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  • Archive for July, 2011

    In March 2008 I’d only known Marc & Eliana less than a year. In the Fall she’d been to Bolivia to visit Inti Wara Yassi and take veterinary medical supplies to them. She started putting a bug in my ear at the New Year and finally I was able to convince Chris we needed to go somewhere since we hadn’t done anything since our honeymoon in 2002. The most expensive thing would be airplane tickets.

    Anyway, we went to Bolivia and you can read all of those posts here (warning, it is on my old blogging style so it takes the pages awhile to load): Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Pt 1, Day 4, Pt 2, Day 5 Day 6.

    So, the point of this post is the baby puma video. I get several emails a week from comments on the video, comments ranging from “awww, how cute” to “Where can I buy one?”. It is so popular YouTube even asked me if I wanted to put ads on it! I didn’t bother with that. After we got back from Bolivia I helped Eliana in getting a particular formula sent to IWY so that the kittens would survive. If I recall correctly one of them did not. I’ll have to ask Eliana if she even knows what happened with them and with IWY itself. Last I heard the sanctuary was going to be destroyed for a new road to be built into the town since they were renting the land from the town of Villa Tunari and didn’t own it. Luckily IWY operates another sanctuary in a different area of Bolivia so this isn’t their only operation.

    Now for cute pumas!

    Eliana is in the background translating for us. A volunteer had been sleeping in that little room with the kittens constantly in order to feed them when they needed.

    The next video is not nearly as popular but it is fun anyway because a puma really, really enjoyed my leg. And yes, I was quite nervous.

    I’d love to go back to Bolivia sometime and see more of the country, particularly the Uyuni Salt Flat.

    I said on Wednesday this could be a new addiction…and it is! My mother in law wanted to give it a try so we bought some flowers and had some fun with the scanner last night. Here’s our results. More experimentation in the future!

    redwhite

    yellow

    campanula

    flowers
    I think this one is my favorite.

    yellowwhite

    coleus

    Polish White garlic
    I would like to try more bulbs and fruits in the future. This is Polish white garlic; Chris just bought some to plant for the fall.

    I’m dreaming up awesome plant collages now…

    We found out about this gigantic sycamore tree via Chris’ mom’s landscaper. We tried to find a back way into this park but to no avail, so we went the long way from the Highland Park trailhead at Lake Lavon. It is 4.5 miles one way to the tree, but well worth it. This is a multi-use trail so in addition to foot traffic, horses are allowed on the trail.

    Where: Trinity Trail at Lake Lavon, Highland Park Trailhead
    Trip Distance: ~9 miles round trip.
    Coordinates: Entrance is located at 33° 6.191’N 96° 32.583’W
    Additional Information: Trinity Trail Riders, Trail Map, Scroll to C2: Highland Park, TWPD site
    Bring water and snacks! Some of this trail is in the shade but some sections are in the open, so a hat is recommended

    Instead of lugging around my dDSLR I opted for a point and shoot this time around. It was heavenly!

    highlandpark
    The gate down to this road at this sign (where I put the coordinates for the entrance above) was closed when we arrived. There is a trail head parking lot just to the south of this entrance and you can walk via the trail this way as well, which adds on an additional 0.5 miles. We started from the sign and walked down the road, probably a similar 0.5 miles since we didn’t see the trail head at the time. If the gate is open you can drive down the road, which leads to a boat ramp, and park there, eliminating the extra 0.5 miles. The trail head is easily visible as it is a hole cut in white pipes with a low pipe for horses to jump over.

    sunrise
    We left early and was at the trail head by 6:45 to beat the Texas heat. The morning was overcast but sunrise was still beautiful.

    marker
    The trail is marked well and the path is well worn. You shouldn’t get lost!

    clematis
    I didn’t get a good look at the leaves on this clematis, but I’d guess pitcherii or crispa.

    euphorbia

    elmrye

    thistle
    I know most people don’t like thistle but it really is a beautiful weed.

    sunflowers

    seedfs

    cows
    A few times the trail parallels cattle pastures, therefore the only large mammals we saw were these kind folks. We did see an armadillo and heard some other rustlings in the brush, but the wildlife was quiet. In the car before we got to the entrance we did see a skunk in someones pasture!

    monarda
    A lot of Monarda seed heads…not much blooming this time of year.

