Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Overlook Trail at Woodard Bay NRCA

Sign marking the Overlook Trail at Woodard Bay NRCA
The first time we visited Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) near Olympia, WA, back on July 24th, we had just a little trouble finding it. We couldn't see a sign marker for the last turn of the road that was mentioned on the directions we had printed off, and we hadn't brought a map, so my husband pulled in a parking lot he thought might be it.  After searching, we noticed a trail called "Overlook Trail" at the north end of the parking lot that led to Woodard Bay, but it was closed! It was a seasonal closure, though, and the sign posted said the trail would re-open on August 15th, so we determined to come back after that date.

Sign telling us the Overlook trail was closed

The map posted near the trail entrance showed a total of three trails on the Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area, the two others being on the other side of Woodard Bay, so we got back in our mini-van and drove a short way further down the road, just across the bridge, and found a small parking lot. The trails there were open, and we enjoyed our time at that part of the Woodard Bay NRCA very much.

Map showing the trails at Woodard Bay

I'll write about the other trails another day, but right now I want to talk about the first trail, the one that was closed the first time we visited, the "Overlook Trail." We had high hopes for that trail and looked forward to the time when it re-opened. We were able to visit again this past Saturday.

 The re-opened Overlook trail at Woodard Bay!

(picture taken by windchime)

The sign with the map on it had said, "For the sake of our wildlife residents, please keep noise to a minimum," so we diligently tried to be quiet as we walked along the trail. But we realized after awhile that there were houses nearby behind the trees and plants off to the right of the trail, for we heard a bunch of laughing and loud voices; it sounded like a family was having a very good time! Though we were happy for them, the loud sounds stole the quietness away.

At first we noticed the beautiful lush ferns and trees especially down off to the left side. . .

(picture taken by my older son)

(picture taken by my older son)

And the beautiful trees arching overhead. . .

The trail was wide at the beginning, but further on it narrowed as the vegetation crowded near the path. . .

When we came to a bright, beautiful opening, we were excited at the view of Woodard Bay that we hoped to see. . .

And we found these benches. . .

(picture taken by windchime)

And this view awaiting those who dare to rest on those benches. . .

We really wanted to see a view of the water, so we walked over to some trees nearby to see what we could see. . .

(picture taken by windchime)

And there we saw a beautiful glimpse of Woodard Bay. . .

There was certainly beauty along the trail, and it appeared to have been set up with such care. . . with a nice path, benches along the way, and a couple informational signs. But it was, as my daughter said, a little depressing, because of what it had become from what it must have been when it was first set up with such care. We are glad we visited, but it's sad to see things that have fallen into disrepair, and it can be difficult when reality doesn't meet up with your expectations, so we left the Overlook Trail that day feeling disappointed.

If you like reading about families in the outdoors, you're sure to enjoy visiting 5 Orange Potatoes' Outdoor Monday Challenge. (I meant to post this post yesterday, but fell asleep last night before I posted it!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Nature Walk with Snow White

While looking at old photos from last year, a picture of my younger daughter (age 8 at the time) dressed in her Snow White dress caught my eye.  It was late June, and we were on an evening nature walk during the time of day when the sun is golden, and the sun's long, warm rays cast a beautiful glow on everything it touched.  We had such a lovely walk, my sweet Snow White and I.  Here are some pictures from our walk.

Black Locust Tree
Vetch (Woolly Vetch Perhaps?)
Ocean Spray
St. John's Wort

Common Yarrow

Common Snowberry

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chambers Creek Labyrinth

Last Sunday our family visited Chambers Creek Properties (CCP) in University Place, WA. It has several trails and is a wonderful place to walk. We hadn't walked there in a long time (years, maybe?), but we had hoped to walk along the trail that runs above the Chambers Bay Golf Course because it has gorgeous views of the Puget Sound. (Now I know the trail we had in mind is called the GrandView Trail.) The sun was getting low, and I was sure it would be beautiful!

And wouldn't you know it? That trail was closed: they were getting ready for the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship on August 23rd - 29th. I felt so disappointed to not be able to walk there.

We enjoyed our time anyway as we turned our attention instead to the Environmental Services Area Trails nearby. That's not a very pretty name, is it? but it's utilitarian and descriptive. The trails are on the grounds around the Environmental Services Building, and those who created and care for that area have provided a well-maintained, truly pleasant place to walk and spend time. Pierce County's website describes it this way:

Located on the grounds around the Environmental Services Building, the walking paths provide citizens an opportunity to view a reclaimed gravel pit. Once a former county road shop, the site now contains two multi-purpose playfields, the Chambers Creek Labyrinth, native plantings, interpretive signage, and a stormwater demonstration garden.

