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 …