Coastal Bend Nature Challenge: Celebration of Flight

*Joey and William will be guests here on the blog as they document our Nature Challenge journey for 2016.october-2016-006_1_1 october-2016-008_2_1 october-2016-009_3_1september-2016-002_1_1

The Challenge: Attend the Celebration of Flight (we were not able to make it on September 24th for the kids’ day so we joined in the celebration on the 25th).september-2016-003_2_1 september-2016-005_3_1 september-2016-008_4_1 september-2016-100_14_1

W:  We went to the Celebration of Flight.  We saw hawks migrating.september-2016-009_5_1 september-2016-010_6_1 september-2016-013_7_1

J:  I saw hummingbirds before I even saw a hawk.  They were very cute and they were next to the hummingbird feeders.  I knew what attracted them at that moment.september-2016-014_8_1 september-2016-015_9_1 september-2016-016_10_1 september-2016-017_1_1

W:  I saw them first and I pointed them out to Joey.september-2016-020_2_1 september-2016-025_3_1 september-2016-027_4_1

J:  No, you didn’t.  Daddy pointed them out to me.september-2016-031_5_1 september-2016-036_6_1

W:  Well let’s just assume that I did.september-2016-040_7_1 september-2016-042_8_1 september-2016-043_1_1

Me:  Boys, focus please.september-2016-044_2_1 september-2016-049_3_1 september-2016-052_4_1 september-2016-053_5_1

J:  We got up to the hawk watch platform and pulled out our binoculars.  There was a lady there who knew a lot about the hawks and she helped us find and identify some.  I also knew that the lady we met last year must be there somewhere.  She was!  I was happy to see her again.september-2016-054_6_1 september-2016-058_7_1 september-2016-059_8_1 september-2016-060_9_1

W:  We saw both ladies?september-2016-061_10_1 september-2016-062_11_1 september-2016-063_12_1 september-2016-065_13_1

J:  Well, we saw a lady from this year and a lady from last year.  So…if you’re talking about a different lady from last year, I don’t think so, but the lady that taught us about thermals last year was there.  We talked to her.  Don’t you remember?  She told us about the tree that has leaves like sandpaper.september-2016-061_10_1 september-2016-062_11_1

W:  What?  Ooohhh, yeah, I do remember that.  And I remember her.september-2016-063_12_1 september-2016-065_13_1

J: After we did some hawk watching and drawing, we went for a walk.september-2016-066_1_1 september-2016-067_2_1

W:  We went exploring and Daddy said, “Look!” and we went down a secret passage.september-2016-069_3_1 september-2016-070_4_1 september-2016-072_5_1

J:  It was very fun except I didn’t like the part with the very tall grass.  On our way back from the walk, we smelled smoke.september-2016-073_6_1 september-2016-074_7_1 september-2016-076_8_1

W:  It was the beginning of a Native American blessing.  First we got blessed.september-2016-098_12_1 september-2016-099_13_1

J:  They were burning sage and they used the smoke to give us each a blessing.  It was like incense.  Then the Native Americans did some singing.  Then they did some dancing.  They were blessing the hawks’ migration and also sending our prayers up to be carried to Heaven with the hawks.  It took almost forever for the ceremony to end.september-2016-077_9_1 september-2016-080_10_1 september-2016-081_11_1 september-2016-085_13_1

W: It was very fun to watch them sing and dance.september-2016-086_1_1 september-2016-087_2_1 september-2016-088_3_1 september-2016-089_4_1

J:  There was a Sun and a Moon represented in the dance.september-2016-091_5_1 september-2016-092_6_1 september-2016-093_7_1 september-2016-094_8_1

W:  After the ceremony we went to hold snakes.  There was a Mexican Milk snake, a Rat snake and a Western Garter snake.  They were fantastic.  I love holding snakes.  There was a lady there who said she was gardening and she stuck her hand in the garden and suddenly heard a rattle.  It was a rattlesnake!  She told us never to stick our hands into a place where we can’t see what we’re touching because there could be snakes.  I think that was good advice.  Okay, until next time!september-2016-095_9_1 september-2016-096_10_1 september-2016-097_11_1 september-2016-103_15_1 september-2016-107_18_1

Coastal Bend Nature Challenge: Fulton Mansion

*Joey and William will be guests here on the blog as they document our Nature Challenge journey for 2016.

The Challenge: Explore Harriet’s Garden and the yard behind the mansion.  Use the plant markers to locate the plants in your mission.  Complete the worksheet.  Observe the plants and flowers.  Sketch your favorite.  september-2016-006_1_1

After Goose Island State Park, we headed over to Fulton Mansion although we ended up on a very scenic tour because somehow we drove right past it the first time!september-2016-005_3_1

J:  After a loooong mosquitoey morning at Goose Island State Park, I was glad to go somewhere that we could go inside.  First we all ate lunch outside the museum.  We all remembered a funny tale from last year’s nature challenge when Andrew accidentally cut up the direction page for a craft inside the museum (Mommy fixed it, so all was well).  He just got so carried away with his scissors that he didn’t realize what he was cutting!

