National Parks Traveler – A Toddler’s Joy Over Gulf Islands National Seashore

Waves crashed on the sandy shore of Santa Rosa Sound, wind whipping off the water and flinging my hair in all directions. One family had set up their chairs on the narrow strip of beach between the sound and the trees of the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Naval Live Oaks area, but with a three-year-old and 18-month-old among our party, we would not be joining them.

We crossed the road to a different Gulf Islands parking lot, this one leading to a sand beach on Pensacola Bay. Even though I once lived along this part of the Gulf Coast, I had never visited this particular spot. The narrow trail wove between low, twisted Live Oak trees and the arrow-straight trunks of pine. Ahead I could hear but not see an Osprey, while Red-headed Woodpeckers flew from one tree to the next.

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