    milkweed

    trail
    At around 3.5 miles you come to the bottom of the Sycamore loop trail. Either way, the tree is pretty much at the top of the loop.

    creek2

    trees
    We knew we were getting close when we spotted other large sycamores lining the creek the trail began following.

    sycamore1
    And then we found it!

    board
    There’s a picnic table and places to tie up horses and would make a great spot to backpack in. The creek does run right by the site but I don’t recommend drinking from it unless you are desperate. There is quite a lot of trash in the creek and I’d also take into account the runoff from local farm fields.

    horses

    sycamore3

    sycamore2
    While the tree is a DFW metroplex champion and all the articles I kept finding said it was 3 points bigger than the one in Houston, the champion tree list for Texas still has the one in Houston on record. I’m guessing this is because the split of the trunks of the tree are below dbh (diameter at breast height, how trees are measured). I haven’t found anything else on it. Nonetheless, it’s still a cool tree!

    You know how we like our big trees.

    tree3

    tree2

    tree1

    creek

    5
    On the way back we met two of these fellas. We’d seen one before in the Big Thicket and were amazed at their ability to climb up their silk to the limb of the trees.

    locust2
    On the way out we saw lots of these trees, what I think are honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos.

    locust1

    We walked fairly fast to get out off the trail before the summer heat came along, a little over 3 hours round trip. In the fall or a cooler time of year I’d take it slower and enjoy the trail more, particularly if it was spring and more blooms were out. Take a picnic lunch for the tables near the tree and enjoy the area when you are out there. About half way into the 4.5 mile stretch you will walk close to what we thought was a water treatment plant, therefore there could be a smell or two as well as some noise from the area, but once you get closer to the tree that goes away.

    Don’t forget to hug the tree!

    scan0007

    Craig at Ellis Hollow always has beautiful flower scans and I’ve been wanting to try it for years. I finally got around to it. After scanning twice and realizing I needed to clean the glass on the scanner, I finally got one! This could be a new addiction!

    It’s my mom’s birthday and the flowers are from her garden. There’s a mini-rose in there, yellow milkweed, and mom says the other yellow ones are yellow echinacea/coneflower.

    Happy Birthday Moosie! 🙂

    Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a seamstress. I just wrote ‘sewer’ and realized it looked like the sanitary system, sewer, so now I realize why we don’t write that for a person who sews. *doh* Ok, back on track here. My sewing abilities began in 8th grade Home Ec in the form of a square pillow. I sew squares, folks. That’s it. I had a brief run in with a blouse that just did not work out. My mom worked with me on it but I finished back at home in Florida and I just didn’t like how it turned out. Maybe another pattern another time.

    So, yes, I sew squares. Simple things. Before I begin this how-to let me say that you should know how to sew, use a machine, thread a needle and all that. I’m not walking you through those kind of basics. I’m sure a Google search will help you do that.

    As for the time to finish this, really only a couple of hours will do the trick. If I sat down and did it straight, maybe 2-3 hours and it would be whipped up.

    Here we go!

    1-4
    1: These are baby sized blankets so I go for the craft size quilt batting which is 34″ x 45″. It’s a manageable size for me. Quilt batting comes in different forms, acrylic and cotton, but I love the Warm and Natural craft batting because, well, it’s natural! It is also easy to work with.
    2: Pick some fabric! I like a print on top and plain color on the bottom. But you can do what you want. This blanket was fleece material but regular cotton fabric works too. I buy a yard and a half of each but I’m thinking a yard and a quarter will do better in the future so I am wasting less after I trim.
    3: I lay everything out on a cardboard cutting board thing-a-ma-bobber. You can lay it out on the floor or a large kitchen table, too. Lay the plain color on the bottom, then spread out your batting and finally the print on top. You will probably have to adjust as needed, making sure the material is straight and smooth. I didn’t do a photo for the next step, but the material you buy will be larger than the batting so you will need to trim along the edges to get rid of the excess material. I leave about a half inch extra for caution and trim that up after I’ve sewed the pieces together.
    4: After everything is trimmed out, use a yard stick to help you get the number of lines you want on the quilt. It’s simple math, really. With width divided by the number of lines you want and that is the spacing in inches you need to make it. Then I just put in my pins down the length of that line, so say, every 8″ is what I’m working with I’ll put pins all the way down at 8″, 16″, 24″, and so on. I move the yard stick as I go to keep me in line, mostly eyeballing it. Do this for both the width and length of the fabric.