We especially liked the labyrinth there. Do you know what a labyrinth is? Unless you realized what you were looking at, you might just think you were looking at a big circle paved with stones, and that's it. But it's not! The stones are set up so that there is a very circuitous pathway to the center of the circle. It's supposed to be a place of tranquility and contemplation.

My kids love following the paths on labyrinths. They are still working on the contemplation part (my youngest is in the "I need to finish first" stage right now and refuses to go slowly ;)), but they enjoy following the path and completing the labyrinth.

Some people get labyrinths confused with mazes (I know I did!). Here is how the Pierce County's page about the Chambers Creek Labyrinth explains what labyrinths are and their difference from mazes:

A labyrinth has only one path. The continuous path leads you to the center and out again. The completion of a labyrinth involves intuition, creativity, and imagery.

A maze is a puzzle to be solved. It has twists and turns, and choices to be made. It requires logical, sequential, analytical thinking to find the correct path through the maze.

Here are a few pictures of the Chambers Creek Labyrinth with some shadow shots for Shadow Shot Sunday.

walking the labyrinth
they made it to the center!
shadows of my husband and me
closeup of the stones
finishing up!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Autumn Reflections

Waughop Lake in Steilacoom Park, Lakewood, WA
(picture taken at the beginning of autumn 2009)
I was thinking about autumn this morning, and I'm a little sad that it's coming up so soon. I'm really going to miss summer this year, its freedom and its warm, bright sunny days. Autumn brings shorter, colder, darker days, and the need for a little more scheduling in our lives. But there is much beauty and fun in autumn, too, and the changes it brings, though sometimes difficult to settle into, open up opportunities for fresh adventures to enjoy!

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Learning to Ride a Bike

My two youngest have been learning to ride a bike this week.  They have been diligently practicing and have been gaining more balance, strength, and control each day.  Yesterday they had wonderful success at being able to continue to stay balanced and pedal their bikes, and they are thrilled!!   They had been saying it would never happen, but their hard work and diligence has paid off and it'll only get easier from here!  Woohoo!!! I'm so excited for them!!

A huge thank you goes to my older son for getting out the bikes and pumping up the tires!  And thank you to both of my older children for encouraging and helping their younger siblings learn to ride the bike.  ♥

I loved the breeze. It was so awesome! ~ F
I can ride faster than I can run! ~ A
My youngest and my oldest riding together

Friday, August 27, 2010

The View from Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Last weekend our family went for walk across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Here are some pictures of the beautiful view we saw.

(picture taken by my older son)
~ The heavens are the work of God's fingers ~ (Psalm 8:3)

(picture taken by windchime)
(picture taken by windchime)
(picture taken by me)
~ God's mercy is great above the heavens ~ (Psalm 108:4)

(picture taken by my older son)

To see more beautiful skies from all over the world, visit Sky Watch Friday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inch Worm on a Blackberry Leaf

On Monday, Aug 23rd, my mom came over and picked blackberries with us. While picking blackberries, my younger daughter found a little inch worm. Inch worms are caterpillars or larvae of geometer moths. The way they walk is so cute; they "inch" along. Here is a link to a picture which shows how they move: locomotion of the geometrid caterpillar.

They really seem to like blackberries (or maybe their leaves?) a lot, and we sometimes find a couple hiding amongst our picked berries. When we pick berries we try to be watchful of the little inch worms because we sure don't like the idea of accidentally eating one! 

Here's the bowl of berries my daughter was filling up:

While I took that picture she glanced down in the bowl and saw this little inch worm.  Sorry the picture is not more clear -- the inch worm is on her finger (her hands have blackberry juice on them from the berries she was picking!).

And here she is trying to get it to climb on a blackberry leaf so she could transfer it to a safe place back on the bush (the inch worm is down at the tip of the blackberry leaf):

And notice that the blackberry leaf she is holding in her blackberry juice-stained hands is in a heart shape. :) ♥ 
For more random hearts, visit Guest Heart Thursday.

And I wanted to post this picture for my little boy. Yesterday he handed me Clifford and said I should take a picture of him (for Guest Heart Thursday) because he's the color of a heart! I thought that was sweet. ♥