Not nearly long enough!

You’ll have to forgive me as I go back in time a bit. I know I already did my 2017 in review post, but I have to tell you about the last weeks of 2017.

As you know from my Goodbye Wind Point Park post, we left Lone Oak, Texas, but I didn’t give any hint of where we were heading. Galveston! My parents really enjoyed staying at Galveston Island State Park (GISP) and since we were ready for a bit of down time that’s where we went. We arrived after hours and found our site number tacked to the bulletin board. Setting up in the dark isn’t my favorite thing to do, but we managed…

I was quite surprised when I woke up in the morning and realized we were right near the water’s edge…

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As you can see, the skies had cleared and the weather looked promising. I grabbed my camera and set off to explore a bit since Steve was still sleeping…

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Funny, our address in Lone Oak was State Park Road 55

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When I got back from my walk, Steve was up and about ready to roll. Since it was our first day, we figured we’d just drive around and make note of things we wanted to go back and explore. We stopped at the visitors to get a map and learn a little more about the island. Our friends had given us lots of suggestions of things to do and places to see, but no one told us about the Tree Sculpture Tour. Since we were already right near the beginning of it, we decided to do that first. The artistry is amazing. I’m not going to post pictures of all 24, but here are some of my favorites…

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Steve getting the shot
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This tree had 17 birds carved into it
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Getting into the holiday spirit
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Very cool mermaid
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The only one we found which was painted
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So much talent!
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Probably the most intricate of all and definitely my favorite.

The next day, I wanted to find some of the places where you can drive on the beach. We headed to the west end of the island and after a few dead ends we found a neat little place to do some birding…

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The pink bird is a roseate spoonbill, they are so cool!
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I saw this one later at the campground
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The sound was incredible when this flock of birds took off
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Heading out for some surf fishing

From here, we headed to Fort San Jacinto Historic Point on the east end of the island. It is a great place to watch the ships come into Houston Bay and do a little fishing…

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Then it was (literally) on to East Beach…

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I loved the designs in the sand made by the waves.

Since it was getting on toward dinner time, we looked through the coupons we had gotten at the visitor’s center and decided to do the totally touristy thing to do. We ate dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I my opinion, the meal was completely forgettable and over priced, but that what you get for being touristy!

One of the best things about staying at a state park in Texas is you don’t need a license to fish as long as you are on the property. We decided to take advantage of that and get in some fishing. I was first to pull in whopper…

Okay, not really a whopper

The next big catch wasn’t exactly a keeper either…

Perhaps Steve would have better luck…

Looks impressive until you put it in the larger picture…

One of the places everyone said we needed to go was Moody Gardens. I checked it out online and it looked amazing, but I wasn’t sure we could really swing the price.  I pretty much put it out of my mind until I called my dad. He mentioned that when he and mom were in Galveston, they visited Moody Gardens and really enjoyed it. Then he offered to get tickets for us as a Christmas gift! Woohoo! Thank you! Since quite a bit of it is inside, Steve and I picked the coldest upcoming day to go. We woke up bright and early, had a good breakfast then headed out. It was only about a 15 minute drive and we had 10am tickets for the Ice Land exhibit. I know, I hate the cold, but who could resist a rain forest made completely of ice? If you want to read about the history and the how, click here, it’s definitely interesting! Here are a few of my favorite sculptures…

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The kids were having a blast on the ice slide

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Doesn’t Steve look good in blue?!?

Moody Gardens has 3 pyramid structures and each one contains a different theme. We started at the Discovery pyramid and enjoyed the Da Vinci exhibit. I never realized just how many things he was into. I didn’t take any pictures because it was fairly dark inside, plus, sometimes it is just nice to enjoy something without thinking about images for the blog.  Next we headed to the rain forest pyramid. After the near freezing temps in Ice Land, the rain forest seemed downright comfy!

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But, my favorite pyramid was the aquarium. Again, I didn’t take a lot of pictures, I just enjoyed…Moody Gardens-4339

It was starting to get dark by the time we left the aquarium.  We had almost an hour before our “sail” around the harbor on the paddle boat, so we walked around and checked out the holiday lights.