    5-7
    5: Really should iron the fabric beforehand to get the creases out but I did it after I’d pinned it. Either way works.
    6: Working on putting the pins in.
    7: Once the pins are in, you are ready to sew! It doesn’t matter if you start sewing length-ways or width-ways first. I prefer doing the shorter lines first as it is easier to work with. As you sew down, remove the pins or adjust them as necessary.

    8-11
    8: You can see the lines after it is finished.
    9: The next part is the hardest. The binding. I use Wright’s single fold satin binding because it is wide and easy. Frankly, I’d like to learn how to do binding better, but I’ll show you my way.
    10: To start I fold over the first end and sew it up to prevent fraying. The website says it won’t fray when cut but I’m not that trusting!
    11: Once the end is sewn I then pin the binding to the edge. This is why I use the wide tape because it is easier to work with! I’ve done smaller bindings before and had many headaches. Then sew down the tape, I stay about the width of the machine foot from the edge of the binding. But you could do less or more depending on how you are doing your blanket.

    12-13
    12: Should’ve thrown this one in the other set above, but this just shows how I have the binding pinned.
    13: Once you get to the first end, sew to the edge of the fabric and then cut off the binding tape. Then repeat steps 10-11 until you come to the very last end, back where you started. To finish the last end you’ll fold up the binding tape again and sew up the end so that it isn’t showing like in step 10. Just sew that binding line until you are a few inches away from the end, fold the end under and in line with the edge of the blanket, pin it, and sew to the end.

    14-16
    14: Now that the blanket is mostly compete, I like to add a little bit of frill to it. Using embroidery thread and an embroidery needle I add tassels to the line junctions in the blanket.
    15: Thread the needle with the desired length of embroidery thread and make a knot at the end, leaving about an inch at the end. This will be the first tassel once you pull the needle through.
    16: I like the tassels on the print side of things so I will insert the needle down through the square from here, leaving the first tassel through.

    17-18
    17: Then I repeat the same thing on the back side, just slipping the needle back through to the other side. I then make a knot around the first tassel and cut off the thread, making it even with the first length of tassel.
    18: That’s it! There’s the tassel. You could add more colors if you want, too. Repeat at all the line junctions throughout the blanket.

    blanket
    And then you give the blanket to your sister in law at her baby shower! Wa-la!

    I hope this makes sense. If any of the directions are confusing at all feel free to email me and ask for clarification.

    I love crocheting baby blankets but they take more time and if you are in a pinch for a nice, heartfelt baby gift, I think this is a great way to go. You can see I got more elaborate with my other niece Ashleigh’s blanket, and I thought I had photos of one I made for Zoe, I actually cut up squares for that one.

    That’s it!

    I wanted to interview Elizabeth because well, as was seen in my post on Saturday she’s my second cousin that I only found out about two years ago. I’d love to sit down with her over coffee again some day and pick her brain on books!

    First off, give us an idea of who you are, why you blog and your geographic location.


    I’m 26, a writer, a reader, wife to Kevin (we’ve been married 2 years), a “dabbler” at gardening, and am currently employed in the public school system. My position is one that I really can’t disclose any details about other than my day-to-day activities (making sure teachers take their attendance, meeting with kids who choose not to go to class, and building truancy cases for the DA), but I can say that the work is never boring.

    I am also your second cousin 🙂

    I started putting my writing online in 1997. I’d never heard of the word “blogging” back then, but I felt pretty misunderstood as a 13-year-old kid and decided sharing my thoughts anonymously with the masses was the best way to cope. It all just blossomed from there. I was hosted at a few personal sites, went on to buy a couple domains of my own, and have been blogging at MissWisabus.com since 2005. Writing about my life and putting it out there is second nature to me now. My blog is a hodge podge of things going on in my life, things I care about, and random silliness. As of late it’s been a little weird writing because a lot of the people in my hometown and some extended family have started reading it. I mean, they’re stopping my mom in the grocery store and talking to her about it. That’s so ODD to me. But sharing with others is what it’s about, right? I’m trying to get my bearings about the topics I’ll continue to post about in the future.