W:  I ate peanut butter and jelly with some grapes.

J:  I ate beef jerky.

W:  Then we went into the museum where they told us to head over to the mansion before it closed.  I decided to skip the stroller and walk up the stairs by myself.

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J:  No, silly, we went down the stairs to the basement first!

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W:  Oh, yeah, remember how neat the the basement was.  Remember the dumb waiter?

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J:  What dumb waiter?

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W:  The one where you put the food on it and pull it up and it goes upstairs.

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J:  Oh the dumb waiter.  Not the dumb waiter!  It must have been nice for the servants to have a whole basement all to themselves.

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W:  We went upstairs to the main two floors and got to play an I Spy game as we toured the house.

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J:  My favorite room was probably the bedroom although it would have been fun to go lie on the bed.  I played the I Spy downstairs first then I went up the stairs and I was not scared one tiny bit.  I played I Spy upstairs and when it was time to come down the stairs, I threw a fit because I was scared.  I am scared to go down the stairs because I’m scared of heights.

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W:  Good thing we don’t have stairs in our house!

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J:  That’s true, but Daddy didn’t let me sit on the Fulton Mansion’s stairs like I do when I go to Granny and Pappy’s house.  Daddy kept urging me down and then I held my hand and he promised not to let me fall so I was able to go down the stairs.

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W:  Next we headed over to the museum.

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J:  I definitely loved building that bridge with Andrew!

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W:  I helped Granny dress the mannequin and I got to dress up as a cowboy!  Then we took Granny’s picture with her head on top of the mannequin.  It was funny!

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J:  It was a good thing I brought my Ironman Lego into the museum with me because then I got to help Ironman cross the bridge after I finished building it.  I kind of liked watching Granny dress the mannequin even though I don’t get all excited about that kind of girl stuff.  I dressed up as a cowboy which was really fun.

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W:  Then we finally went outside to the grounds to do the Nature Challenge.

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J:  We had to find the plants and write their scientific name in the garden.  My favorite plants were the firecracker plant and Turk’s Cap.september-2016-264_6_1 september-2016-265_7_1 september-2016-266_8_1 september-2016-267_9_1 september-2016-269_10_1

W:  Mommy made us all get together at the end so we could have our picture taken.  I loved having our picture taken but I did get a little annoyed because Mommy kept saying one more!  One more!september-2016-272_11_1 september-2016-275_12_1 september-2016-276_13_1 september-2016-277_14_1 september-2016-286_15_1

J:  I really liked going to the Fulton Mansion.  The day at Rockport was full of fun!  I’m already looking forward to next year’s nature challenge!september-2016-288_16_1 september-2016-293_18_1 september-2016-294_19_1 september-2016-289_17_1



Coastal Bend Nature Challenge: Goose Island State Park

*Joey and William will be guests here on the blog as they document our Nature Challenge journey for 2016.

The Challenge:  We chose Challenges #2 and #3:

#2:  Complete a Scavenger Hunt. september-2016-003_2_1

#3:  Become a nature detective to find out who lives at Goose Island State Park by walking along the trail and looking for clues the animals leave behind.  Draw the clues and write down what it was.  september-2016-002_1_1

On September 4th, we headed to Rockport, TX to complete our next Nature Challenge.  Granny was in town and William had just had surgery 3 days before (that’s why you’ll see him cruising along in the stroller).

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We arrived at Goose Island and checked into the Ranger Station.  We picked up our scavenger hunts and headed for Turk’s Cap Trail.


J:  As soon as I entered the trail, I saw Daddy pushing the stroller as fast as he could and running at top speed back to the trail head.  I thought there was a rattlesnake at first but then Daddy said it was so mosquitoey, we’d need bug spray.  Daddy whipped out the bug spray and sprayed us all but it didn’t help because there were so many mosquitoes.  It seemed like every time we stopped, they started biting again.  I got at least a thousand bites on my leg (well, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration!).  Near the end of the trail, I got the bright idea to run as fast as I could to the end of the trail.  I barely survived those mosquitoes.  As for the scavenger hunt, I noticed things as I was zooming by. I did pretty good on it.

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W:  I was covered in mosquitoes and I complained about it a lot!  I pulled up the cover on the stroller so I could observe nature from behind the screen.  I saw a gopher hole where I think he was digging for grubs.  I haven’t been in a stroller on a nature trail in a long time!


J:  William, to the gopher those grubs were “buried” treasure!


W:  Ha, ha, ha!


