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California’s a Big State (final post):: The Redwoods

North we go and once again find the coast.  At first site of the ocean (around Eureka, CA), the kids were so excited (and it was so beautiful) that we pulled the whole rig over for an ocean play break.  Chilly but awesome!
Hello again, Pacific!!!

Klamath, CA – right smack dab in the middle of Redwood State and National Parks.  State and National?  We’d never heard of this kind of park collaboration before so I was concerned our National Parks Pass wouldn’t get us in to the park or that there would be extra day use fees.  Turns out that we were not charged a fee (and I didn’t even need to present the pass) though there were fees posted.  The Junior Ranger Program was quite similar to the others the kids have done at other national parks except the lack of a present ranger at the visitors’ center prompted the gift shop attendant to leave me in charge of swearing in my rangers when their work was complete.  OK.  I guess this would have been a bother for the kids had they not done so many previously but they liked completing their activities at home and having the badge to add to their collection right away.  I did a little research after the fact to look into this ‘state and national parks’ thing.
Jurassic Elijah

The Redwoods comprises such a big area of the coast that the Highway 101 runs right through it.  The scenic highway (parallel) takes the traveler west just a bit to drive among the towering redwood trees.  It’s really a breathtaking drive all the way up to Crescent City.  There are hiking trails at turnouts all along the scenic highway poriton so there really is no need to hit the visitor center unless additional information is required.  The park host at the RV park where we stayed gave us a great regional map and a finger-walking map-tour of the highpoints of the area so we were ready!  While Chris worked one day, the kids and I went off a'The Farm'nd found The Farm – Radar Station B-71 tucked in and overgrown overlooking the Pacific.  It is two buildings that were built in 1942 to look like an operating farm post-Pearl Harbor and equipped to monitor for Japanese coastal threats.  We felt like explorers and detectives and the like as we waded through tall grass to get down to the buildings and peered in the barred windows.  It sparked an in-depth conversation and some Google research (on the phone in the car) about WWII, Pearl Harbor, and the bombing of Hiroshima.  The historical perspective our kids have is so objective and impartial.  It is not based on some agenda-laden history text or a particular teacher’s biases or…. fear.  The discussions we have about human behavior and historical happenings are fascinating.  When we brought Chris back to check it out, it had been mowed.  So it did not seem as laden with ghosts and mystery but it was still cool.

We took a couple of hikes during our week in the Redwoods.  The kids immediately commented oGnome kidsn how they felt like gnomes in a giant world.  (We have a GREAT and heavily read book on gnomes so we’re up on our gnome knowledge.)  I couldn’t stop an internal giggle after that.  I did, too!  Then I read that the woodsy portions of The Lost World: Jurassic Park were filmed there and we imagine dinosaurs ambling, scurrying, and rumbling through the humongous ferns and collossal plants.  Then Chris remembered that the Endor scenes of Return of the Jedi were filmed among the redwoods and we were giddy with talk of ewoks.  Yes, these trees (and, for that matter, all of the giant plants and thick greenery) evoke a feeling of being small, childlike, vulnerable, inquistive, wild, and adventurous. 

We also spent a cloudy day at the beach before being warned by a passerby about sleeper waves.  Eek!  With all of the signs about being in a ‘tsunami hazard zone’, we didn’t know about these rogue waves.  Apparently it’s a pretty regular hazard.  Glad we had a lovely rogue-wave-free day before scurrying back to the car and home for dinner!
Kids in the distance

There are several Roosevelt elk viewing hotspots in the Redwoods as well.  Once nearly extinct, presElk at Prairie Creek Visitor Centerervation practices have helped increase their numbers to over 1,000.  We got a great roadside view of a small herd grazing across from the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. 

