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Outdoor Mom’s Journal – September 2016

Outdoor Moms Journal September 2016

 

This Outdoor Mom had a fantastic end of the summer! This post features our second Oregon trip of the year and lots of kayaking adventures. Technically, the Oregon trip was at the very end of August but after my August Outdoor Mom’s post so I want to include it here because it was a fantastic trip.  I will be dedicating a complete post in October to the many Oregon State Parks we visited on this latest trip. It was a perfect trip!

bend oregon old mill district deschutes river 2016 (2)

We spent four days in the Bend/La Pine, Oregon area. It was a heat wave for them and most of the lakes and rivers were super busy with so many people swimming, using stand up paddleboards, rafts, and kayaks. I was really glad we had our kayak and we made the most of the time out on the water. We are in the middle of training our Labrador to ride along with us and she is quickly getting the hang of jumping in and enjoying the ride. The image above was taken in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon along the Deschutes River. It was a perfect night for a walk along the banks of the river and for sitting at an outdoor patio for dinner. We read in a brochure that Bend, Oregon is the most dog friendly town in the U.S. We believe it!

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway Oregon  (47) sharps lake kayak

I think this is first photo I have shared where you can see our awesome tandem kayak (Old Town Loon 160T). We LOVE it! Both my husband and I are tall and there is enough room for our legs and the 70 pound Labrador. The image above shows us launching at Sparks Lake on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. It is a large shallow lake within view of many of the area’s signature mountains: Mt. Bachelor, South Sister, Broken Top.

Kayaking Beaver Creek Oregon Aug 2016This collage of images is from our stay in Newport, Oregon. We found an amazing spot to kayak just south of town at Beaver Creek (Brian Booth State Park). First we paddled up the creek and saw some interesting birds: Belted kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Turkey vulture, and several different ducks. Then we paddled back down the creek and all the way to the ocean! What a day!

silver falls oregon august 2016 (67) south fallsThis is the South Falls at Silver Falls State Park near Salem, Oregon. We had three days of hiking in this amazing place! There are actually TEN waterfalls that you can hike in a loop. This one was our favorite because you could actually hike behind the waterfall…look at the image carefully and you can see the trail. You can be sure I will be sharing more about this destination in my October Oregon State Parks entry.

nature journal pages osprey and heron august 2016 (3)I did fit in some nature journaling on this trip. I learned some interesting things about the heron and I actually heard the loud sound it made as we paddled too close to one and it flew off. Loud! It surprised me. I will be sharing a bit more about my nature journals in an up-coming post.

garden renees sunflower august 2016 (5)A little closer to home, my sunflowers bloomed! I looked out the window one morning and discovered this beauty. I love the sunflower time of the year and look forward to it each summer. This is one of the sunflowers from Renees Garden Seeds. So perfectly perfect.

IMG_5148We did some hiking closer to home when my two New Yorkers were home for a visit. We camped at Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe in California. It was perfect weather and the hiking was filled with wonderful autumn air and sunshine. IMG_5246This is Fallen Leaf Lake on a crisp September morning. We all took turns taking the kayak out for a spin on the water to take in the high Sierra views.

IMG_5358The last place on our travel list this month was to Yosemite National Park. We hiked to the top of Sentinel Dome with our children and they posed at the top for this amazing photo. It captures so much of what our family is about as we adventure in the big outdoors together. It was a day of laughter, refreshing vistas, and friendship. I tried to soak in the family time since it is hard to gather us all in one place anymore. We end up outside when we do get a chance to spend time together….habit? necessity? mutual love for God’s creation? I think it is a little of all of those things.

I hope you enjoyed my entry this month and if you want to play along, there are instructions at the bottom of this post.

If you missed my August and September nature study entries, here are the links:

Our Wildflower Observations: This entry shares our August wildflowers, both in California and in Oregon.

Snail Observations at the Tidepools: We had a fantastic time hunting, observing, and learning about marine snails in response to the August newsletter topic. This is one of my favorite blog entries of the year!

Insect Nature Study -Potpourri: We had several opportunities to observe insect homes up close. We even identified something new to us!

 

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

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)…
  • 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…

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can use the free monthly newsletter along with the Handbook of Nature Study book for your nature study. Adding a membership gives you access to the Ultimate Naturalist Library’s ebooks and printablse which provides members with even more in-depth studies each month.

Read more about it!

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Summer Days Filled With Goodness

Tahoe Emerald bay July 2015 (2)

It doesn’t get much better than this on a hot summer July day in my neck of the woods. It is times like this that I count my blessings.

