When we started our vacation, we had planned on a full week unplugged at Bald Head Island, hoping to see sea turtles hatching and doing a bit of volunteer work with the conservancy. We even found a house in the middle of the salt marsh with treetop views for studying wildlife during the day and stargazing at night. When we asked our five-year-old what he was looking forward to the most, he enthusiastically replied, “Seeing dolphins!”

“Well, son, we might see dolphins. We can definitely look for them while we’re out there. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see one.”

As we backed down the driveway with eight people in a packed suburban, we kept an eye on Dorian as it approached the Bahamas.

“Projections show it’s turning, and instead of crossing Florida, it may now follow the eastern coastline all the way up to the Carolinas. But it’s slowing down.”

“Well, the house is non-refundable, so we might as well go and enjoy as much as we can before it gets here.”

We looked for dolphins on the ferry crossing, but we never saw a single one. By the time we reached the island, Dorian was a thousand miles away–and headed straight for us.

We unpacked and settled in for the first night, expecting to have a few days to explore the island. Our first walk on the beach had been a beautiful sunset stroll, and though we saw a few caged sea turtle nests, we saw no turtles–or dolphins.

We awoke the next morning to news that all non-residents were under a mandatory evacuation from the island. Whelp. So much for having time to explore.

We scheduled one of the last ferries of the day, packed up our things, and headed out to see what we could see of the island in the few hours left to us.

We drove our golf cart down sandy roads along the salt marsh, meandered through neighborhoods of architectural marvels, and ended up back on the beach for one last fling. The boys all ran out to play in the waves and sand as we sat down to breathe it all in.

All of a sudden, I saw a fin out deeper in the water, then another.

“Gabe! Look! Dolphins!”

Our five-year-old had trouble seeing them, so we called him to us and tried to better direct his gaze. He got tired of waiting and not seeing, so he grabbed a bit of broken shell and crouched down to dig in the sand.

“Oh! Look! Gabe, there’s another one! And another!”

There must have been a whole pod of dolphins straight out from us, but he always looked up just too late.

Eventually, with much coaxing, Gabe kept his head up just long enough to catch a glimpse of that elusive sight he’d so desired. His eyes lit up and his face shone.

“Mom! I saw a dolphin!”

We rejoiced with him, and went back to watching the dolphins. Presently two dolphins jumped completely out of the water in a gracefully synchronized display, and I threw my hands in the air and kicked my feet and let out a whoop for the rush of the glory of it.

“Gabe! Did you see that?!”

I looked over and he was crouched again with his head down, playing in the sand at his feet with his bit of broken shell.

“Oh, son,” I thought. “Why are you so easily satisfied? Just keep your head up and keep looking. You’ve caught a glimpse, but there’s so much more to see.”