Outdoors

  • Gardening,  Memes,  Outdoors,  Wildlife Wednesday

    American Lady Caterpillars (Vanessa virginiensis) | Wildlife Wednesday

    Last spring we were fairy negligent about weeding our paths. Up popped all sorts of interesting but less desired native and non-native plants, including what I think was Pennsylvania cudweed, Gamochaeta pensylvanica. I knew they hosted American lady caterpillars but I had never seen any on the plants around our yard before so I left them to see what would happen. We had adults flitting about the Texas ragwort that grows in the front yard during March-late April and I knew there was a good chance we would see the caterpillars if I gave them time. And they arrived! The caterpillars make little leaf nests like other species such as…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Thanksgiving at Lake Brownwood State Park

    The lake was very low, still feeling the effects of the drought. Don’t cut hearts into the prickly pears, y’all. We made Thanksgiving camping reservations a little later this year and paired with only having the four days off instead of taking the entire week, we needed to go somewhere mid-range, not making the trek to South Llano River SP or the Davis Mountains as per what we’ve done frequently in the last several years. Plus, we’d already hit the Davis Mtns back during Spring Break in 2023, though I could easily go there twice a year or more if time was available. Lake Brownwood is “out there” in that…

  • Memes,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflower Wednesday,  Wildflowers

    Large-flowered False Foxglove, Aureolaria grandiflora | Wildflower Wednesday

    Bumblebee on large-flowered false foxglove BONAP range iNat Observations Aureolaria grandiflora and it’s Aureolaria cousins have been on my to-see list for quite a while now. Imagine my surprise when Chris found them growing at Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve last July. I wasn’t expecting them to be there but I should have checked iNaturalist and paid more attention. The bumblebee video is from July at Watson. The other photos are from stumbling across the plant alongside the road in the Turkey Creek Unit of the Big Thicket last September. We’d just come off the Turkey Creek Trail and were walking back to the truck when Chris saw them growing…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors

    A Pre-Freeze Hike on the Lone Star Trail

    This bright red-orange sapling tree was stunning but I’m not totally sure what it is. First thoughts were black gum, Nyssa sylvatica, but closer looks at the leaves suggest maybe a Prunus or Pyrus. ID is welcome! Machine clearing in lieu of fire along one section of the trail. You know the terrain is getting good when you find the dwarf palmettos and the river cane! Lots of Sparse-lobed Grapefern, Sceptridium biternatum, along the trail right now. The floodplain section begins… Caney Creek A new find for us in Sam Houston and the westernmost plant on iNaturalist, Georgia holly, Ilex longipes. Hiker crew! Keely crossing a small creek. Ahhhh, the…

  • Memes,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflower Wednesday,  Wildflowers

    Meeting Nabalus barbatus, barbed rattlesnake root | Wildflower Wednesday

    We went camping at Martin Dies Jr State Park in October, and while I had some usual suspects to check out on the trails there, I had a plant in mind I wanted to attempt to scout out in Jasper County—between Jasper and Kirbyville. Nabalus barbatus, aka barbed rattlesnake root, came on my radar a few years ago. It is relatively scattered and uncommon in east Texas as you can see in the map from iNaturalist above. Being uncommon and also trying to make sure I’m in the area at the right time for a bloom, well, it hadn’t worked out for a while to visit. I asked Chris to…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    Exploring the Big Woods Nature Trail

    In December, after the three of us went to a volunteer workday at Watson, we stopped by the Big Woods Trail in Woodville at Heritage Village. I only found out this trail existed back in October when I did a different volunteer event at the Village with a couple of other Watson folks but at the time I didn’t have time to explore the trails. This time I had an agenda (hopefully more on that soon!) and I was also just curious about the trails, too. Here’s what we saw: There are less than a mile of trails but all of the little side trails make it feel as if…

  • Outdoors

    Late Summer Evening Walk

    Back in September I took an early evening walk around the neighborhood to scope out a few things I saw blooming. Seeing these photos once again has me seriously ready for spring and summer to come. I spent some time in the garden today (drafting this on Sunday evening) and it was so great to be doing gardening things, and looking at these photos just has me looking forward to warmth again. Soon…soon. Ascelpias linearis in our garden. Some oleander aphids photobombing as well. Kuschelina thoracica, a flea beetle. Zephyranthes carinata in our right-of-way, an introduced species we planted. Hyptis alata, musky mint, down by the pond shoreline. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,…

  • Hiking,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places

    First Day Hike at Lake Arrowhead State Park

    It was January 2022 the last time we did a First Day Hike, that time we tromped around Tandy Hills and the newly opened Broadcast Hill trail system. Last year my parents were at our house for New Year’s so we didn’t get out for a hike. This year we spent the week after Christmas in DFW before Chris and I drove to Wichita Falls on New Years Eve to stay at our favorite B&B, the Harrison House in Wichita Falls. We first stayed there in late 2021 after our Charon’s Garden Wilderness Hike in the Wichita mountains and stayed there again on our drive back from New Mexico in…

  • Outdoors,  Texas,  Thoughts,  Travel & Places

    Down but Not Out

    *TLDR: Short backstory for what I’m talking about. Energy company created Fairfield Lake for cooling water for its power plant back in late 1960s. Early 1970s, they asked the state to put a state park in on part of the land. State leased the land for ‘free’ (re: yes, monetarily free to landowner but also consider the millions in infrastructure and staff put in by the state, but also the repercussions for the plant to pollute, tax incentives, etc, etc…so very much tit for tat here…) for 50 years. Energy company went bankrupt in mid 2010s, closed plant in 2018, decided to sell off portion of their property, 5000 acres…

  • Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflowers

    Mountain Pinks (Zeltnera beyrichii) at Pedernales Falls State Park

    Turns out when you stop blogging and trying to feed things through social media you just stop sharing all of the good stuff you have backlogged. Which means I have many things from the last three years to share, plus I know I do have the tail-end of Alaska in 2019 to share, too. We encountered these mountain pinks on the south side Pedernales Falls State Park, some along CR 201 but the white ones were encountered along the Juniper Ridge Trail in the far southeast section of the park. This was back in June 2021 when we rented a cute AirBnB in Dripping Springs for my birthday. Now revisiting…