We had a glorious day up at the lake….a short last minute idea to go for a hike and then have a picnic dinner. This lake was the bluest I have seen in a very long time….three shades of blue-turquoise, blue-gray, and deep blue.

Tahoe Emerald bay July 2015 (6)

We hiked a new trail for us and it was surprising that we had it all to ourselves. We had planned to hike from a popular trailhead but there were no parking spots left, which is what happens when you show up at around 2 PM. We decided to park on the highway, walk down the road leading to a closed campground, and then see what adventure would come our way. It was far better than expected!

Tahoe Emerald bay July 2015 (7)

The trail we found wandered around and out onto a peninsula overlooking Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. The sun was hot but there was a breeze and in the shade it was comfortable. We sat out at the point for a long time just drinking in the views. There were several birds flying overhead and I could identify the call of the osprey and the song of the chickadee.

wildflowers aspens tahoe juy 2015 (12)

After that hike, we drove back down to Taylor Creek and hiked down to the water. This is my favorite little aspen grove and right now it is very green and filled with wildflowers. The cow parsnip is thick and smells fragrant…giving the hike a wonderful smell to remember. The insects were busy working in the flowers…mostly bees.

crayfish taylor creek tahoe july 2015 (3)

Play I Spy and you will see the crayfish that was scuttling along the creek bed. The water wasn’t very deep or moving very fast and we actually saw five different crayfish  on this trip. They are strange creatures!

squirrel tahoe july 2015

Here is another little wild friend that we stopped to watch along the trail. This squirrel (actually a chickaree) actually climbed up the tree with that cone in his mouth and then he sat eating the seeds up on the branch. Adorable!

Tahoe snow plant july 2015 (1)

We saw lots of snow plant on this hike.

pine drops tahoe july 2015 (2)

And here is a really tall specimen of pine drops!

pine drops tahoe july 2015 (1)

Here it is up close! So interesting!

wildflowers tahoe july 2015 (1)

Here come the wildflowers! I am trying to positively identify this purple flower.. Rydberg’s penstemon?

wildflowers aspens tahoe juy 2015 (6)

One of my favorite flowers! Western sky pilot....so pretty!

Ranger buttons wildflower Tahoe July 2015 (1)

Then we found a whole patch of Ranger buttons.…the insects were loving this flower!

Evening Primrose lupine tahoe july 2015 (4)

Down on the beach it was covered in Hooker’s primrose and lupine….almost unreal how beautiful it was in the fading light. We walked and found a place to sit as the sun was setting…watching the shadows getting longer and longer.

Evening Primrose lupine tahoe july 2015 (8)

This shows the lupine better….maybe this one will need to get printed out and put up on my wall. I love this place, feels like home. Do you know what I mean? Do you have a place that just feels like it was meant for you?

wildflowers aspens tahoe juy 2015 (4)

One last wildflower, this time a pink one, Checkermallow

So ends our most excellent summer day at the lake up in the mountains….sigh. Can’t wait to do it all again sometime!

 

5 senses Nature Journal Tahoe

I managed to create a Five Senses Nature Journal page as part of my Once a Month Nature Journal Project. This is a super simple idea for a quick nature journal page that you and your children can do very easily this month!

5 senses nature journal @handbookofnaturestudy

Go create your own summer day filled with goodness….enjoy!

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June Hike at Lake Tahoe – Wildflowers!

Tahoe 6 8 14 (3)

“Because of their beauty and scientific value, special need exists for the protection of our native wild flowers and shrubs. It is understandable that these uncultivated plants should attract the visitor, but in too many instances he is not satisfied to enjoy their beauty as they exist in their natural habitats. All too frequently he picks flowers in large numbers, only to discard them faded and wilted a few hours later.”

Handbook of Nature Study, page 460

I have enjoyed watching this special area of the national forest as the plants and flowers make a comeback after years of people tramping through them as a short cut to the picnic area. It warms my heart to see the abundance of wildflowers this year, lavenders and yellows and reds justbeginning their showy display at the beginning of June.
Tahoe 6 8 14 (4)

Just beyond the restored area, you will find the glorious beach and shore of South Lake Tahoe. This is our familiar spot…the one we come back to during all four seasons just to soak in the beauty of this magnificent place. This particular day was a busy day with the parking lot full and the beach dotted with families enjoying the sunshine and the water. We opted to walk along the trail just up from the beach along the tree line where we could hear the birds and stop every now and then to observe a pretty flower or tree.