    For the past 8 years I have lived in Norman, home to the University of Oklahoma. I moved here for college and never left. It’s a nice town with just about everything a person could need, but I long to return to the country. My husband and I are currently working on a savings plan that will hopefully make that a reality in 5 years or so.

    Oklahoma, like Texas, is a highly misunderstood state. What are some things that you would like to clear up about Oklahoma?
    The assumption that people around here are backwoods hicks is pretty prevalent in media and sometimes in the opinions of people that I meet from out-of-state, particular the northeast part of our country. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some backwoods hicks here. Everyone has them. For the most part, people I know in Oklahoma are educated, hospitable, and varied in their interests and political views. I don’t think that Oklahoma can be painted with the broad strokes so often used to describe its citizens. One thing the assumptions do get right is that people care about their football around here. I didn’t care much for college football until I attended OU, but I’ve got to admit that it sparked something.

    Say someone was to visit the area you live in for the day, what places should we see and eat to take in a true Oklahoma experience?
    We get the chance to do this a lot when Kevin’s parents or Jolene come to visit us. I tend to look outside of the metro area for things to do, since that’s what I really know and love.

    Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch in Davis is a place any barbecue lover has to try. They’ve got some of the best brisket I’ve ever tasted and the interior of the restaurant, while somewhat cramped, is such a homey place where you end up sitting next to people that you don’t know that I can’t help but love it. Even if you don’t know the people when you sit down, you will once you stand to leave.

    While a person is in the area they should definitely drive a few minutes down the road and get a fried pie from the Original Fried Pies location just off of I-35. You can’t miss the sign. My favorites are the chocolate, cherry, and peach. And now I want one just thinking about them.


    The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is located in that part of the state as well and there are some lovely springs there. We spent a lot of summers in the cold water–swimming until my brother’s lips turned purple and picnicking with our cousins. There are lots of trails to check out in the area.

    Further west, one of my favorite places to visit is the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. There is quite a bit to see out there and I enjoy getting to view many of Oklahoma’s endangered species in their natural habitat.


    As for the metro area, I think everyone should visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial at least once. It’s a place that means a lot to many Oklahomans and the memorial is a touching tribute to those who were killed on April 19, 1995.

    If you are in the mood for a steak there are some great options in OKC, including Cattlemen’s (a LEGEND) and RED Prime Steak. RED Prime is one of our favorites and it’s certainly one of the more upscale restaurants in the area. Their plating and offerings are very inventive. Once again, probably not what someone would expect in Oklahoma, but OKC is really evolving and offering so much more in the way of fine dining.

    You are a voracious reader—we’d of been competitors in reading growing up—what books started you off in your reading habits?


    I was lucky to always see my mom reading at home and I think just being exposed to that helped me form an interest. That and I thought I was being rebellious when I was sent to my room and found a book to keep me entertained. Ha. (Misti’s note: Me too! Until my mom went further and grounded me from my books..dagnabit!) Third grade was the year that I really started reading more than most kids. My teacher read the entire Henry Huggins/Ramona Quimby series to us and I was enthralled. It wasn’t until 5th grade when I picked up my mom’s copy of Anne of Green Gables that I put everything aside except for reading. It was the only thing I wanted to do at that point.

    Is there an author or book that you think everyone here is missing out on?

    John Burnham Schwartz is one of my favorites. His novel Claire Marvel is breathtaking. Another favorite of mine that I don’t think many people read is Anna Gavalda. Her collection of short stories is one of my all-time favorites.

    How about a guilty pleasure read?

    Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series. It’s what the TV show is based on. I devour them. I also love to hate the Twilight series. It’s so bad. No, really.

    Meeting a blogging superstar is not very common, so when you posted you met the Pioneer Woman, on her ranch nonetheless, I wondered how you came to know Ree enough to get such an awesome invite? How were you able to connect through all the comments that appear on her page?

    I started reading her blog in the early days when she first started. I think I found it through flickr when I was looking through photos taken in Oklahoma and found one of hers featuring a calf testicle. I was disgusted, but could not look away. Then I invited her to Twitter and we tweeted back and forth from time to time. I may have also started a rumor that I am the product of her and a pool boy. Maybe. And that’s it really 🙂

    You have dug well into your past, through the genealogy lines, and found some interesting stories. Tell us about a relative that you wish you could have learned more about or have known more of their stories.