The night we arrived at our RV park in Klamath was the first Celtics NBA playoff game.  And we arrived to find that in my web surfing of the various local RV parks, I had inadvertently chosen one without cable hookup.  Chris was freaking out quietly when we got there (I had prepaid over the phone) but the host hooked us up immediately with a satellite box he had on hand.  Sweet.  We noticed chickens roaming the park near the office and were given 2 dozen free-range chicken eggs during our week-long stay!  I’m really glad we chose Kamp Klamath RV Park after driving around the area.  It was convenient to the highway but not right on it like most of the other parks.  They were a bit overgrown on the other side and sprucing up for the true beginning of their season (as fulltimers, we’re noticing we’re not always in parks in their on-season).  The cafe had burned down last year.  The playground was a small backyard type and grown up with grass.  But there was plenty to do in the redwoods.  The park host was on par with the sweetest, most helpful people we’ve met on the road.  That makes all the difference.  Sadie and I made him a flourless chocolate cake with some of the eggs.  🙂

Lots more photos of our time in northern California on Flickr!

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in California, RV, Travel log


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Our Year in Pictures

We started our full-time travel in July of 2010, selling our suburban home in Ft. Worth, Texas and everything in it.
People keep saying, “Can you believe it’s been a year already?!” Yes. In fact, it feels like so much longer. We have lived, experienced, and explored so much in the last year that I am floored that it has only…been…one…year. We rarely felt rushed. We traveled on a timeframe of our own choosing and adjusted according to how we were feeling. We have grown so much in so many ways. This video is a brief overview of our travels from July, 2010 to September, 2011. Enjoy. 🙂

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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in RV, Travel log


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Oh My-ami!

From Orlando we headed down to Miami. Our goal was to visit the three national parks of south Florida and we found an absolute gem of a campground. I would go back to this one over and over and we just might. The weather was sunny and warm- gorgeous for visiting Miami Beach, snorkeling and exploring John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo (on my 35th birthday- how cool is that!), Biscayne National Park, Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. The kids earned Junior Ranger badges at all 3 parks and have sent away for their South Florida National Parks patch indicating as much. The badges are no small feat for such small fries but it’s a great opportunity for us to learn as a family and for the kids to work toward their goal of having a souvenir from each national park that we visit.

Swearing in Junior Rangers- Everglades NP

On our travels there are also many days that we hang around the parks and play. Our older neighbor asked if she could take the kids’ picture on this day. There was some fierce princess and knight stuff going on.

Knight and fierce princess

We had the pleasure of meeting two cousins of mine for the first time during our Miami stay! What a wild adventure that we can spend time with so many people that we may never have met otherwise- including family! Lloyd and Leighton are 1/2 Cuban and were delighted to share their cultural heritage with us. We ate some pretty darned amazing food. The kids still talk about how much they like Cuban sandwiches! The significant difference in our ages (I am 13 and 15 years older than they, respectively) led to some very interesting conversations about dreams, life, histories, passions, and experiences. I was quite taken aback by their similarities in mannerisms, humor, and pensive nature to our grandfather with whom I was very close but they didn’t have the opportunity to get to know well. There’s just something about family.

Spending time with family

On a day when parking was not to be had for Miami Beach (we drove around for over an hour searching), we headed to the Miami Children’s Museum. Our disappointment here was twofold in retrospect. We didn’t find anything interesting or well-maintained about this museum and it seems that we may be outgrowing most of the exhibits at children’s museums anyway. Glad we recently found the list of the science and technology museums that are also included in our Association of Children’s Museum membership! Check out what’s included. You can get a reciprocal membership from your local (traveling families- make sure it’s your local museum- it matters that your ID address match the location on your museum card) children’s or science and technology museum and be a roving connoiseur as well!
Association of Children’s Museums reciprocal museum program brochure
Association of Science and Technology Centers travel passport program

The Art Deco style of downtown Miami is funky and cool. The palm trees, bronzed bikini bodies, and bicycles give it a sultry, smokin’ hot flair. Being there definitely felt like a vacation.

In order to take in Big Cypress National Preserve at close range, we moved the RV into one of their campgrounds at Monument Lake for a few days. We had it on good authority from our traveling friends, The Lundy 5, that, although Monument had no electricity or water to offer our RV, it did have a cell tower right across the lake. That’s the only thing we need! Chris can work and we can boondock to our hearts’ content. The first night the kids were playing Wii Rock Band, Chris was working on the desktop computer at his desk, and I was cooking a grand meal. We laughed at how decadent ‘dry’ camping is. The only differences for us are keeping an eye on our coach batteries and enlisting the RV generator occasionally for a refresh and limiting our grey water usage to ensure that we don’t fill our tank before we’re ready to move on- packing up to dump is a real hassle.

