Monday, May 18, 2009

Playing Hookie at The Bluff - My Town Monday

I'm a big believer that there is every bit as much to be learned outside of a classroom as in. So with that in mind I declared last week Hookie Week and let both of my boys ditch school to spend all day out and about with me. Each got to choose a cool activity and have there own day. This week's My Town Monday is about my day with my oldest son T. He is 8, and for his hookie day he chose the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center just a few miles west of Amarillo.

Here is a blurb borrowed directly from the nature center's website.

More than 600 acres of rolling grasslands are threaded with nature trails offering a sense of isolation and tranquility. Discover delicate wildflowers amidst knee-high grasses, huge cottonwoods, and a magnificent bluff. Slow down enough to spot a horned lizard cross the trail, a hawk circling overhead, or a quail's nest hidden beneath a bush. Picture the native people who camped here for centuries before settlers came through on their westward trek.

There is a place where you can reconnect with the timeless rhythm of the natural world and ponder the impact of civilization. At the same time, consider whether your great grandchildren will be able to experience first hand these same wonders of nature.

We started off inside, by checking out the various critters. Snakes, lizards, tarantulas, turtles, ferrets, fish, frogs, rabbits, and so forth. We took the time to read the placards and as always T had plenty of questions and observations. Such as ... "Dad, wouldn't it be cool if people shed their skin like snakes."

That turned into a discussion about sunburns and peeling skin and then the question of how come snakes and lizards don't get sunburned even though they live in the desert and sunbathe on rocks? For the record, no, I did not know the answer.

After reading and learning about the animals we headed outside to hike along the trails. The trails are well marked and very easy to hike as the majority of the land is rolling plains filled with natural grasses, flowers and mesquite trees.

Here is a shot of my son reading a sign giving direction tot he varying trails. You can see how close to town the area is by checking out the horizon and spotting the buildings of downtown Amarillo.

The Bluff trail culminates atop a natural bluff, imagine that, which overlooks Amarillo creek, and the Gregg-Marcy trail which was a branch of the famous Sante Fe Trail. The remnants of the Gregg Marcy trail are still evident today. You can click on the pictures to enlarge if need be.

Another of Wildcat Bluff's trails is called the windmill trail. And at the end of that trail you will find a ... you guessed it, windmill.

And down by the creek, on what I'm not really sure is a trail although it is evident others have hiked there, my son and I found a massive cottonwood tree before turning back around and going the way we were supposed to.

The roots of this tree were very cool. My son is three or four inches better than four foot tall so use that as a reference on the gnarly base of that tree.

All in all we had a great time. We hiked about 2.5 miles and spent some great time together.
Wildcat Bluff isn't the kind of challenging hiking environment that the serious adventured covets, but it does provide a nice leisurely stroll among nature, and it does provide a great backdrop to teaching kids about the great outdoors. And for only three bucks for adults and two for kids it is a very inexpensive family activity.

For the record, my six year old son chose to go turkey hunting. We managed to see a few gobblers but his dear old dad missed the only shot provided to us, but as a consolation prize we got some fishing in on a couple of small ponds and young Z did quite nicely there. Maybe I'll share a few of those pics alter in the week.

As always check back throughout Sunday and Monday to discover great blogs and read about their neck of the woods. and if you have something to share about your town simply write a post and then leave me a comment so that I can add your link.


Jenn Jilks - Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Maria - Vienna, Austria
Debra - Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Chris - Hong Kong, China
J Winter - Cincinnati, Ohio
Kathy Ryan - New York City, New York
Clair Dickson - Brighton, Michigan
Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada
Mary - Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Cloudia - Honolulu, Hawaii


Jenn Jilks said...

Loved the trees. Our kids are here: son and his girlfriend both have a birthday Tuesday, They and their guests went for a walk on Torrance Barrens. Must be a w/e for that kind of thing! Frost warning here, tonight. Oh yay! Have to do things to keep warm.

MTM is up - I did a piece on vanity plates.


alex keto said...

You can tell your son that not all humans get sunburn and peel. I've heard that politicians do not, for instance, although they can shed their skins.
Not sure what it means, but it does place them uncomfortably close to the reptile family.

Teresa said...

Your sons are lucky to have you fo a dad. It looks like a really fun place, and I bet your son gained a lot more than he would have had he stayed in school that day.

debra said...

My post is up,Travis. I will be back later to read just how you played hooky.

Reb said...

Sounds like you had a great day. Love the cottonwood tree and what is that last flower, very pretty. Once again, I am not posting, still on the old computer.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hello Travis,

What a great way to spend time with the kids and I hope that their teachers aren't in the blogoverse.

My Gotham City/Hong Kong alley post is now up.Thanks, Travis, for linking to me on MTMs for the last month.


debra said...

That is one amazing tree! Looks like you had a great day: a kid and his Dad doing what they do, together. Doesn't get much better than that.

Barbara Martin said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Quality time with your kids is a treat for all.

My MTM post will be up in the morning around 9am (stat holiday up here).

Charles Gramlich said...

Reminds me of when my son and I use to have Daddy days. Just he and I off doing something fun.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Gorgeous pics. Sorry for not having a post this week. Next week for sure.

Anonymous said...

I love playing hookie on the trails.

My post is up at

mrsb said...

What an awesome way to spend time with the boys! I bet you all had such a great time!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Travis,

Hookie day is a great idea!! I used to do that with my kids every once in a while.

Kathy Ryan has a MTM posted over at Women of Mystery.


Melanie Avila said...

Your son is so cute!!

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks Melanie, Luckily he takes after his mom.

And Patti no apologies necessary. I know how hard it is sometimes to get everything done. Look how many times I miss out on Forgotten Fridays.

Travis Erwin said...

Reb - That last shot is Yucca's. They are pretty when in bloom but they are a pain in the arse of you ever want to get rid of them. Not even fire kills a yucca and their tap root goes forever. And the foliage is quite prickly.

♥ Braja said...

Hey, Travis...nice to meet you :) I like the sound of My Town Monday...I might join in next time :)

Barbara Martin said...

Travis, my post is up now.

Bina said...

I love parents who let their kids play hookey!! It's a nice break from routine.

And wow! I LOVE that tree! I would have loved to have had that in my back yard when I was growing up. My brother and I could have had so much fun on it!

Clair Dickson said...

Nice post. I love these sorts of parks and such.

My post is up.

Cloudia said...

You are a cool dad!!!!
aloha from "My town"

lyzzydee said...

Great post I am devoid of inspiration this week.

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