    Honestly, my Nannie (dad’s mom’s mom). I lived next door to her for years and had more access to her than most of the great-grandchildren, but back then I didn’t know the questions to ask.

    On my mom’s side I would have loved to have learned more about the first person who came over around 1630. There’s been very little information that I have been able to find on this individual.

    Do you have any tips for those who wish to research their family lines?

    Don’t give up. Check every connection. Find their graves. There have been times when I’ve hit brick walls and thought I was going nowhere. Take a break and research a completely different individual.

    There are so many resources available online now, take advantage of them! Many people have already done the footwork and the information you are looking for could already be out there.

    Your description of yourself on your blog states that you are an aspiring domestic goddess. What kinds of domestic goddessness can we learn from you? Good recipes, cleaning or organization tips, or diy?

    I’m not really very good at any of them, but I certainly try! I occasionally post low-carb recipes (due to a metabolic disorder, I am on a prescribed way of eating) and have come up with a number of my own that are very tasty.

    One of my favorite things is natural cleaning. I have found a few recipes online that work really well and save quite a bit of money in the long run. I’d recommend looking them up and trying them out for yourself. As of right now, I haven’t ventured into homemade laundry detergent, but I’m thinking of doing it soon.

    And finally, tell us the five people you’d love to have over for dinner and why!

    Oooh, tough.
    Willa Cather – She’s one of my favorite writers. Her descriptions of the plains and life back then are beautiful. I’d just like to pick her brain about writing.
    Lucy Maud Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables…need I say more?
    David Lynch – I’ve recently gotten into Twin Peaks and this guy is a genius AND a hoot. I think he’d be a great dinner guest. He’s got the kind of stories I could listen to all day.
    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – I cannot deny it, I love these two. Looks like they are set to bring a new face to the monarchy. Both of them seem like such intelligent, interesting people. I would like to be friends with them.

    Elizabeth blogs at MissWisabus, is a founder of Godly Gals and can be found tweeting @MissWisabus.

    Last week I spent some time down near Houston doing a working interview. On my way back on Friday I kept an eye out for the Aggie barn located on Regan on Texas highway 6. It’s closer to Waco than College Station but on my relatively few trips down 6 to College Station I’ve always looked for it. I’d actually forgotten it was there until I passed it on my way down and then on the way back I kept expecting to see it sooner and didn’t realize it was further up than it was. I almost didn’t stop but decided to pull a uey and head back for the barn.

    aggie
    Here it is in all its glory! WHOOP!

    Back in DFW Chris has returned from his swamp trip to Florida and has been doing a lot of yard work. I’ll have a brief garden plot update later this week, but I did get a photo of his carrot bounty. They didn’t do so hot this year. We’re trying to figure out Texas gardening, which is similar to Florida gardening—nothing does good in the summer. The problem with tomatoes is that on the fall and spring ends things are just messed up because of the frost dates, whereas in Florida the best time of year for tomatoes is starting them in September and eating them through late March and early April. Not really feasible in north Texas. We’ll have to work the tomato thing out in the future, figuring out when to start for Fall harvest and starting seedlings indoors in late winter.

    carrots
    The carrots! MMM! The tomatoes holding on in the back yard, I think they’ll regenerate a bit when it cools off. 100*+ days for weeks on end are not kind to them.

    A few miscellaneous items:
    +Working on a how-to post for later this week regarding the blankets I made for a friend. I recently made one for my future nephew and have another to make for a friend. Well, really I’ve got three to make for pregnant friends. Seriously there’s a baby boom going on!
    +Jennifer Pharr Davis is set to break the supported thru-hike speed record on the AT. She should be done by this weekend. For a comparison, Steadee & Deal started in early June and have just now hit Massachusetts. It is certainly a different kind of hike!
    +Check out Chris’ panther photos from trip to Fakahatchee Strand. Panther #7—-there’s a reason his trail name is Panther!
    +Chris Heald has some amazing AT time lapse videos that make me want to try them out myself. Which reminds me—Chris don’t you have some ghost orchid ones to work on?
    +If we’re going with videos, this one by Tiger in a Jar is fantastic. I love artsy videos!
    +A view of Katahdin from this girl’s raft.
    +My brother is blogging again!
    +How industrial farming destroyed the tasty tomato via NPR.

