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Celebrate National Hiking Day in Your Homeschool

Just in case you’re looking for another excuse to get outside in your homeschool. . .we’ve got a good one for you! National Take a Hike Day is on November 17 each year!

What is National Take a Hike Day?

People from all over the United States will be hitting the hiking trails around the country on that day. Hiking used to be a way of life. . .hunting for food or water. . .or just exploring. Today, many families live in cities or suburbs, and have to make an effort to get out in nature; and it’s totally worth it. If you do, you won’t be alone. In 2013, thirty-four million people got out to hike!

Just in case you're looking for another excuse to get outside in your homeschool. . .we've got a good one for you! National Take a Hike Day.

Who Started National Hike Day?

National Take a Hike Day was started by the American Hiking Society. Their hope was to get people out in nature together again!

President Lyndon B. Johnson was a big part of our current system of hiking trails. In 1965, he established the National Trails System Act that has doubled the number of trails in America. We now have around 60,000 miles of trails to explore!

Just in case you're looking for another excuse to get outside in your homeschool. . .we've got a good one for you! National Take a Hike Day.

Celebrate National Hike Day with Homeschool Nature Study!

Mark your calendars for a November 17 hike! It makes an amazing way to spend time together as a family, gives more opportunity for nature study, and creates memories to last a lifetime. So, grab your hiking boots or shoes, water, snacks, kids, and maybe even a pocket field guide. This series is a great one.

National Hiking Day In Your Homeschool

Don’t know where to start? State Parks usually have some beautiful, well marked trails. . .and depending on the state, are often free to enter. If you’re looking for something very close to home, you can search on AllTrails for trails local to you. They have a free app you can download to your phone that is very helpful for finding hiking locations, and an interactive map that will show you exactly where you are on the trail once you get there!

Are you new to hiking? Here a few suggestions of things to take. Snacks, first aid items, insect repellent, sunscreen and/or hats, plenty of water for each person, a trail map, pepper spray, a camera, happy spirits and maybe a hiking song to sing along the way 😉


More Ideas for Family Nature Study

Here are a few more ideas to inspire you to get outdoors!

Just in case you're looking for another excuse to get outside in your homeschool. . .we've got a good one for you! National Take a Hike Day.

Join Us For Homeschool Nature Study

We’ve heard from families that they were reluctant to start a nature study plan, stating that they thought it would restrict their freedom to focus on one topic. But, they found that having a focus each week actually helped them to stay regular at getting outside and it helped them be better at taking a few minutes to learn about an object they encountered, even if it wasn’t the original aim for getting outdoors.

We make it easy with resources you can use at your own pace and on your own schedule. Or, you may choose to follow our annual nature study plans closely and have everything at your fingertips.

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

-by Amy Law

Amy Law is wife to Jeremy, and mom to three. They homeschool using Charlotte Mason’s principles, and love to spend lots of time in nature! You can often find them hiking the beautiful trails of their beloved Tennessee hills, while Amy attempts to capture the beauty of it all with her camera lens.

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July 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

July 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

This is the month many of my readers have been waiting for! I know that it has been a long time coming, but we are going to finally be working through the series of Outdoor Hour Challenges for herbs!

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic

We have one last wildflower study and then we are off to use our senses to learn about some more familiar herbs grown in our gardens. I think you whole family will enjoy learning about the benefits and uses of the herbs. It is not too late to pick up some of the herbs at your garden nursery and grow a few in pots. You can create your own little herb “lab” for your nature study this summer.

7/2/2021 –Forget-Me-Nots Nature Study (last wildflower challenge)

7/9/2021 – Cilantro Nature Study

7/16/2021 – Basil Nature Study

7/23/2021 – Bee Balm Nature Study

7/30/21 – Oregano Nature Study

My Nature Walk senses notebook page

Butterflies of Summer Notebook Page

New Printables in the Members Library

Butterflies of Summer Notebook Page: What could go better with a study of garden herbs? I think making some butterfly observations would be a perfect complement to your herb study. 

