Friday, March 4, 2011

One week ago today ...

Last Friday was my first full day in St. Petersburg visiting my brother, David, and his family. It's difficult to pick WHICH day was my favorite one ... because they were ALL wonderful. But I'm rather partial to this day in particular ...
David had to go to work for a little while in the morning. He is the administrator of Keswick Christian School (preschool through grade 12) and had some business to attend to. The house where they live is really close to the school, located on a pond/small lake ... which is full of turtles and ducks and all kinds of beautiful birds ...
Look at the beautiful heron! I took this picture later in the day, I can't remember exactly when ... although it is apparent to me that it is no longer morning.
David came home mid-morning to take me back to the school with him so that I could have a tour around his school campus. I got to meet lots of the nice folk he works with. We even visited several classrooms. Very fun!

But I was really really anticipating the afternoon. David told me we were going on an adventure. Yes! We caught a ferry boat that took us a little way on the Intercoastal Waterway, through part of Tampa Bay and out into the Gulf ... to a teensy tiny ... ISLAND!
I totally forgot to take a picture of the ferryboat. It was a cool-looking wooden 40' vessel. We hopped aboard and joined about 18 other people + two crew members for the almost hour ride over to Egmont Key Island ...

... where ... believe it or not ... there was a LIGHTHOUSE! This was my first view of the Egmont Key Light. I had googled "lighthouses in the Tampa Bay area" searching for a lighthouse to beg David to take me to ... and it did lead me to this very light. But once I saw that it was out on an island, I figured it was ... impossible to visit!
The only dock at the island was covered with "No trespassing" signs and others warning people NOT to dock their boats there. So our "captain" grounded the ferry boat on a sandbar as close to the island as possible, anchored, lowered a ladder, and then one at a time, we descended into about thigh-deep water ... and walked ashore ... no more than perhaps a dozen steps away.
Egmont Key Island is a completely noncommercial. There are NO amenities there whatsoever. Nothing to eat, nothing to drink, NO bathrooms, no buildings, no shops or other businesses ... ah ... it was wonderful! There was a "head" located on the ferry boat if a person needed a bathroom, though ... but ... it looked pretty nasty to me! We were going to be on the island for less than three hours ... and we had it all to ourselves!
First, we did an almost 360 around the lighthouse so that I could photograph it from every possible angle. It's a pretty plain-looking light ... and some of the angles are very bleak ... but I tried to dress it up a bit and I think it's very pretty after all. There has been a beacon on Egmont Key for 153 years now, although it didn't always look like you see it here.

This is the small graveyard we found not far from the lighthouse. It mostly has graves of very young men (16-24) who died of either yellow fever or typhoid fever during the Civil War. There was a pathway through the trees and brush to the far side of the island ...
... I think it was prettier on this side of the island than where we docked. You could see for miles out in the Gulf ...
And these beautiful little birds were everywhere ...
The water was rolling in. We looked for shells and collected some really pretty ones ... which I neglected and left in David's trunk (!) ... so I do NOT have them (sigh) ...
The sand and rocks and shells here were pristine. We did see lots of sand dollars, but ... they were NOT pristine. I really wanted to find a perfect one, but we never even saw 1/2 of a perfect one! That's OK. They are pretty cool and someday I would like to find a nice one and actually remember to take it home with me!

My brother and I have lived in different states most of the past 40 years. He did come up to Michigan last summer and we spent some time together at Grand Haven ... but I can't remember another time we have spent more than just a few hours together. It was so fun to just walk and talk and catch up on life ...
These turtles (gopher tortoise) were all over the island. They eat the red berries that grow on the foliage there. We ladies on the ferryboat were warned that if we had red toenail polish on, we might get snapped at!
We left the island in the late afternoon. These seagulls followed our boat for miles and miles. The captain was feeding them dry catfood shaped like little fish ... he was tossing them way into the air and then the seagulls would swoop on down and gobble them up! I LOVE seagulls!

I was hoping to photograph some dolphins on the way back because we had seen a whole bunch of them on the trip over ... except David and I were sitting on the front of the ferry and the dolphins were jumping in the wake of the boat in the back. I just couldn't get close enough to get a picture because other people were there ahead of us. That's OK, though ... it was great fun just to see them in the wild and enjoy the view.
Friday evening, Carol joined us and we drove to Madeira Beach (I think) and ate at Bubba Gumps (as in Forrest Gump) Shrimp Company. What a fun place to eat! We had such a great time!
It was a wonderful day, from start to finish. I never ever thought I would get to visit a lighthouse on a fabulously beautiful island with my brother, David ... but I did! "Light is sweet, and it's wonderful to see the sun!" Ecclesiastes 11:7 I agree with Solomon! Did you know that St. Petersburg, Florida is the sunniest spot in the continental United States? It averages 361 days of SUN every single year. WOW.

I have lots more pictures to show you ... very important photographs of my nieces and nephews and some of their children as well ... but I have lots of editing of those to do yet. Pretty soon!

2 comments:

loisgroat said...

Oh! Oh! What a wonderful adventure! And what gorgeous pictures. And now I want to live in St. Petersburg. Oh, to enjoy that much sunshine!

sabrina said...

Beautiful pictures Mom!!!