Washington On The Brazos

We took the kiddos on an impromptu trip to Washington On the Brazos last Friday. Thursday was Texas Independance Day, but hubs was working. So we took them the next day 🙂 We had been meaning to take them for quite some time as it is a pretty local park. I was really excited as I remeber going there when I was not much older than my son. It is one of the very few memories I have from that age. I loved it so much. And taking my kids here was a huge deal for me!

The park was EMPTY. Which is usually why we opt for weekday trips when we can. They were in the process of setting up the big celebration and reenactment for the weekend, which sadly we couldn’t make. The first stop was the gift shop to get our post card. We get a post card at every park that we go to. I just like them. Then we headed to the living history farm. Here there are costumed staff working the farm. This is the home site of Anson Jones, the last president of Texas. We looked through the house and kitchen and garden. It’s always fun to watch the kids see the difference in how we live now versus how people used to live. Then we headed to the barn. Which is what the kids were dying to see.

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There were two bulls, chickens, and two pigs The kids even got to help collect eggs, which they always love doing. They got to talk with the gentleman there about all kinds of tools, many of which they already knew about, gardening and basic living stuff. I love when they get to show off what they know. We  got to see cotton bales and they got to feel raw cotton for the first time. Which lead to a conversation about the cotton gin and who invented it and what other things he invented. Homeschooling…..always learining something. 16999062_10155190425459756_1248942068165721315_n

Isn’t this guy handsome?

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Meet the most photogenic chicken ever!

We visited Independence Hall and the former townsite. Independence Hall was a big deal for them. They enjoyed seeing where the Texas Decleration of Independce was signed. History takes on a different shape when you get to see where it happened. To stand on the spot where Independence was declared made an impact on them.

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We followed the trail down to where the reenactors where setting up camp. This is where my son got the chance of a lifetime! William learned how to shoot a canon. He found a nice old man, who is a fan of scouting, and he showed him how to use his canon.Now he is sure that we need one. Not gonna happen….

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We headed back inside and let the kids do the scavenger hunt in the visitor center. They got everything correct. Smart kids 🙂 And they learned a lot. We finished up and finally got them back in the car and headed home. But first Dadddy stopped and got them a burger, cause a burger is the perfect end to a super fun field trip!

This is the reason that I buy a state park pass every year. It gives me a perfect chance to take my kids out to learn about the world around them. More than just going for hikes. We have so many places around us where important things happened to our state and nation. I get more out of my pass than what I pay for it, not just money wise, even though it does save us a bunch, but they are getting hands on education and experiences you can’t get from books. For us a pass is wort it. We will also be renewing our national pass as well this year as we plan to hit several national parks on vacation. 🙂

First Hike of March

Hello March! (Although, quite frankley, in Texas it’s been March weather for well over a month.) We welcomed the moth in with our first hike with our dogs! I recently purchased a backpack for my large dog so we could take water and doggie bags with us. The state park requires that you clean up after your dog, so we made sure we had the ability to do so. This bag is really nice, and it was less than $20 on Amazon. I ordered the bag and bowl combo and grand total was $23. So a pretty good deal.  I had the kids do all of their homework and scout work for today, yesterday, so we didn’t have any reason to hurry.

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We got to the forest around 10ish. Before it starts to get too warm. I didn’t want to push the dogs too much as I had no idea how they would even feel about going hiking. Jett, my large dog, is the one tasked with carrying the bag. So we got her strapped in and headed out. For her we had more luck attaching her leash to her collar and not to the backpack, however there is a ring to attach a leash to the bag. She does better attached to the collar. My other dog is a beagle. And she sniffs EVERYTHING. So needless to say, she enjoyed hiking.  Both dogs ended up doing surprisingly well. They didn’t pull or try to run off. We were even able to walk them over the suspension bridge. 16864775_10155183515374756_7836299700786893754_n

We found this guy hanging out on the trail. He was not even a little concerned about us. He wandered off the trail after everyone had a chance to admire him. Look how much pollen is on his shell! If anyone knows what kind of turtle this is, could you let us know? My kids are dying to find out!  Jett wanted to get up close and personal with this guy, she how she is pulling in the next picture?  But I had no idea what she wanted from him so I put myself between the dogs and the turtle and had the kids walk her up the trail a bit. Once passed him, she didn’t even turn back around to look at him.

