Sunday, April 25, 2010


This is my second post about Roxborough State Park. It is my family's favorite place to hike! We try to go at least once a month, no matter what the weather is like in Colorado. I think we keep going back because we ALWAYS see and find something new. It's not JUST a hike, it's a marvelous adventure. One year, we saw a rattle snake slither across our path, a friendly red fox, and mule deers galore, all on the same hike!

If you're ever in Denver, I suggest you venture to this amazing park. There are hiking trails for all level of fitness, and you won't regret making the trip!

This is the first rock formation you see upon entering the hiking trails. Beautiful.

Here we go...Obachan (Grandma), is so happy to be outdoors!

This is why my blog is called "the walking stick"'s the first thing the princess gets when she starts a hike. She loves her "sticks".

A scenic shot.

Peanut got curious...he thought he could get his own walking stick from this dried-up brush. Maybe next time, buddy!

Oh look here! What little bird are you?

Oh, you're a Black-Capped Chickadee! Well, you're beautiful and gorgeous, and have an amazing song!

For the purpose of photography, I only focused on one bird, but there were many Chickadees on this tree. They were chirping and they were super-friendly. Apparently, they adapt well to humans being around them, and are a highly recognizable endearing songbirds. We heard them...they sound heavenly-sent!

We continued our trek!

The kids slow us down, but that's okay. They are really enjoying their hike, and playing with their sticks.

At one point of our hike, our little girl wanted me to take a picture of this rock formation. Apparently, it reminds her of her big toe! What an imagination.

A little acorn.

Our journey continues...the landscape is amazing.

Why is daddy taking picture of the princess there?

Oh, she found something. What is it?

Why, it's Mule Deer scat! Great discovery princess! Good to see that you have been studying your scat book. I hope we can find some Mule Deers on our hike!
Let's keep going.

Do you see what I see?

I definitely see something...

OH MY G..!


Mule Deers in the distance! Yay!!!!!!!

Of course, nothing at this point could compete with the discovery of Mule Deers! BUT, my daughter made an observation that really astounded me..."mommy, why is that the only green plant in this area?" . She was referring to the Yucca plant. I have to admit, I NEVER noticed this plant, even though it's actually all over place here in Colorado. It's been everywhere we have hiked...and my daughter was correct, it always looks green. I was so happy to be able to identify it the plant for her, and I'm currently reading about its special pollination process. I think she will love it, since it involves a special relationship with a Moth! I will post more about it once I feel completely versed in the subject. So stay tuned!

I'm still amazed how my 4 year old notice this plant...and we the adults did not. This is why I love taking my kids outdoor! They actually SEE nature. And through their fresh eyes, I get to see a whole new world!

Here's a close-up of the ever-prevalent Yucca Glauca plant. It really is beautiful! DON'T TOUCH though, it's quite prickly (I found out the hard way...ouch!).

It was the end of the hike (approximately 2 of the shortest in the State Park), and my little one was just too tired to keep on going on his own two feet.

Here's a close-up my beloved hubby took of me giving my baby-peanut a lift for the last bit of the hike. We were both exhausted at this point...a sign of a successful family outing!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So Earth Day is tomorrow! If you're looking for things to do with your kids to celebrate the occasion, here is a blog with ten things you can do.


P.S.: My daughter just told me all she wants to do for Earth Day is to go out in our backyard to look and identify bugs! I love it!

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Our family took a small break from hiking trails, and visited the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary.

For over 29 years, the Sanctuary has rescued and housed carnivores across the United States and Mexico. Most of the animals rescued have been either illegally kept, abandoned, abused, and/or exploited. Once rescued, the animals are kept at the 320 acres rural Sanctuary for the rest of their natural life.

My family is especially enamored with "big cats", so we were all happy to know that a place like this existed, and couldn't wait to visit and show our support! 

