2019, Travel/Vacation

The Wichita Mountains In April 2019 (Part II)

Coming from Rush Lake, we took a short break at the Visitor Center. And then we moved on to Quanah Parker Lake. Driving to the lake, there were lots of longhorn and bison grassing in the meadow. Some longhorn cows crossed the road. The grass must have been greener on the other side. 😉 Some longhorn were scratching their necks against the nearby boulders. One of the animals was so close, I could almost touch it, if I was crazy enough to do so. But this Texas girl ain’t messing with a longhorn, nor a bison. That is a whole bunch of NOPE!

At the Quanah Parker Lake Dam, we saw the spillway gate was open. This was the first time, I had the chance to photograph the dam with the water flowing down into Quanah Creek. Usually when visit in September, the water levels are much lower due to the Summer’s drought. In Spring, there is plenty of rain. It will fill up the lakes. And the rest of the water goes over the spillways. Kevin, the girls and I wanted to hike the Little Baldy Trail. But something terrified Luis at the stairs leading down to the dam. I mentioned, there is another small trail right by the pier on the north side of the lake.

Arriving at the Education Center of the park, we hiked the small trail by the pier, looked at some plants and read the educational signs about flora and fauna. Katelynn found a small school of fish swimming near the shore and watched them for a little bit. Luis got really tired, and we called it a day. He was so happy being back in the car and could take a nap on the way back home to Texas. He probably was dreaming about his fluffy couch.

~ The End ~

2019, Travel/Vacation

The Wichita Mountains In April 2019 (Part I)

Yesterday, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, Luis and I visited the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge again. The girls have a four-day weekend. And Kevin took the day off. What’s better than go on a hike on a beautiful Good Friday?! This time, we entered the park from the eastern entrance by Medicine Park. Because first we wanted to go up to Mt. Scott. But for some reason, it was closed for entering by car. We didn’t want to take the long hike up to the peak of the mountain. So we decided to move on and hike another trail. But first, we went to the Holy City. Katelynn and Sara went inside the church, before I went behind the buildings with them. Kevin stayed with Luis in the grassy area by the parking lot. Luis can get a bit excited around people. And we didn’t want to take any chances. Before getting back to Road 115, there is a field where the Prairie Dogs call this place their home. It is fun to watch them, when they bark signals to each other. They seem fine being out and about, when visitors of the park just drive by. But once, we crossed the white line, they became territorial, ran back into their burrows.

Last time we were at the refuge, we went to the Jed Johnson Lake Dam. This time, we wanted to hike and chose to go up to the tower. Katelynn, Sara and I decided to cross the little creek and walked up a “shortcut” along the lake, while Kevin and Luis went the regular trail along the creek. But therefore our trail was a little bit more rugged and some steep boulders needed to be climbed, before we made it to the tower. Kevin just walked the easier, but longer way. Luis could walk, lie in the shade or water for a bit, before he trotted behind Kevin again. Our pup is such a couch potato. 😀

Standing next to the Jed Johnson Tower, we had a nice view over the lake. In the distance, Mount Scott could easily be made out as the highest peak in the Wichita Mountain chain. There are also several stories roaming the internet about the Jed Johnson Tower and the lake being haunted. Honestly, if there is a ghost, it is definitely not ill intended. I felt no bad presents going up and around the tower at all. But I sure was drawn to it. After walking around the tower and let Luis rest in the shade for a little bit, we took the same way back which Kevin hiked up with the dog. It was an easier way down to get back to the car.

Coming from Jed Johnson Lake, we also took a short trip to Rush Lake. Since we had quite a bit of rain the last few days, the lakes are full. The water of Rush Lake is currently going over the spillway and the below creek leads into the Jed Johnson Lake.

… to be continued …

2019

Punxsutawney Phil’s Little Cousins

Because the groundhog’s home is up in the Northeast of the USA and Canada, it’s harder to get a photo of the rodent in Texas. But Punxsutawney Phil’s little cousins, the Prairie Dogs, live here in the Southwest. And they are happy to hear, that Cousin Phil’s prediction is for an early Spring, because he hasn’t seen his shadow, in Pennsylvania this morning.

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Prairie Dog in Oklahoma

Happy Groundhog Day!