J:  Once I got off the trail, I was able to fill in my scavenger hunt.  Last year when we got off the same exact trail, we got lost and we did not know anyway back although somehow we stumbled on the car.  This year we got lost again but I already knew from last year how fun it was going to be to find the car.


W:  On the way back to the car we saw a red Cardinal (a male and a female).  There was a bird watching spot and we stopped there to listen and watch quietly.  Joey, is the male the big one and female is the cute small one?


J:  The bright red one is the male and the reddish brown one is the female.


W:  The ugly reddish brown one?  And is the female bigger than the male?


J:  Well the male has a crest and the female doesn’t.  I don’t know if she’s bigger than the male or not, but I know how to tell the difference.


W:  Well I know that one is bigger than the other and I think it’s the female.


J:  I just looked it up and the male is slightly larger than the female.


W:  Oh thanks.


J:  Even though we’d already completed our challenge, we went to visit the Big Tree.  It’s more than 1,000 years old!


W:  No, I think it’s almost 1,000 years old.


J:  Don’t make this into an argument!


W: Let’s look at the picture and see if it says…


J:  Neither of us were right!  It says exactly 1,000 years old on the By the Numbers sign, but on the timeline, it says the acorn was planted around the year 1,000 AD, so that would make the tree actually 1,016 years old.  I was right!


W:  Wow!  That is one impressive tree!


J:  It really is awesome!  And by the big tree there are a lot of other big trees that are good for climbing.  At first I thought another one of the big trees there was THE BIG TREE but then I realized that the one enclosed by a fence was the real Big Tree and although it wasn’t taller than some trees I’ve seen, it was sure big and fat and it had a lot of branches.  But don’t climb over the fence to climb it!  We wouldn’t want anything to happen to a tree that old.

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See you next time to tell you about Fulton Mansion’s Nature Challenge!




Coastal Bend Nature Challenge: Port Aransas Nature Preserves

*Joey and William will be guests here on the blog as they document our Nature Challenge journey for 2016.


The Challenge:  Visit one of the Nature Preserves in Port Aransas.  Choose a topic from the list of ideas and present our experience in a creative way.  Share it online.


J:  We went to Port Aransas with Walker and Gavin.  We saw a lot of plants on the first trail.  We saw a lot of Duckweed.  We also saw Sesbania.


W:  We saw Chinese Tallow, which I can identify by its leaves.


J:  We each had a camera to use.  We were shocked that there wasn’t any water in the pond and we thought it was because there was a drought.

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W:  But we found a sign called Freshwater Pond Hydrology and we learned that…


J:  There wasn’t supposed to be much water!


W:  There wasn’t much water because the pond was at the point of its evaporation cycle.  It evaporates during winter and summer and then when it rains in the fall and spring, it fills back up.


J:  It’s important because it gives plants like duckweed time for their seeds to grow without the seeds being washed away.  I think it’s very exciting.


W:  We found a chalkboard at the end of the trail and I think people are supposed to write the names of the birds they see on the trail except we didn’t see any birds so we added one of the plants we saw…Chinese Tallow.

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J:  I raced to the car ready for our next adventure.


After we finished at that trail, we headed over to the Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture.  We had lunch and found a nice spot for some nature sketching.

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J:  I had a cup of mangoes.


W:  Me too!  I ate everything that he had.

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Mom:  Enough about lunch!  Tell us about your nature sketching…

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J:  I sat on one of the Gazebo rails and pulled out my colored pencils.  I drew me looking out at the pasture.

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W:  I did the same thing.

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J:  After we finished drawing we saw a freighter and some dolphins.  We followed the ship around the bend and started on the trail.

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W:  Me too!  I saw the ship first.


J:  That’s because I was busy drawing.

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W:  Oh!  Remember how the birds were flying and then stopping and going straight down?

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J:  Yeah, they were diving for fish!  We went to three gazebos on the trail and I wanted to keep going because there were 18 gazebos but Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t let us.  On our way back we saw a gopher.

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W:  I saw lots of different birds, maybe even a pelican.

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Katie: I saw butterflies!

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Andrew:  I saw rocks!

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J:  Nature Challenges are tons of fun and they make us more like the Wild Kratts.  The next day, while it was still fresh in our minds, we completed the challenge.  I chose to pretend I was a gopher on the trail.


W:  I pretended like I was stuck on the trail for a week and I had to pack for it. (Mommy says not to worry, she’ll be sure to check any future packing lists before I head out into the wild!)


J:  Andrew wrote a narrative (which is a story about what actually happened while we were there).


J:  Well, until our next adventure…




Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Coastal Bend Nature Challenge

*Joey and William will be guests here on the blog as they document our Nature Challenge journey for 2016.

Opening Ceremony by Joey and William

On August 13th Auntie Leslie, Uncle Dustin, and Alex came down from Austin to go to the Opening Ceremony at the South Texas Botanical Gardens with us.

