sandy restaurant!  After lunch, several of us enjoyed another hour or more of fun while swimming and floating around in our salty paradise.  But alas the time had come for our fun to end, and we headed back to Okeechobee, where my parents live. Reluctantly the kids, including the tall one… me, left while telling the beach goodbye.

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A family that surfs together . . . stays together!

My brother was able to get off work early Tuesday, so we all headed over to my all time favorite beach, which my brother and I have always called the “pay beach” since we had to pay to go, as it is a State Park in Ft. Pierce.  With  surfboards and boogie boards in tow, we headed down the sandy path to the beach, and noticed immediately that the waves were great and some amazing waves were coming in sets of three,  giving thrilling rides as we rode them in!  We spent a few hours there while constantly enjoying the great surf!  

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Tyler at the end of a good ride!

After riding my brother’s longboard in a couple of times, I was heading back out when another huge wave crashed on me, jerking the longboard, and snapping my two fingers, that I somehow had managed to get wrapped up in the surfboard leash, and I was amazed when I came out of the water and saw that I still actually had my fingers!  They’re still black and blue, but at least I can bend them, and can touch them without bringing tears to my eyes!  Guess that’s the kind of souvenirs that adrenaline junkies bring home!

Haydyn and Wes building the longest sand castle ~ With their boards ~ Haydyn buried

We’re back home in the Smokies now, and my family is here visiting this week, enjoying more adventures and making more memories!  I’m delighted to be able to spend Father’s Day with my dad this year, and want to wish him, my father-n-law George, and all of you dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!!


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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Water, Sunshine and Paddles!

Water, Sunshine and Paddles!

by Rachelle Siegrist

Ah . . . . Heaven on earth!

We were blessed with some beautiful weather this past week, so we decided to take advantage of it one morning while kayaking at a nearby lake. The drive along the Foothills Parkway revealed splendid views of the mountains, with crystal clear skies above! Soon we were climbing into the kayaks, and paddling our way across the lake.

What a beauty!

We decided to take advantage of the higher water levels and paddle back along a stream. Each curve in the meandering watery path, brought more lovely view, and we couldn’t believe our good timing when we happened upon a Great Blue Heron sitting atop a large stump, illuminated by the sun, he looked as if a spot light was set directly on him! As you can imagine, I snapped away with the camera, thinking to myself the entire time “Now this is a painting!” He graciously let me get several great shots, before flying off, his large wings swooping out, gently lifting him up and on his way along the creek.

It’s like kayakig on glass

We saw several fish, some large ones striking at times, making the water splash and creating a big sound! Peering down into the amazingly clear water, we watched them swim below as well, many times passing directly beneath us. Winding our way along, we discovered the pebble covered beach where we ate the last time we were there, was completely submerged, so we paddled along as far as we could go, and found another perfect small pebble beach, which served as an awesome picnic spot!

What a great lunch spot!

Even though I love peanut butter sandwiches, they always taste even better when eaten in the woods! After relaxing a bit, we decided to head back, so I paddled as far up as possible before letting the strong current catch me, sending me on my way through the small rapids, and even though small, it gave a wee thrill!

Enjoying the wee rapids

I love lounging back in my kayak while propping my legs up on the front and paddling with my arms at times. It makes you feel as if you’re swimming, only that way you can stay warm! Okay, I know it’s kind of cheating in a way, but for a water baby who loves to swim, but still hasn’t mastered resisting the painful effects of cold water, this method works pretty good!

Wes is scoping out our lunch spot

The wind had picked up that afternoon, so paddling back across the lake certainly gave us a workout. I must admit that even though it was hard at times, most of the time I was totally loving it, because of the choppy waves it was creating, rocking me and my beloved pink kayak back and forth, making me feel as if I was riding a float at the beach. Only we had this beautiful mountain beach all to ourselves!

What a beautiful place!

Of course the Bald Eagle leaving his lofty perch, and soaring right over us before flying off to the mountainside, added to the excitement and beauty of the day! Even though our kayaking adventures always end way too soon for me, it makes me start looking forward to our next adventure!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle