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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

The saying is, the older we get the faster time flies.  That seemed to be it for me this week.  It was kind of like Christmas as a kid, so much anticipation and then the event itself seems to be moving by too fast.  The second day was to begin with a bike ride in the park which I missed getting to photograph because I had to go get a loose cap reglued onto my tooth before I swallowed it in my sleep.  They said it was fun but it was a hot day and they were too tired to stay for the picnic in the park we had planned and called saying, "could we just come home and eat on the porch".  

The Selig Family had sent a great lunch of sandwiches, chips and the usual, but Publix does a great sandwich tray, especially good and refreshing after working up an appetite riding bicycles in the park.  Our deepest sympathy for the Selig Family, because since this they have lost their long and hard fought battle with cancer by the head of household, Steve.  Jeanie had wanted them to do this even though Steve was by then bedridden.  We love you for that.

Then a free afternoon for just playing in our nice warm waters.  We were so glad the weather cooperated and gave them the right amount of surf action to not be too treacherous but still big enough to be enjoyable on the boogies boards and for body surfing.  Never the less when you have 10 children out in the water you are always watching and counting heads.

Their youngest, Tucker, was unafraid of getting wet as were they all, just into the water with gusto.

Ours is a beach that is good for children, without crowds to get lost in and space to spread out. Tucker looked pretty small out there.

Gabrelle is "Big Sis" to all the little ones as Michael and Samuel the oldest boys are "Big Brother" to the Clan helping to keep a watchful eye.

Dragging myself away I felt it time to leave them to their privacy and time for me to get some real work done.  Amy had already spotted this big guy which has a burrow just up the street from the Jones Dozen vacation house.  We watched this very large Gopher Tortoise as it made its way up to the door of his burrow and started remodeling efforts by tossing unwanted sand out the door.  As sand does it is constantly sifting down and they have to keep their house wide enough inside to turn around.

Their first dinner out was at the Salty Pelican and they loved it.  Their first Fernandina Fried Shrimp was a main item for ordering.

Wednesday morning was a Turtle Patrol day for me and I invided Hayley to go with me.  She went, but only on the down trip with Amy picking her up at the Beach near the Pier to take her back to help get her large family's day started.  We didn't find any Sea Turtle tracks but we did find some big Alligator Tracks.  I had never seen Gator tracks like this before and for a few minutes thought someone was playing a joke on me, then it hit me what we were seeing.  The tracks were coming in straight out of the middle of the Cumberland Sound and headed back into the dunes.

The tracks were much larger than Hayley's foot making it a pretty large fellow.  We followed it back toward the dunes a bit then decided we better go back or we might just find what we were looking for.

Even thought birds leave a track very similar to a Gator's footprints, this one would only be able to leave one side of the track.  One of the birds we saw on our Turtle Patrol was missing part of his track as his foot had been lost to some catastrophe, probably got it bitten off when it dangled in the water or more likely had the circulation strangled by a fishing line wrapped around it causing the foot to die and fall off. But Mr. Gull seemed to be managing quite well.

A flock of Pelicans flew over making a pretty Amelia Island photo opt.  Amy came and picked up my sidekick and she went back to being the momma of 10 little chicks of her own.

More momma's on the beach with chicks to watch over as our Little Wilson's Plovers have hatched out lots of little fuzz balls.  We take great care to watch out for them riding very slowly down the beach making sure we see where they all are before proceeding.

A single Little Snowy Egret will provide entertainment for me a lot in the days that follow with its antics as it fishes the tidal pools on the riverside beach.

This was a day for lots of activities after the morning respite.  Hamburgers at Tasty's was a treat for them and even Bruce benefited as I bought him a burger to take back.  It was a day which would cause cause some cause for concern with threats of rain showers and the possibility of having to skip the ride with the Amelia Island Carriage folks.

After lunch it was off to the Amelia Museum History Museum to bone upon the extensive history of our island.  You can see the rain drops on our windshield.

They all had fun with a scavenger hunt given them to solve by the museum staff.  Samuel even said, after all was said and done, that the museum was his favorite thing to do.

Clowning around in front of my gallery for Brother Michael, who was being family photographer, they were all into the rabbit ears photo fun.

Inside my art gallery, it was a nice stop over on their way to the Fantistic Fudge ICE CREAM SHOP, at the end of the next block.  Yea!!  Amy was busy explaining something to one of them.  She had as much fun that week as the Jones children did.

The ultimate hams they all are.

Family Photo time, and here we are at the Ice Cream Shop and everyone is ready for that.

Their most popular choice was the Superman flavor, not sure if it was the name or the colors, maybe both.  They had a great dinner that evening at Cafe Karibo a favorite around town.  What a fun filled day.

After the ice cream Fantastic Fudge sent them out a plate of samples of their fudge candy.  Talk about a sugar high.