Snow Plant Tahoe

I was surprised to see that the Snow plant was in all its glory during this hike. I recently learned that this plant is native to the west coast and cannot be found in other parts of the U.S. The first thing you notice is its bright red color, no mistaking this plant for much else. The whole plant is red and it makes these curving spiral parts around the flowers. It is unusual in that it doesn’t have any chlorophyll but gets its nutrients from fungi found in a conifer forest. (read more at the link above if you are interested in learning how that work).

Tahoe 6 8 14 (10)

This plant was really blooming along the trail and in the forest. I found it in my field guide, Slim Solomon’s Seal. It looks like it has a lot of other common names but this field guide is particular to my specific place so I am hoping I got it right.

Indian Paintbrush

The Applegate’s Paintbrush is dotting the landscape….making little red spots on the mostly green and brown forest floor. Just like someone painted red flowers in for interest.

 

Tahoe 6 8 14 (16)

I am having trouble identifying this flower…thought it was Graceful Cinqufoil but now I am not sure. I wish I would have taken a photo of the leaf because that would have helped me out. Lesson learned.

Tahoe 6 8 14 (17)

This is a new flower for me as well. I found it in my field guide…Sulphur Flower. I was surprised to read that this flower is in the buckwheat family, same family as the rhubarb.

Corn Lily

This year the Corn lilies are amazing! They look so healthy and the area near the creek is just packed with them. I love the leaves with their soft greens.

Corn Lilies Tahoe

Here is a glimpse at the area where the Corn lilies are growing thickly. I think the other plant with the different leaf you see in the photo is going to be Cow parsnip.

Tahoe 6 8 14 (24)

I spent way too much time trying to identify this flower…need to start again when I am fresh. Still, a beautiful color of lavender-blue!

Arrowleaf Balsam Root Lupine

This is my happy place where purple, yellow, and green mingle together to make the perfect spring wildflower bouquet…the one I don’t actually pick and put into a vase but rather I take some photos and recall the wonderful afternoon spent hiking around the forest with my hubby.

Arrowleaf Balsam RootEmerald Bay June 2014

We ended the day with a picnic and then a drive over to Emerald Bay lookout to gaze at the green waters of the bay in the evening glow. We may be spending our anniversary weekend here camping under the pines and dipping our toes in the freezing cold water. We have our 30th anniversary next month and that is something to celebrate! It is the perfect place for us to share on this anniversary since we got married not far from this spot all those years ago. It holds special memories to us as a couple and as a family.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a little of our hike and the wildflowers that painted the day.

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Winter Weed Gallery – Our Weed Study

When you spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter months, you are bound to notice the various shapes and sizes of winter weeds. Maybe it the lack of other nature study subjects or the more subdued color palette of the winter landscape, but weeds are hard to miss.
These particular images were taken at Yosemite National Park during our last visit in January. The stalks are still standing tall and the fruits are still visible on many of the plants. I am pretty sure this is Common Cowparsnip.
What a lovely pattern found in the winter Cow Parsnip.
This set of images comes from our hike at Lake Tahoe last month. The winter weeds are clearly seen emerging from the snowy landscape.
This is a different plant and had far more seeds left attached to the stalks.
Rather pretty isn’t it? Focusing on winter weeds is one way to see the beauty even in the winter scene. I hope this encourages your own winter weed study…one that you can fit in while taking a short walk.

Have you looked for some winter weeds to study?

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No Snow Study- Winter Walk Instead

Winter Walk Snow Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com
Our winter continues to be warmer than normal…even record-breaking temperatures. As much as I love the warm afternoons and sunshine, I am concerned for the drying up reservoirs and the very dry forest conditions. I know I have no power to bring on the rain and snow so I am trying to make the best of it.

This week’s Winter Snow challenge was a big challenge indeed. We did find a bit of snow up the mountain from our house but not a whole lot. We opted to complete the Winter Nature Walk- Scavenger Hunt activity from Hearts and Trees.


I took an image of the page with my phone and we used that during our hike to remember the things we were looking for as we went.

Here are our results:

An evergreen
Buds on a tree
We decided this duck weed was more interesting than moss.
Trees that have lost all their leaves – aspens
a bird – Steller’s Jay
We didn’t find any berries but this rose hip was certainly colorful.
Something with thorns
Pinecones – The squirrels had lunch on the picnic table!
Feather

One last image from our hike at Taylor Creek. The beavers have been clear cutting a lot of the trees along the water. They have quite a few trees that are ready to fall as well. The dam is getting huge! Amazing creatures with incredible strength.

