Chuck and the kids each gave me a birthday card. Rachel made her card and worked very hard on it. Charlie's was so cute. He's been having a terrible time remembering the definition of an adjective. He can give examples of adjectives all day long but the definition just wouldn't stick. After a very long day of drilling he finally got it. So on his card he wrote, "An adjective is a word that describes a noun." LOL Love it! Chuck's card was very sweet, as usual. :)
The day was pretty low key. No cakes, candles or gifts. Just a nice day with the family. I think my mom forgot it was my birthday. I talked to her on the phone twice that morning and she never mentioned it. She has never done that before. She always calls and sings happy birthday to me. We were to drive to her house, which is a couple of hours away, then do a couple of Nature Challenge missions. I guess she eventually remembered it was my birthday because she did tell me happy birthday when I got there. A little depressing but she is raising my brother's kids so she is preoccupied with that.
My family and my mom and her two kids (my niece and nephew) went to Village Creek State Park for our first challenge. It is literally around the block from where I grew up.
It was like an oven out there. We were all ready to finish this and head back to the AC in the car. We did learn about the three varieties of pine tree that grow here. Very interesting. Now I can identify them.
After lunch we headed to Martin Dies Jr State Park for another challenge. We went on a short hike to grab our last geocache for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Geocache Challenge then went to pick up mom and my niece who we left at a picnic table near the swimming area. They didn't feel like hiking in the heat. My niece had hurt her toe on a rock (there are rocks out here?) so they were not going to be able to complete the challenge.
We were able to answer most of the questions for the challenge without going on the 1.5 mile walk. The rest we found with little effort so we finished the challenge easily. The area is beautiful. They have 3 paddle trails that I must come back to visit.
The kids wanted to spend the weekend there to play with their cousins in the pool so Chuck and I headed home. We stopped for some birthday pizza before we started the trip home. Of course, pizza isn't the best for a girl who needs to lose a few more pounds. Someone told me there are no calories on your birthday and I'm sticking to that. :D
Chuck and I were supposed to do an overnight canoe trip on Village Creek but we were worried about the hot weather we've been having. Instead we did a day paddle on Chocolate Bayou. It's hard to believe but we hadn't gone canoeing in over a year! What a shame. It's so much fun and very relaxing.
We decided to head upstream. I had read that downstream was the preferred path but it was all clear cut along the channel and I wanted to see some untouched nature. Boy, did we! there were gar hitting the water, turtles, mullets jumping and birds everywhere.
We came across our first log jam. It wasn't too bad. We did the limbo in the boat and just made ourselves as flat as possible as we went under a small arch in the fallen tree. No worries. And no spiders! Bonus!
Oh no! This poor kayaker didn't make it!! Not sure about the story behind this abandoned boat but there was a pretty big hole in the side. Yikes! I think it's been there a while.
Just around this bend a momma wood duck surprised me when she flew out and started splashing in the water. She was trying to get us to follow her instead of getting too close to her babies. She was splashing around like she was wounded.
We were able to get a glimpse of a couple of the babies. So cute!
Chocolate Bayou. I wonder how it got its name.
It was a lot of fun on the water. I needed a trip like this.
Chuck and I spent about 4 hours on the water then headed home to get cleaned up. Then it was time for shrimp and crabs. Mmmm.
To end the day we headed out to Brazos Bend State Park with a couple of chairs to kick back and watch the sunset. As usual, we saw an abundance of wildlife including alligators, ducks, moor hens, fish and this yellow crowned night heron.
Slept in a little late then headed back to my mom's to pick up the kids and complete a nature challenge mission at Big Thicket National Preserve. It's such a beautiful area. I plan on coming back here and hiking more of their trails. Our hike was cut short when a thunderstorm appeared. It rained very hard. I'm kind of glad that we skipped the overnight canoe trip now.
Since it was a long weekend I thought we would make the most of it and complete another nature challenge mission. This one was at Matagorda Bay Nature Park. What you can't see in the picture are the swarms of mosquitoes attacking the kids.
This place was freakin' packed! And the people were not exactly friends of nature. There was trash everywhere. People had tents on the beach and there was trash scattered all around. Someone even had a jug under the pier that he was using as a pee jug. Gross!!! We walked out on the pier to the jetty anyway because Charlie wanted to see it. Between the huge granite boulders of the jetty were small pools of clear water that the waves bathed in fresh water. In those little pools were sea anemones! I've never seen them in the "wild" in Texas. Very cool.
We completed our mission and left as quickly as possible. It was just nasty and scorching hot out there.
On the way home I started hearing comments about not doing the challenge next year and staying home sometimes. I realized that I was really the only one in the family who seemed to want to do these things. I am the one who keeps track of everything and writes down answers and collects the stickers. Oops. This was supposed to be for the kids. So I've scrapped the whole Nature Challenge. It's kind of sad. I'll find other outdoor adventures. I just won't drag the family around everywhere I go. I did join a group for outdoor women in Houston and look forward to doing some stuff with them.
Chuck had taken the day off and we were supposed to take the kids to the beach or do some more nature challenge missions. But since the nature challenge is scrapped and every one wanted to stay home we just cleaned house. It really needed it and it felt good to get some things done. I did laundry, went to the grocery store, swept and mopped the floors, etc. I also put my scale away in the closet. I'm tired of it. I haven't weighed in a while but I hate the power that thing has over me.
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty nice weekend. Happy Birthday to me! :)