Welcome to Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area! What a name! We just called it the beach—Flagler Beach, to be more precise.
We camped so close to the beach that Elisabeth and Hannah could see the ocean from their bedroom windows.
Our team got right down to some serious digging as soon as we arrived.
And digging holes here turns up surprises like this fella. Whoa!
He deserved a proper re-burial.
The sand along this section of the Atlantic coast is orange, with a lot of gradation in color—very beautiful.
She had been asking for the beach for days. Now, finally, the beach!
Yea, the beach!
The photographer was setting herself up to take some nice, peaceful pictures of the Atlantic Ocean.
In this family, never say “I’m going to take a nice, peaceful picture of the Atlantic Ocean.” You’ll end up with a photo bomber like this…
or all three at once.
Look, a chicken!
Whew. I distracted them long enough to show you the beautiful Atlantic.
Everywhere we go the sand is made up of different elements. Here it is crushed shells and is tinted orange. Beautiful!
Random happy shot.
Elijah is looking for water…which is about ten feet away from him if only he would look up.
It’s time for Steve’s “How We Will All DIE in the Riptide at the Beach if We Turn Our Backs on the Ocean for a Second” lesson. We like to fill our children’s idyllic childhood’s with harsh reality lessons, fodder for nightmares, and excellent survival skills.
The black thing is a stick, posing as a child who turned his back on the ocean and got thrown into the riptide as punishment was taken down by a wave and pulled out by the riptide.
Now we watch and wait.
And we comfort the small child watching the hypothetical demise of the hypothetical sibling who turned his or her hypothetical back on the very real and very dangerous big blue.
See, scarred for life! For life!
Oh, rats. It floated back.
Let’s try that again. Turn your back…riptide wipeout…death eminent…
Ooooorrrrr, you just float back in. Okay, you’ll float back in, but you’ll be dead and in deep trouble!
Let me show you how it works with a human body.
Marissa, always full of advice, explains her hypothesis about making the stick drown.
Becca’s turn. She tried it with sand, which drowns better.
We only just rolled in and set up camp, so it was nearing sunset when we hustled down to the beach. Christy wanted to hang out on the beach and watch the sun set over the water, until someone reminded her that this was the Atlantic Coast. You know, it’s to the east. Aaaaaannnnnd if you don’t get this either, you’re worse off than she is!
But it’s still pretty, don’t you agree?
If the water gets you, you melt.
This is awesome on so many levels:
We saw a version of that on a church wall, and had to recreate it for ourselves. Ours had the added bonus of “death” represented by that stick that refuses to get caught in the riptide and be carried off to sea. That stick is the reason our kids have trust issues.
This is the “Jesus washed our sins” away cheer.
Don’t give up your day job, Bautista!
This is Hannah after we reminded her that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “Hannah, I am your father.”
Don’t laugh, Kid. I’m your father, too.
You can’t escape!
After we get the “don’t turn your back on the ocean” lesson drilled into their heads, we need to work on the “don’t run with sharp projectile objects” lesson.
The girls practicing their beachy hair tosses.
Steve likes to come to the beach and not get wet…
which is why everyone thought it was so hilarious…
when the ocean got him by splashing up his legs inside his shorts.
Yup, I got it all on camera!
You don’t mess with my Daddy, Big Blue!
Time to go!
Good night, beach.
Come on, Pokey Puppy!
The next day it was raining, but we did the beach thing anyway. When your beach is a ninety-second walk from your home, it’s hard to resist the call of the waves.
Okay, so Steve resisted, but he had bookings to line up, which is far easier to do without the pitter patter of various sizes of feet in the trailer.
After hunting and hunting for a gator, who would have thought we could find one here.
I’m going to give you a teeny tiny little history of the area with a few completely unrelated pictures thrown in there.
This area was originally established in 1869 as a refuge for survivors of shipwrecks.
Imagine having enough shipwrecks in this area to need to set up a house of refuge. Wowzers!
Look out! Close one.
Later, it was equipped with a life saving station and surfboats for maritime emergencies.
That’s a nice treasure, Ellie.
Aaaaaand in the pocket it goes. Remember this if you ever help with our laundry. Check pockets!
History lesson paused.
Check out the cool little shell-rocks. Love these things!
Okay, moving onward to World War II. In 1942, German subs off the coast of Florida succeeded in sinking around 21 ships in only eight months.
Nice outfit, Becca. A dress tucked into leggings. It works for you.
In June of 1942, German saboteurs made their way from the subs to land on Ponte Verde Beach south of Jacksonville. Naturally, the US responded. USA! USA! USA! Oh, sorry. We’re pretty patriotic.
The US Army Corps set up a signal station here to serve as a sort of Paul Revere and announce any off- or on-shore activity from invaders. They also assisted the Coast Guard’s K-9 and mounted divisions who patrolled the coast. After the war it was phased out, and eventually the Florida State Parks and Rec Department turned it into Flagler Beach State Recreation Area.
You know what? We’re soaked. We’ll be back tomorrow.
Do the frequent interruptions and rabbit trails of our little history lessons distract you? Welcome to our homeschool, where people learn first and foremost how to learn in a life fll of distraction.
The rain that night put a put a couple leaks into the trailer and washed away all evidence of mammal presence on the beach.
We rapidly remedied that.
Biff. I don’t know that there’s a beach that we’ve been to which doesn’t have that boy’s face imprinted in it.
They ran up and down and jumped and stomped just to make footprints…because they could…and it’s fun…and they’re kids…and before long they won’t be kids anymore. Stomp kids! Stomp! Make your mark and your memories!