2018, Travel/Vacation

Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

Five years ago, Kevin, the girls and I drove to Oklahoma on Labor Day. We picked a spot at the most northern part of Lake Texoma, which is southeast of the town Tishomingo. Parking at the northern side of the lake, we took a little hike. It was humid, warm, and a lot of insects were buzzing all over the place. All of a sudden, a Gulf Fritillary sat down on Katelynn’s arm. Katelynn kept hiking with it for a bit, before the butterfly decided to fly to another flower. Kevin said: “I think I see a hummingbird right there.” But when I looked closer, I smiled and replied: “That’s close. Actually, it’s a hummingbird moth, also called a sphinx moth.” The girls kept watching it. And one said: “It really acts like a hummingbird.”

It was a nice afternoon in Oklahoma. We drove back home to have dinner in Texas. We all got out as a family and did something together on this September holiday. Sometimes, this is all it takes to make the girls happy.

2017, Travel/Vacation

The Wichita Mountains

When Kevin was about Katelynn’s age, his dad was stationed as a soldier in Fort Sill by Lawton, Oklahoma. Since the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is lining up with Fort Sill, my parents-in-law took their three boys and went camping and/or hiking in the mountains for the weekends.

Many years later, Kevin always talked about going back hiking in the Wichita Mountains. At the Labor Day weekend in 2014, I said: “Okay, the girls are big enough. Let’s pack the camping gear and give it a shot!” At that time, we didn’t know it would become a Labor Day weekend tradition in our family.

Well, this year we arrived at the campground a little bit too late. Since the campground takes only ‘First come – first serve’ in, and they don’t do reservations for single families, we didn’t get to camp. The campground was overflowing with guests. Maybe it was good that way. When a place is too crowded, we can’t really relax and enjoy our weekend getaway, either.

But since we were here already, we used the chance to hike for a couple of hours. We went up to Mount Scott to enjoy the beautiful scenery from above. And we went to the Jed Johnson Dam and the Quanah Parker Lake Dam to exercise the dogs for a little bit. After all, we’ve got out of the house and enjoyed the day as a family. Can’t ask for more, right? 😉

When we came home and unpacked the car, it didn’t take long for us to pass out on our beds. And today, we can enjoy all the goodies we packed for the trip. We are still considering, if we put up the tent, grill some hotdogs and marshmallows over the campfire, and listen to daddy’s spooky ghost stories, in the backyard tonight.

NOTE: Original posted in “The Barefoot Garden Fairy” on September 4, 2016

2017, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 1: From Texas To Missouri

June 15, 2017

While Kevin had to take care of a few items at work I used the chance to finish packing, on Thursday morning. I asked the girls to get each a pillow, a blanket, and their favorite plush animal for the road. Clothes, DVDs, markers, pencils, journals, and snacks were already packed. I just had to take care of the small little details like tooth brushes and passports.

Kevin came home before noon. He packed everything in the car. And on the road we went around 1 p.m. With all the plans and the sights we had in mind, we were really excited to go on this road trip. We made a short stop for lunch in Van Alstyne, before we left Texas.

Arriving in Oklahoma, we took Highway 69. It is the shortest way to get to I-44 and then hitting east to Missouri. When we made it to Will Rogers Turnpike (I-44), we took a short break at the rest area near Vinita. The rest area is in the center and can be reached by people traveling both ways, east bound and west bound. It’s called the Will Rogers Archway. Katelynn and Sara were fascinated with the fact, that people can eat in a fast food restaurant while watching the traffic passing by under them on the freeway. With their noses touching the glass windows, the girls watched the semi trucks coming in and out of the rest area.

Another several miles later, we paid toll before we left Oklahoma and entered Missouri. We stopped at the first rest area to have dinner. The girls love “Brotzeit” (“Bread Time” in German). We usually pack some bread, lunch meat, lunch cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, snacks, juices, water, and other goodies for the road. That saves a lot of money, and it is healthier than eating every meal in a restaurant. Kevin, the girls and I enjoy sitting outdoors for lunch/dinner. And when Katelynn and Sara are done with their meal, they still can spend some time at the playground or run around in the grassy areas. On past travels Kevin and I learned, it is very important to take more breaks to let the kids run and get the wiggles out of their systems on the rest area grounds. They are much happier and can handle the upcoming stretch to the next rest area much better.

In Lebanon, Missouri we stopped at a Motel 8 that night. I liked the fact, that the Motel was far enough away from the freeway to not hearing all the traffic, but close enough to see the freeway at a short distance. Katelynn noted, she didn’t like the matress too much. It was a little bit too soft for her. But overall, she still got some good rest, before we left for St. Louis the following morning.

… to be continued …