My Nature Walk Notebook Page: Use your senses to create some summertime memories this month. Take a nature walk, perhaps in the early morning or the evening. Then create a notebook page for your nature journal using the new page in the Member’s Library.

Printables for Members Button

Click the graphic above to view the complete list of printables available as part of an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.


July 2021 nature planner page

Members also have access to the Nature Planner pages in their library. Print out this month’s page and use it to stimulate your weekly nature study time.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020If you would like to have access to the member’s printables and the newsletter archive, I invite you to join with an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Your membership will be valid for one year from the date of purchase. Click the graphic above to see the many benefits of an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic


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Acadia National Park (Maine) – Tips and Images

Acadia National Park – Tips and Images

Bar Harbor, Maine

October 2019

Last October, my daughter and I were able to check a place off of our bucket list. Acadia National Park had been on our radar as soon as my daughter moved to New York. We love visiting national parks and Acadia had always seemed so very far away from our west coast home. But, now with a new home base just a long day’s drive from this particular national park, we could make plans to visit during the colorful autumn season.

I purchased a guide book and started doing my research into the Bar Harbor, Maine area before I flew out to meet up with Amanda. There were hikes and viewpoints to work into our schedule. The weather was a factor so we made contingency plans just in case the rains kept us from being outdoors.

These were both very helpful in guiding our plans. Please note these are affiliate links to

I’ve wanted to share the highlights of our trip for months now and since I have more free time while sheltering in place, the time has finally come to show you the enchanting place called Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park Tips and Images

Our drive from New York to Maine was a wet one. We ended up breaking up our travels with a half day drive from Orange County, New York to Portland, Maine and then continuing the next day into Bar Harbor, Maine and the national park.

Since neither of us had been to this part of the world before, making a short stop in Portland gave us the opportunity to explore an interesting area and do a little shopping at the L.L. Bean flagship store. If you get the chance to visit Portland, we highly recommend the L.L. Bean outlet store for some real bargains! We spent most of our time walking around the Old Port, looking in shops, drinking coffee at Bard Coffee, and eating a potato doughnut at Holy Donuts. It was a lot of fun.

The next day we drove up to Mt. Desert Island where Acadia National Park is located. With sprinkles on the windshield and a few colorful trees along the highway, we made our way to the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center. I always like to stop at the visitor center to get our bearings at any new park.

Acadia National Park trip October 2020 (2)

We picked up a map and a bus schedule which was invaluable to our time spent exploring the park. I would like to mention here that this is a free shuttle system and it will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. The system is easy to figure out and there is a brochure you can pick up at the visitor center to determine which shuttle bus you want to take to reach your destination. We were pretty good at using the shuttle by the time we left.


Acadia National Park October 2019 (2)

Since it continued to rain, we opted to visit Jordan Pond and experience the famous popovers served at the Jordan House restaurant. I’m told that on a normal day the wait is LONG to get a table for tea and popovers. They are famous for their popovers which are a pastry they serve with jam and butter. Yum!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (4)

But, the combination of being late in the season and the weather made it possible for us to walk right up and be seated at a beautiful spot at the window, looking out over the pond and gardens.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (3)

Taking time to experience this treat was a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Before we finished, the weather cleared a bit and we were able to walk down to the pond itself and see the beautiful colors and the reflections in the water. I can imagine that the summertime gardens here are amazing.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (5)

We finished off our first day by driving the loop road around the park and back into Bar Harbor where we had hotel reservations. Bar Harbor is a quaint little town and the main streets are lined with lots of cute restaurants and shops. We had dinner at the Peekytoe Provisions. It was a fun atmosphere and delicious food.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (6)

The next morning we woke to clearer skies so we jumped on the chance to get out and hike! First stop was breakfast in Bar Harbor at Café This Way. Super delicious! After that, we parked our car and rode the shuttle out to the trail head for the Ocean Path. We decided to walk the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Point. This trail went along the coast for about 2 miles but you can opt off the path at several spots along the way to shorten your walk by jumping back on the free shuttle.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (7)

We stuck it out the whole length of the trail because it was such a great way to see the ocean, the rock features, smell the distinct fragrance of the balsam fir coming from the trees, and just stretch our legs. The path is fairly level and I would recommend it to even beginning hikers. Parts of the trail were a little congested, especially at the Thunder Hole.

