Beach Vacation Becomes Field Trip

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Children learn so much when the family travels. Last week, we spent a few days in Butler Beach, Florida. Just outside of St. Augustine, this area has plenty of wildlife and history to qualify as a full-fledge field trip.

Gopher tortoise

Gopher tortoise on the beach dunes.

We observed gopher tortoises and lizards in the conservation dunes – the 30 yards or so between our condo building and the beach. Gopher tortoises burrow and are endangered, so we kept our distance and took pictures from afar.

This app I downloaded on my phone, iNaturalist, helped us identify different flowers: hibiscus, dune sunflowers, star jasmine, Spanish moss, and lantana. We also identified sandpipers and godwits. In fact, early in the morning, before we got into the water and right after we got set up on the beach, we watched the godwits plunge into the water for breakfast. What a fantastic, live show!

Spanish moss growing on Florida trees

Spanish moss growing on Florida pine trees

One also enriches vocabulary as one travels. Besides the new-to-us species of flowers, birds, and animals, we learned at least one new word: papasan – the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. In fact, I want one!

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. The downtown area has so many buildings with lots and lots of history. Two notable examples would be Flagler College and Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.

Flagler College

Flagler College

The building of Flagler College is impressive. Tiffany himself made the stained glass windows there and Thomas Edison installed electricity. Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, the oldest Catholic church in the US, is where King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain recently visited for the dedication of its new facelift.

The kids brought their violins and practiced every day. Also, we brought our devotional book and had worship daily. These activities are part of our lives, not just our learning. But since they are learning, we are considering all these days as school days.

Girl practices violin

Practicing at the beach

Our tour of St. Augustine started at Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest fort in the US.

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Ransacked multiple times and passing from country to country over the centuries, this fort reminds us that nothing stays the same and everything is in flux. We are back home now, but these beach memories will stay with us for a long time.

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