Main Street Bethlehem

Sunday afternoon, a handful of us from Hope Evangelical Free Church set out on a 2-1/2 hour drive to
Burnet, TX (pronounced BURN-it) to go visit a small replica of what Bethlehem may have looked like in the day of Christ's coming.  We arrived about 4:30 pm and got in line. We were not too far back, but the gates of the city didn't open until 6:00 pm.  After us, more people came to stand in the line that snaked back and forth in the block of the church and then it continued down the sidewalk and continued to grow down the next block and we finally lost sight of the end of it.  Good thing we got there when we did!

We entered the gates and were free to visit all the parts of the city at our own pace and choice of direction. There were townspeople and Roman soldiers milling around the town doing what people would do in any ordinary day in Bethlehem.

There were folk doing pottery, making baskets, making candles, grinding grains, looming blankets and more.  Some were making Bethlehem bread and there were samples to taste.  YUM!!!!  The recipe is on the website at the bottom of this blog. I'm going to have to see if I can duplicate it.  You could ask the people what they were doing and they would tell you and speak just as if it were 0001 BC.  Someone else was in a little house and she was churning butter in a pouch that looked like an animal skin. Since there was a goat just outside, I'm assuming it was goat milk in the mix.  Samples were good. No complaints here!

We stopped at the well to take a picture and just as we did, one of the shepherds jumped up on the edge of the well and proclaimed that the Savior had been born and we should all follow the star in the east. Who could argue with that?! We took their advice and followed the crowd, stopping by more houses and visiting with townspeople along the way.

There were live goats, donkeys and even camels throughout the city. People were sitting by fires or were in rooms with candlelight. Every once in a while the soldiers would grab someone and throw them in the jail. But don't worry, Mrs. Lena was quick to witness to them! There was also a tax collector trying to get what he could.  Blind teenagers and adults were scattered around with little cups asking for charity. A man was teaching a young boy in the Synagogue. It was really a step back in time.

After visiting the townspeople and seeing the rooms all filled in the Inn, we were told about the couple that had to stay the night in the stables out back.  What a wonderful sight to see Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus!

After we spent our time in the City, we walked out and were treated to little cups of hot chocolate and cookies.  All of this was free of charge and has been going on for 21 years.  Kudos to the members of First Baptist Church!!! It was truly impressive and inspiring.

More of my pictures can be seen here.

For more info and the recipe for the Bethlehem Bread, visit

Munzees or Micros?

I've been thinking about some of the micro geocaches I have found. Some have been placed along trails or other interesting places or cleverly hidden in other objects. I like those! Others have been placed in such exciting places as parking lots (yes, the dreaded LPC). I'm guilty of placing a few of these as well when I have as getting started, but I think I'm going to change my strategy.

I know there are plenty of geocachers that are all about the numbers and anything goes. For me, I prefer bigger containers or ones that actually take me some place more exciting than an asphalt parking lot. And if you've ever lifted up a metal skirt on a metal pole...AAARRRGGGHHH! It's like nails on a chalk board! Plus, most are so small, you can't put any trackables or anything else in them. I've done a power trail of 100 micros.  After 25 or so, it gets boring. Power trails are just not for me.  I'd rather walk a mile for one really cool cache than stop every 1/10 mile on a dirt road just to find another film container. Don't get me started on the wet, soggy or full logs. I also know some cachers that are exclusive to and for whatever reason, act like if your find is not on that site, then it doesn't really count. So sad they miss out on more fun adventures because they don't want to branch out and diversify.

Instead of hiding park 'n grab Micros, I'm going to put out Munzees. Instead of opening a container and rolling out a little strip of paper and then trying to get it back in a tiny container, you'll be able to just scan and go. You'll get points for it too! So check the map around Aggieland and the Brazos Valley...and beyond for mine and across the globe for others.

All you need is a smartphone to play. Not even a pen is required.  You get points for deploying them, points for finding others and points when someone scans your Munzees. If you find someone's Motel Munzee and are one of the first 5 to capture it, you can get points every time someone else scans it.

There are various types of Munzees. You can buy them pre-printed or you can print your own. Avery waterproof labels work great for this and you can design the sticker anyway you like. There are labels, plastic discs and metal magnets. You can even get them with zombie warnings. There are even virtual Munzees where you don't have anything physical to deploy or scan. Just get within 300' of the virtual Munzee's location and you can "capture" it. You can place them anywhere in the world (but no closer than 50' from someone else's Munzees).  For those with Androids or other devices with NFC capabilities, there are NFC Munzees too. Like the anticipation from an unknown treasure? Try the Mystery Munzees. The points on these vary with each capture.