We ate our lunch sitting on a rock overlooking the ocean. I was glad we had made a stop at the grocery store in Bar Harbor and put some lunch items in our backpacks. Food always tastes better along the trail!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (9)

After our hike, we hopped back on the shuttle bus and went to Sieur du Monts where there is a beautiful native plants garden and spring. From there we took the Jesup Trail and saw the most beautiful autumn color of the whole visit. Sometimes a boardwalk and sometimes a dirt trail, we walked serenely along the trail. The trees are all around you and it’s so peaceful and quiet. We found ourselves in an open space that had a vista of colorful trees. It felt like we were inside a postcard image!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (8)

The sky was blue and the trees were varying shades of yellow, orange, burgundy, red, and gold. This is how we imagined a New England autumn!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (13)

We soaked in the views and then headed back to our car because we would need it for the next activity on our list. We wanted to experience Cadillac Mountain at sunset and you need to drive up there in your own car. We were told that you need to get there about 1 ½ hours before sunset to get a parking place and I can imagine that in the busier months, this is a nightmare to plan. Again, because we were there in a less popular time of year, we were able to drive up to the top, find a place to park quite easily, and then hike around at the top to take photos. We ended up leaving before sunset but only because it had been a great day already and the crowds up at the top were a little overwhelming. We didn’t want to ruin our good vibe!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (14)

We drove back to Bar Harbor and ate dinner at a brewery…pizza and beer after a day outdoors is just what we needed! Then back to the hotel for an early night.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (15)

On our last morning, on our way out of the park, we drove out to the Bass Harbor area of Acadia National Park. This is the place to see the iconic lighthouse that you see so many times in advertising and literature for Acadia. It looked just like you would imagine a Maine lighthouse would look like, perched up on the rocky cliffs.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (16)

It was a beautiful day and after taking photos at the lighthouse, we decided to hike the Wonderland Trail. Mostly under the trees and eventually ending up at the ocean, this is an easy flat hike with a gorgeous view at the end.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (17)

Thus ends our first ever epic trip to Acadia National Park. I was so impressed with the beauty of Maine in general and the variety of things to do and see at the national park. I can see why so many people visit this very out of the way place during the summer to experience the hiking and the beaches. But, if you find yourself with the time to visit in the autumn, the fall color will not disappoint.

We left with great memories but also a feeling that things were left undone as well. But, I always feel that way when leaving a national park.

I will think back on this trip and try to remember the fragrance of the balsam fir and sea air.


Additional Tips and Information

  • There is a $20 entrance fee that you need to pay at the visitor’s center. We used our National Parks pass.
  • I highly recommend staying in Bar Harbor and taking advantage of the free shuttle that picks you up at the town square. It takes you right into the park and comes frequently.
  • If you are hiking in the park, make sure to pack a lunch or snacks!
  • I would plan on at least 2 days to get the most out of your visit.
  • Take the park loop road at least once, stopping at some of the turn outs to take photos.
  • There is camping available in the park and I noted that one of the campgrounds is on the shuttle system.


I invite you to read my other national park entries to inspire your next visit. Make a plan and then make it happen!

You can read more of my national park entries by following these links:


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Outdoor Mom – May 2019

This post is LONG overdue. I’ve had such a crazy last few months that it was hard to put my “Outdoor Mom” thoughts together. I felt more like an indoor kind of mom because of my surgery, recovery, weather, and then having a mom who needed my care. Things just got pushed aside.

Barb McCoy and Amanda at Lake Clementine

Although I never lost the desire to be outdoors, even in the thick of my recovery from double hip surgery, I kept my eyes outside on the birds and wildlife that came my way. Then when I was sitting in the hospital day after day with my mom, I would look out the window and take quick walks around the edges of the parking lot to find something refreshing to observe.

My nature journal has been neglected until the past few weeks when finally things have settled down a bit and I can take those few minutes a week to record my reflections and thoughts.

