Day 3 with the Kids: Stephen F. Austin State Park

We had decided we were going to go out and try to see the birds and wildlife at Stephen F. Austin State Park.  Wildlife viewing happens early in the morning, and late in the evening, and we got both slots – a short 1 mile morning hike down the Dewberry trail followed by the Wren trail with the dogs,

where I taught the boys how to use a camera to record bird calls, and take pictures of flowers,

(This was a Turkish cap, and he actually took a pretty decent picture of one later, but he liked this one better because it was glowing…)


butterflies (I’m pretty sure this is a Question Mark butterfly)



We sampled some pretty sour tasting muskadynes,

and contemplated the uses of horse apples,

while looking up and down the Brazos river,

then headed over to the library for the Friday morning reading hour with the children.  The boys got some fish made out of an expandable polymer that they were very excited about and that I later found in the sink when I went to brush my teeth.

The package said they would grow to 48 inches.  They played games interspersed with stories read by the librarian,

made some octapi out of toilet paper rolls and also got a $5 gift card for McDonalds, and a $5 gift card for Subway, and some more books.  Altogether, they would go home with a set of 6 “new” books, including the only remaining 2 books from the Little House on the Prairie series that the older one had not read.

Later, we walked over the boy’s and girl’s club, and they had a WONDERFUL time playing pool, fuzball,

eating pizza, getting hosed down by the police officer,

and riding a train.

Pool, as I explained to them, is a gentleman’s or gentlewoman’s game with lots of rules, and mastering the stick and no touching of the table was tricky for them, but it is a good exercise in physics.  I’m not sure that they actually sunk a ball.

We stopped to pick up flea and tick medicine for Petey and Spin, and again washed the dogs at the dog park, and picked up some training tips from a local seminar on dog training.

The boys had a little quiet time where they pulled out the watercolors and painted some pictures for Father’s Day.  Very artistic.  This was a very focused and quiet activity for them that included painting the bottom of one of their feet to make a footprint.

Toward the end of the day, after dinner, we headed over to the park again, and this time took the Sycamore Trail without the dogs,

following it down to the Brazos trail, and over to the Raccoon Band and Opossum Loop trail. We had seen a palm bush in the morning,

and I had thought about building a basket with it, but obviously did not want to take anything living from the park.  Along the trail, not only did we find a couple of different opportunities for shelter,

but we also found a recently dead pulled palm bush that we decided we would experiment with, and a feather for the boys …

We almost got caught in the dark

during a 2 mile hike while we watched the deer, raccoon, and other forest life, some of which passed within 20 feet of the trail.  We saw a tree with some unidentified black stuff coming out of it,

and another one with missing bark and markings.

And lots of mushrooms.

The older one, who by now had the camera, also caught a picture of what seems to be a red toad – perhaps a southern toad, although technically a little out of its range.

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