What are the mustaches on the map?  These are special for the month of November only. If you see 'em, scan 'em while you can!  Come December 1, they will be gone.  I have 25 of them around the world (and got a badge for that). So far, the Czech Republic is kickin' it with the highest number of captures. Děkuji! Check the Munzee website around the holidays. Many times, they will have turn other Munzees into special Munzees.  If they are on Munzees that you have already captured, you can usually have the chance to scan it again with the special icon.

Want to gang up to play? Join up with 10 people you know (or those you don't) and join a clan and see how your clan can do compared to those around the globe.

There are also Social Munzees. You don't get points for scanning them, but you can collect the images in your profile. Here is one of mine to get you started. Please leave a comment to tell me where you are from and where you saw my social Munzee since I do have it in a few places. Can you say Pinterest?

Besides points, there are badges to be won. I need some more players to deploy a few around the Brazos Valley so I can achieve a few more of them. I think the Munzees are more fun than the Micros and I hope more of you will try them out.

Come and play! It's free!  Or...if you want to get a variety of Munzees and help to keep it all going, there is a Premium Membership. Oh, and there are Business Munzees that are great to entice players to keep coming back since only Business Munzees can be captured more than once (up to once a day)!

Give Thanks

It always seems like we go straight from Halloween to Christmas.  Most retail places completely skip by Thanksgiving.  Why? Because they don't want you to be thankful for what you've got, they just want you to spend money on new stuff.  I still want to see Fall decorations in November!  I want the emphasis to be on family and friends and counting the blessings we have. As tempting as it may be, I refuse to buy Christmas decorations and such until the week of Thanksgiving.  We always put up our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but each season should stay in order in its own time.

So, this month, I will giving thanks for at least one thing each day.

1 - For Paydays (and that I have a job)
2 - For getting to go to an Aggie game at Kyle Field. Gig 'em Aggies!
3 - For the Sandhill Cranes that hang out in the back of the property. I love their calls and they usually signal cooler weather.
4 - for only very minor damage when someone backed into my car
5 - That my Lord and Savior chose ME to spend eternity with
6 - For beautiful Texas sunsets
7 - For my Daddy and all the things he does for me (including installing my new kitchen faucet)
8 - For Fridays!
9 - For 4x Munzees
10 - For being able to spend a nice Sunday afternoon relaxing with my son
11 - That MOST of our baked goods turned out okay for the Freshmen bake sale tomorrow
12 - For my health
13 - For the people dedicated enough to come out to Prayer Service
14 - For a pretty, frosty morning view
15 - For not having anything on the calendar after work!
16 - For being able to spend at little time at my brother's
17 - For Fall colors and country roads
18 - For finishing walking the Wonderland Trail on Walking4Fun (140.7 miles)
19 - That my son still wakes up and the first thing he wants is a hug from his Mama
20 - That I get to fill a couple of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and help brighten some children's day.  Also...I am now an active Distributor for The Gourmet Cupboard again.
21 - For finally getting all the plumbing leaks fixed in the kitchen
22 - For getting my headlight replaced
23 - For not being a vegetarian.  Gotta love bacon!
24 - For all the ladies in my Sunday School class. It really is a joy.
25 - For getting to eat lunch with a former co-worker
26 - For my hearing. I wish my Daddy's wasn't so bad.
27 - For being able to go to church for communion service and give thanks to the Lord for his blessings.
28 - For my family - immediate and extended. I've got a pretty good one!
29 - For being able to relax and take a ride to the fields and back roads with my Daddy
30 - For being able to spend time walking around Birch Creek State Park trails with my brother and his roommate

Delicious Delights

This Saturday, I went to New Caney, Texas to go to a #letterboxing event with a local boxer, topcrop. It was just over 2 hours from home. I drove to College Station and we left from there in the morning. It was cool enough to wear a jacket. The event, organized by Open Space, was at the Dining Hall at Lake Houston Wilderness Park. We arrived at the Dining Hall a little before 11:00 am and it was just warm enough to leave the jackets in the car. We checked in, left our food items, signed the event box and got our Cookbook. It had real recipes in it and also some clues to new boxes.

hit the trails and found 3 boxes before lunch. I'm up to 99 letterboxing finds (not including event boxes, hitchhikers/cooties/fleas or postals). On the way back to the dining hall, we stopped to grab a quick #geocache along the way.  There are LOTS of caches in this Park!

