Having grown up in Florida, I have many fond memories of the ocean and the incredible wildlife that inhabits the sea. As you read above, our family has just spent the last five weeks in Florida. I greatly enjoyed sharing some familiar things from my childhood with the rest of my family. Marlin and the boys are very used to my dragging them from museum to museum seeing the historical sights, but most of our time outdoors is spent on the golf course, not out in the wild. Now don’t think that I don’t believe you can enjoy God’s creation in the beauty of an 18-hole golf course, but this was a very different kind of adventure.
Having decided that the boys should experience a ride on an airboat, I got on the internet and researched to find the one that was the least touristy. The boys were good sports and willing to make mom happy, but spending the afternoon riding an airboat in the Everglades was far from their first choice. We arrived at our destination and I was happy to see an experienced (read crusty) man standing on our assigned boat. One look at him and I knew that he was what the natives refer to as a good ole Florida cracker.
We hopped onto the airboat, and as soon as we did, a pelican flew right to the front of the boat, where he not only landed but then proceeded to walk right toward us. He was obviously used to people feeding him and not afraid of anyone.
Soon we left the no-wake zone behind. Our captain opened it up, and off we went, flying through the water. He obviously knew what teenage boys liked, as he careened and flew through the water. He gave the privileged position of boat pilot to Travis until his boss, returning from a tour with a full boat, scolded him.
You may not know this but airboats do not require any depth of water and can come very close to the shore. Our first stop involved taking the boat right up onto a small island where a man named “Ttoch” used to live. He is known for a book that he wrote about life in Florida before it was very inhabited. The boys were able to see the cabin he lived in and got a glimpse of life before running water and electricity. Then we were off to the back country. Our first sight was a nine-foot alligator. True to form, our cracker captain teased the gator into coming up next to the boat. Now at this point the boys began thinking this airboat trip was not such a bad idea after all—pretty cool stuff. Next we went to an island that housed wild boar—dozens of them. If you don’t know anything about wild boar, suffice it to say that they are not the friendliest of creatures. They fascinated our teenagers, too. The rest of the afternoon was spent viewing birds and other animals living in the wild. I don’t know about you, but whenever I am in a situation like that, I always find myself asking, “How can people look at this and not believe there is a God?”
I’ll spare you the details, but another day’s adventure involved jet skis and a dolphin adventure. How wonderful it is to be out in God’s creation enjoying his goodness.
When the boys were younger, and we did trips like this, they always wanted to collect things: shells, rocks, sticks, etc. In fact, our second child, Brandon, is the one who taught his mother that you need to check boys’ pockets before washing their clothes or you might find a very clean lizard floating in the washing machine at the end of the cycle. I used to make boxes for them before our trips in which they could collect their treasures. During our last move I came across one of these treasure boxes full of rocks and dried leaves, and we spent some time that afternoon reminiscing about where they came from.
We are making available a Nature Booklet and materials for making a simple Collector’s Box. Click here to go to the page where you can download the file. You may want to use the items your students collect in a nature study later on and learn more about them by doing some research. Or you may just want to enjoy them for the treasures that they are. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy spending some time together as a family. I can’t believe I’m saying this but sometimes the best lessons don’t involve books.
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