Sunday, September 23, 2012

forgot to mention about camping + T-ball photos

The campsite we stayed at in southeast Georgia was nice overall... there were some parts of it with some very scenic views.  But - one thing we had never experienced:  RV camp sites.  wow.  It was a very different culture!!  People had welcome mats & little yard flags outside / bird feeders hanging off of the awnings of their vehicles / flat screen TVs inside / some people with golf carts to get around the campsite / and of course Christmas lights hanging up from the awnings or covered porches.  The group next to us even had a projector and sound-system.  They had movie nights each night.  Then... the place was quiet.  (well, except for the ever-so-slight humming of air conditioning)

Everyone was locked up in their air-conditioned RV.  One other family on our side of the campground was staying in a tent, but they had an air conditioning unit rigged up to the side of their tent.  NO LIE.  We were the only "campers" out there!  We have to admit - it was nice having power & water right at our camp site.  We did go buy an oscillating fan to put in the tent after our first night (it was south Georgia, after all at the end of summer!).  Also being able to wash our hands without having to walk down to the bath house was nice too.

On the first night out there, Mercer asked if we were going to sleep here.  I said yes.  He kissed me on the cheek and said "thank you."  And - on our way out, we were greeted by a gopher tortoise.  He came to say bye~  Those are a couple of my favorite memories about the actual campsite.  Oh yeah -  eating s'mores, sitting by the fire, and looking up at the constellations every night was nice too!

On the drive home, we introduced Mercer to the ABC car game.  He's been wanting to play it ever since (even on short drives around town).  When getting high up in the alphabet, he'd have to go through the whole thing to get to the next letter.  "What's after R?" we'd ask.  He'd say "A, B, C, D... Q, R. S!"  He'd have to count up to the next letter each time.  It was kind of funny, but made for a really long game.  

We made it back to Marietta just in the nick of time to change clothes, grab water, grab the T-ball bag, and for Todd to grab his roster. We rolled into town around 6:20 and had to leave the house by about 6:40.  It was pretty crazy timing, but we made it.  Todd agreed to be the coach for Mercer's T-ball team.  He had attended a coach training one afternoon a few weeks prior to starting.  He picked up a lot of good tips, but I had no idea how GREAT he was going to be with the kids. 

He's been stern, but fun.  Helpful with tips for the kids in ways they'd understand - likening moves to bulldozer hands.... and alligator chomps to clamp down your hand on the glove & keep a ball from popping out.  After the first practice & the first game (noticing that ALL of the kids would leave their posts / go chase the ball & pile-up trying to wrangle it from one another) Todd said "no tackling your team mates."  Then one kids asked "but can we tickle our team mates?"  Priceless! 

(Here's a shot of Mercer trying to get the ball from his team mate so that HE can make the play.  ~oy!)

Before the season started, the head of the organization said that they only had enough league t-shirts for 6 of the 7 teams.  The only other set of t-shirts that was left was the Mets / would anyone be willing to take it?  Todd responded right away!  So -- not only does he get to shape Mercer's future in baseball... he gets to do it all while M is wearing the jersey of his favorite team.    (Until the Mets opportunity came up, Todd was thinking of calling the team "Herding Cats".... because it really is hard work corralling these little guys who don't have much of an attention span & who don't know anything about the game.)  Also - in the top photo, you'll see a lot of parents out on the field.  There's 3 parents for the fielding team + a parent at 1st & 3rd for the opposing team.  It really does take 5 adults out there with the 12 - 15 kids to keep the game moving!

There's no score.  Everyone hits each inning.  And - when a kid is tagged out, they still stay on base.  We've had one kid run past first and keep running all the way 'til he reached the back fence.   At another game, that same kid ran from 2nd diagonally across the field to home plate!  This is the good stuff we'll remember! Many games have to stop because there are melt-downs on the field.  The most recent game even stopped once because a puppy ran onto the field!  Thank goodness it's not serious yet!

Although, Mercer does look serious as he's rounding home in this shot. 

We're just a few weeks into the 2 month long season. Each week, the players get a little bit better & seem to understand the game a little more.  It will be interesting to see how they all progress & how they all play as a team in the end.  Maybe by the end of the season, they'll be more concerned about how they play & less concerned about snacks after the game!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our Labor Day weekend get-away, Part II

On Labor Day, we had to hustle and make it over to the neighboring town, St. Mary's.  We had a 9 am ferry to catch!  We had our back packs loaded up for the day with all sorts of things we'd use to play and explore Cumberland Island.  

The boat pulled up at the first dock and we began our journey.  The mosquitoes and a pack of 6 wild horses greeted everyone as soon as we got off the boat.  We tried to hurry to our first destination so that we could get ahead of a large group who were looking at the horses... we had a secret mission to accomplish.  We spent quite a bit of time on the grounds of the ruins on the south side of the island. 

There's an estate - called Dungeness - built there in the late 1800s by the Carnegie family.  Other structures around the island were also built by the family, but we have not been to those (yet).  We'll make it back sometime & explore different parts of the island.