 Outdoor Mom – May 2019

American River confluence

During our outdoor time this month we went…

While in California, my daughter and I took a long hike along the American River. It was very green and there were already many wildflowers along the trail. We must have seen a hundred butterflies as they fluttered across our path and landed on flowers.

swallowtail butterfly

It was warm and we were so glad we made the decision to hike early to beat the heat and the crowds. It makes my heart happy that my grown children enjoy a hike with their mama when we can make it happen.

kayak little deschutes may 2019

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…

We managed a kayak/canoe paddle down the river one afternoon in the bright sunshine. We didn’t encounter a single other person on the whole trip. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy having the river to ourselves but it makes us wonder why we rarely see anyone on this section of the water. On this particular day, we were joined on our paddle by mallards, swallows, Canada goose, red-winged blackbirds, and a heron. All of us are hoping to get together for many more kayak trips over the next few months.

One last image…or two…or three…

I haven’t shared beautiful wildflower photos in a long time. So, to make up for that, here are some from our hike that I love!


Some variety of white lupine


Variety of pink allium



indian pink

Indian pink

chinese lanterns

Chinese lanterns

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge.  If you’d like me to take a look at one of your images on Instagram, use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • One last image…

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Outdoor Mom – September 2017


cows in the backyard sept 2017 (6)

Outdoor Mom

September 2017

Coyote Oregon

I just keep adding to my list of animals seen here in Oregon. This week there were sightings of a porcupine and a coyote! The coyote was just trotting along through the back pasture until he came upon a downed tree. He hesitated and then pounced on some little creature, shook his head a bit, gobbled it up, and then continued trotting on down the way. It makes me very happy that my cats are indoor cats!

We’ve seen a variety of birds this month, including a whole flock of mountain quail. They are a bit different than the California quail I’m used to seeing.  They don’t have the curved topknot like the California quail but rather have a straight plume sticking up. The mountain quail are much smaller too.

wildfire smoke oregon

The most memorable outdoor related thing about the past month has been the amount of wildfire smoke in our area. It’s been a constant feature of every day as it obscures the view of the mountains and sometimes even just the across the street. Looking on the bright side, it makes for some crazy colored sunrises and sunsets.

Paulina water slide

Our grown boys are staying with us right now and we try to fit in some local fun as we all get to know our new area. This past week we hiked up to some waterfalls that create a natural waterslide. The water was pretty cold but the air temperatures were hot. The men all gave the slide a try while I was content to watch, photograph, and stand with my feet in the water along the shore. What a memorable day!

New bike at deschutes river

I picked up a new-to-me bike at the thrift shop for $20 and we’ve had it out for a spin a few times on the bike trail at Sunriver. There are miles of trails that wind around the resort and down along the river. Whoever planned the trail was smart! They strategically placed park benches along the trail in perfect spots for viewing the beautiful vistas (when there isn’t wildfire smoke). This new bike will allow us to cover more ground when we explore the beauty of Sunriver.

Mullen in grass

Garden Update

Just to note my gardening challenges, I was told I live in plant hardiness zone 5A. I’ve been talking to my neighbors about their success in gardening here in the high desert and so many of them have told me to only plant things that are meant for garden zone 4. This means I have to look for plants that have a range down to -40 degrees! I couldn’t understand why at first but just this week I had someone explain it to me in a way that makes sense.

Garden zones take into consideration the low temperatures overall. Here in my area we have the potential for frost throughout the summer and very cold nighttime temperatures will affect the growth of plants. So, this explains why on the surface it appears that I could get away with plants for zone 5A, but just one night of a cold snap will kill them or stunt their growth. It’s far better to pick plants that will grow in zone 4 range instead and not chance it.

I get it now. I will continue my quest to make a practical garden plan over the winter.

You can use this website to get an idea of your climate zone: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

If you live in my area, I have found this to be a very helpful guide that we’ve printed out and saved: Xeriscaping in the High Desert.


Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…


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Outdoor Mom – July Part 3

Outdoor Mom July: Part 3 – Travels

This is Part 3 of my Outdoor Mom entry. You can read Part 1 here: Outdoor Mom Part 1 – My Own Backyard  and Part 2 here: Outdoor Mom Part 2-Wildlife Sightings


I keep reminding myself that the perfect summer weather is only here for a few short months in Central Oregon. It could get cold and wet as soon as September or early October so we need to be outdoors as much as we can right now. We made lots of time for kayaking and exploring in July, both close to home and during a trip to New York. Here are a few of the highlights.


Hosmer Lake

Our youngest son was home for a few days at the beginning of the month so that gave us an opportunity to get out on the lake in the kayaks. We were there fairly early and it was fantastic weather for exploring this crystal clear lake up on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. We paddled across the lake, through a canal of sorts, and then over to the other part of the lake. We had the dog with us and she is such a good passenger, even if she gets excited when we see ducks and geese. The yellow water lilies were blooming and the damselflies were out in force, landing on our arms and legs if we stopped paddling.

Sparks Lake

We had some young people come and stay with us for a week and one thing we did was kayak up on Sparks Lake. I love this lake! The view of the mountains, the relaxed paddling around the lake’s edge, and the beautiful wildflowers all contributed to the enjoyment of the day.

Kayak LIttle Deschutes

One of the most amazing parts of living where we do now is the ability to drag our kayaks straight from the backyard down to the river. We had left the truck down at the pull-out earlier in the day so all we had to do was jump on the water and go. We went further than normal and it ended up being a four hour paddle/float down the Little Deschutes. The girls were really good sports about the unexpected length of the trip. My husband made up for it with a delicious dinner when we got back home.

Niagara Falls

I had the opportunity to spend some time in New York and Ontario with my kids during July. We were driving right through Niagara Falls so we made the stop and took the Hornblower cruise from the Canada side. All I can say is that it was WAY better than I expected and it was overwhelmingly beautiful. The power of the falls is awe inspiring.

We took one day while the girls were here to make the trip to Crater Lake National Park. We stopped and viewed the lake from two different viewing points, hiked the Castle Crest trail to see the wildflowers, and then hiked to Plaikni Falls. I will be writing up our entire trip in a separate entry.

Paulina Peak

This is a peak in our area that you can actually drive up to in a car. Let’s just say we’ll be driving up there probably every summer to take in the splendid view atop a volcanic mountain. It is breathtaking!

Paulina Lakes

I hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse into our July travels and adventures. It was fun to have some young people to share the experiences with us.


This is Part 3 of my Outdoor Mom entry. You can read Part 1 here: Outdoor Mom Part 1 – My Own Backyard and Part 2 – Wildlife Viewings


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Crater Lake National Park – July 2017

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Revisited in July 2017

We took the short drive from our new home down to Crater Lake bright and early on a Monday. We were hoping this would be a good time to see the park without the crowds. It worked out! We arrived at the North entrance and headed straight to Watchman Overlook. They were working on the parking lot but we were able to park alongside the road.

Crater Lake

The view was spectacular! There were still patches of snow along the road, on the edge of the lake, and in shady spots in among the trees throughout the park. The water was a deep aqua blue as it shimmered in the morning sunshine.

Lichen on rocks at Crater Lake
Such beautiful lichen on the rocks

We then went over to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook right behind the Rim Village Visitor Center. There were a few more people here but still very enjoyable to take the walk out to the overlook and see the lake in all its glory.

After that, we drove down to the Steel Visitor Center so we could watch the movie about Crater Lake and how it was formed. We all really enjoyed this and learned a lot about the natural history of this amazing spot on Earth.

Columbine at Crater Lake

Wildflowers were next on the list of things to see in the park and we headed to the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail which was a short drive from the visitor center. Overwhelmingly beautiful!

Wildflowers Castle Crest Crater Lake

There were so many flowers in bloom of all shapes and colors. There is a creek running down the hillside which provided the background soundtrack of babbling and rushing water. There were many, many insects including a hummingbird moth that we observed for some time.

White bog orchid Crater Lake

I was super excited to discover a “new to me” wildflower growing in abundance along the trail. The White Bog Orchid was so delicate and beautiful! I’m hoping to add it to my nature journal soon.

