Back during cookie season, the big girls' scout troop decided they wanted to use part of their cookie money to take a family camping trip this summer. While we'd all love to go, Secora has never actually been camping and we weren't sure how she was going to handle sleeping in a tent and having her regular routine so thoroughly disrupted. We are also trying to save up money for a big trip next year, so we weren't planning to do any pricey vacations this year. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to plan a trip to a state park we haven't visited before. It would give us a chance to see how Secora would handle camping and also serve as a mini-vacation.
After a little searching and checking into availability, we decided to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas. We stayed Sunday through Tuesday, which was perfect. I'm not sure I would want to be there on a weekend unless we stayed at the hike-in sites, I think it would be pretty crowded.
While Josh was checking in at the ranger station, the little girls checked out a small informational display inside. There were some replicas of dinosaur footprints and signs about what types of dinosaurs lived in Texas and which time periods they were from.
The next morning, we had a lot of hiking planned. There was a lot of animal activity in the night and the girls enjoyed using the animal tracks guide they'd picked up at the ranger station to identify what had been nosing around the campground (lots of possum and raccoon).
This lizard was the first to cross our path. I'm not completely sure what this one is, I think a 5 lined skink, maybe?
Next up, this guy ran across our path. I'm pretty sure it's an Eastern Spotted Whiptail
I also snagged several pictures of damselflies while everyone else was taking a snack break
We finally moved on and found our way down to the river. The water level was extremely low, which gave us room to do a lot of exploring
And another Greater Earless Lizard (I'm actually think the first one might be a pregnant female based on the info on the Lizards of Texas site):
We even watched a bee stop by for a drink:
After lots of rock skipping and lizard hunting, we moved on and headed towards one of the dinosaur track sites. It was pretty cool to see the footprints pressed into the rock, there's a pretty long track where you can follow where they went.
This was the whole point of picking this park and we thought the girls would be excited to see them. Yeah, they didn't really care. They were interested long enough to say, "yeah, that's cool" and then they were off looking for live animals again.
It had been a long morning, so we headed back to camp for lunch and a short rest. We had used dry ice (Josh has a lot at work from receiving cold shipments) in our cooler and our lunch meat turned out to be frozen solid. Lesson learned to keep the dry ice a little more isolated, we had to wait a bit for lunch.
Before long, the little people were restless again, so we headed out to another geocache. This one required a mile hike across an open field. It was very sunny and hot, but there was shade at the end to rest in for a little bit.
After trying (very unsuccessfully) to catch a fish bare handed and looking at all the different rocks, the girls were looking pretty worn out. Especially Sedona, who had fallen in the river and was covered with quite a bit of river mud/slime. It was time to head back and get started on dinner. Secora tried to fit herself into a full sized camp chair. I kept waiting for her to fall back and hit her head, but she did alright with it.
Second night dinner was another easy one...frito pie and regular s'mores (Sierra planned our menu). The girls were slightly more at ease and sat out longer looking at the stars before getting in the tent. They passed out a lot quicker once they did lay down though.
The next morning they also slept in longer, but eventually they all rolled out of the tent to watch/help Josh make breakfast while I packed up sleeping bags and cleared out the tent. Sierra helped me pack up the tent and then they went to play on the playground a little bit while I took some last minute pictures of a few wildflowers.
I'd never seen bluebonnets going to seed before, so I was fascinated with this:
Because we were leaving pretty early in the day, we decided to do something extra on the way home. We knew we were close to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, so we decided to go by and see about doing that. It's a drive thru, so we figured there would be a per car price, or maybe a per car option and a "per person on the tour bus" option. Nope, everything was per person and it was going to cost us SEVENTY-TWO dollars to go through. And that was on a Tuesday! On the weekend, it would have been $30 more. Then another $8 if you wanted to get food to feed the animals. We thought that was more than a little ridiculous, so we passed. Once we picked up cell service again (we didn't have any service the whole time we were at the park), we looked for alternatives and decided to visit the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco. We had been there before, but it was about five years ago and the girls didn't remember it, so it was a fun stop that was a lot more affordable. That's a whole separate blog post though!