Thursday was a very special day planned so that Mom and Dad could have some time off to be alone and Amy, Laura Swain (who taught school in Sierra Leone once upon a time), and I would entertain the children.  Lunch at Lulu's Restaurant was their planned time together and then Laura and I would take their big van with the children, and Mike and Haley would be wisked away for a wonderful Massage by Coastal Massage, a first for at least one of them.

Thought this was an amazing photo with the Iguana statue of Malachi, I want to say a beautiful face but think handsome is more appropriate.  I have a hard time with the middle childrens names and keeping them straight so here's hoping  I get them right.  Michael is the oldest and Samuel is the next then Gabrielle (easy since she is the girl), and then I can tell Tyler which is pretty obvious and then I get lost until I get down to Zion and Tyler the youngest ones.

The Alligator hunter show (Swamp People?) on TV is one of their favorites so we decided to take them Gator Hunting.  The best place to do that is The Eagans Creek Greenway.  We pretty much knew where Momma Gator hung out with her babies so we were on a mission.  Used to posing for the camera they really seem to enjoy taking photos and being the subject of them.  Zion and Tucker with Gabrelle

The trick was to keep them from falling into the creek because they kept getting very close to the edge and with the tall grasses it was hard to see where the edge of the bank was.  I had seen lots of snakes in there also and we do have water moccasins among the non venomous ones also, but we made our safari into the wilds of Egan's Creek without a mishap.

Lots of Sliders were out sunning wiith their brightly colored yellow striped heads and orange trimmed shells.

We did find our first Gator who was pretty smug sitting next to what will sometime in the future be his favorite food, Ummm turtle, but that won't happen today.

The babies were pretty spread out up and down the creek and he has a gator smily face with his new found freedom to roam.

This one is chillin' as he is very relaxed as he and another one on further down the log were stretched out.  They will lose the brighter markings as they grow older.  The markings help them blend into their environment while they are small and are subject to a lot of predators.  They seem to be pretty unaware of any threat to them so far.

We headed back disappointed that Momma Gator was not around  Then about half way back Tyler spotted a big one which was quite a feat since there was not much to see except eyes and nose.  A good defensive move because with just the nostrils exposed and the eyes he can breather and see what is around him, and at the same time be pretty invisible himself.  Tyler may be the next Swamp Man.

Then it was time for our appointed time with the Party and Play place.  They loved all the bouncy things and the big blow up slides.  A great fun place for kids.

Mom and Dad could not stay away.  They showed up for a quick look in on the children and also Hayley could not resist challenging her eldest to a fast game which I do believe she came out on top.

Because the Amelia Island Carriage ride was rained out the day before and Island Falls Minature Golf was also rained out with a downpour while we were at Party and Play.  We were determined to try to get the carriage ride in and this was our last day available to do it.  I had been told by their Mimi, Susan, that they really liked horses but had never been around them very much.  After some Pizza provided by The Amelia Film Festival folks we found an opening with clearing skies and we took it.  I knew Boomer would be the perfect horse because he is really a people horse and so gentle.  The kids with their cameras in hand were introduced to Boomer The Carriage Horse.  I had already put a book about Boomer in their items to take home with them.

Ms Cyndi knew (she's done this before I bet) where we could take our own picture as we looked at our own reflection in a restaurant window.  So that's the whole crew.  We dicided it would be more fun to all ride together even though it was a bit crowded rather than divide up into two carriages.

We explored the Historic Streets of our town and she shared all kinds of information.  She asked them what kind of tour did they want.  Did they want old history, Ghost tour, or some other choices but we just left it all up to her knowing which ever it was it would be good.

Cyndi had promised to let them feed Boomer but forgot the carrots and instead brought out the peppermint candies.  Cyndi was careful to show them how to feed a horse with a flat hand and helped those with smaller hands.

Michael who had driven the carriage most of the way was showing off his skills for his brothers.

It had been a full day as we took them back to the beach house I asked if they wanted to do anything else but ever dependable Samuel said, "it's almost our bedtime so we better go home."  And that is what we did. Amy had brought them some fun treats of course and I could not have done it without her.  The children are huge soccer fans and were very involved with watching the World Cup Soccer games down in Brazil so we brought out the bags of popcorn and some snacks and settled in to let them write thank you notes to some of the people who had done the special things for them.
As we were putting everything away after our craft project we noticed the TV was turned off and the children sitting quietly around the living room.  Samuel said, "its our bedtime and we need to say our prayers".  What a priviledge to get to share that special time with the children.  Each in turn said their own prayers as "Amens" echoed after each one had his say and words were spoken asking for a good day tomorrow, prayers for those of us helping with the vacation, and thanks for the week.  Sooo sweet were those prayers and with perfect timing the door knob turned as the prayers ended and Mom and Dad were home from their special evening out on the town with a special dinner at Espana's and a visit to the Ritz to enjoy a bit of music.  They had opted out of doing the play since it would be a late night and I think they were not used to being gone at bedtime. But they had a great dimmer at Espana's, the same people who had sent the children to The Pirate Store, and also invited Amy and me to come by for some Tapa's and a pitcher of Sangria when it was all over with.  Very nice people we have here.

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These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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