We started by visiting with Ms. Pringle from the UT Marine Science Center.  She showed us how to observe different types of sand.  We used tiny microscopes to help us see the details.august-2016-021_1_1

J:  I did Mustang Island.  The tan sand had little grains.  Its shape was circular like dots and it had shells in it.august-2016-022_2_1

W:  I got to see a few different sands.  My favorite sand was the black sand.  It was black because it is volcano dust.  It was from Hawaii.  Mommy said, “Good job!  How did you identify that by yourself?”  Ms. Pringle asked me if I knew why it was black and I said, “Yes, because it was from near a volcano.”  I was right.august-2016-023_3_1 august-2016-024_4_1 august-2016-025_5_1 august-2016-026_6_1 august-2016-027_7_1

J:  I also got to see sand from Dunstaffnage near Oban, Scotland.  It was made of medium dots and it was gray and reddish.  It was very colorful and pretty.

Next we went to say hi to Ms. Sara Jose and sign our team in.  Our team is just called The Satery Family because our team consists of our family…Mommy, Daddy, Joey, William, Andrew and Katie.  Ms. Sara gave us a crossword puzzle to complete.september-2016-044_4_1 september-2016-046_6_1

After signing in, we went to visit the Texas A & M Forest Service.  They had leaf plates for us to rub our crayon over and make a leaf rubbing.  Then after we rubbed it, we had to identify it.  They also had a sign that showed how you can tell a tree’s age by counting its rings.  That was very neat.august-2016-029_9_1 august-2016-030_10_1

J:  First I did a sycamore rubbing.  Then I did a leaf from an Elm Tree.  It was very fun.  I love doing crayon rubbings.august-2016-033_13_1

W:  Alex and I did our rubbings together.  We both used the same color and we used the same leaf.  I don’t remember what my leaf was but I’m going to check with Alex to see if he remembers.august-2016-035_15_1

J:  Katie and Andrew made their own crayon rubbings using the leaf plates, too.august-2016-031_11_1 august-2016-032_12_1 august-2016-034_14_1

september-2016-043_3_1Once we were all done rubbing leaves, we moved over to visit with the Wildlife in Focus representative.  She had some nature photo books for us to look at and then we got to dress up as a nature photographer and use her camera.august-2016-036_16_1 august-2016-037_17_1

J:  The books had a lot of animals in them and beautiful photographs of plants.  I also liked dressing up as a nature photographer.

W:  So did I!august-2016-038_18_1 august-2016-039_19_1 august-2016-040_12_1 august-2016-041_11_1 august-2016-042_10_1

J:  I liked using her camera.

W:  So did I!august-2016-043_9_1 august-2016-045_8_1

J:  I took pictures of my family which wasn’t really a nature photograph…

W:  We’re made by God, so we really are kind of nature.  I took pictures of the family, too.august-2016-046_7_1 august-2016-047_6_1 august-2016-048_5_1 august-2016-049_4_1 august-2016-050_3_1 august-2016-051_2_1 august-2016-053_1_1

J:  It was good practice so we can take pictures on our excursions this fall.august-2016-054_2_1 august-2016-055_3_1 august-2016-056_4_1 august-2016-057_5_1

After taking photos, we visited quickly with the Corpus Christi Science and History Museum and we got the materials to make star catchers.  Katie was starting to get restless so we took those home to make.  We also stopped by the table for the Botanical Gardens.september-2016-045_5_1

After that we went to renew our membership at the Gardens and do a little exploring.  We visited the Reptile Room and got to hold a snake.  It was a rat snake.  We went to visit the birds and see the butterflies.august-2016-059_2_1 august-2016-060_3_1 august-2016-062_5_1 august-2016-063_6_1 august-2016-064_7_1 august-2016-065_8_1 august-2016-067_9_1 august-2016-068_10_1 august-2016-070_11_1 august-2016-071_12_1 august-2016-073_14_1 august-2016-075_15_1 august-2016-078_17_1

J:  I had lots of fun at the Botanical Gardens and I also realized that the opening ceremony was a lot of nature places under one big roof.  So I got to go from Wildlife in Focus to the Science and History Museum by only walking a few feet!

W:  I had fun, too.  My favorite part was when I observed the sand.

J:  It was fun coming home and finishing our work, too.  We spent an evening coloring our Wildlife in Focus pictures (I colored my bird so it would look like a Woodpecker) and making star catchers.  Now I’m going to have to look for the constellations next time we go camping.

W:  Me too!september-2016-084_1_1 september-2016-088_2_1 september-2016-093_3_1 september-2016-094_4_1 september-2016-095_5_1 september-2016-101_6_1W:  Oh!  I almost forgot!  Andrew and I were in the newspaper!  Andrew got excited when he went to HEB and someone recognized him there.  We’re famous!september-2016-041_1_1