While we were hanging out at the grounds of the Dungeness ruins, we took some time to eat a snack, mingle (from a distance) with a pack of 10 horses, and explored a couple of areas off the beaten path.  We were looking for a spot to hide a letterbox stamp!  This is the first time we carved and planted a box.  The inspiration for the carve:  the patterns we saw on our first trip out.  I find a great deal of beauty in patterns that nature has created... such as in the spiral of a shell or the ripples that the water makes on the sand.  (tried to convey both in this one stamp - which - may be a little clunky compared to some of the hand-carved stamps we've seen in our past hunts, but I'm happy with it overall)

It was surprising that a letterbox has not been planted on the island previously, so we had to reward letter-boxing community with a "hidden treasure" for visiting the island.  (One of the rules of the island:  whatever you pack in... you're supposed to also pack out.  We technically should not have left this behind.)  Who knows how long it will stay?  If it's discovered by someone who works on the island, it will likely be confiscated.  That's part of the journey -- tracking the activities associated with the box.  If interested in seeing the clue and/or following the activities in the future, it is accessible through this link: Also - this photo of the outdoor "structure" offers a little clue as to where the letterbox is hidden nearby.  There's another clue on the AtlasQuest website.

Once the letterbox planting was completed, we continued our exploration on the island - heading east towards the beach.  We took a little detour along the way, however, and walked through the edge of the salt marsh along a boardwalk.  We did not see as much wildlife in this area as on our first trip, but it's such a beautiful ecosystem that I'm happy we walked through.  The boardwalk took us to the dunes that are a buffer between the mainland of the island and the beach.  We saw 4 more horses on a rolling hill on the opposite end of the dunes and continued on to the beach.  

The beach was the main reason we headed to coastal Georgia... we wanted to stick our toes in the water for our long weekend getaway.  We played in the water for quite some time, dug in the sand with some of the beach toys we had packed, ate lunch on a blanket (and fended off some gulls), and searched for shells.  It was the perfect temperature.  At times, we would see others who rode over on the ferry with us, but for the most part, it felt like our own private beach.  Our previous trip to Cumberland was in February 2008 -- we had a lot of very different experiences on that visit, but there was no playing in the water then.  Perhaps Mercer's favorite thing - jumping waves.  He did it over and over and over and over again!  It was a lot of fun and we plan to spend more time at "our private beach" there in the future.  

We walked up the beach until we reached a boardwalk that went back over the dunes and carried us inland.  This path took us through "Sea Camp" where we camped on our previous trip.  Mercer said he would like to camp there sometime. 

Late in the afternoon, we reached the Visitor's Center.  We were pretty worn out after our 3 1/2+ mile trek across the island and frolicking / playing on the beach.  We saw a large variety of things, but there is so much more to see and do there.  As mentioned several times on this post... we will definitely go back!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Our Labor Day weekend get-away, Part I

We really missed our beach trip this summer, so we thought we'd head to the coast for a last 'hoorah' this season.  We have been talking to Mercer about Cumberland Island for ages, so thought we would take a ferry over for a day.  (We knew that we weren't quite ready to camp on Cumberland with him - but we would try out camping at a nearby state park.)  

There did not seem to be a lot of things to do at the park, so we decided to take a trip to the Okefenokee swamp since we were relatively close and none of us had been before.  On our first full day in south Georgia, we took a boat tour of one of the canals that was dug into the swamp and then branched off into a smaller path through the swamp.  The photo on the last post was actually taken on the swamp tour boat.  Here's another with Mercer at the helm of the boat.  

The swamp was actually prettier than we imagined.  There were a lot of colorful plants and blooming water flowers.  There were a lot of different types of birds too.  We thought it was going to be a lot muckier, but this portion of the Okefenokee was not.  The boat driver /tour guide - "Captain Charlie" - said that other parts of the swamp look different.  There are several different kinds of ecosystems depending on what part of the swamp you are in. 

We hadn't seen any alligators on the trip, as they are out more so during the early morning and dusk hours.  We were heading back to the channel and I somehow locked eyes with an alligator as we were passing by.  Captain Charlie backed the boat up and pulled into the tangle of water lilies so we could get right next to the little gator.    (Look closely and you'll see him too)

Everyone was leaning over the edge to peer into the water below while Charlie comes over with a long wooden stick and starts poking at the gator trying to get up under his chin and put him to sleep??  The little alligator, of course, did not like it. He swam under and we left. 

We went back down the channel - noticing how the still water looked like a mirror.  I liked the way that the water reflected images of the surrounding trees and that they got caught up in the current of the boat.  Unfortunately, my gaze was broken when we got a little too close to the edge and our boat ran through a spider's nest -- the giant quarter-sized black spider landed on me and crawled up my leg!

Mercer was busy watching the pattern the water made too in the water.  And - he discovered that he could spit in the water / watch it fly and hit the water's surface. 

The swamp park where we began our adventure actually had a pretty nice nature center with a lot of interactive toys and displays for the kids.  While there, Todd spotted another alligator - much bigger - hanging out in the open channel right next to the visitor's center.  We hung out on the deck for awhile and watched him as he watched us.  After the visitor's center, there is an 8 mile loop drive they encourage visitors to take.  There we saw alligator after alligator in the ditches on either side of the road. 

We all learned something on this trip too... that the swamp supports bears and jaguars!  Who knew?!  Also - the water was brown from tannins in the water from the plants and trees growing in the swamp. These tannins did not support mosquito larvae so there were no mosquitos amazingly. 

After the swamp tour, we hung out in the campsite, bounced Mercer's super bouncy ball, and cooked dinner on the fire.  We looked at constellations in the sky with our eyes and with the cool Google Sky program on our cell phones.  We made s'mores and reflected on how the swamp tour was.  It was a good, full day!

The next day, we took the ferry over to Cumberland Island.  I'll post more about that later this week, as there was so much to see it is it's very own (long) blog entry!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Adoption Day, Mercer!

4 years ago today, we "legally" welcomed Mercer into our family.
(Of course we opened our hearts to him just over 4 1/2 years ago.)

Happy Adoption Day!