We went to eat the potluck lunch. Oh my! So many desserts to choose from! We visited with some boxers and collected a few event boxes and cooties, then went outside for a group photo.

We headed back out on the trails for a couple of the temporary series.
 The first "pie" in the Pie Palooza series by Mosaic Butterfly was my 100th letterbox find. We found all 14 in that series and moved on to the Beverage of Choice series by a variety of carvers and found all 9 boxes. We were running low on time, so we went back to the dining hall and we logged a Postal set and a couple other stamps out on the tables.  We said our good-byes then drove back home.

The weather was perfect and this is a nice park that I plan to return to. The relaxing time on the trail with Janet was just what I needed to leave some of my troubles behind for a little while. I wish I hadn't lost my pedometer last weekend. I would have racked up lots of steps!

Thanks again to Open Space for putting this altogether and for all the new carves. I hope you're feeling better soon!

31 Days of Geocaching

Groundspeak is inviting all geocachers to get outside this month to see on how many days you can find at least one cache or attend an event. You can tell that the powers-that-be are not down here in Texas in this triple-digit heat during the summer.

For each day that you #find a geocache, you will receive a #souvenir in your profile on It is not a "streak" in that you do not lose the ability to get more souvenirs if you miss a day or more.  Just get the ones you can. How many can you collect? August 17 is the International Geocaching Day and many events are set for that day across the globe.  More info on this month's activities can be found here.

Below is a list of the ones I have found this month.

1 - GC4GN5J - Historical Marker #3

2 - GC4GN5R - Historical Marker #4

3 - GC1V0T0 - Shakespeare in Round Top

4 - GC4H3YY - Dynasty PnG

5 - GC4H3ZG - City Hall

6 - GC4H3ZK - A.P.G. Ka-Chow!

7 - GC3PDMV - A.P.G. Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn

8 - GC4C1JX - A.P.G. I mustache you to BYOP
Look!  Rain!  Oh...and a trackable, too.

9 - GC3QZ7M - Jacques #3

10 - GC44X2B - R.I.P. Bright Light
       GC44RB1 - Lone Oak
       GC44Q36 - A.P.G. Cross Cache 3
       GC44RAM - MY DEER #1
       GC35AN1 - Off the curve
       GC35AM0 - Tonka green

11 - GC43Y4P - Hollow Victory?

12 - GC3M4MG - Where's the La Quinta?

13 - GC44RG4 - In Between PNG

14 - GC4H400 - A.P.G. Bull's Eye

15 - GC3M69D - Corner of Nowhere - Tied my geo-streak record!

16 - GC45FPR - Geographic Explorer

17 - International Geocaching Day - GC4HRCJ - IGD con Queso!

18 - GC3VM05 - Miracle Farm


20 - GC42GZZ - Marble Town

21 - GC3TQMD - A.P.G. They don't serve this across the street

22 - GC47Z1A - Field of Dreams, Bonham

23 - GC4K7TK - R.I.P. Mike

24 - GC4E842 - Welcome to Brenham, Texas!

25 - GC4JZYK - Taco Crossing

26 - GC4JX9A - Mom those boots aren't your size

27 - My birthday! - GC47E80 - Gates of Heaven

28 - GC44WJZ - A.P.G. How Deep Is Your Love 4 PnG (2)

29 - GC3WZ2W - Sweet Symphony

30 - GC3J2NT - Fallen Monarch

31 - GC44X3N - A.P.G. White Tailed Deer - A Letterbox Hybrid - My favorite type!

Camping at Bastrop State Park

Colton, Dixie and I went on an overnight camping trip at Bastrop State Park. We got a late start on the day because we were hoping for a last-minute cancellation, but we made it to the park just in time to claim our spot. We were in Site 68 for the night. We got the camper set up and I dropped Colton off to swim while I went to find a #letterbox with Dixie. The trails were eerily quiet and so sad with all the burned trees, not to mention  little warm with no canopy. There were some wildflowers though and new growth everywhere.

We went into Bastrop to eat and go check out Buc-ees. It's huge! Colt said that if your convenience store is big enough to fit 4 #geocaches in the parking lot, it's too dang big! LOL! But we got them all and a #Munzee too.

