Saturday, July 17, 2010

World Bird Sanctuary

After our hike we drove on over to Lone Elk Park and the World Bird Sanctuary.

We had been to both places about a yr and a half ago (in the winter) - so it was nice to actually be back during the summer time.

Lone Elk Park is a park that has - you guessed it - some elk. Also some bison . We drove along for quite awhile before we saw the bison all huddled together. They really are immense creatures and their heads are rather frightful looking. Not something I'd like to meet up with on a dark night on a lonely trail.

The elk all appeared to be female, and at rest - so little excitement there.

The World Bird Sanctuary "The World Bird Sanctuary rests peacefully on 305 acres of Missouri hardwood forest, next door to Lone Elk County Park and Chubb Trail. We are open daily from 8am - 5pm, and closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The World Bird Sanctuary features free seasonal shows, nature trails, educational programs and picnic pavilions. Free entry and parking. Live displays of Bald Eagles, Owls, Hawks, Falcons, Vultures, Parrots, Reptiles and much more!"

We happened to arrive around "lunch time" and actually saw the workers throwing in carrion for the birds. It was very fascinating to watch the eagles and vultures tear and eat their lunch. Their beaks and talons are not something you'd like to meet up with.

We were also in time for the free bird show - approx. 30 min show of 5 birds with discussion about each bird and flying demonstrations. There was even a demo. of a recycling raven...a few volunteers in the audience hold up empty soda cans - the raven will fly to the volunteer, grab the can and drop it in the recycling bin :)

More Hiking - Chubb Trail

Last night around 10:30 PM my husband asked what our plans were for Saturday. A conversation like this usually occurs on Friday, perhaps Thursday and worse case scenario, Saturday morning.

Of course at 10:30 PM I am usually just thinking about how I'd like to be sleeping.

Seems like Saturdays usually come around so suddenly that I haven't thought much about what to do on that day - unless we already have something scheduled.

The kids will usually ask Saturday morning if we are going to do something "fun".

Around 10:45 PM the hub made a suggestion. "What if we get up at 5:00 AM and take a hike on the Chubb Trail?" The early hour, in part, due to the hot, humid summers up here.

The Chubb Trail is "...the most challenging trail in the St. Louis area. It is a seven-mile dirt and gravel trail between West Tyson County Park and Lone Elk Park (14 miles round-trip). It has very challenging hills and some nice flat stretches. Terrain is rocky and can be muddy long after rains or floods. After those tough climbs you are often rewarded with great views."

Unpaved trails through the woods, happen to be a favorite of our children. Throw in some rockiness and a little danger and they are game!

Personally getting up early for a morning of garage-saling sounds a whole lot more exciting to me...but I'm usually out-numbered. And I know the hike is a good healthy activity for us all.

We had never been on the Chubb Trail before and the online descriptions sounded a little daunting to me - I pictured it to be a whole lot more treacherous than it was. Of course if there had been a recent rain the trail could have been more tricky.

There were a few falls and scrapes for the kids but nothing bad at all.

We only walked about 1/2 of the distance - starting at the Tyson Trailhead and turning around after about 1.5 hrs (total time was about 3 hours with about 30 minutes of that being rest stops).

The first real excitement of the hike came within about 30 minutes when the husband suddenly stopped. Right in the middle of the path was a COPPERHEAD. My first Copperhead siting in "the wild" (though the girl claims she actually saw one at the park with me, in the water, a month or so previously...which I may or may not have seen and which may or may not have been a Copperhead - though the girl with her encyclopedic brain retention of all things "critters" may have correctly identified it).

We gave the snake a "wide berth" (risking poison ivy) and stepped off the trail into the grass, briefly.

The second excitement - at least for the children - was that they spotted close to 20 little toads as we walked along.

The third excitement - at least for the girl - was when dad spotted a teeny, tiny skink which the girl successfully caught. She had been wanting a lizard of any kind for a very long time. He was only an inch or so long...but very sadly - he did not survive the journey home :(

We all enjoyed the Chubb Trail - I especially liked the fact that for the most part we were very shaded by the trees.

