Day four started off promising, and we set out to hike to the end of the island and back, six miles in total.
The sun was shining.
And the shells were plentiful.
'Look Mom, a moon!' she said. Oh how I love her.
You never know what you're going to find upon reaching the end of the island. The first year what we thought was the end of the island really wasn't, but the rest was underwater and we never even knew it was there. So imagine our surprise the second year when we discovered there was even more to love. We could have spent all day there, poking around the handful of abandoned houses, finding the most unique and untouched shells, and looking across the short canal that once bridged the gap to Captiva. This year it was a little bit of both. We were able to get to it, but the tide was high, and places we stood the year before were now buried under the ocean. But we did get to witness this little gem, a group of fishermen bringing in a string ray.
Look how huge that thing is! It took them quite awhile to reel it in, and after all that hard work they released it. But I guess that was logical as I don't know what one would do with a string ray?
We poked and played around a bit, but it was getting cloudy and windy, and the kids were needing to move on. We turned to head back, taking a short break to rest and nurse the baby. While we were sitting there, surrounded by nothing but ocean and beach, it started to rain. What?! You've got to be kidding me. We watched the forecast before we left, and we were assured there would be no rain for several more hours. But it is Florida after all, and I guess short bursts of rain clouds aren't uncommon. But being in the middle of nowhere, with two small children, and a three mile hike back to civilization, we panicked with what to do. I knew I couldn't just pack a hungry Brother back up and walk for another hour and a half, so we sought refuge under one of the abandoned houses.
I thought it was kind of fun, hanging out like vagabonds. Nick had fun poking around the house. Nugget hated it and was cold. And brother was just plain tuckered out. Our first thought was to just sit under there and wait it out. But then we had no idea how long that would be. And it wasn't pouring, just more of a heavy mist with wind. We ultimately decided to wrap the kids up the best we could, tuck them safely in their hiking backpacks, and just go for it.
It wasn't easy, let me tell you. You see, I decided to wear Brother on my front, to brace his sleeping body and keep him from the wind and rain. The only problem is that hiking backpacks aren't made to be worn on your front, and limited my strides. So I walked fast. And hard. Against the wind. In the rain. While carrying a baby. It may have been one of the hardest things I have ever physically done. But with no other choice, the good Lord by my side, and thoughts of warming up with a big bubbly bath, I made it. Nick was a champ and just plowed on through, and Nugget buried her head into his back and hardly complained. And you know what? I would do it all over again. We need challenges in our life to remind us to appreciate what we have. It was an adventure, and one that we won't forget.
We all took a nice long nap that afternoon. I couldn't tell you the last time I crashed that hard or when sleep felt so good. I needed it. Apon waking, the sun reappeared, and redeemed itself with a glorious setting that night.
Oh yes, this is our happy place. Rain or shine.