Saturday was National Trails Day, so we did our part. I also finished "walking" the Florida Keys Trail on on that same day.

After we got back to the camper, the breeze quit and the humidity took over. We turned on the AC and drifted off. Somewhere early in the morning, I was having a dream about someone tinkling on a piano. Wait...that's not a dream, it's rain clinking on some piece of metal. Guess who forgot to look at the forecast? It drizzled off and on all morning. I started cooking breakfast out on my Coleman stove and halfway through, it started up again. I had to get an umbrella to cover over the bacon to keep it from splashing.

Later after it slacked off, we drove around and found another couple letterboxes and the Parks Challenge cache for Bastrop SP. We stopped at the overlook. Wow! What a quiet and surreal scene! Acres and acres of truly lost pines. Check out the link to my album below to see a 360° view of this area.

On the trail, I caught up to a family (3 generations worth) who was out trimming trees in the path and repairing trial markers. Thanks to all who volunteer to get this park back on its feet! There are some new bridges on the trails that look very nice. Reminiscent of the CCC work.

After lunch, we packed up and headed back home. On this trip, we added a Pileated Woodpecker and a Roadrunner to the 2013 life list. We saw a couple of squirrels and one rabbit. Not much else moving around there. We heard some frogs. Could they be Houston Toads? I hear they are actually doing well.

More pictures can be seen on Google+.

IAAP Texas-Louisiana Annual Meeting

We had our IAAP Texas-Louisiana Division Annual Meeting and Conference this past weekend at the Renaissance Austin Hotel at the Arboretum. This year’s conference was put on by the Capital Chapter and it was awesome!  Another friend of mine rode with me, so it was a mini road trip. We got to the hotel and checked in on Thursday afternoon. After we were settled, we checked into the conference and got our welcome packets and goodie bags.

A little later, some of us met in the lobby to head out for our Bat Tour and Dinner Cruise.  We rode a charter bus down to Lady Bird Lake and we boarded the double-decker boat. The bottom deck was enclosed and air-conditioned. We sat down there and enjoyed a nice fajita dinner with our Capital Chapter peeps.

Then we headed to the open upper deck to enjoy the ride down the river and the return trip to the Congress Street bridge to await the departure of almost 750,000 Mexican Free-tail Bats. This is a maternity colony so these are all females who are about to have pups. At that time, there will be over 1 million bats under this bridge.  That’s a LOT of skeeter-eaters!

As we neared the bridge, you could hear the chatter from  the bats as they prepared to head out on their night’s excursion.  A little after 8:30, thousands of tiny winged mammals started swirling off the bridge and down the river.  Most of them followed right on the edge of the tree line so as not to be so easily detected by predators and to hide from their prey.  Being so dark, it was hard to film them, but it was an awesome spectacle of nature. Our tour guide told us many facts about them. Did you know bats could swim? We found that out when someone asked what happens if they fall in the water.

Friday was a full day of seminars. There were two different sessions at each time slot and I chose to go to the technical seminars (big shock, huh?). We started off with Show Me The Money! Timesaving (and Jaw-Dropping) Productivity Tips Using Windows and Office by Vickie Sokol Evans. She was as entertaining as she was informative.  It was great!  Even as a Master Microsoft Office Specialist, I still learned a few things and had a hunger for more.  I purchased her “Boot Camp” and am looking forward to the upcoming sessions.  She also conducted our second session called Which Cloud Should You Work In?  She covered Google Drive, DropBox and SkyDrive.  I’m familiar with the first two, but this was still an interesting session.

Vickie Sokol Evans, a former assistant turned instructor, empowers audiences to make the most of technology. She is the author of the Tips in Minutes series for PC/Mac and is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a Microsoft Office Master Instructor with 15 years of classroom training experience. Her passion is empowering business users, including admins and executives, to make the most of technology. Having studied improv comedy in New York, Dallas, and Austin, there’s a very good chance you will both laugh and cry during one of her sessions.  She  is the founder and President of RedCape, a highly-regarded technology training company focused on real world technology skills needed for small businesses, executives and their assistants, as well as any business user who wants to maximize the technology at their fingertips. 

At lunch, we got our Member of Excellence and other awards. Those that passed their CAP and/or CAP-OM exams were honored as well.

The afternoon session kicked off with Chad Goodwin from Best Buy. They had several tech gadgets and tablets to explain and pass around the room for us to see.  I THINK they got them all back. That was a risky thing for them to do since most of us are gadget-a-holics!

