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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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Hiking in the Adirondack Mountains- Mount Arab


What a glorious thing to explore a new state, a new trail, and then to top it off…a NEW to me flower.

Our recent trip to New York (via a road trip across the complete United States), gave us an opportunity to take several new hikes in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. My daughter picked the hike to Mount Arab out of the guide book and it was a winner! Just outside of Tupper Lake, NY, this trail is a short hike up the mountain and through a heavily wooded forest. Since it is early spring, the trees were just starting to get their new leaves and there were wildflowers just starting to bloom alongside the trail.

purple trilium

I created a list of wildflowers to look for during our trip, flowers we don’t have in California but are listed in the Handbook of Nature Study. I had a east coast wildflower field guide with me too for reference since most of the flowers are new to me.  We actually spotted this variety of trillium (Purple Trillium) right at the beginning of the hike…so pretty and colorful in the brown woodsy floor. (Outdoor Hour Challenge for this flower in the future.)

Trout Lily

Then we saw lots and lots of Trout Lilies! This is another one on my list of wildflowers to study and I will now be able to create an Outdoor Hour Challenge for this flower. The abundance of these lilies really created a special atmosphere as we hiked up the mountain.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (34)

I read in a guide book before we left that May is “mud season” in the Adirondacks. There were sections of this trail that turned out to be quite muddy but the trail makers had made it easier by adding these board walks to span the muddier parts. The mud created spots for insects to gather and we tried not to stop and get eaten by bugs.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (24)

The trail at the top opens up where there are large rock slabs and an incredible view. The weather had been threatening to rain in the morning but we enjoyed sunny skies when we reached the top.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (25

Here is the fire tower at the top of Mount Arab. The wind was blowing really hard which felt like air conditioning after a hot hike up. I am not great with heights but my kids and husband were eager to climb up the stairs and check out the view from the top.

Mount Arab New York Adirondacks May 2014 (7)

I was a little sunburned…that’s the trouble with fair and freckled skin. I had on sunblock…really. I climbed about half way up the tower and the wind was whipping through up there. I was good with the view from there, I know my limits.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (35)

On the way back down the trail, we spied several toads. The above image is a “Where’s Waldo?” sort of photo where the toad is very well camouflaged by the leaves on the forest floor.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (39)

We also saw a snake! He was as curious about us as we were about him.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (10)

What a great hike! We will remember this one for its trilliums, lilies, toads, snake, and view from the top. I will also try to remember the variety of bird song we heard as we hiked along as a family.

This hike will count toward my Nature Study Goals for 2014…a new hike!


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Recollections from a Visit to Anna Botsford Comstock’s Lake Cottage

Anna and Henry Comstock

Every reader of the Handbook of Nature Study (the book) knows who Anna Botsford Comstock is….the esteemed author of our nature study guide and lessons. She wrote the words that have touched my personal life in such a profound way, changing how we view the world in our own backyard. She may have touched your life in a similar way through the pages of the Handbook of Nature Study as you worked through the Outdoor Hour Challenges.
Comstock Cottage - New York
When the opportunity was offered to me a few years ago to visit and actually stay at her cottage in New York outside Ithaca, I wasn’t able to make the trip at that time. It was on my mind a lot through the years so when a last minute trip involved traveling in New York came up last month, I immediately contacted the family that now owns the cottage to see if it was available during our visit. It was! We made arrangements to stay for three days in the cottage that Anna and Henry Comstock built on the shore of Lake Cayuga.

” During the fall of 1906, we were making habitable The Hermitage, our summer cottage on Cayuga Lake. We put a large window in the living room which gave us a wide view of the lake. This room was given a hardwood floor and was ceiled, to make it warm. Here we set up the wood stove that had been in my mother’s parlor when I was a child. It had a grate and in the evenings we opened up its front doors; this made it as cheerful as a fireplace.” Anna Botsford Comstock

It was just like I imagined it…set in the woods, right near the water’s edge. The birds, flowers, and trees were those that Anna wrote about in her books. It was warm and cozy and somehow familiar.

We sat on the porch and enjoyed the sounds of the woods. The lake glistened as the sunset on that first day. I climbed into bed and thought how it must have been there over a hundred years ago when the Comstocks first built the cottage.

Woods Near Ithaca New York

“Harry and I spent weekends there, and on each trip he would walk the mile and a half from Taughannock Station to The Hermitage, carrying on his back a basket filled with materials for fixing the house.The labor my husband performed in and about this place was remarkable.” Anna Botsford Comstock


The next morning I was up early for a walk in the woods. I ventured out alone for the first hike and as I stepped off the porch I heard birdsong and glimpsed a young deer sneaking across the road into a thicket of bushes. The woods woke up as I hiked up the trail and my eyes were trying hard to take in all the sights.

Woods Near Ithaca New York - Beautiful Tree

The green of the new spring leaves, the thin trunks of the trees, the rustlings of birds and the cry of the mourning doves. These were Anna’s woods. This was the place that helped inspire her to share her love of nature with teachers and children, bringing them into a relationship with common everyday things in their world.

There was teasel by the trail…new to me in person but familiar through the pages of the Handbook of Nature Study.  Advanced preparation does work…I recognized it right away and remember that she had called it ” a plant in armor”.

Canoeing on Lake Cayuga

“He added paths and built a fine wharf and a double-decked boat house, in the upper part of which we swung our hammocks, and from which we enjoyed the glory of many sunsets. The Hermitage was always a place where work was play; we dumped our cares at the Ithaca station when we left, but they were always waiting to jump at us on our return.” Anna Botsford Comstock

I made my way back to the cottage and by this time the boys were up and ready for the day. My husband and Mr. A took out the canoe onto the morning smooth water of the lake. Exploring a new place by water…leaving their cares behind as they paddled across the surface of the lake in the early morning sunrise.

Yellow Wildflower - Anna Botsford Comstock's Cottage

Mr. B and I decided to take another hike through the woods and this time we noticed the wildflowers. These were the wildflowers of Anna’s books…the ones we don’t have in California.

The whole weekend was filled with the opening of eyes and hearts to a magical place, gently teaching us the way of the New York woods in which we found ourselves. One day it rained and we watched the drops fall from our dry spot on the porch. The fragrance of the wet woods was delightful…different than our Northern California woods. The rain stopped and we grilled dinner on the stone fire pit down by the water. We skipped rocks, sat and watched the fisherman go by on their little boats, and we shed our cares, refreshed.

Nature Journal - Beech Tree

At the end of the weekend, we had made many entries into our nature journals, took lots of photos, and made some memories of our own at this lakeside cottage.

We will always remember our weekend spent on Lake Cayuga at the Comstock’s beloved Hermitage Cottage. Special thanks to Christiana and Alison who graciously opened up their family cottage to our family, making this trip to New York even more special.

I hope my readers enjoyed glimpsing our weekend….we all need to remember to build in our families a rich heritage of outdoor experiences. Who knows who it will touch in the future?
Next time I will share our day at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology and Sapsucker Woods! More connections were made to the Handbook of Nature Study.