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Just before it got totally dark, a zip-liner went right over our heads…

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From the paddle boat, we had a good view of the pyramids…

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As we were getting ready to head back to Waldo, we noticed the Chinese lanterns.(these were done in honor of the Chinese ice carving team who made Ice Land into a rain forest, here’s that story) …

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Now, how it I get the title of this post? The next thing we knew, it was Dec. 26th and time to leave. 7 days is “Not nearly long enough” to see everything in Galveston! But we will definitely go back!  And once again, we packed up in the rain…

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Have you ever been to Galveston? What did you enjoy most?

 

A Year in Review

With 2017 and Peterborough in the review mirror, I realize just how much our life changed last year. When 2017 began, we were still living in a stick and brick home, we owned a business and we were still making our plan to hit the road. Then, something happened and it all changed. Accelerating our plan to move into Waldo full time a year ahead of schedule required quite a lot of work. First, had to decide what we wanted to keep and what needed to go, then we had to get rid of all our belongings that weren’t going with us…

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One of our many yard sales

We had to get the house ready to sell. Clean, paint, new flooring…

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kitchen cabinets

And, of course, the we had to wait for the weather to warm up…

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Sometimes, you just have to take a break!

Then, there was all the work we needed to do to Waldo before we could leave. My favorite “upgrade” was our new curtains…

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What do you do with family photos?
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You turn them into iron-ons and make curtains!

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We said goodbye to family and friends…

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Finally, Florida bound…

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By far, the biggest improvement we had to do was get a new roof. We decided Florida was where we should get that done. The benefit of being able to stay with my dad while the repair was done, made the decision an easy one…

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Steve began to adjust to not going to work every day…

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It was July before we truly ready to hit the road. We had a job waiting for us in Texas and it was time to go…

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Our first meal living full time in Waldo.

And then, our new temporary home in Texas…

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The next 5 months seemingly flew by, bringing us to December and the impending new year.

How things can change in 12 months! From this view…

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To this view…

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From using wood for winter heat…

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To using wood for camp fires…

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It’s been a year of major changes, all for the better. We’ve visited beautiful places and made some wonderful new friends. It means so much to me to have you along on our journey. Thank you.

May 2018 be your best year yet!

Turkey Drag 2017

Once a year, Wind Point Park is transformed from a quiet haven on the lake into the travel destination for car/truck/hotrod enthusiasts. This year, the 13th Annual Turkey Drag took place from Dec. 1-3. Friday was a fairly quiet day. I rode around in the golf cart, getting a sneak peak at the early arrivals…(if you don’t really care about car show, at least scroll to the end for a good laugh!)

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I worked in the office from 12-4 and had a front row seat as the parade of vehicles rolled in. The event staff did an amazing job keeping the line moving.

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All 8 cabins, 15 shelters, 24 waterfront RV sites and 10 interior RV sites where rented to someone participating in the show. But there were also quite a few people who tent camped for the weekend. And one in particular camped in style…

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Since it is a car show, there is always last minute prepping to do before the vehicle is judged…

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The sunset Friday evening provided the perfect backdrop for photographing some of the vehicles…

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While some folks drove around checking out the competition, others enjoyed a campfire at their rigs…

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Saturday morning brought an onslaught of activity. While things were quiet in the office, the park buzzed with excitement. Spectators had plenty to see…

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While riding in the back of trucks was a popular way to see things, some people had more fun in their golf carts…

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Then again, some people just wanted to chill…

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But, if you really wanted to chill in style, you took your picnic table with you…

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Yep, you saw that correctly! A VW powered picnic table, complete with a beer drinking turkey!

Of course with so many people, the park staff kept busy making sure everything was as clean as we could keep it…

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Saturday afternoon brought a first for me – vehicle limbo…How low can you go?

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Of course, as with all car shows, the devil is in the details…

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Lucky for you, I don’t have an audio track to really give you the sense of being there. Competing sound systems and questionable song lyrics made me wish for some earplugs!

Sunday morning brought a respite from the noise as people were a little slow in starting their day…

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Some people were a little slower than others…

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Didn’t anyone ever warn them? What happens at the lake – ends up on the internet!

When the final count was done, there were 704 registered show vehicles, 2239 spectators and 14 vendors. It was a lot of fun, but I’m glad it only happens once a year!

A FAIR-ly Amazing Day

I’m going to warn you right up front, this post is bursting with images. I was able to narrow down the 527 pictures I took to about 50. Give or take. Given the fact Fair Park is 277 acres, I think I did pretty well.

