More than we expected…

After several days of cold, wet weather, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine by enjoying a walk on the beach. I had taken a walk in the morning and came home with some nice shells that the storm had washed up, so we ventured down the road to see what else we could find.

DSC_0694We found some nice shells, but we also found some critters that didn’t make it. We came upon two sunfish that had been washed up, a couple of jellyfish, a pelican and most surprising, a Leatherback sea turtle. We thought her dead at first, her eyes already destroyed by the birds, but after looking her over a bit, we realized that she was in fact still alive.

DSC_0711She was just barely hanging on and we didn’t figure there was anything we could do for her, so we finished our walk back and then stopped into the Pea Island Visitor’s Center to tell them about the turtle. They were immediately concerned and calls were made to go check on her and see what, if anything, could be done. We went back to where she was on the beach and waited for the experts to arrive.

DSC_0722The aquarium crew arrived first, followed by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. After a very thorough examination, it was determined that the best thing for the turtle was to put her to sleep, she was just too far gone to save. They drew blood for testing, measured her, took pictures and documented the entire process.

DSC_0736Before the aquarium crew arrived, they had been a little way down the beach picking up a dolphin. The common dolphin had washed ashore and had to be put to sleep also. Common dolphins are deep water dolphins, so they will be performing a necropsy to see if they can’t find out what brought the dolphin close enough to be washed ashore.

DSC_0732Once the Leatherback turtle was euthanized, everyone had to work together in order to get her loaded into the back of the truck. They estimated that this turtle, who was about six feet long, weighed somewhere between 600-700 pounds.

DSC_0787Being in the presence of so many experts, we learned a lot about these amazing turtles. Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on earth and they are on the endangered list. Their shells are flexible and almost rubbery because they are deep divers, diving deeper than any other turtles. Jellyfish are their favorite food, but unfortunately they often mistake floating plastic as their favorite snack. This often turns deadly for the turtles. They are not often found near shores, so a necropsy will be performed on her to see if they can determine what caused her to be there.

DSC_0790I just wish things had turned out better for this beautiful giant. I am glad we stumbled upon her when we did, though, and that we were able to watch as she was taken care of. This was a once in a lifetime learning experience, and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon…

Update: The necropsy was performed on the leatherback today, February 1. They found a blockage formed by a wad of plastic bags.

It’s Fine to be Nine

“Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.”

What do you get when you add barbecued chicken, a present or two, some cake and ice cream and a few streamers? “The best birthday EVER!!” according to the twinnies.

Happy 9th Birthday, Catheryn and Nathan!

DSC_0671

Happy 9th Birthday, Twinnies!!

Blue

Winter and I have never gotten along very well. The long dreary days eventually take their toll and my usually positive self all but disappears.

It is the weather, it is a little uncertainty, it is the desperate feeling of having no idea what to do, and being restless because of it. It is where I become the very definition of insanity, watching each day pass just as the one before, yet hoping for something different. A thought. A plan. An idea. Anything.

I spend my days in the presence of my sun lamp, wearing a path in the floor as I pace back and forth, my mind running in vicious circles. Desperate for something to do, yet not wanting to do anything.

I know that this, too, will pass, as everything always does. And no matter how I am feeling right now, in the end, things will turn out exactly as they are meant to be and life will go on.

My head knows this.

The problem is convincing my heart…

Pea Island NWR

While I was down in Florida, the kids were volunteering at the wildlife refuge with Rob. We took a drive out there today and they were very excited to show me around. After touring the visitor center and looking through the spotting scopes, we took a walk down the nature trail. We saw turtles in Turtle Pond and dozens and dozens of ducks, geese, swans and pelicans out on the lake. Mostly, though, we ran around like loons, played with shadows and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon outside.

I love how peaceful life is here. There are no big cities, very little traffic and it seems that no matter where you go, you can always hear the waves crashing upon the shore.

A Trip to Treasure

I had given up on the plan to run the Disney World Marathon a couple of months ago when we decided to take a volunteer position here in North Carolina. Driving all the way down to Florida for a run seemed a little excessive, so I decided that I would just try again another year.

Until…

My friend, Carolyn, said she was driving down there to visit her family anyway, so why didn’t we just go together? I turned her down at first, thinking it too inconvenient for her, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

Kitty at Carolyn's sister's house

Kitty at Carolyn’s sister’s house

And so last week she came to pick me up, and we went down together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and all the stories she shared with me. Her family was so nice and it was really neat to meet them, especially after hearing so much about them all. She showed me all around her home town and the swamp, black water and cypress knees, which I had never seen before. She shared so many special places with me, and I was so grateful that she took me along.

Cypress knees

Cypress knees

And of course, we made it down to Disney World for the marathon. Carolyn was so good to me. She dropped me off at the start at 4am, which was not easy for either of us, and she was there waiting for me at the finish line. She drove three hours further south than she would have had she only been visiting her family, not to mention dealing with the traffic that the marathon weekend brought to Disney World. And she did it all for me.

Disney World Marathon

Disney World Marathon

We arrived home last night after a six day adventure. It doesn’t seem like it should be over already, but then vacations always go by too fast. I guess that is what makes us treasure them so…