The last week in March, William Woods University students participated in one of college students' most anticipated events of the spring semester... Spring Break!
Every other year, I've always gone home for spring break. It was always wonderful to get to simply lay low for a week, reconnect with my family, and enjoy a week off from deadlines and responsibilities. Since this year was my LAST spring break, though, I decided to go somewhere and do something new and exciting! I went to a charming little town called Madeira Beach in Florida (it's about halfway down the coast of Florida on the Gulf side), near Clearwater. I went with my fiance and another couple from campus. It was such a blast! Our only complaint was that the intense wind all week long made the beach rather chilly, but it was still great fun!
We visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium one day, home of the famous dolphin named Winter from the movie Dolphin Tale! If you haven't heard of or seen the movie, you should definitely look it up. It tells the beautifully inspiring (and true!) story of a dolphin named Winter who was rescued by this aquarium in 2005. She was found washed up on the beach, her tail tangled in a trap meant for crabs. Her tail had been cut off from circulation for too long, causing parts of it to die and fall off, so her rescuers decided her only chance of survival was to amputate the rest of the tail. The movie shows how Winter learned to swim again, both without a tail at all and with the help of the prosthetic tails built for her. It was so cool to get to walk around the aquarium where so much magic happend! Winter is still at the aquarium, too, so we got to see her in person! We also got to meet some of the other rescue dolphins, along with several sea turtles, sting rays and manta rays, and a few otters! The Marine Aquarium's mission is simple: Rescue - Rehab - Release. If there is any chance of the animal surviving again in the wild, the rescuers keep their interactions with the animals minimal. Some of the dolphins will never be able to stand a good chance in the wild again, though, and they quickly become best friends with the people who work in the aquarium! So many amazing things happen there... I loved getting to visit it!
Darin (my fiance) and I enjoyed several long walks on the beach, too... And I don't mean that in the typical cheesy, romantic sense. We literally HIKED on the beach! We probably covered close to 5 or 6 miles round trip - on three different occasions! On these walks, we saw sharks on three separate occasions! The first two times were when a fisherman reeled in small sharks, and the third time was when we passed a tiny baby shark that had died and washed up on the beach. All three sharks were called Bonnet Head sharks, which look similar to hammerheads but are completely harmless to humans. I've been on beaches several times in my life, but I had never seen a shark out in the wild before!
We were all very grateful to have a week off to relax and reset before our last few weeks of the semester! The first week back was a little rough; it was kind of hard to find our routines again. This week is off to a much better start, though. We really don't have very much longer to go at all - graduation is in 25 short days! I have a feeling that the rest of this semester is going to FLY by. I can't believe how fast it's happening!