Best Buy for Business is a division of Best Buy focused on providing business professionals with customized technology product and service solutions, personal assistance from Account Managers who are trained to address the needs of all types of businesses, and specialized technology set-up and installation services for mobile, computing, and home theater products.

Saturday morning's speakers were a couple of guys from Amy's Ice Cream, Aaron Clay and Mark Banks. What do they have to do with an Administrative Professional seminar?  Surprisingly, lots!  It's not just flipping ice cream, although they are quite famous for that. Their open book management style all the way to their passion for empowering young people.

Amy Simmons founded the super premium retail ice cream company Amy’s Ice Creams in 1984 by focusing on a winning concept based on employee education, exemplary service, and award-winning product quality. Amy’s currently has 15 stores in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with annual sales of $7 million. The Amy’s team has been profiled for their unique creativity, product, culture, and zest by such prestigious sources as The Wall Street Journal, Inc., People, Forbes, Food & Wine, The Al Roker Show, Giada, The View, The Today Show, Fast Company, Newsweek, and many others. Amy Simmons earned a degree in Biology and Psychology from Tufts University in 1982. She also earned a Masters in Business Administration in 1992 from the University of Texas in Austin. Amy’s passion is “The American Dream” that anyone in this country has the opportunity to make their own success. The team at Amy’s Ice Creams has embraced “The Great Game of Business” as a context to introduce and immerse future entrepreneurs in a living case-study style of business education.

Next up was the business meeting and the DMOTY (Division Member of the Year) luncheon.  Our very own Tammy Prater was one of the finalists. The B-CS Chapter was really pulling for her and we're proud she made it this far. She has done excellent things for our chapter and others as well as she is our Certification Chair. Gig 'em Tammy! Congratulations to Jessica Crabtree from the Capital Chapter for being the winner for the 2012-2013 year.

The afternoon was pretty much open since the Business session did not have to reconvene. So, where did we go?  Shopping and to Amy's Ice Cream (it was walking distance from the hotel). Saturday night was the banquet and then a dance with the Whitestone Band who kept us hopping to 80's music. Whoo hoo!

Our Sunday speaker was Mac McGuire speaking on Leadership. We laughed, we cried and everything in  between. He was excellent.

Dr. Mac McGuire has over 30 years of service in the United States Army where he began as a Private and worked his way through the ranks where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was responsible for the implementation of quality initiatives for over 20,000 personnel in 117 Texas communities. Mac is a highly energetic and positive motivational speaker. He is adept with any group and brings sound advice and a common sense approach to any problem. He possesses great people skills and is a consensus builder as well as a team builder. Dr. McGuire is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Temple in the MBA Program where he teaches leadership, strategic planning, and change management. He also teaches for the Professional Development Center at the University of Texas and often serves as a guest lecturer in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, and organizational improvements at the University of Texas.

After that, we all loaded up and headed home.  I think this is probably the best T-L Division meeting that I've attended so far. Kudos, Capital Chapter!

Other pictures can be found on Google+.

Snook Fest

This past Saturday was our hometown festival in lovely Downtown Snook. Yes, there IS a Downtown Snook! I was in charge of setting up the craft and food vendors this year and I had all 24 craft vendor spots spoken for. I think we had about 4 of them as no-shows, but it was still a nice sized show. I had a booth with my AdvoCare products and Popcorn Shirts from The Magic Scarf Company.

It was a little breezy for the vendors, but the temps were great for festival-goers. I think it was a good idea to move it away from June. Of course, this year was really crazy with the weather and it was actually cold in the morning. Jackets? In May? Whoda thunk it?! 

There was the usual BBQ cookoff, parade, children's barnyard, craft vendors, kids area and antique tractors. This year, we added a car show as well. For our first year, we had a good number of entries. The barnyard area also included the reptiles again this year. It was peculiar to see a large land tortoise being "walked" around the festival grounds most of the day. That thing could really get around pretty quick, too. Lots of people stopped to take pictures of it (or with it). I know we asked that "pets" not be brought to the festival, but I think we can make an exception in this case.

At noon, several geocachers came by my booth for the WWFM X which we hosted as the Brazos Valley Geocachers. That is the World Wide Flash Mob. We met up, signed the log, took a picture and passed out door prizes. I got some of them and some of them were donated by GxProxy and Travel Fleas.  During the festival, we also held Flea Fest, a letterboxing event listed on AtlasQuest.  I explained "Fleas" in a previous post.

