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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Off to the Panhandle!

We made it to the Panhandle yesterday in fear that we would meet with a tornado, as all we heard was that there was a possibility where we were heading.  On top of all that excitement, we also had to sadly leave behind one of our 4Hers due to illness.  We left a little later than planned but it was most likely a good plan.  We did have to face rush hour traffic driving through Dallas and even got caught up in a race car stadium traffic.  I must say we were glad to arrive at our hotel destination.  We picked a hotel with an indoor pool so the children were able to swim after the long 8-hour drive.

We woke up this morning and headed to one of the state parks, Caprock Canyon.  A very helpful park ranger (Le'ann) was able to take us around to find many of the plants that will be on our contest.  It was so nice to have someone from the area guiding us and learning with us.  The only plant along the way that really stumped us was the Sumac Little Leaf vs. Wolfberry.  We think we found the sumac but still in search of the wolfberry.  We will continue to look tomorrow.

We loved having a picnic lunch and then taking a hike into the canyon.  The 4Hers enjoyed wandering the canyon and finding new hide away spots, as well as high locations that made this poor mother scared to death.  There were also some great wildlife finds, like butterflies, frogs and tracks.  But most of all a snake in one of the cracks.  Knowing that this is rattle snake country at its peak season, I told the 4Hers (and their curious siblings!) to move away but they did manage to take some pictures.  Thankfully it was the non-venomous coach whip, however we did not know this until we showed the picture to the park ranger after our lunch break.


We then met with the park ranger again for a review of the plants and even found  few new ones.  Le'ann also shared some of the legends of the canyon as we made our return trip through the canyon.  We had thought we would only spend a couple of hours at the park but it turned out to be the majority of the day.  A great experience!

I cannot forget the interesting insect we found right before we left the park.  Due to our trip to the Panhandle, we had to miss our Entomology group insect collecting, so I wanted to be sure to let Mr. Joe and Mr. Kevin know that we did manage to collect a few insects by camera while we were away.

Tomorrow we will find another area to see how well we have retained the information.  There were so many pictures and I knew I would never be able to identify all the plants by the time I got home, so we had a review of the day by labeling the plant pictures.  I did not realize I had taken almost 200 pictures!!!!  We are all worn out and most are sleeping soundly as I type.

Oh...and the tornadoes did go through Oklahoma as predicted but the worst this area had was hail and strong winds.  And the winds were definitely powerful.  I am surprised the younger ones did not blow away.  Praying for those who lost their homes and also that the weather holds so we can enjoy the next two days.

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