 

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Bella and Jett.

Over all it was a really nice hike. Lots of birds and butterflys out and about. We took a couple of water breaks which Jett took advantage of but Bella wouldn’t drink anything. We tried to get her to drink, but she just wouldn’t. Everyone came home happy and a little tired! We are looking forward to many more adventures with our doggies now!

 

Recent outings

We recently went on a quick hiking trip. We went to Colorado Bend State Park and Enchanted Rock. None of us had previously been to either of these parks. Colorado Bend had cactus every where! Much to my sons delight, he loves cacti. On the way we stopped at Natural Bridge Caverns.  We really enjoy taking the kids into the caves, they love it!

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So, that’s the natural bridge. The tours were extremely informative, great guides! Very well informed and good with kids. The tour is a little steep, but it is paced easy so that everyone can do it. This is a living cave, which means the formations are still growing. And it is wet. We got lots of cave kisses, a big deal for the kids. Unlike many of the caves that we have previously visited, this cave was quite warm. Most of the ones we have been in have been quite cold. The formations were beautiful and there were lots of pretty pools to see. And, sadly, no bats. Sigh. 🙂 However they did mention the white nose fungus problem and made sure to point people in the right direction for more information. We took two tours, the Discovery and Hidden Passages. Hidden passages is fun because you get to sit in total, absolute darkness. The kind of darkness you can’t adjust to. I have never been in such engulfing darkness. There is lots to do here, it’s almost like a mini theme park. Zip lines and adventure courses run across the park.

 

The first park we hiked was Colorado Bend. We took the Gorman Falls trail and went all the way to the water fall. Be advised, this is a strenuous trail. Mostly at the end. You have to go almost vertically down. My kids are quite adept at hiking and experience, so I was comfortable taking them, but I wouldn’t take other young kids.

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We didn’t build the cairns, but I like to photograph the ones we find. 

The trails are very nice, well maintained, well marked. Cactus is literally EVERYWHERE. It must be beautiful when it is blooming. I would highly recommend that you make sure to take plenty of water if you are hiking this in summer. A large portion of the trail has no trees, and we all know Texas is hot. So take water and some snacks, and take breaks. But the hike is worth it. The falls were beautiful. And there is a nice little place to sit and eat. You can walk up the river a bit as well. A note: there is no cell signal in the park.

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This is our companion this year: meet Vaughn.

Our last stop was Enchanted Rock. We wanted to climb a little, but we ended up just scrambling and running up and down the slopes.

We went up Summit Trail. Holy moley, it was quite steep! And windy! But not undo-able. We made it all the way to the top. The kids first “Summit” (It’s not really a mountain, but it was Summit Trail, so we gave them summit credit). After a few minutes to recover and admire the view, we descended down into Echo Canyon. We hiked into the canyon a bit and then let the kids run loose and climb the rocks. Everyone really enjoyed the rocks. We love places like Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire, and this is a similar landscape. Except you can boulder and scramble with more confidence after the rain since this is granite and the other parks are sandstone. So when we had used half our water we headed back and had lunch. It was really nice out,not hot, and a bit cloudy. So we took our time and ate and walked down by the stream that was nearby. A note: Summit Trail doesn’t allow pets and again there is no cell signal. Lots of kids were running up the trail as well, so it is relatively kid friendly. It is steep so make sure they take a break!  Also, we went during the week, and they were still pretty busy. The park does reach capacity on the weekends, and if they close twice, they are closed for good. So get there early and carpool if you can if you are going on the weekend!

So, that’s about it for our family trip. We did this over three days, so we didn’t get to spend tons of time in each park, but it was worth the drive!