One of our goals was to take a canoe trip as a family which we did out of the Everglades City visitor center of the Everglades. We paddled what felt like a giant WWII metal battleship the one mile mainland to Sandfly Island. Holy cow, it was hard. The wind blew us off course continually, we paddled against the tide all the way there, and there was recuping of patience needed on all accounts at different points on the journey. The hike around the island itself was so cool! It is aptly named, though, and we don’t generally use bug repellant so there was a lot of itching and slapping! Despite our difficulties we would do it again- next time in kayaks like the ones that were gliding by us like we were anchored.

Mama alligator and her little babies 7

One of the most compelling pieces of these national parks has been living with respect for animals. It really changed our perspectives- even as people who honor and love the Earth and those with whom we share it. It stuck with me how ‘advanced’ societies live not only without regard for surrounding animal life but as though it’s a mere interference- relocating and killing animals that are deemed threatening or a nuisance to everyday life. In the parks, we are visitors and this is their land. What a switch! What I liked the most? That humans couldn’t betray this because the alternative to respecting the animals was to lose a limb or a life. Alligators have the run of the place and, with understanding of their behaviors, we were welcome and safe visitors. I love when we’re held accountable by natural consequences. So often, there are fences and rules and guards. It has taken away our natural ability to assess and act in accordance with our environment rather than by resistance and containment.

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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Florida, RV, Travel log


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Mexico Beach, Florida

Coming to the conclusion that we rather like traveling more slowly makes actually getting to a destination tricky.  Chris and I huddled up in Sedona many weeks ago and planned out our entire winter.  Albeit late, we were able to sneak in amongst the snowbirds and book a site in Florida nearby his grandparents for the month of January.  We’ve been anxiously awaiting our visit ever since.  After a really fun couple of days in New Orleans, we boondocked one night and arrived for a one week stay in Mexico Beach, Florida.  We were so excited to spend some time on the white sand beaches we’d heard so much about from some friends in Texas. 

But wait, isn’t Florida supposed to be warm?  Not this part, apparently.  This was a cold week.  Now I’m not talking cold like Michigan or Massachusetts or wherever you’re reading this from right now cursing at me as you wrap your hands around your cocoa and pull up the covers.  But for a family on the road in a not-so-well-insulated, lightly packed RV chasing warm temperatures and expecting warm sand between our toes, it was cold.  We stayed at Rustic Sands RV Resort– a lovely treed campground amongst beach cottages in a town 40 minutes from the closest anything. 

It made for a great week for ‘downtime’ (aka- doing less exploring).  Chris had work to catch up on after our 2 full days jaunting around New Orleans and there were plenty of projects and cleaning to be done around the RV.  We had replaced the fuel filter housing on the side of the highway in Alvin, TX (just before New Orleans) and took one of the afternoons here to clean the back of the RV, tow car, and bikes of the fuel (diesel and veg) that had escaped prior to our discovering the drain valve was stuck open.  It doesn’t take much to make a big mess.  Blech.  The kids played outside and spent time on their computer games.  Elijah is a World of Warcraft fanatic and Sadie became a potion entrepreneur with Fairy Godmother Tycoon.
Mexico Beach, FL  1/2011  beach romp

There were two afternoons during our week that were not downright freezing or pouring and we made for the beach- about a mile walk from the campground. These kids are crazy. As Chris and I put up our hoods and turned our backs to the chilly winds, the kids ran straight for the numbing waves. They had so much fun that cold was an afterthought. Glad we brought extra clothes for the walk home!
Mexico Beach, FL  1/2011  kids
Oh yeah- and I got a new camera! I’m having so much fun reading about it and playing with it and capturing all the gorgeous moments of our lives. I’m reading the manual, getting help from great friends, watching Youtube videos, and Googling. It’s definitely not enough to just have a fancy piece of equipment. Knowing how to use it and having an eye for composition are a big deal!


Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Florida, RV, Travel log


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In Awe of Utah

We were moving so quickly and have been so busy adjusting to the new complexities of life on the road that I remain a smidge behind on the blogging aspect of our journey.  The adventures continue.  It’s documenting them that becomes the challenge.  It’s also been a while since I’ve podcasted over at Humans Being but the topics are building in my mind and just about ready to burst forth once again.  I’m currently sitting in the San Jose Airport in California waiting for the big, metal bird that will return me to my small, metal home on the road in Las Vegas. I miss my cozy bed and my warm husband.  I miss the buzz of activity that my two children create all around them.  I miss little hugs and big cuddles.  It’s time to go home and I am glad of that.  I’m returning from a symposium based on the discussion of self and global evolution with Bruce Lipton and Joseph Chilton Pearce.  I have learned much about myself from experiences in and outside of the conference room and I am glad of that.
And now it’s time to blog about Utah which holds a special place in our hearts and…yes…I am glad of that.

Picking up where Albuquerque left off
Realizing that we were headed in the same general direction, we decided to caravan with the Wagners on to Las Vegas by way of Utah.  We had heard brilliant reviews of the Utah landscape and of Zion National Park and were eager to see if it lived up to its fame.  We’d already been so blown away in our travels.  It’s not that we’re easily impressed… but the combination of approaching life with new eyes this past year and immediately seeing in our travels the vastly different landscapes and natural beauty right in our own ‘backyard’ has been wondrous.  Maybe we are easily impressed… and maybe you should be too.  Expansive appreciation feels really great.

(pardon our bug-splattered windshield…)

Utah is wild!
With a couple of boondock overnights sharing parking lot picnics with the Wagners between, Chris and I traversed the roads with our eyes wide.  Travelling in an RV is not like any other method I’ve experienced.  The high vantage point combined with the almost 180 degree visibility feels more like an experience than a drive.  ‘They’ were right.  Utah is gorgeous.  Gorgeous.  Awe-inspiring.  Gorgeous. 


We stayed at Red Ledge RV Park in Kanarraville, Utah- a quaint little town where the town hall (which contains the library open only two days per week for two-three hours), fire department (volunteer and desolate), post office (open a few hours each day- one woman weighs packages on a giant scale with a numbered circular dial and then checks the weight against a chart on the wall to calculate postage) with a dog who sits outside on the stoop and a resident elderly gentleman stationed on a wooden stool who chats with customers, and church are all on the same block (right next to our RV park).  The spaces were tight in our little haven but the hospitality was first rate.  We had dinners on the patio with the Wagners and even partook in the hot tub one evening.  I walked the dogs every morning in one of the most serene communities I’ve ever experienced with a backdrop of mighty Utah mountains.

Zion National Park
The highlight of our peaceful and inspiring stay in Utah were the two days spent hiking and exploring in Zion National Park. It was really wild to watch the kids hiking surrounded by sheer rock faces that touched the sky. It really put in perspective how small and fragile we are as individuals while at the same time emboldening a great desire to meet and create new challenges.
We took a pretty easy-going trail the first day, wandering alongside- and sometimes in- the river as the kids tried to avoid the concrete path at all costs. The second day we looked at the map and read the trail descriptions. The kids decided (much to Chris’ and my delight) that they only wanted to consider trails that had the falling hiker warning symbol in their key. We decided on the Emerald Pools trails and saw the lower, middle, and upper pools in our travels. Extraordinary hiking. The upper pools trail fulfilled the kids’ (and our) desire for a climbing challenge and the calm, pristine pool at the top was certainly worth every step (except for the fact that swimming was prohibited…). We followed the kids on a side adventure off from the middle pool- lots of climbing and exploring.


We really got a kick out of refilling our thermos from the ice cold water running down off of the canyon wall. What a refreshing and delicious drink! The water is naturally filtered as it passes through the sandstone on its way down.

After leaving Zion on the second day, we had dinner in town and stopped to pick some apples at a local farm.  We haven’t picked apples since living in New Hampshire- a little nostalgia for us.  🙂

We were sad to leave Utah so soon and having seen relatively little of the vast state but have vowed to return on our travels.  Our stay here really punctuated the magnitude of our decision to leave suburbia.


Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Travel log


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Albuquerque, New Mexico- Serendipity and sadness

Still on a quest to get me to a conference in Santa Cruz, California by the middle of October, we headed from Canyon, TX to Albuquerque, New Mexico (it took me several Google searches to realize I was spelling it wrong before) with a boondock at a Wal-Mart parking lot in between.  Say what we will about the Wal-Mart conglomerate, they do come in handy for overnights while just passing through.
Welcome to New Mexico

We definitely got off on the wrong foot with Albuquerque.  Unable to find a decent (not exorbitantly priced) park and not planning to stay long, we decided to boondock a night or two while we looked around a bit and sought veg.  The first Wal-Mart was a little too city for our liking and the surrounding area had a really low vibe.  After passing on another and getting asked to leave (while I was roasting a chicken in the oven) from another because of a local HOA ordinance, we found one that suited us to squat for the night.  By that time, we were really tired and really frustrated and, might I mention, not so fond of Albuquerque.  In our excursions in the city, I have never been asked for money so many times- not by people sitting on the side of the sidewalk or outside of stores but by people actually approaching us in parking lots, knocking on our windows, etc.  They were all kind enough but it really felt intrusive.

Enter serendipity: While text messaging with our friend Justin Wagner, Chris found out that they were just outside of ABQ up in the mountains of Tijeras, NM.  We headed the 20 minutes up the highway and pulled our big rig in to the site next to them, put out the slides, levelled the RV, and began to hook up when we realized we couldn’t find a water spigot for our site.  Can you say, “WTF”?  Confirmed by the manager of the “we have full hook-ups” RV park, we then had to pack up again, back out, and pull into another site.  I cannot overstate what a process this is.  We shared frustrated hugs with the Wagners who had been having travel troubles of their own and what we planned on being a one or two night stay, turned into the better part of a week.  We had a peaceful time with our friends at Leisure Mountain RV Park which was incredibly reasonably priced with our Passport America membership (highly recommend).  The kids played, we worked, socialized, watched movies, walked dogs…  Aside from continued RV repairs, it was a genuinely great time with friends high on the side of a mountain with a beautiful view.
Kids playing Barbies and Legos

I even met an online friend in person!  We met up for a movie which, by decision of the children, turned into a park day instead.  I’m so glad it did! Sylvia Toyoma and I talked and talked and the kids had a great time playing on the playground together.  It felt really good to connect in person with someone with whom I have shared valued exchanges online.

Tara and I took the kids to Petroglyph National Monument to see 150,000 year-old art that had been carved into the rocks there by indigenous peoples.  We could only guess what some of them were and what they could have meant but it was pretty darn cool to stand there where they stood and see the art that they created still present now.
Petroglyph NP
Petroglyph NP

The landscape in northern New Mexico is breathtaking.  To stand at the top of the small mountain and look down on the landscape and see it littered with walled-in subdivisions looked like just that- litter.  The kids noticed.  I noticed.  It made for interesting conversation for some time after, for sure.
View from Petroglyph NP

Even more interesting conversation was to come.  We decided to caravan on with the Wagners toward Las Vegas- their home and one of our destinations on the way to California. Oh the gorgeous mountains on our way!  Oh the sadness we felt as we drove through and made a stop on Native American reservation land on our way out of northern New Mexico.  The landscape was littered with run-down homes and we stopped in a literal shanty town which seemed to be upheld solely by fast food chains.  Skulking stray dogs wandered the parking lots and cowered and ran when approached with food and water.  The eyes of the people showed a deep sadness tempered in varying degrees with the robotic necessity of moving through life one step at a time.  I considered the rich cultural heritage of these people and felt a loathing for imperialism and homogenization.  New Mexico is famous for its landscape and justifiably so.  I have to say that, overall, we were unimpressed by the energetics of the area of Albuquerque and the route that took us on our way out of New Mexico.  It just didn’t feel good.  We’ll be passing through New Mexico again on our way back through the southwest this winter.  I’m open to suggestion as to things to see and places to go/stay.  As always, there are many different factors that come into play in any experience and I know that we can’t generalize the whole state based on our limited experiences in one area.  It did feel good to be on the road again….
New Mexico landscape


Posted by on October 12, 2010 in New Mexico, RV, Travel log


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Canyon, Texas- We’re creating our dreams

We stayed two full days in Canyon, Texas- just south of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle- on our way northwest out of Texas.  The draw for this stop was a picture in our state parks guide of the lighthouse rock formation at Palo Duro Canyon.  Yes, it’s that kind of life.  Where there’s intention, there we are!  This was our first experience in the creation of our dreams and it was WILD.

