Our nature walks have been named "Take a Hike Tuesday" by popular vote from the family. Tuesday we had our first inaugural outing.
After searching and looking online at various nature trails, we decided to venture to somewhere completely new: Brazos River County Park I had a little difficulty finding directions how to get there. Finally I found a web site that was giving directions on how to get to a family reunion held there.
So off we went out the door with camera in hand (little did I know that it was low on batteries and would only take a few pics).
The first thing we found (photo 1 in the collage) was a mockingbird nest in our little oak tree in the front yard.
Then we were in the miniature van and headed to the park. Woo hoo! We were making all of the right turns (well, we might have missed a couple and had to turn around) and then we came to our next turn.
I knew I was in trouble when the road went from pavement to dirt and all of the local dogs started lining up along the "road" (and I use that term losely) to chase my car. We had just left civilization. So I maneuvered amongst the dogs barking and nipping at my tires until finally I had had enough and yelled at one like an angry mother to a wayward child, "Go home! Shame on you!" The dog dropped his head and turned homeward while all his buddies looked at him.
Things went from bad to worse at this point. A construction worker stopped me and told me to be careful as they were working on the "road." I asked him if he had ever heard of the road I was trying to find and he said, "Nawwww. But I'm shur it's up thar somewar." Small comfort. He then told me to drive slowly and to the left of the big tractor ahead of me. I proceeded cautiously as the bottom of the miniature van started scraping some of the mounds of the road. (photo 2 in top of collage)
Fortunately, we found the park. YEAH!
As we turned in (to a paved road!) we passed by a deer standing so still that it looked like a statue. I quietly put the van in reverse and told the kids to be very quiet. The deer then started to walk towards the car. We were so surprised! (photo 3 in collage top row)
I just happened to have had some Ritz crackers in the car and offered the deer one...and he took it and crunched happily. (see above several pictures) It turned out he was a young buck and very friendly. He wore two tags that made him look like he was wearing earrings. We fed him a few crackers and moved on, certain that this was an omen of good things to come on our nature hike.
The forest around the road was thick and lush. You would have thought we had just driven to a rainforest. The park was small but very pretty and had slides built into the side of a hill. The kids ran immiediately to a look out tower and climber the winding stairs. (see 3rd row, 2nd pic in collage)
While the kids were in the tower I found a leaf with two cocoons on it. (see collage)
And then disaster struck: the camera went dead!
So for the rest of the trip you will have to use your imagination. We made our way to the trail head whose entrance was completely shaded by vines and bent branches. As soon as you walked onto the trail it was almost completely dark. The trees made such a canopy over the top that we didn't even get wet when it started to rain.
We found ourselves on a foot bridge surrounded on both sides by tall horsetails. We came to the end of the trail at the Brazos River. It was a nice but very short hike.
The kids played for a while on the playground and then we started on the other trail. It was also very dark and made out of a wooden footbridge. The first thing we saw was a HUGE black and reddish colored snake. It scared us pretty good. And we were walking very quietly and then heard some rustling in the bushes. We were all holding hands wondering at what could be in those woods. Was it watching us?! Rachel started walking ahead again and Charlie was beside me. he then claps his hands loudly and Rachel almost jumps out of her skin.
"I was trying to scare whatever was in the woods so it wouldn't get us," says Charlie.
The rest of the walk was uneventful except for a skink and some sort of howling noise that we could hear in the distance somewhere. We came upon a small pond with slime and algae all over it. I sure would have liked to have some of that to look at under my microscope but I wasn't about to get near that water. I mean, what if an alligator or the creature from the green lagoon was in there?!
It started to rain so we ran to the car and left. Fortunately, the trip home was uneventful. The road had been repaired and the barking dogs stayed home.
And thus ended our first "Take a Hike Tuesday."