    I guess that’s about it. Trying to stay cool in 100*+ days, doing a few runs and finding creative things to do. Dreaming of cooler weather for some weekend backpacking but until then we’re doing short day hikes early in the day.

    IMGP2224 - Copy (3)
    Hard to believe that one year ago we only had 281.4 miles left and we’d entered our 14th and final state, Maine, the Promised Land.

    I broke one of my poles later that day.

    Chris, I think you need to get the scraggly mountain man beard going again.

    Where did the last year go?

    9 years ago when we got married I became interested in genealogy. I posted to a lot of boards and asked questions, searching for relatives and I got some answers. I put together two gigantic binders and organized it all.

    Then it fell by the wayside. Other hobbies took over and on occasion I’d get a new message from someone since the boards are still searchable and waiting for others to add to.

    So, two years ago when I got a message saying that someone had replied I jumped over to that board and I got really excited. The person who was replying basically said she was my second cousin on my grandfather’s side—her mom and my mom were first cousins! Her name was Elizabeth.

    It became a flurry of emails, doing Google searches for each other and realizing that we had a lot in common though we were several years apart, I was about four years older. I called my mom and told her what I’d found out and she was shocked. She hadn’t seen her cousin in nearly 30 years!

    Chris and I were living in Florida at the time, then our AT hike came up and we just had too many different problems trying to meet up. My immediate family was in the DFW area while hers was in OKC, not a far drive but far enough to require some planning.

    So, nearly two years after that first contact I got things together and my mom and I made the trip up to OKC for a mini-family reunion. I am so glad we went up there! It’s too bad that time and distance had to come between family, but I’m sure we’re not the only family who is the way. The first day was spent sitting in Elizabeth’s living room looking at old photos and hearing old stories about grandparents and other relatives. Our great-grandmother, our mom’s grandmother, was apparently into dipping snuff and watching wrestling. Not quite the image one gets when thinking of a grandmother—and of course this was only a tiny perspective of her. What I got out of who she was is a person who cared and did what she could for her grandchildren. I have a very vague memory of her in a wheelchair at the nursing home she lived in before she died. I was maybe two or three. It’s one of those memories that appear and sometimes you wonder where they came from and if they are real, but my mom verified some of the scenes so I’m certain my brain wasn’t making things up.

    Some of the other things they talked about were items from their grandmother’s house. And I’m very big this way, attaching sentiment and memories to items and having a strong attachment to them. It doesn’t have to be something big, I have old Folgers coffee jars (I mean like 50s and 60s old) that were my grandmothers’ that I kept when we cleaned out her house after a move to a seniors apartment. She used to keep flour and sugar and such in those jars but I always remembered them from my visits to her house and now they hold craft supplies. But hearing them talk about those items just tied some of that sentimentality to the family and helped me understand it some.

    The second day we were there we went about OKC a bit. Mom didn’t want to see the OKC bombing memorial so we stayed away from downtown and instead went to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. I loved this museum! I only wish we’d had more time to see the rest of it but seeing some of the beautiful art work made me want to paint and get crafty! A few excellent portrait artists made me wish I was better at faces—there’s a good reason I draw plants and animals.

    museum
    The grounds around the museum are beautiful. The heatwave in the south had broke a bit that morning due to cloud cover, but didn’t last long.

    museum2

    cousins
    Elizabeth’s mom on the left and mine on the right.

    We left the museum early because we were going to the News 9 studio to watch the noon news report! Sweet! Elizabeth and her husband Kevin went to college with one of the weather team members Matt Mahler so they’ve gone to shows before. I have to say this was an interesting experience! I was expecting a much more bustling studio but it was only the news anchor and Matt with two crew guys on the set! Apparently the noon show is a little more quiet than the others!

    news2

    news1
    Watching the show…I took photos during commercials. Matt liked putting on his makeup! 😉

    Before we left to head back south of the Red River we had lunch and stopped back at Elizabeth’s house for goodbyes.

    3
    I’m so glad we went up there! I’d love to plan something else in the future—maybe camping near Turner Falls! Plus, Elizabeth has two brothers that I’d like to meet and once my brothers and sister in law have their son and get settled into a two kid household I know they’d like to go up too.

    Elizabeth is scheduled for this Monday’s interview series so peek back then to see what she has to say!

    Let me tell you something. This post was a booger to put together. Why? Because I did a lot of research. Why? Because I don’t know everything—duh!