We have been planning our trip to the Texas State Fair for a couple weeks. We knew it wouldn’t be a cheap day, hence all of our recent freebie day trips. Fair Park is on the east side of Dallas and has been home to the Texas State Fair since 1886. You can read about all the history here.

We arrived just after the gates opened and scored a parking spot near the gate (all the empty spaces you see are reserved for the handicapped)…

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We bought our tickets online, part of a package which included admission and 100 ride/food coupons. We first ran into using coupons at Grapefest. I’m not really a fan of the system, I’d rather pay for my food using cold hard cash.  I think it is easier to plan using money than coupons, but I digress. Anyhow, our first stop was the cattle barn and judging arena…

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Most of the cows were lazing around waiting their turn…

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Others were being led to grooming stations…

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Where shampooing and combing awaited them…

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I’ve never seen a setup quite like this. Now, I’ve been to my share of fairs and always visit the livestock exhibits, but this really takes it to the next level! I was a bit disappointed there weren’t any longhorn cattle in the cow barn, afterall, this is Texas and longhorn are cattle. I wasn’t disappointed for very long! We stepped out of the building, on our way to the swine barn, and found this monster in a pen all his own…

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Yes, you read the sign correctly, someone was brave enough to get a measurement of this behemoths horn width. He was even more magnificent when he stood up…

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I absolutely loved his coloring.  On to the swine. I love piggies, always have. Of course I love piglets even more…

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Mama almost looks like she’s smiling. Cattle weren’t the only critters getting groomed for their showings…

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And people were getting in some last minute runway practice…

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Every time I look at this picture quickly, I think those pink spots on his snout are tusks. But if I wanted to see real tusks, I need not look any further than Borris…

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Our next stop was the horse barn. All of the horses were in bar lined stalls and you couldn’t really get close enough to take any pictures, but I was able to sneak a picture of probably the largest horse I’ve ever seen. This is saying something because I’ve been up close and personal with the Budweiser Clydesdales!  Meet Rossina, she is a Friesian. She is over 17 hands tall…

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I thought we were through with livestock viewing until we came to the Children’s Health Barnyard. The squeals of delight could be heard long before we entered the building. Kids of all ages were having a grand time. It was more like a petting zoo than a barnyard, with animals from around the world…

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This zebu was far more interested in getting her neck scratched than eating some handouts…

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Just outside the exhibit was the little red barn I’ve been hoping to find. Barns here are the same as barns in the northeast. Most of the are pole barns, but this is the type of barn I love…

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It was getting on towards lunch and the choices were so numerous I couldn’t decide. One thing I learned is Texans will deep-fry ANYTHING…

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Or wrap it in bacon…

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As we were walking past one of the many coupon booths, the reflection in the puddle caught my eye…

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We still hadn’t decided on lunch, so we walked into the food court. Overwhelmed is an understatement!

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Unfortunately, we stuck with something simple (but still expensive). We should have…

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And how do you top off lunch? With an adult beverage of course…

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So, I’ve covered livestock, cute animals and food. What else could there be? How about the art…

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And the history…

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Then…there are the shows! As we were walking along the esplanade, we happened to catch the Zu Zu African Acrobats. Their skill, flexibility and agility were astounding…

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I kind of covered statues when I mentioned art, but there is one statue that literally can’t be missed…Big Tex himself…

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If the size of the Wednesday crowds leave you feeling a bit on edge, not to worry! The Dallas PD has you covered…

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Our final adventure of the day was a ride on the sky wheel…

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There are 44 car on the wheel. I don’t know how tall it is but the views were stunning!

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I haven’t come close to showing you all the things to do at the fair. We skipped the aquarium and the botanical gardens because, well, let’s face it, I’m not a kid anymore! It isn’t that I wouldn’t have enjoyed them, I’d have loved them, but I was pooped!!!!

We still had about an hour and a half drive back to Waldo and it was time to call it quits. The day had one more surprise in store for us…

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A beautiful sunset to round out our trip.

What is your favorite thing to do at the fair?

Day Tripping

Striking a balance between work and play is something everyone strives for. And when it’s time to play, lots of things factor into how that time should be spent. I know I’ve repeatedly said how much I like free things to do. We’ve found, if you plan it right, you can get LOTS of fun for free. Our last 3 day trips are great examples of frugal fun!