More pictures from Snook Fest:

Lagniappe Letterboxing

What is Lagniappe?  From Wikipedia: lagniappe (pron.: /ˈlænjæp/ lan-yap) is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase (such as a 13th doughnut when buying a dozen), or more broadly, "something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure."

Basically, it's just a little something extra that is unexpected.  In letterboxing terms, lagniappe is often found in the form of a "quisp". 

I've gone Postal!  And, no, that's not a bad thing. I am trying my hand at a Newbie Ring Postal put together by Littlemonkey , which is where a group of boxers will share stamps and logs in the mail.  When I peeled off the label on the first box that addressed the envelope to me, I found a little piece of a label with a stamp on it. It was a little surprise and I thought it was so cool, that I sat down and carved a stamp so that I can make my own quisps when sending any type of mailing to my boxing friends. It was nice that it was on a label with a peel-off backing. All I did was trim it a little and stick it right in my journal.

After doing a little searching through the Help files on Atlas Quest and reading some of the forums and asking questions from our Postal host, quisps can be a variety of small, flat, hand-stamped images. They can be on pieces of paper or cardstock. Some are even done on Shrinky Dinks. (Didn't you just love those as a kid?) Since they are kind of hidden, I wonder how many go unfound? I see that most Quisps are listed as undersized LTCs.

LTC???  Seriously?  Did you think that letterboxing was JUST taking directions, finding a box, stamping the image and going on about your business? Oh no, no! There are so many little extras to this hobby and I keep finding new ones and I'm having a blast.  A LTC is a Letterbox Trading Card. This is another item that boxers will trade back and forth. These are stamped images (often embellished) that are the size of a business card. You can send one (as lagniappe) in a Postal, you can get into LTC rings and trade with other members of the ring or you can bring them along to events to pass out. I'm sure there are other things to do with them as well, but I'm still learning.

In addition to finding the Quisp, this first Postal box had an awesome logbook made by doglvrs.  It looked so complicated and cool at the same time, but I studied it and figured it out. If you come to Flea Fest in Snook on May 4, you will see my attempt at it. I think it turned out rather well.

Fun-Filled Weekend

This past weekend started off with me taking off work at noon. I headed home, grabbed a bite to eat and started loading up the camper.  I had plans to meet a friend, Open Space, for some letterboxing at Birch Creek State Park and camping at Nails Creek State Park.  Both are units of the Lake Somerville State Park system. +Texas Parks and Wildlife

We walked almost 5 miles in various places around Birch and found several letterboxes. The weather was perfect and it was a great day to be on the trails. With the recent rains, the wildflowers were out everywhere. I love the Baby Blue Eyes that are in bloom right now. Beat the Hell Outta sitting behind a desk! I had brought along a new carve and I added it to one of my existing geocaches and created a listing for the letterbox. I love that spot and I want to show it off. I've already cleared out all the geocaches around here, so there was nothing new yet. No one's placed any +Munzee either.

Before it got dark, we headed over to Nails Creek and I got the camper set up in Site #54. Since I was in the camper alone, I didn't bother to fully set up both sides.  I have been to this park before, but never camped here. Yeah!  A new tent on the map! We got something to eat and I took my shower and then sat by the fire (away from the smoke) and just listened to the Great Horned Owls, frogs and other birds serenading us. She finished working on a new carve that she will be adding out here at Nails Creek. It is a nice one and she did a great job on the carve.

I rose Saturday morning with the Cardinals (like I had a choice). They are quite vocal on quiet mornings. Lots of ducks and coots were out on the lake hunting their breakfast as the sun was coming up over the lake. There were some Northern Shovelers out in the mix. New lifer for me!  We think we saw two immature Eagles fly over. They did not have the white heads, but they were huge and sounded like Eagles. Since there are breeding pairs around the lake, it's entirely possible.

I got the camper all taken down and got my gear stowed and bid my goodbyes to my new boxing friend and headed out for Carmine for our  +LaBahia NPSOT Spring Plant Swap. It was being hosted by our Secretary and her husband. They have an awesome place and she's getting it set up so she can be a grower. Honest to Goodness Growers, to be exact.

Ann gave a tour around the yard and new greenhouse. They have put in a lot of work on their property and it is really paying off. The Martin houses are full and provide endless entertainment and chatter.  MMM! Fresh strawberries! We're glad they shared with us.