    First, a brief explanation of the Local Adventures title. While some aspects of it might be similar to Nature in the City posts they will differ in that they aren’t going to be strictly nature or in the city. NITC posts focus a bit more on parks/areas that are within an urban environment and they may or may not have a playground. (Now I am reminded I need to do some NITC posts again soon.) Local Adventures will focus on anything from a hike within a natural area nearby or a few hours from wherever I live (still transient at the moment) to canoeing and kayaking or maybe rock climbing…basically anything adventurous. So, really it is a bit of a work in progress as I develop the series and roll with it.

    Now I bring you the first in the series. I will eventually cover more of the trails at the FWNC so stay tuned!

    Location: Fort Worth Nature Center
    Trail: Cross Timbers Trail, 3.37 miles round trip
    Activities: Hiking, trail running, photography, nature/wildlife viewing
    Bring Water and a snack!

    The trail begins from a parking area near the West Fork of the Trinity River and crosses a levee that is adjacent to a channel to the east as you walk over the river. The river is dammed up and channelized through several lakes in this area.

    marsh
    This is the area to the west of the levee that is marked on the map as the lotus marsh. Didn’t see any lotus, though.

    path
    Once down the levee the main trail begins and you can choose which way to go as the path is a circle and will bring you back to this point.

    logs

    chris
    On the Florida Trail it became a running joke that when we saw a bench Chris would have to sit on it. Since the FT is not as developed as the AT, where shelters and benches are common, we usually made do with stumps or the ground. So, Chris got his bench on this little trail.

    path2
    It was a cloudy morning the day we went out so the woods appeared dark and mysterious. Some of the growth on the trees reminded me of the epiphytes covering the trees in Florida.

    adrift
    On the surface it might not appear that a lot is going on but one has to look close to see the smaller bits of excitement and beauty.

    veg
    Watch out, the nettles will bite!

    vitis

    grape
    Chris tried one of the grapes back at the parking lot and informed me that it was pretty sour! Sounds like it would be good for jams or wine!

    unknowns
    What took me the most time for this post was researching the plants and identifying them. Don Young with Tandy Hills sent me a plant list for TH and the FWNC so I utilized that heavily. If I can narrow something down to a genus or family and go from there I will, and then it is all about my friend Google. But if I don’t know where to start then I throw them out there for the world to try to identify—-so if you can help me out, lemme know! Edited 7/24/11: Someone at FW Nature Center has told me the shrub is a privet while the yellow is of the primrose family, possibly Oenothera rhombipetala. Thanks Suzanne!

    trail

    skull
    Sometimes fauna is harder to come by than flora but we managed to find this skull. I poked around on the internet looking at a few skulls I thought it might be and I have a friend in Florida taking a look at it, too, but my first guess is that this is a coyote skull. I’m basing the guess on the shape of the nose. I initially was going with opossum or bobcat but I don’t think those are right. If someone else is good with skulls by all means help me out! Several people have said this is a raccoon, I’m still on the fence on this—stubborn—will have to look at the whole skull again soon.

    field
    Perhaps almost half way through the trail opens into this beautiful field allowing for more diversity in blooms.

    gaillardia
    I was very familiar with Gaillardia pulchella aka: Indian blanket so I knew this was probably in the same genus—and whaddya know…I was right!

    vines

    wildlife
    Looking for wildlife is not necessarily about seeing a large mammal, though that is certainly nice, but looking for the smaller signs.

    oak
    Since the photos are a bit cropped here I’m not certain on the oak species but if I were to guess I’d say the left photo is a blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) and the right photo is a post oak (Quercus stellata). And the insect gall—oh I did some Googling but I wasn’t positive on anything so I decided not to guess. And if you are curious about galls…all types of galls! and the site I was using for identification.

    lichen
    Lichen! Again, not the best with identification of that sort of thing, but wanting to learn!

    path3
    I think these two photos are my favorite from the entire walk. This is from the northern part of the loop and the lighting at this time was beautiful. It was so picturesque and made me think of the photos you see that you always wish you could be in—well, I was in one of those!

    creek
    Back on the levee to the car…this is the channel we followed.

    spiny

    creepervines

    sycamore
    A beautiful sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, definitely not as large as the one from Sabine NF.

    sunflower
    And finally, back near the car, sunflowers dotting the sides of the levee.

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