We are still waiting for some real snow here and I will keep the snow study in the back of my mind for a future time. I hope some of you were more successful with this challenge or you took advantage of the scavenger hunt instead.

 

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Interior or Mountain Rose-Shrub #4

Interior or Mountain Rose
Taylor Creek area of Lake Tahoe

Shrub with thorns, growing 2-9 feet tall.
Flower pink to white and about 2 inches across. Five petals. (not seen during September)
Fruit is a red rose “hip” about 1/2 inch in diameter.
2,500 – 10,000 feet in elevation.

The hips are edible and an excellent source of vitamin C, usually made into a tea or jelly.

This rose is a pretty pink rose that we see along our favorite trail at Taylor Creek. This time of year it is covered in bright red rose hips….which we at first thought were berries until we stopped to take a closer look.

It was an evening filled with smoky air from the Rim Fire at Yosemite. Quiet and all alone on the trail, we enjoyed the peaceful beauty of a late summer walk after dinner.

This time of year you can recognize this shrub by the hips, the leaf shape, and the thorns!

This is the fourth shrub I have recorded in my nature journal this year as part of my nature study goals. One more to go! I am not doing so well on my study of trees….need to get busy.

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Autumn Flower Study – Asters of All Kinds

White Daisy (aster)

“The asters, like the goldenrods, begin to bloom at the tip of the branches, the flower-heads nearest the central stem blooming last. All of the asters are very sensitive, and the flower-heads usually close as soon as they are gathered.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 507

I love a good flower study! Reading in the Handbook of Nature Study I learned that the aster has both a disc flower and a ray flower…like a sunflower. Aha! I can see it now that I have slowed down to really look at this pretty flower from the aster family, a Shasta Daisy or an Ox-Eye Daisy…not sure which

We happened to be at the beautiful summer garden found at Tallac Historic Site and I was excited to find a whole range of asters to observe.  We had been on a quest to find some goldenrod but settled for any flowers in the aster family we could find. (We did find some goldenrod…see last flower photo.)

Can you see the disc and ray flowers?

I think you can really see the disc flowers once the ray flowers wilt back. This daisy helps show the way the different kinds of flowers grow in this daisy flower head. Point that out to your kids the next time you see an aster.

Purple Coneflower

How about this flower in the aster family? The Purple Coneflower is one of my favorites and I grow it in my garden every year….well actually it just comes back to life in the spring so I don’t have to do too much to it.

So now come a bunch of images that show the variety that this flower family can produce. Starting with this really large yellow aster with the long ray flowers.

These were some of my favorites! I love the multi-colored flowers and the Black-eyed Susans all mixed together. I am going to make sure to plant an area of my garden with seeds like these so I can enjoy their beauty all summer long.

Drooping ray flowers really show this flower off at its best! I am going to put this one in my nature journal…watercolors or markers? Not sure yet.

Edit to add my journal—I ended up with colored pencils.

This aster was not in the garden at Tallac but was on the trail around over by Taylor Creek. There was a whole section of them blooming. I love the classic lavender and yellow color combination. This may need to go in my nature journal too.

Eureka! We finally saw some goldenrod in bloom. We had seen lots of dried up goldenrod during our hike but this was the first blooming plant we spied. The goldenrod completed our hunt for all kinds of flowers in the aster family.

NOTE: If you haven’t read the narrative section in the Handbook of Nature Study on the goldenrod plant, you are missing out. Make sure to read the Teacher’s Story for Lesson 132 before you study your goldenrod flowers.

Here we are…the intrepid aster hunters. My oldest and youngest went with me this time and it was great to have them along. They are both a lot of fun.

Mr. B took a break from flower hunting to stack some rocks and strike a pose. Like I said, always a lot of fun with these nature-loving kids.

Don’t miss out on the chance to do your own goldenrod, aster, or chrysanthemum study this month. Pop over to the challenge and print out the free Autumn Garden Nursery Mini-Book printable if you need to make this a quick and easy nature study week.

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Mountain Chickadee – New Bird #3

Mountain Chickadee
Poecile gambeli

Location: Lake Tahoe, evergreen forest habitat
Fieldmarks: white stripe over eyes
Song: chicka-dee-dee or tsick-adee-adee

This busy bird is always seen and heard along our favorite hiking and biking trails at Lake Tahoe, especially in the Fallen Leaf Lake and Tallac areas of the Tahoe Basin. I have grown to know the sweet little song of the chickadee and regularly hear it during each of the seasons, even winter during the snowy months.