We ate and then the swap started. We had LOTS of plants brought out by attendees and we counted off and started picking our favorites (and watching other members take them before it was our turn).  We had several rounds and then it was a free-for-all for what was left.  I took home some leftover Goldenrod that I brought along with new plants for the yard - Rough-leaf Dogwood, Viburnum, Flame Acanthus, Mistflower, Inland Sea Oats and more. I even got a Plumeria for a pot. I know it's not native, but they smell good. More pictures from the Plant Swap can be seen here.

After I got home and got everything unloaded, I got several of the plants in the ground and pulled lots of weeds. I think Ann inspired me to make my yard look better. I hope my new transplants do well in their new home. More of the plants in the yard are blooming now. The Cross Vine is blooming in time for the hummingbirds. Wow! What a day! I was whipped.

After church, I decided to mow the yard then I spent part of my Sunday afternoon just relaxing in the breeze on the back porch. Guess who showed up?  Two hummers!  I had one of the feeders partially filled since I knew they should be here any day. I love watching them dart back and forth. I got a couple more feeders filled and ready for more diners.

God granted me a good weekend filled with some of my most favorite things. Colton had spent most of weekend with his cousin and got to do some night airsoft, so he got to do some of his favorite things too.

NPSOT Spring Plant Swap

Our LaBahia Chapter of the Native Plant Society is hosting a

NPSOT Spring Plant Swap and Member Gathering

Every new season is the start of the best ever!
  Transplants, cuttings and seeds, Oh My!
  It's Spring and time to start thinking about preparing for the new growing season.

Home of
Ann and Richard Thames
1452 Schoenberg Road
Carmine, TX  78932

Saturday, April 13, 2013
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Lunch provided

Come visit with other avid gardeners for a garden party.  Bring extra plants you have and swap them for new and exciting plants you don't have.  
Don't worry if you have nothing to swap, there is always plenty to go around.

"Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes"
~Author Unknown

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Flea Fest

May the 4th be with you! 

This is going to be a come and go event from 9am-3pm. The thriving metropolis known as Snook, TX will be having its hometown festival on this day. There will be a BBQ cookoff, games and petting zoo for the kids, arts & crafts vendors, food vendors, a car show, antique tractor show, parade and more. More info on Snook Fest can be found at

Snook is between College Station and Somerville on FM 60. In Snook, turn onto FM 2155, go past the school and go straight on the FM 2155 Spur (the main road veers left). The Spur will T into CR 269. Turn right and you will be able to see the festivities from there.

NativTxn (me) and flower71 will be having 2 booths in the craft vendors area. We will have a log book (or sheet) to stamp in. We will also have a cootie/flea catcher. We will supply name tags for you to stamp and wear around the festival so you will be identified as someone who could be "cootied". Come out and enjoy the day and check back at the booths to see what new fleas and cooties will be hanging around. Look for the Texas flag canopy. 

You are welcome to bring any event boxes and leave them at our booths during the day. Between now and then, I will work on getting some door prizes. I will pull tickets and write the numbers on a board so you can check back throughout the day to see if you've won.

For anyone that is a geocacher, this is also the day of the WWFM X (World Wide Flash Mob 10). Cachers will be at the booth from 12:00-12:15pm.

Atlas Quest Event Listing (Official RSVP)

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Today was a very windy and overcast day, but I still couldn't stand being cooped up in the house. This afternoon, I headed over to Birch Creek State Park (I'm getting good use out of my Parks Pass) to find a couple letterboxes that I hadn't found.  Since I was there, I went around and found 3 others that I had already found about a month ago, but somehow lost the card with the images. The wind was crazy, but when I was on the trails, the woods blocked it out for the most part. I added about 4000 steps to my daily total.

The last one that I found was in one of my favorite areas of the park and it had a high concentration of bird life. The Brown Headed Cowbirds were in a HUGE flock and they were very loud when they lifted off and moved around. There were coots and herons out there and a couple of gulls.

I cut out all of the images and a couple that I had found between the lost images and today's finds.  All are now applied to my journal and it is up-to-date. I THINK I have my finds marked off on both Atlas Quest and if they are cross listed.  I prefer the ones on AQ better because I like seeing messages that previous boxers have left.  Is it a cool stamp? Is it in good shape?  Missing?  You can also rate boxes there.

I'm up to 69 boxes found, not including Event boxes and Hitchhikers/Fleas/Cooties. I think I've found all of the geocaches in this park.

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