Plaikni Falls Crater Lake

Our last stop before heading back home was Plaikni Falls. This is on the east side of the lake and it’s a very easy two mile round trip hike on a fairly flat trail. The falls themselves are a cascading series of falls that you can hike to the base of and then look up to the top. We sat on some rocks and let the cooling mist get us a bit damp. People were taking off their boots and soaking their feet in the icy water. I was glad we had saved this for the rather hot afternoon.

I know we’ll be making more trips here in the future since it is an easy hour’s drive from home.

You can read my previous entry for Crater Lake Here: Crater Lake National Park Tips and Images

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Outdoor Mom’s Nature Goal Update – 2nd Quarter 2017

2017 Nature Study Goals @handbookofnaturestudy

Nature Study Goals 2017 – 2nd Quarter Update

Here is a recap of my goals and the progress I’ve made in accomplishing them during the second quarter.  You can read my thoughts on reflection at the bottom of the post.

  • Create monthly entries for my Outdoor Mom experiences as I share our nature studies using the Outdoor Hour Challenge, our travel experiences, and any of my family’s nature adventures. This was accomplished. You can read my entries here: April, May, and June.
  • Focus on my nature journal and create at least one page weekly.  I only missed one week this quarter!
  • Post images of my nature journal pages on Instagram each week. If you follow me on Instagram, you get to see a new nature journal page every Wednesday.
  • Read and review 6 nature journal related books. I started reading The Nature of Bend by Leeann Kriegh. What a great visual field guide and informational book about my new area of Oregon! It lives right on my kitchen table because I am constantly browsing and reading it both morning and night.

Books on hold at my library!

  • The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley
  • The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Nature Goal Reflections

I am sincere in saying that this is the most successful year of goal keeping that I’ve ever experienced.  Making the time and then getting out into nature has been the key to creating both the monthly blog entries and the weekly nature journal pages. I seem to have an endless list of topics to write about when I sit down at my desk. I’m having a fantastic time working on keeping my nature goals for 2017!

Nature Study Goals 2017 Planning Page

Do you want to create some goals for your family? Use the free printable planning page in this entry to get started: Nature Goals 2017.

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Outdoor Mom – June 2017

Outdoor Mom June 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy



Outdoor Mom – June 2017

What a month! We’re still getting acquainted with our new habitat and the weather here in Central Oregon. June started out feeling like early spring to me…cold at night, a few gray days, sprinkles, and the beginning of the wildflower season.

As I was looking at our photos from the first week in June, it seems so long ago! The brittlebush was the predominant flower we saw along the roadsides. There were a few other flowers like the pussypaws and a bit of yarrow.

River Lupine

Now the roads are lined with lupine, daisies, yarrow, and penstemon. We found an awesome patch of river lupine on a walk this last week. There were whole fields full of purple spikes so tall they looked artificial. I could’ve taken a hundred photos! (Make sure to look at our Lupine Nature Study Challenge.)

Oregon sunrise

I can’t describe the feeling of waking up every morning now to a new day. I am eager to throw open the blinds to see what is out on the horizon. Is it a misty morning over the river? Are there deer or elk in the yard? Is it a golden sunrise? Each day has its own gift.

Deschutes sunset

We walk every day in our new neighborhood. My favorite is the sunset walks down behind the house at the river. Over the past month, the grasses have grown from ankle high to pretty much waist high! We can barely see our Labrador as she walks through the grass. The sound of birdsong is a constant feature and I’m trying not to tune it out into the background.

sunriver hiking

We have a weekly routine of going to Sunriver for a walk and a “date”. It could be a cup of coffee or a lunch on the patio of one of the restaurants or a visit to the nature center. It is all such fun. There are so many walking and biking trails throughout the area that we’ll be hard pressed to walk each section before the summer is over but we’re going to cover as much as we can. This coming weekend I am going to Sunriver for the Central Oregon Wildflower Show! I may try to do an Instagram Live session if possible.

