Monday, February 13, 2017

Camping Day 3

Our third and last day camping was short, as check out was at 1 pm. I cooked us a quick pepper omelette then we started packing up. I'm glad we started early because we were the last spot on the campground loop and right next to the dump station for the RV toilet tanks.We got stuck in, unable to leave, while what seemed like every RV in the campground emptied their tanks. After the parade of RVs finished we had just finished packing up. We checked out and drove to one of the popular trails that was on the other end of the prairie. Luckily we managed to find a parking spot, Sunday afternoon must be THE day to hike.
After we got out on the trail we understood why it was so popular, the trail went through an old cattle barn and opened up onto a wood boardwalk that let out onto a long plateau that led through a swamp and into the prairie. The amount of wildlife was amazing. We saw so many gators and birds, several groups of horses, and near the end of the trail hundreds of sandhill cranes.

This great blue had a nice snack

Grazing in the water weed
Flying cranes

The memorial at the observation platform at the end of the trail

Sandhill Crane have a striking red cap on their heads
A cormorant battling for a meal, the fish got away several times but eventually the bird got it's lunch

We really enjoyed our short trip to the prairie. We have certainly added it to visit again list, I would love to go in the spring to see the greenery and flowers in full force.

Some Bunny Loves You!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Camping Day 2

Saturday morning was colder than expected, the high was forecast to be 65 but it never rose above 54 because of thick clouds. We started out the morning with a 5 mile hike on the prairie, we didn't see much wildlife other than a few birds but we did see the cattle herd on the other side of the boundary fence.   
We took a small detour on a connecting trail to see the ruins of a cattleman's cottage, it is just over the fence (on private land) but it looks like many people jump it to explore.

A well
 For size reference 
Another TeeTurtle shirt, undershirt is from Walmart (years ago) and headband was a gift from my nephew.

 The area by the visitor center was under a controlled burn, I love walking past smoldering logs and stumps.
 Hiking builds up a healthy appetite, I made fajitas and quesadillas for lunch, it's quick and easy and my go to after a nice hike.
Later in the afternoon we tried out a woodsy trail, it was one we had to drive too as it came off from another area of the park. Immediately after entering the trail I noticed a painted rock perched on a stump.
A little ways down the trail I found another.
On a small side trail I found a car one.
The little side trail "didn't go anywhere" according to a couple coming off of it when we were headed down, if we had followed their advice we couldn't have spotted this rock or had the amazing encounter we had at the end. The trail dumped us right onto the prairie and just about 150 feet away were two stallions play fighting for the attention of a mare. They reared and danced around each other, we could hear their hooves clank and their teeth chomp. They chased each other around in circles and after a few minutes (which seemed like a lifetime it was so amazing to watch) they made up and started grazing. I got a few soft focus photos, they were moving too fast and we were constantly on guard to see if we needed to run into the brambles to flee. The whole experience was thrilling and well worth taking the small path that went to nowhere.

We returned to the main path and followed the trail out to an observation point, the last mile to the tower seemed like the longest leg of the hike, it never seemed to get any closer. However when we climbed to the top of the observation deck we found another rock. It certainly made the trek worth it.
  The temperature had dropped several degrees and the wind picked up. As we took a breather on the top of the deck it started sprinkling, we hid underneath and had a snack break while we waited for the rain to stop. I was glad we had switched to our heavier jackets and brought our gloves along, it was downright chilly. The rain lessened and we hiked back to our car.
I didn't spot any more rocks on the walk back so I picked up and looked at the squirrel one at the front of the trail, on the back was this:
I looked it up when we got back to camp. It is the group on Facebook, not the page. They are a group of people paint rocks and leave them all over to brighten people's days. What a cool idea, I would love to get a group together in town.

The rain started back up as we were cooking dinner and stayed around (off and on) the rest of the evening. We turned in early after we burned the left over firewood in one big fire, sitting in the rain is no fun. Overall we hiked 9 miles that day so an early bedtime wasn't all bad.

I have one more post coming up with lots of critter pictures.

Some Bunny Loves You!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Long Time, camping day 1

Long time no write. Unfortunately blogging just doesn't fit into my schedule much anymore. I still dress up from time to time but it is usually in the evenings now and too dark to get photos. I've been spending so much of my life in yoga pants and tank tops lately (for work) when I put on "real clothes" it has just been jeans and Tee Turtle shirts. 
But...jeans are tees are perfect for camping! Hubby and I got away on a camping trip this past weekend, I booked months ago for the ren faire but in the end we decided to skip the faire and spend our time away just the two of us, Hubby has had lots of stress at work for the past several months so it was nice to unwind and unplug. It was our first time camping at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and for sure it won't be our last. We arrived at the park just after the 3 pm check but drove to the visitor center and observation tower before setting up camp. We spotted a small group of wild horses on the prairie and watched them graze in the distance. 
The visitor center (designed to mimic a sandhill crane) looks out to the prairie.

A bison head mounted in the visitor center. The park has a herd of bison but we weren't lucky enough to spot it on our trip.
The 50 foot tall observation tower

A large group of school children was running around and not being fond of children, especially in large groups, we retired to camp and set up our gear. We weren't hungry yet after setting up so we took a short trail from the back of the campground to a lovely lake and watched the sunset.

 Shirt from TeeTurtle in relaxed woman's fit. I admit, I'm on my way to owning most of the TeeTurtle bunny shirts, they just get me.

 When the sun dipped below the trees we walked back to camp and started a fire to cook dinner.
Yum, everything tastes better when cooked over a campfire. We had corn, baked beans, and sausages.
After dinner we sat around the fire and watched the stars. It was a cool and clear evening with a new moon, the clouds however rolled in around 9 pm so we retired early.

Stay tuned for the next post with our hiking adventures and lots of pictures.