Friday, July 16, 2010


We went to the Laumeier Sculpture Park again today - went early in the morning while it was still cool-ish outside. Here are the kids doing what they enjoy most...walking through the woods - more specifically walking through a little creek in the woods...walking through a little creek in the woods looking for "something" exciting...

We did have a couple of fawns jump out right in front of us and startle us.

The Three Little Bunnies

Dh and I were sitting out on the front steps last night, when these three fellas came out from their hiding place. Very sweet and very small - smaller than a squirrel.

Earlier in the day one of the bunnies had run out of the flower bed when I started watering the flowers and I saw the "mom" in there when we first sat down on the steps (but she took off running).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Free Meal at Chick-Fil-A

Kids with Chick-Fil-A Cow

Now what would you do for a free meal?

Would you dress in a cow costume?

We did! Well the kids and I - the hub wanted no part of it :)

Spelling errors in sign intentional... :)
Today is "Cow Appreciation Day" at Chick-Fil-A and if you dress from head to toe (or head to hoof as it were) you get a free combo meal. The kids and I decided this would be a fun summer activity and we whipped up some costumes (basically white/black clothes with paper colored spots and some paper masks).

We met my sister-in-law and her kids at Chick-Fil-A and enjoyed our free food (our meals would have cost about a total of $18 for my two kids and I).

Once I got to Chick-Fil-A I started to feel nervous about donning my spots and mask - but did it anyway (but waited til my sister-in-law arrived).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Trip to Alabama

We made a trip to Alabama (Muscle Shoals area) last week as my dh was doing some accounting volunteer work for a missionary organization.

While the husband worked, the kids and I didn't. The area was rather weak in activities/tourist sites - but we filled in the time gaps with lots of swimming (much to the delight of the girl and boy) and insect collecting :)

Our favorite site was Tom Hendrix's wall (which actually my dh did get to see as well as we visited it on our way home).

Tom is a 77 yr old man who built the largest un-mortared stone wall in the USA, as a commemoration to his great-great-grandmother who was forced to leave the area during the "Trail of Tears", but made her way back after a 5 yr journey.

The wall is incredible to behold. To think of someone working on such a project day in and day out for over 20 yrs, is amazing.

Here is an article on Tom's Wall.

We actually got to meet Tom and hear a little of his story. He is very friendly and talkative...he enjoys talking about the wall and the different special rocks it includes (rocks from every state, various countries, a meteorite (he suggested I take a photo of the kids holding the rock), giant geodes - bigger than a basketball, and "the ugliest rock in Alabama" :)

Holding the meteorite.

Tom's wall is just off of the Natchez Trace Parkway at approx. milepost 338.


Critter Update

Giant Leopard Moth

All the tadpoles turned into frogs before we had to leave for our trip to Alabama a week ago Sunday.

The girl had planned on keeping one of the frogs - Beaver - for her pet collection. Sunday before we went on our trip, she went out to get Beaver from the little critter catcher and with great sorrow realized he was gone!

We have no idea how he got out - my theory is that the other frogs that she voluntarily let loose, mounted a mission to rescue Beaver and helped him escape. So now the girl is frog-less. Sad.

BUT she did not come home from Alabama empty-handed.

At a thrift store in Alabama we found a critter catcher - which was greatly needed as the girl was using a disposable beverage container to house her rapidly growing insect collection ... a small katydid like insect, a giant leopard moth (rescued from the swimming pool), a mysterious beetle, a strange lichen-ish insect that looks like a small piece of lichen or moss, and just as we were packing up to leave on Saturday - a full sized katydid (it was actually sitting on the back of the minivan).

As we were leaving the girl said, "Having a katydid is almost as good as having a lizard." (she had hoped to return home with a lizard - a green anole to be exact).

I'll need to try and get some photos of the other critters...especially the strange lichen-ish insect...I'd love to know what it is.

I generally dislike moths but the leopard moth is beautiful.