Paulina Falls

We have been hiking up at Newberry Volcanic National Monument. We drove up to Paulina Falls and then hiked up to Paulina Lake. It was a really warm day but the sound of falling water and the shady forest trail made it so enjoyable. We did some investigating while we were up there and now have a short list of places to hike and a kayak trip planned.

Rock Garden June 2017

We spend a lot of time in our yard as we see it transforming rather quickly from winter to summer. We are nurturing the rock garden and adding a few new things as we discover what will actually grow in our garden zone. I pretty much find plants that say they are hardy to -20 degrees and figure that should be good enough.

Now that July is upon us, I am anticipating a big trip back east. I was just sent some links to hikes we will be doing in the Hudson Valley of New York and we have a trip to Niagara Falls planned too! As much as I want to go, I am sort of feeling like I would like to stay home to experience a complete July summer in Oregon. I guess that shows I’m beginning to feel more at home here. My husband will be in Oregon and I will have him document the weeks that I’m gone so I can at least see what I’m missing.

I hope you’re having a great summer so far and I look forward to hearing how your outdoor activities have enriched your life.



OHC Wildflower Set 2 @handbookofnaturestudy
Ultimate and Journey Level members can click this graphic to go directly to the library to download a copy of this new ebook. Make sure you are logged in and if you are having trouble with your password, please leave me a comment or send me a direct email to receive my assistance. Email:


How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
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Smith Rock State Park – Tips and Images

Smith Rock State Park Oregon tips and images @handbookofnaturestudy

Smith Rock State Park

Terrebonne, Oregon


This is an amazing place to visit if you’re ever in the Bend, Oregon area. We had a free day when our daughter was visiting from New York and we were searching for a place to do some day hiking. Smith Rock State Park isn’t far from our new house so we packed up some lunches and water and set off fairly early on a Saturday morning. The weather was sunny and warm so lots of other people had the same idea of getting outside to enjoy the day.

The parking lot was nearly full but we did manage to score a slot in the grassy area. There is a day use fee of $5 that you can pay at the self-serve station in the parking area.

Here is a link to the home page for Smith Rock State Park.

Smith Rock State Park @handbookofnaturestudy

We visited the information center before choosing our hike. We were hoping to find a trail that took us along the river and where we could get a good look at the canyon. The ranger showed us just the right trail! You can check out the brochure before visiting: Climbing and Trail Guide.

Smith Rock State Park @handbookofnaturestudy

Not only did we hike down to the river and then alongside it, we were able to see a lot of people rock climbing just off the path. According to the website and brochure, there are over 1,000 climbing routes at Smith Rock. We observed people of all ages climbing up the steep rocks using ropes. I’m not at all interested in rock climbing but it was a treat to stop a few times and watch the truly amazing things people can accomplish as they spider their way up the rocks.

Smith Rock State Park @handbookofnaturestudy

I love wildflowers and now that we are in our new habitat, I can start learning about the flowers that are found here. The flower above is Lewis flax. Isn’t it an amazing color? Since spying this at Smith Rock, I realized there is a patch just around the corner from my house so I’ve been better able to study it up close since this initial discovery.

Smith Rock State Park @handbookofnaturestudy

It was actually quite warm in the sun as we hiked but the sound of water in the river made it much more bearable. Our dog took several opportunities to jump in and swim to cool off.

We had a picnic sitting on a rock when we found a viewpoint about a mile and a half down the trail. We watched a duck pair and their babies as they paddled in a small eddy along the river. Earlier we were able to get a good look at an eagle, its nest and its baby. There was a ranger with a spotting scope that shared this incredible sight with us. He was there all day…we know because we saw him on the way in and then on our way back. What a great opportunity for so many hikers to see the eagles thanks to this patient ranger.

Smith Rock State Park @handbookofnaturestudy

We all declared this a fantastic hike and we look forward to doing it again soon! My daughter even said it’s in her top favorite places to hike now, which made me so glad that we made the effort to get out and do this hike together.

Smith Rock State Park @handbookofnaturestudy

I love living in Oregon!


You can read more about our Oregon State Park adventures in this entry:

Posts from Other Oregon Parks