DAY TRIP #1 – The Salt Palace – Grand Saline, Texas

Grand Saline, Texas is home to one of the largest salt mines in the US. The underground salt dome is 1 1/2 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, yes, I said MILES. In the late 1890’s, there were several salt producing companies. Around 1920 The Grand Saline Salt Company acquired them all and later became known as Morton Salt. By 1930, they were mining over 500 tons of salt daily. The building which houses the salt museum has the distinction of being the only building in the world built entirely of salt blocks…

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Inside is a neat collection of Morton Salt memorabilia…

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Morton stopped doing mine tours in the 1960’s. but there was a 20 minute movie showing some of the history and the mining operation. The cost to visit – nada! But donations are accepted.

DAY TRIP #2 – Grapefest, Grapevine, Texas

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We chose to head over to Grapevine on Thursday because…wait for it…it was free admission day!  Score!! There was free parking and a free shuttle. Every year Grapefest highlights different regions. This year it was wines from the Finger Lakes Region of New York and Canadian ice wines. Several years ago, Steve and I did the Seneca Lake wine tour, so we were already familiar with a few of the wineries. Of course that didn’t prevent me from sampling their goods.

Historic downtown Grapevine would have been worth the visit even without Grapefest, from the train depot…

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To the arts…

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But, it really was about the wine…

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DAY TRIP #3 – The Eiffel Tower – Paris, Texas

You don’t have to travel to France to see the Eiffel Tower. You do, however, have to go to Paris. In our case, Paris, Texas. This was another cool Atlas Obscura find.

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Right next to the tower is the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial…

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The memorial is only partially completed, but it is really well done.

So, what are we gong to do with all the money we saved by finding free day trips? Well, you’ll find out next week!

How do you find free things to do?

Critter Control

When we lived in New Hampshire, we had lots of wildlife on our property. It was always neat to look out the window and see the deer, turkeys and the occasional bear. I never had the urge to trap and relocate them. (Well, there was that time I trapped a chipmunk inside the bird feeder)

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Here in Texas, I take a different view. And, believe it or not, but it all started with kittens. Yep, kittens. Steve came home one evening and found 3 kittens eating out of Diesel’s food dish. While they were cute, they were wild. It seemed simple enough to discourage them – stop leaving dog food out at night. But there was one kitten who just wouldn’t give up. I started catching glimpses of it during the day and would hear muted meows from under Waldo. Driven by hunger and the thought of a free meal, the kitten started becoming bolder…

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And bolder…

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As you can see, Diesel didn’t seem to have any problem sharing his meal. But then, the kitten thought it would just move in… Um….NO!

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I don’t mind cats, but I have no interest in having any more pets. Nor do I have the ambition to tame a feral kitten. It had to go! There was an animal trap in the maintenance garage. Since dog food was obviously kitty’s favorite free lunch, I baited the trap. I stepped into Waldo, for all of about 3 minutes, and heard the trap spring. Resulting in one very unhappy kitty…

Since Steve had said he saw 3 kittens, I decided to reset the trap overnight. With my morning coffee in hand, I checked the trap. What I wasn’t expecting was this…

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An equally unhappy possum! With both kitty and Mr. Possum relocated (still within the park, just away from us) I thought we were critter free, and returned the trap. But alas…

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“Where’s lunch, meow” Really?!?!?! Back the the maintenance garage! This time kitty went for a long ride! Now it resides on a farm about 5 miles down the road.

With all of the critters re-homed, I think we are in the clear. But, you never know! There are lots of interesting things living in the park. I walked out of the office one day and found this…

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Another day, I found a wolf spider, carrying all her babies…

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I almost missed the katydid…

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Sometimes I just ride around the park looking for critters…

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I definitely think the snapping turtle was “barking up the wrong tree”. You truly never know what you are going to come across. Yesterday, I was out kayaking with a friend and spotted this…

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This billy goat watched us until we rounded the point, as if daring us to try and dock on HIS ground. And he was waiting for us when we came back…

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No critters were harmed in the writing of this post, with one exception. My final critter encounter ended in the untimely demise of a black widow spider…

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I just can’t have her living in the wood pile. Since she seemed very protective of her egg sac, I felt it was unlike she would move on of her own accord.

What kinds of critters have you encountered?