Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Since Ranger Camp ended on Thursday afternoon, I decided to take Friday off to entertain the monkeys. After the Dragonfly Tri in Sardis, Mississippi a few weeks ago, I made a mental note to return with the kids. I billed our adventure as "hiking, swimming in a lake with a beach, and the best milkshakes ever."

I'll address the milkshakes on Dining with Monkeys.

Satchel had a few questions about the lake. "Is there seaweed? What about those stinger things?" His last few experiences with a beach were in Gulf Shores where seaweed is plentiful and so are the jellyfish.

Jiro followed up and wanted to know if there were sharks. "Nope," I said. Pretty soon Sardis had become the best place ever, and we hadn't even left Memphis yet.

Satchel invited his friend, Theo, along and the four of us left Memphis around 9:30am. The hour drive went by fairly quickly and as we neared the lake and trails, I regaled the kids with stories of my triumphant Dragonfly experience.

Our first stop was the Sandstone Nature trail. Jiro had to be coaxed out of the car by Satchel, who promised him 19 diamonds in Minecraft (whatever that means). He was mad at me for being mad at him for not giving his dad a goodbye hug back at the house. That kid! Anyway, once he was out of the car, we set forth.


The trail is a loop, about 1.5 miles long. It's hilly in places, but not too difficult for little legs.

We saw lizards right away, which thrilled Satchel. He tried, but never managed to catch one. He did, however, get several frogs. Maybe they were toads?


It didn't take long for me to realize that despite being Junior Rangers and baseball players (in Theo's case), these kids were pretty out of shape. We had to do a lot of resting.


The last half mile was filled with, "How much longer?" pleas from Jiro. It actually got bad enough that Satchel offered to give him a piggy back ride. How cute is that?


I think we were all happy when the hike was over. And we were all definitely ready to swim. I headed over to where the swimming portion of the tri was, and pointed out how far we had to run in the tri. After a few minutes, Theo finally said, "Yes, we are all VERY impressed."

Hilarious. I took that as my cue to shut up.

Once we got close to the beach, we discovered that it was closed! No worries, I just headed across the lake to the beach that Ashley & I had visited when practicing for the tri. Closed! Uh-oh. I was going to be really bummed if the swimming portion of our road trip was cancelled! Thankfully, after a little more driving around, we found Paradise Beach which was not only open, but totally not crowded. "Yay!" the backseat cheered.


By now it was almost noon and it was hot. We all jumped right in.


The kids could stand up in a good bit of the lake, but we all seemed to enjoy swimming out to the deep part by the buoys the best. The kids took turns trying to climb up the water marker.

I should have brought floaties or sand toys, but they seemed to have fun without them.


Satchel and Theo spent a lot of time exploring, skipping rocks, etc.


Jiro and I had some awesome quality time together. (He actually decided he didn't want to bring a friend along because he wanted me to be his friend for the day. Aww!)


At one point we did see several large fish in the swimming area. It was funny to see how scared everyone was of them. (Funny because I was not in the water at the time.)

Satchel made me promise to let him bring a fishing pole next time.

To end the day on a high note, I agreed to accompany the boys into the "restricted" area so they could do a little more exploring.


The restricted area was just a little bay with not much beach, but it turned out to be a treasure trove...assuming you think a dead turtle is a treasure!


We saw giant bird tracks, the shell with the skin still attached, and a nearby pile of bones...that's right, we worked together to solve a murder!


And yes, the shell came home with us.

Had I not promised them the best milkshake ever, I probably never would have gotten them to leave. Sardis was a hit and I had to agree to bring them back as soon as possible before they would actually get in the car.

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