“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family”
~ Anthony Brandt quotes
Starting at the left, my Mom, sister Hayley, Me, Aunt Carol, Dad, and Uncle Bobby, with Haydyn and Tyler in front
We returned last evening from a wonderful trip to Okeechobee, Florida to visit my family. We landed in the Orlando airport last Thursday morning, and were met there by my parents, sister, niece and nephew. It was a happy reunion for all of us and the kids loved seeing the big aquarium as well as riding the escalators and moving walkways for the first time, that were there inside the airport! After grabbing a quick lunch, we all headed over to Melbourne where we spent a delightful afternoon at the Brevard Zoo. A very small baby monkey clinging to its mother was one of the highlights at the zoo, as well as feeding the Lorikeets! Being a bird lover, I never pass up an opportunity to feed and hold birds, and the kids got a big kick out of Aunt No No and Uncle Wes being covered with hungry green birds! They sipped until the last drop had been lapped up from the plastic feeding cups, while Tyler and Haydyn cheered them on. The kids got so excited each time someone would ride the zip line above, over the alligator and crocodile ponds, and I must admit, a few of us added this adventure to our “to do” list!
Our family all admiring the adorable baby monkey at the zoo!
Haydyn and Tyler watch with amazement while we feed the Lorikeets
Haydyn enjoys petting a precious monkey sculpture
Much of the beautiful zoo, filled with native flora and fauna, is seen from a wonderful boardwalk that leads and curves throughout the thickly filled grounds, affording nice views into the animal enclosures a couple of feet below. This zoo is the only zoo which has been completely built by volunteers, and they have done a superb job! We greatly enjoyed walking about the beautiful natural Florida setting, with the kids growing more exited with each new critter discovered! Everyone was amazed with the stunning colors, which the beautiful and large Cassowary sported on his head and neck, as well as the many gorgeous bird species in the aviary. We watched the Otters swim and play, and they seemed as curious about watching us as we did them. Hayley and I fed the Giraffe, and the kids fed the fish and ducks with Uncle Wes. All too soon it was time for the zoo to close, and for us to leave. From there we met my Uncle Bobby and Aunt Carol, whom Wes and I haven’t seen in way too many years. Big hugs were given as we met at the restaurant, and supper was enjoyed with lots of conversation, laughs and much catching up! Afterwards we went to their house for a very nice visit before heading back to Okeechobee.
Tyler and Aunt No No watch and play with the Otter
Hayley fed the Giraffe first, then it was my turn
A gorgeous Crocodile enjoying the sun!
Mom, Hayley, and I, along with the kids, watch the person going down the zip line
The kids enjoy playing in a water puddle at the zoo
Friday, after enjoying a nice lunch at the new Applebees in Okeechobee, our entire family headed over to Ft. Pierce, to spend the afternoon at the beach. The weather was gorgeous, and couldn’t be more perfect, as we walked down to the beach to enjoy several hours of fun. The first thing on our agenda was to build a sand creature, which turned out to be an alligator. It was a short life for him though, as he quickly lost a leg, by getting stepped on, then Haydyn covered his eyes with sand, and he quickly got buried, as Uncle Wes started digging a serious hole, which quickly turned into the kids own private swimming pool, when the tide started coming in and filled it. They spent hours playing and laughing in it! After building my sand critter with the kids, it was time to go boogie boarding, and although the water was cool at first, it quickly felt warm. The waves were pretty good, and we enjoyed riding a bunch of them in. The best rides however, were when my brother, Marshall, let me borrow his surfboard, which I laid on, and body surfed several of the waves all the way to the shore. It was awesome and made you feel as if you were shooting forward at 100 mph! Before leaving the water to go enjoy a picnic supper, we walked down the beach for a bit, where Wes found a baby puffer fish, that had washed on shore from a wave, so he quickly got it, and while carefully keeping it wet in the water, let the kids see it before sending it out. We found a lovely shady spot for our picnic and there was a delightful breeze in the air, as we ate and talked of our adventures that afternoon. Before leaving for home, the kids, me included, enjoyed playing on the playground for awhile.
Uncle Wes and the kids building the personal swimming pool
Grandpa helps Tyler ride a wave!
Uncle Wes and Aunt No No building a sand alligator with Haydyn
Enjoying a yummy picnic at the beach
A beautiful yellow crab pays us a visit
Grandpa and Daddy help Haydyn as she gets ready to slide
Saturday we went into town for a short shopping trip and spent the afternoon at home, while riding bikes, playing with the chickens and building a fire to BBQ on and later roast marshmallows to make smores. The kids ate all of their supper in anticipation of getting to eat smores, and we all had lots of fun sitting around the fire, roasting our marshmallows, and constructing smores. But the best part of course, was eating them! I think Haydyn may have enjoyed hers the most, and ended up wearing as much as she ate! It was a beautiful and very pleasant evening, as we all sat there relaxing, while watching the gorgeous sun setting behind the beautiful woods in my parents backyard.
Haydyn wears her smore with pride!
Tyler proudly sports his too!
Sunday lunch was all spent together, and we had an early family birthday celebration for Tyler, whose 4th birthday is today. I think that eating the cake was the favorite part for many of us, after Tyler blew out his candles. Later that afternoon and evening, we all enjoyed walking a nearby, newly made trail, that my brother Marshall has been working on along with several other volunteers, to make for hiking, horseback riding and mountain bike riding. It’s located in a gorgeous setting that is reached by walking across a beautiful large cow pasture. While walking along this several mile long trail, one enjoys hammocks, Saw Palmetto groves, and woods that are filled with gorgeous Live and Scrub Oaks whose limbs are completely lined with Resurrection Ferns. We also saw ten Armadillos, turkey, and White-tailed Deer, as well as many cows. Tyler even got to go on his first horseback ride, while riding with his grandpa, on my sister’s fiancé, Justin’s beautiful horse named Jack. It was an afternoon that made for many happy memories and we ended it with supper at Five Guys!
A gorgeous pasture setting along the Grassy Island Trail
The Mommy turkey and two of her four babies enjoying eating the corn my Dad puts out for them
Monday morning we drove back to Orlando with my parents and got to enjoy lunch all together before they dropped us off at the airport. After giving hugs and saying our goodbyes, we went through security, and were back home several hours later. Lots of happy memories were made in our several days spent there! Today, Wes and I have been catching up and will be back to painting full swing tomorrow.
To view all our many exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
“Collect the future’s history today while it is still affordable.”
Until next time ~ Rachelle