Old School

There are a handful of places on the planet where the earth has created what are known as coastal dune lakes, fresh water lakes located within two miles of the ocean. They occur in Australia, Madagascar, New Zealand, South Carolina and here in Florida, more specifically, in Walton County. There were a handful of dune lakes at Topsail and a couple more at our next destination, Grayton State Park.

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

These lakes are more than 10,000 years old, and play an important role in making this coastline look the way it looks. Unlike most dunes, these areas have pretty good soil. When it rains hard the lakes fill and the water escapes through what’s known as an outfall, which is where the lake overwhelms the berm that separates it from the sea. When that happens fresh water floods out over the dunes, delivering nutrients, along with plants and animals that would otherwise not be on dunes.

The lakes are also individually disinct, with varying levels of salinity and different specifies of life in each one. Probably the most popular of the lakes, from what I could tell, is here in Grayton, known as Western Lake.

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

We were again, somehow, able to get in on some cancellations and spent four days wandering the lakeside and seashore of Grayton State Park. This time there was no RV Park, no pool and the people were mostly like us. One morning some kids from another site wandered over and started playing with our kids. Eventually the parents came by to check on their children and we got to talking. The mom told me about how she let her son, who was seven, wander wherever he wanted. He’d walked to the beach (about a mile) the day before.

I was impressed because I often feel like we’re the only people who let our kids do that sort of thing. But then the woman expressed my one great fear, that some meddling adult would end up calling the cops or otherwise harrassing our kids about doing their own thing. It’s never actually happened, but I’m constantly worried about it given the average American’s inability to mind their own damn business. Neither of us had any solution, but it was at least comforting to know that other parents have the same concerns.

Eventually the other family had to go (our kids have an unfortunate knack for making friends with kids that are leaving that day).

Not ten minutes later some woman came up to Corrinne talking about some kids she had seen “just walking down by the water” and how “someone should be watching them.” Luckily for that woman she talked to Corrinne who shrugged and politely turned away. I’m not nearly as polite.

Another blog I read regularly writes quite a bit about this meddling phenomena in other contexts and has suggested reviving the Anti-Poke-Nose society in response to people who can’t seem to stop from poking their noses in other people’s business. I’d love join. And seriously world, if no one’s bleeding, just stay the hell out of my kids’ business.

Free ranging children wasn’t the only old school thing we did at Grayton. One day we even managed to go super old school and spend all day in the sun, like I did growing up, a good six hours of sunshine, back when we weren’t scared of the sun. We still aren’t.

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

There were plenty of sandcastles built, water fights had, and games of freeze tag played. And yes, we all got a little bit of a sunburn, but I’m pretty sure we’ll live. And that night, everyone, even me, was asleep before the sky had even gone dark.

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf

stingrays, grayton beach state park, florida photographed by luxagraf
If you look closely you can see a couple of the stingrays that cruised up and down the beach all day long.