Friday, April 1, 2016

Between Trips

One of the things that begins to happen to us travelers, is that we live for "the next trip." The anticipation, the planning, the mapping and of course, the reservations needed to stay at each campground, all part of the fun. But what happens in between all of these trips? Well, for us, real life includes work and school. So we actually have to stay home for some parts of the year. And we do enjoy time at home too. We love seeing our friends, spending time working on our house, gardening and exploring our home town too.

But we really love spending time in the great outdoors. So much of the time between our trips is spent hiking and biking and looking for ways to appreciate nature close to us.

We moved to a new city about two years ago, after living in our previous home for about 13 years. So it was a huge adjustment for us. There were lots of challenges in adjusting to a new home, but also lots of positives. It's slightly disconcerting to be in a completely foreign town. I didn't know ANYONE in our new town. And I definitely did not know the places to hike or bike.

Thankfully for us, we have the internet! Some of the things I did to find local nature spots were to look on local city forums, facebook pages, and even searched for hiking/camping books on Of course, after meeting our new friends, we asked them as well. Word of mouth about local hot spots is really helpful. But in those first months of being in our new town, the internet was a great resource for me. You'd be amazed at all of the cool hiking and biking places you can find very close to neighborhoods and cities. My husband found a book on amazon called, "60 hikes within 60 miles," of our city. It's wonderful! So look around, browse, and get out there an explore.

And if you've lived in the same town for a while, you still might find something new in your area. Last year, while visiting our good friends in our old hometown, they invited us on a hike. I had lived there for 13 years, and this amazing hike was new to me. Crazy, but true!

One of the hikes we found near our new city was called Laguna Creek Trail. It's an amazing little piece of nature tucked right between the "burbs." We loved it! These pictures are from three different trips there, so don't think I bring a change of clothes for the kids on these day trips. Ha ha.

The creek meanders back and forth through the landscape. Here, we are watching a snowy egret hunt for frogs and fish.

At one of the little ponds, we found a mama duck and tiny ducklings.

My oldest daughter spotted a butterfly flitting from flower to flower.

To our surprise, and great pleasure, we even saw a river otter swimming along the creek. It was so cute, and very active. We couldn't believe how big this guy was!
Another snowy egret surveying the pond, while turtles sun themselves on the log below.

On our first trip to Laguna Creek, we spotted (okay, my biggest girl stepped over) a gopher snake lazing in the sun. We all admired it's brown shiny scales and watched it slither into the grass. The kids (and I) were THRILLED to get this close to wildlife. Weird, I know, but my littlest guy is anything but quiet and it's tough to get close to anything living with the racket he normally makes. On the bright side, we never need a bear bell when he's with us either. I was so excited, I had a hard time fumbling my phone/camera into position to take a picture, so I barely got a photo of the snake's tail end. But here it the overexposed proof below. 

Now most "normal" people, having just encountered a snake, would not want to re-visit the site. But not my crew. They were determined to return to the scene on our next hike to Laguna. The girls even (at his request) face painted "long grass camouflage" on his face! Ha ha. These kids. 
This is his "game face." He's not mad, I promise. 
No luck finding the snake on day 2, but we certainly had fun. 
Day hikes are a perfect time for conversations between Dads and Daughters. 

And a perfect opportunity to find more lovely trees to photograph. And I love trees. Oh how I love trees.

The kids were more excited to find little frogs in the creek runoff and small ponds. The frogs were tiny little things with red eyes and green bodies. It was fun to see the tadpoles in some ponds and frogs in others.

The reflective quality of the ponds were just gorgeous.
This hike was also a great one, because I could let the kids wander a little further from me, while still keeping them in view. My youngest especially enjoyed his adventures away from mom's immediate side.

And we all loved watching the egret hunt. 
Another thrill for the kids as a train whizzed by above us. 
It scared the egret away, but it was fun to watch him fly as well. 
My crazy bunch had lots of fun on our hikes. 
And I definitely did too!

So if you find yourself a little blue between trips, find an adventure in your neighborhood now. It may not be quite as exciting as Yellowstone, but I promise, it will be fun! And you will be enjoying the moment, TODAY! So get out there and explore.

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