Shell Island

Every year, my family takes a vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida. I have gone every year since I was 2 and therefore, can’t imagine a summer without going. We stay for a week and do your typical family things: eating out, swimming, beach days, blah, blah, blah. Well, for the past three or four years we have been doing something that was new to me and still continues to be exciting.

Now, every year my family will rent a boat and we will take it out to Shell Island to go snorkeling for the day. We see dauphins, jellyfish, stingrays, crabs, sea urchins, blowfish, and so much more every time we go. It really changes the way you think about the ocean. There is just something about actually swimming with these incredible creatures and seeing how they thrive in the wild that gives you a new appreciation for it.

After snorkeling for several hours, we will take the boat to the island and get off. We walk about a quarter mile to the other side of the island. The island is covered with tall grass that blows in the breeze and is only broken by one trail that leads to the other side. The sand is pure white and so hot you have to practically jog across. It always leads to a fun race between the adults and children.

Once to the other side we all just stop running. We stop running, talking, laughing and we just look. I’ve been several years now and I still find the beach mesmerizing. It is almost always empty when we go. Maybe once or twice has there been another small family, but they are usually so far away that they are reduced to just little figures dancing in the sun.

The ocean is cool and refreshing after the walk across the island. Its pale green waves welcome us in and seem to call us. The large waves carry us up and down and the curious fish come to see us. We spend the rest of our day here and enjoy having the ocean to ourselves. It almost feels like we have the entire ocean to ourselves.

Then we take the boat back and watch as the dauphins chase us. The sun sets and we finish off the day with a movie, singing, dancing, and laughing.

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The Swamp at Sunset

Yesterday, I was feeling extremely motivated. I have been having trouble with motivation here lately. I haven’t felt like doing my school work and I hadn’t picked up my camera in forever. Well yesterday, something changed. I haven’t been able to put my camera down.

Around 5, I decided I wanted to go to my university because there is a swamp there that I had never taken pictures of. Mackenzie, my sister, her friend, Kendall, and Liam all decided to go with me. As we were leaving, Mackenzie’s car started to mess up and we had to fix it before we could leave.

We finally got it working and then had to drive the 15 minutes to school. It became a race to get to the bridge over the swamp before the sun went down and we lost the light. My heart raced as I flew around corners and passed cars.

We finally made it. The sun was in the perfect position and it reflected its yellow light across the water. All of my friends and I stood in awe as the sun slowly moved down behind the trees. Its light and warmth touched our skin for as long as it could and then it was gone, replaced by pinks and oranges in the sky.

We followed up our experience with a quick hike on one of our walking trails. It was perfect.