We’ve never seen anything so magnificent!  I know, I know- I’m originally from the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Chris from southern New Hampshire.  New England is gorgeous.  We know that… now.  The places we don’t know, haven’t seen, or have only seen in movies hold this mystique- almost as if they aren’t real.  We’ve travelled a bit- all over New England, Aruba, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, San Diego, Santa Barbara, DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, New York City.  There may be a few others that I’m missing.  Maybe we’ve travelled more than the average, working family.  The big difference- we have found- is that those were destinations, visits, stops on a round trip back to ‘real’ life.  This time it IS life.  OUR life.  The one we’re creating and it’s absolutely magical. 

In accordance with our repetitively stated need for internet, we stayed at Palo Duro RV Park just outside the state park/canyon.  Once in the park, there is no mobile phone signal at all.  The RV park had good WiFi and, because the musical Texas! was off-season, so was the park.  We had lots of space.  The park wasn’t lovely but very functional and friendly for the three nights that we stayed.  Chris and I had our hearts set on seeing the Lighthouse rock formation and then read in the information that it was a 6-mile roundtrip hike.  Could we make it? We psyched up the kids, packed lots of food and not enough water, headed out on a Saturday morning, and (tried) to resign ourselves to the journey rather than the destination.  It was awesome.  We were in this spectacular canyon, jumping off rocks, touching the walls, exploring trails.

I won’t lie.  There was some grumbling around the 1.5 mile mark.  At 2 miles, we could see it- the Lighthouse looming in the distance.  It was a little anti-climactic.  We thought it would be bigger.  We almost turned around then but met a couple coming from there who gave us instructions on how to get up to the Lighthouse which included rigorous rock climbing.  The kids were sold!  We forged ahead.  The trail became rocky and the incline steep.  We paired off- one adult behind each child- thrilled with this new aspect of the adventure.

As we got closer, the Lighthouse lived up to its fame.  It was enormous and multicolored and beautiful and…. and….!  We scaled steep rock ledges and wound up directly at the base of the Lighthouse and its sister formation, the Castle.  I gave the remainder of the water bottle I was sharing with Chris to a teenager suffering from heat exhaustion.  We headed back with a spring in our step.  Chris alternated putting the kids on his shoulders between the trail markers as the kids counted them down for each tenth of a mile to the trail head.  It was so hot but we all felt like we had done something so BIG. 

Our feet were sore and we were seeking a cool drink.  But a cool dip in the water at the water crossing certainly helped!

Canyon is a supremely quaint little town- the epitomy of ‘sleepy, little bedroom town’.  There’s only one restaurant that serves alcohol (you have to fill out a form- it’s a dry town) and almost nothing open after dusk.  We drove the desolate brick main street after our hike looking for potential restaurants to ask for waste vegetable oil and ended up eating some delicious Thai at the only place with cars out front- Sayakomarn’s Thai & Lao Cuisine.  Yes, the kids hiked 6 arduous miles AND ate Thai.  How I love this journey!

Canyon was so pivotal for us.  It really marked the beginning of the journey out of our comfort zone and into our dreams.  Will you share something in the comments section that has been a dream come true for you or a step in the direction of your dreams?  Let’s inspire each other!

Nature gives me so much inspiration.  In addition to the amazing terrain we encountered in Canyon, meet some of our new friends!

Yes, that is a real tarantula- live and in person!  He wandered across the trail as we were hiking.  I think a ‘tarantula crossing’ sign is probably warranted.

Hello, fine sir!  He stood so tall.  It felt only right to address him as the regal creature that he is.

An iridescent green guy!  Supercute.


Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Texas, Travel log


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