Rescued animals are first kept in large cages in order to get them used to being handled by people. Plus, they are observed to see what their personality is like if they get along with others, and can be paired.
Here are a couple of Tigers who obviously got along well with each other.

Princess, on the observation deck. She said that the cats were "gorgeous".

How beautiful are these two?

I love how this Lioness blends so well with her environment. I almost didn't see her.

My daughter wanted to know why they were separated by the fence.
I love her innate curiosity.

You know these two are married! Ha!

Yes, they even rescue Wolves!

Miss Tigress!


Am I seeing correctly?

Yes, that's an Ostrich!

On the way out we saw a bear!  I'm guessing he's going back to sleep. :-)

The Sanctuary is an amazing place. We left so uplifted, and happy that there are people in this world that would come together and be passionate about helping these animals. Of course, it's not a cheap endeavor. I was amazed that for all the animals they rescue, they take ZERO government dollars! There program is solely funded by individual contributors that know the importance of wildlife conservation. We were happy that our money help them a bit...

If you wish to contribute, please do so here!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


My reference books have arrived, and I'm so excited! Spring hiking here we come! Our family outdoor adventures will become more incredible than they already are! We can now find and identify everything we observe in Nature!

I got some adult-friendly reference books, alongside child-friendly ones.

I especially, love the Fandex series that I learned about from my one of my favorite blog!

We are going to use all of these guides through-out our Spring/Summer outdoor adventures...and we are so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I am happy to say that as a family, we definitely are getting out and enjoying Nature. Whether it is going on a hike, planting flowers, collecting bugs, reading about different species of birds, or simply playing in our backyard; we are reaching our goal of basking in Nature's glory. And that's good news.

However, recently my husband and I have been discussing how we should start teaching our children about how things work in Nature. I'm not just talking about identifying trees, birds, animals, etc..., but about Nature's ecosystem. We want to teach them about the order of things, the relationship animals have with their environment (and vice-versa), and the impact humans have (good or bad) on Nature.

We want our children to understand that they should not only enjoy their environment, but also respect it and realise that as human beings we have to take care of it. But most importantly, that they, as individuals have a positive role to play in making that happen.

In essence, we want them to learn about the environment in terms of conservation, restoration, and sustainability (hence forward, I will call this "CRS").  Again, that's good news.

So where is the bad news, you may be asking by now? Our kids are four and two years old.

Due to their young age, we are finding it a tough task teaching them about Nature's CRS.
Of course, we've just started broaching this task, and will be hitting the library for books on how to explain this intricate and expansive subject to preschool children. And in a future blog post, I will share the titles of the books we have found to be helpful in this endeavor.

In the meanwhile, I told my husband that the best thing to do is to start incorporating the lessons of CRS in all of our future family outdoor expeditions.

That's how our hiking trip to The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge became a reality.

I can easily write a 30 page report about the Refuge...but I won't. Instead, I will encourage all my blog readers to check out the their website and read specifically the overview section, to understand why the The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is a perfect place to educate children on environmental issues. 

In short, the Refuge started out as farmland, and then became a weapons manufacturing area during World War II.  After the weapon factories were closed, the land was found to be highly contaminated. In the 1980's the Army and Shell corporation began a massive land clean-up under the supervision of the all three levels of regulatory agencies (federal, state, and local). The discovery of roosting bald eagles at the site ensured the involvement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in managing the wildlife in that area. Soon after, Congress passed a law designating the area a wildlife refuge. It is estimated that the clean-up of the Refuge will end sometime in 2010.


And so we went!

The Refuge has nine miles of trails. It was a cold breezy January day, so we decided to loop around the lake...which was frozen solid. Our little girl was in such awe with the beauty of the lake, that we had to nudge her a couple of times in order to get her to move along.

A lake for Mary.

Another view of the frozen lake.

It was just too pretty, and we had to take more pictures.

Me taking pictures!

Our princess found her first scat! She wanted to identify it. Woo hoo!

