Dripping Springs Nature Walk

 

 

Dripping Springs

My hubby has been very busy lately, not only with work, but he is one of the musicians for the Southern California tour of LES MISÉRABLESIt is an incredible opportunity for him and I’m bursting with pride…but it’s a lot of hours of rehearsal and shows.

We’ve been missing him for sure, so on his first weekend off, we decided a day out in nature was in order. We took a drive to  Dripping Springs, a little campground tucked away in the Cleveland National Forest. We’ve camped and hiked there before and it’s usually very quiet…exactly what we needed. 

We enjoyed a picnic lunch and let our little one run up and down a hill, peer into several hollow logs and just explore.

Dripping Springs

 

Dripping Springs

We walked along a dry river bed and looked for pretty rocks and found a few that were eye catching, to say the least. 

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

We found lots of lichen and moss that were interesting to touch and look at. 

Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs

We pretended we were pirates looking for treasure and drew maps in the sand.

Dripping Springs

I can’t imagine a better way to unwind after several weeks of a tightly packed schedule, than to walk in the wilds and listen to the gentle sounds of nature.

Dripping Springs

 

Santa Rosa Nature Walk

The weather has been beautiful and spring-like lately. We decided to take advantage of it and get outside. My little girl, J, loves nature walks, but it is not so easy to find somewhere to explore that isn’t an hour or more drive. Thankfully, we remembered a nice little Nature reserve that’s only a few miles away. Santa Rosa Plateau is a 9000 acre ecological reserve. It is home to many species of birds and plants. 

We had a nice time just strolling along appreciating the nature around us and taking photographs.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

We took the Granite Loop Trail. Including the walk to the picnic grounds, it’s a little over a mile. I thought that was pretty good hiking for a 3 year old. She showed interest the whole way, not one complaint! That made this mama pretty proud!

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa has a lovely picnic area. It was shady, quiet and we spotted many birds in the surrounding trees.  Some of them even ventured up close.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau Acorn Woodpecker

Santa Rosa Plateau California Towhee

One detail I really appreciated about Santa Rosa Plateau is that they have many of the plants and trees identified at the visitor center. I love being able to note the names for easy reference when we study them later at home.

Santa Rosa Plateau

This turned out to be a great close to home day trip. I’m looking forward to our next visit and discovering some new plants and animals to photograph and learn about.

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

Fall Nature Walk

Nature Walk

We love to go on weekend adventures! Most of our destinations require travel time in the car. It seems most of the interesting places we like to visit (zoos, aquariums, etc.) are at least a good 45 minutes away. However, we decided to revisit a local state park that is only ten minutes from our home. We used to make frequent trips when my parents had an RV, and would camp there on weekends, but haven’t been since my daughter J was born.

Lake Skinner turned out to be a nice place to spend an afternoon picnicking and exploring. It was rather quiet for a holiday weekend. We had a nice lunch under a group of very shady Coast Live Oaks. We found lots of acorns on the ground and talked about how they grew to be trees. J also enjoyed hunting for acorns with their “hats” still on.

Nature Walk

We were surprised to discover a huge bee hive up in the trees above our picnic spot.  We brought J’s binoculars for bird watching, but they proved useful for bee watching as well. The bee hive discovery was pretty exciting and she has talked about it several times this week, so it definitely made an impression!

Nature Walk

After lunch we walked a trail that winds through the park. We saw several different kinds of birds and I was able to photograph a few of them.

Nature Walk

Nature WalkI’m planning on identifying as many as I can and adding them to our nature book, as well as a few of the plants. We also walked down to the lake and watched some fishermen load their boats onto trailers.

After that, it was on to the playground…but not before a stop to play in a pile of huge crunchy leaves!

Nature WalkI’m glad we found a place to visit, that is close to home and where we can get out in nature! We will definitely be frequenting this park, and maybe next time we will spot the Blue Footed Boobie! 🙂

All About Bugs Week: Nature Walk & Bug House

Even though it’s summer, we are prepping my five year old nephew for homeschool kindergarten for the Fall. My daughter is 3, but she is going right along with the lessons and thriving on it! I can’t begin to say how happy that makes my heart!

My mom and I have put together a morning school at her house and have found great success with theme weeks. We decided to focus on bugs for one week and it was a hit!

One of the activities we did was build a bug house and have a nature walk. My mom came up with this very cute idea. A re-purposed little wooden box serves as a new model bug abode. My dad generously donated one of his guitar accessory boxes. Of course, any kind of box will work provided it’s able to withstand the elements outside for a while. You then fill it will all kinds of natural material that a bug would be attracted to for making it his home.

This is where the nature walk part come in.

We took my daughter to a shady green belt area in the neighborhood to collect items to fill the bug house. We picked up leaves, sticks, plant material and pine cones. The pine cones were definitely her favorite and we ended up bringing home way more than we needed!

Build A Bug House

Prize Pine Cone

Bug House-1-2

Grandma let her fill up the box with her found treasures and we placed it in the garden by a nice shady tree. The idea is to let it sit for a few days/weeks and then look inside to see what kind of bugs have taken up residence. I’m hopeful no spiders will decide to move in, although the kids would probably love that!

Build A Bug House

Bug House Before Renovation

My parents weren’t happy with the curb appeal for the bug house and fancied it up a bit. 🙂

Build A Bug House

Bug House After HGTV Yard Crashers

I think this is such a cute idea and a great way to get children interested in observing nature. My daughter was very excited to take part in each step  of this activity. It was also a wonderful way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the day together!

Build A Bug House

Inspecting the Bug House with a Magnifying Glass