I created a nature journal page and used the coloring book image from Cornell’s bird coloring book to make an accurate drawing of this bird. This is an easy way to cut and past a line drawing to use for your journal if you are not confident about your drawing skills.
Feeder Birds Coloring Book

Still working on my nature study goals for 2013…learning ten new birds and their calls during the year.

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Waterfall Hike – Early Spring at Eagle Lake

Grabbing the opportunity to take a day hike up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, my husband and I decided to visit Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake in the Desolation Wilderness. The trailhead is about an hour from our home and we couldn’t resist the time out in the sunshine and fresh air.

Hopefully this is the first of many day hikes for the spring and summer seasons.

Eagle Falls Hike

It is an easy hike to the falls and the water was gushing over the rocks…love the sound of water when I am hiking since it makes me feel cool just hearing it. We crossed the bridge and continued up the mountain. If you look carefully in the top left of the photo you can see the rock staircase leading up to the trail.

The lake is about a mile past the waterfall. The trail is uneven from here on up to the lake and is characterized by large granite steps and slabs as you work your way up. The literature all says this is an “easy” hike but I would say it has sections that are ‘strenuous”. This is all uphill hike to the lake and then all downhill on the way back. There are sections of this trail that are rather muddy from where the streams cross the path.

view of Lake Tahoe from Eagle Lake Trail

The altitude got me on this hike and I found myself a little out of breath from time to time but that gave me an excuse to look around at the scenery and the view of Lake Tahoe in the distance.

Eagle Lake May 2013

We finally made it to Eagle Lake which is a pretty little alpine lake surrounded by mountains and trees. We sat for a long time just enjoying the views and eating a snack before heading back down to the car. I forgot to bring my hat so I was a little red from the sun…and gained about a million freckles.

Eagle Lake El Dorado County

One last view of the lake before we left…perfect hike on a perfectly spring-like day. The water shimmered like diamonds!

Arrowleaf Balsamroot El Dorado County

This is Arrowleaf Balsamroot that was in full bloom along the trail and the roads. What a happy flower!

Well, that is a glimpse into our day hike from last week. I hope you get the chance soon to get out into the spring sunshine with your family. Look for an entry this week from our Yosemite National Park visit which included a hike to the top of Vernal Falls and a day biking the valley.

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Family Seasons Nature Study Walk – Winter Edition

A week ago, our family took a trip up to the mountains to spend some time together and enjoy the beauty of an alpine lake. I thought this would be the perfect time to take a Seasonal Weather walk as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. The weekend started off with rain, sunshine, and then rainbows. We actually saw a double rainbow a couple of times….amazing!

Boy, did we have weather! The rain turned to snow and dusted the landscape with clean bright snow. The ducks and geese in the lake didn’t seem to mind much. The clouds covered the mountains in the distance but left us with a pocket of sunshine to get out into and explore.
We would watch for the sun to come out, taking advantage of the time to warm up in the bright mountain sunshine and see some more rainbows.
The snow would really fall at times and we enjoyed the beauty of it…we didn’t have to go outside unless we wanted to do so. Mr. A met up with some friends and went snowboarding one of the days we were up at the lake….crazy teenage snowboarders. (Sorry Mr. T that you dislocated your shoulder.)
This was pretty much the pattern for our whole weekend…rainbows and sunshine…snowing in the distance.

One of the days we took a drive around the lake to a spot we like to hike at but the wind was blowing so very hard that just getting out of the car was difficult. This video is just showing how much the large pines were swaying back and forth in the gusts of wind…it also was really super loud just like on the video. Amazing power of the wind! We experienced 50 mph winds (gusts higher than that).

It was hard to even stand up in the blasts of wind….we ended up taking a short hike over to Fallen Leaf Lake where the waves were high enough you could have surfed. This lake is usually calm, flat, and crystal blue but on this day it looked more like the gray ocean. Mr. D bundled up against the wind…it really was that cold!

While we were up enjoying the lakes of the Sierra, back at home the rain gauge was getting filled up. We had to dump it since it was overflowing at 8 inches! There was flooding and our basement sump pump didn’t work once the power went off….wet floors and furniture. The phones were out for a week and so was our DSL. The weather really gave us something to talk about this past week…more than I anticipated.

There is still time for you to take your weather walk and share your experiences with all of us at the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Make sure to send in your blog entries for the up-coming OHC Blog Carnival (due date 12/30/12).