Close up of the scat...from the shape, and the trace of gray hair in its outer layer, we believe it came from a Coyote.

Now it was peanut's turn to be awed!

"Mommy, ice!"

The family...trying to move along.
"Mommy, what is this?"

My dear, I believe these are cattails!


We can't stop taking picture of this beautiful frozen lake.

Loved this! It started our ecosystem conversation with our four year old!

Bonus! We found tracks! We believe they belonged to a Mule Deer.

Next, my daughter found these round pellet-like scats! Thus, confirming the tracks we found close by were from a Mule Deer.

 A great picture to keep for future reference on identifying Blue Grama grass.

Ditto for the Sand Bluestem grass.

Such a majestic tree! I had to take a picture!

It was cold, but very scenic. It inspired me to start taking black-n-white pictures.

Peanut, enjoying being outside in Nature.

Another majestic tree in the distance.

Simply, magical.

This device is used to track the animals the Refuge have been able to tag in the area.

Our kids, loving their hike. I love how they're each going at their own pace.

These trees were so eerily mesmerizing.

Our little man could not believe there was still snow on the ground!

Beautiful sky!

Once our hike was done, we ventured inside the Refuge's main office and took a look at their little museum. It was a wonder! A surprising find!

Here is peanut looking at stuffed Coyotes. We see live ones all the time near our house (our house is off of a natural reserve), but this is the closest I want him to get to one in real life.

I loved this part of the museum. It showed the different types of grass in the area, and how tall they could get.

The Refuge cannot escape its history. And I loved how they displayed WWII, and the impact the chemical warfare factories had on the land and the environment.

Our four year old little lady, is starting to get the picture of how an ecosystem works! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! What an education going to the Refuge was...

Some times taking the kids to the museum is difficult, because usually kids are not allowed to touch the things that are on display. And, as an adult, I understand the reasons why this is the case, my kids do not. So I was so incredibly happy to see this display!
Please touch...

...don't mind if I do!

Too bad I took such a crummy picture of this display. This was a phenomenal education piece for my daughter and our goal to teach  her about the ecosystem and CRS.

This simple display, explained so much about the ecosystem of the Prairie. It was so informative, and kept her attention for a very long time. She had so many questions, that my husband and I had to take turns reading to her the signs on the display about the different animals in the Refuge, and how their co-existence was important for conservation and sustainability of the land.

Of course, being the four year old that she is, she was most struck with the idea that the Eagles preyed and successfully ate the Prairie dogs. But it was a good discussion, and an opportunity to be able to explain to her the concept of overpopulation and the impact on an ecosystem. We detailed for her that if the Eagles didn't eat the Prairie Dogs, there would be an overpopulation of them that would have a negative effect on the land's ecosystem.

It was an awesome conversation to have with her.

Display table of nests, and eggs from the different birds in the area.

I loved these. They were small with reddish-brown dots!

Close-up. I believe they were from the Western Meadowlark bird.

A Bullsnake!

I wasn't going to write about this, but I found that it was necessary to blog about. When we got to the Refuge, we immediately smelled a foul stench in the air. At first, we thought that perhaps we were smelling the Bison scat (yes, this Refuge has Bison, roaming on parts of their land), but turned out that there was a nearby landfill. At times, we could smell the rotting heap of garbage during our hike. I guess it all depended on which way the wind was blowing. Of course, this did not ruin our trip to the Refuge, but it was a little disappointing. Of course, it did lead us to talk about the importance of recycling with our little ones. So I guess it was a bitter-sweet bonus of our outdoor adventure at the Refuge.

Another picture angle of the landfill.

A close-up of the landfill.

Another thing we noticed on our way out of the Refuge: Colonies of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs!

A little closer...

It wasn't close enough for the princess...we had to get out of the car!

She got to see them up close! This is her doing her happy dance!

I want to see more!

Here you go!

She was so close, she actually heard their barks! What a great way to end our trip to the The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge!


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