Wait for me!
Yeah, no idea.
Hannah, the beach walker. She’s always in the water.
She found all sorts of little sea creatures…
like this one.
She neither injured nor ate any of the sea creatures.
Sweet little pocket girl is selecting her chosen one of the day. And the lucky winner is…
The irony of this beach attire is not lost on us.
It’s very, very cold today, which makes a person wonder why we’re at the beach. Because we’re dummies. I’m glad we got that out of the way. Now then.
Emily is an opportunist who opened a chain to profit off of dummies at the beach in the bitter cold.
Here’s how it works.
You lure people to the beach by making them think it’s spring. Look, a flower! It must be spring! (Remember, this is for dummies.)
You dig holes and try to convince your brother do to the same.
Your brother has no entrepreneurial vision, and gets waylaid by a sandcastle.
You lure in your more impressionable, moldable younger sister to dig holes.
You dig for water.
You remove all crabs from said holes.
Hello, Mr Crab.
You use crabs to lure potential customers in. “Check out this cool crab we found!”
Then you say, “Oh my. Your toes look cold! Come step into my hot tub. It’s only $2.”
And the customers pay up and step in to the spa, where the water is remarkably warm and their toes are nice and toasty.
Genius! Pure genius!
She did so well that she expanded her operations and opened more hot tubs.
Then the natives came and took over and refused to pay, so Emily went out of business. Of course, it didn’t help that we were the only dummies customers on the beach, and we only paid with fake money.
Bean: “Let’s go to the water. I’ll keep you safe and dry, Ellie!”
“Well, safe anyway.”
“One out of two isn’t bad.”
It’s not good, either, Bean!
Rebecca’s thinking…thinking…she’s going in!
Oooo, changed her mind.
“I’m a girl. I can change my mind.”
The clouds added to the beauty of this cold, cold day.
And once again, we had the whole beach to ourselves. It was dummy day at the beach, and we were the only ones who qualified.
The waves near the riptide zone made this pattern in the sand.
In case you’re wondering how we keep the beach on the outside of the trailer, we don’t. But we do keep it down to a dull roar by washing off feet at our outdoor shower.
I suppose this is another option.
We’re back again! And it’s even colder!
This time, we’re not alone.
Beach chair ocean fisherman! It’s too much for me. I always thought a fisherman tied a line to his toe and took a snooze, Huckleberry Finn style. I didn’t know he stuck his pole in the sand and took a snooze!
Elijah’s fishing, too. Look, he caught a mermaid! And you thought it was just sea foam.
I suppose you think this is just sand, too, eh? You lack the vision.
The surf was intense today, so we put into practice all our lessons about not dying in the ocean. The first and most obvious is don’t go in the water when it looks like this…
Hey! Aren’t you listening?!
Second is don’t turn your back on the ocean…ever.
Third, if you choose to ignore number one, never go in the ocean alone.
The ocean will punish you.
Enact the buddy system, likes these pelicans did.
Fourth, when enacting the buddy system, be sure to hold tightly to your little buddy at all times while in the water…
and keep yourself between Little Buddy and Big Blue when out of the water.
Fifth and very important, never bury yourself from the knees down at the edge of the water as the tide is coming in.
Even if you build a rampart to protect yourself from the ocean, it will find you.
This can only end in tears.
Or mockery. It could end in mockery.
I don’t know. Should we leave him there?
We are often accused (unfortunately in front of our children) of being fun sponges, and we are aware that we can be. Here’s the deal. We put ourselves and our children into new situations on an almost daily basis. Some of those situations they are prepared and trained for; others are new and potentially dangerous. What kind of parents would we be if we said, “Oh you’ll be fine,” just so our unprepared children could have “fun”? How many kids have gotten into physical, moral, and spiritual trouble all in the name of unsupervised fun?
We take parenting very seriously. We try to find a balance between a certain level of risk, family fun, and our God-given duty of protecting the children He’s given us. One thing we don’t do, however, is push the bar too far with water. We teach our children survival skills and preventative measures, and we watch them very carefully.
One of the top reasons children drown is inadequate supervision. Wonderful, wonderful parents get distracted by a phone call, a conversation with a friend, sand in a child’s eye, whatever! We don’t want the regret of a momentary lapse and a lifetime of agony, so we train our kids to be safe.
We tell our children most everywhere we go that nature is not a toy and this is not a ride at Disneyland. (We don’t say that at Disneyland.) You can have fun and be safe at the same time. See! Fun and safe.
Don’t turn your back on Big Blue, Bean!
All this safety talk reminds of a story. No, I won’t repeat the rogue wave episode of our California beach experience.
This beach used to be called Flagler Beach State Recreational Area. In 1992 the name was changed to Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area.
Gamble Rogers was a Florida story teller and folk singer. He drowned here, trying to save another swimmer.
So be safe, have fun, stay smart, respect danger, and live to leave your mark in the world another day.
Now let’s go eat!
There’s a beautiful sunset in the west. That way is west.
And it’s a freezing cold lovely night for a campfire.
Is this post still going? Almost finished!
The next morning, we had to say goodbye to the Atlantic and our ocean front accommodations.
That’s when we saw the flag we had been waiting for: dangerous marine life!
We scanned the beach for any marine life at all. There was nothing. There were no right whales in the ocean, no sharks, nothing except a couple of dolphins and this little monkey.
Of course the most dangerous thing about her is that her pants fall down when she’s running, so she has to keep them hoisted with one hand. Ooooo…danger.
Goodbye Flagler Beach! Together we made memories, which is (almost) always a good thing.