Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Exploring We Will Go

Foreseeing that today was going to be a gorgeous day, a couple of days ago we decided that we would go explore one of our favorite places in Austin--Mayfield Park and Preserve and Laguna Gloria-- today.  Well, actually that is two places, but they are right next door to each other.  We typically visit Mayfield Park and Laguna Gloria about 4-5 times per year, but we actually haven't been there in more than 6 months, so it felt like a whole new experience once again.

Mayfield Park and Preserve is a gorgeous park, that is home to beautiful, lush landscaping, ponds and peacocks.  It is especially fun to visit during peacock mating season!  So, we always start our trip there and explore a bit.  Then, we hop on the hiking trail and explore!   We met friends there, which always makes the experience more fun.

There is so much there to explore and climb.    The rocks are huge and they make an excellent "playscape" for the kiddos (and adults who love to climb). 

Do you spy Luke?
 It is difficult to tell in this photo below, but the kids had just climbed up a ton of rocks and were standing on a little rock cliff.  Even the littlest legs climbed up that thing!  I am not sure what the boys are doing in this photo, and I am not sure Abbey knows either.  But, I love it.

We have frequented these trails, so this climbing was very familiar to us.  That is, until the next part of our hike.  Luke took off running and found something that he thought was a trail.  It definitely did not look like a familiar trail to me.  In fact, it looked more like the bed of a stream that had dried out.  It was strange though because I don't recall being able to climb up it in the past.  I think it has always been full of water when we have visited.  Luke was certain it led somewhere cool though, so we all followed him.  These are kids who love to explore, so we let them.  It was kind of cool to explore unchartered territory.  We were being trailblazers!

We all climbed to the top only to realize that it was a road and a bridge.  And most definitely not a shortcut.  According to Google maps, we would have been walking for a very long time had we taken that road back to our vehicles.  So, we turned back around and climbed down from the very steep, but gorgeous, moss-filled stream area.  And, Luke was not allowed to lead the way anymore.  Ha!

As usual, the boys found their way into the water and began building a tower out of rocks. 
After hanging out near the water for a while, we headed over to Laguna Gloria.  We love exploring the grounds of this outdoor art museum.  Abbey loves the crying bunny fountain.  I have several photos of her in front of this statue from the past couple of years. 

Abbey and her friend, Matthew
After exploring the park for a bit, we soon realized that the lake level had been lowered 10 feet or so.   I guess they do this annually to tidy up the lake, by removing duckweed and other nuisance plants.   It's also a great time to do dock repairs.  Someone told me that they do this only every 6 years or so, so we visited at just the right time.  With this lowered lake level, it made for an awesome day for more exploring new territory.   None of us had explored the bottom of a lake before.  This was awesome!

Matthew and Abbey loved the feeling of the soft sand that remained after the water was lowered.  They pretended they were at a beach and made some sand castles.

There were shells EVERYWHERE!

It truly was an awesome experience. 

There was so much to see and explore.  We spent a ton of time exploring the lake bed. 
We collected whole clam shells. 

I even came away with a really unique piece of driftwood that I plan on using as decoration on Luke's room.

Then we decided it was time to explore the rest of the park.

This was a fun exhibit.  From the Laguna Gloria website: "Road Angel, 2016, a bronze cast of a 1953 Chevrolet coupe, embodies a range of emotional and nostalgic associations with the American automobile. The artist has placed this three-wheeled car far from any road, resting haphazardly amid the trees, as if the vehicle has careened off its path or the stage were set for a lovers’ tryst."  The exhibit had lights and audio. 
It wasn't long though before we found ourselves back on the bottom of the lake.  :-)  It was just so cool and we couldn't get enough of it. 

There were so many shells to choose from!

We could have stayed there all night.  But, since it was 4:15pm, we thought it may be wise to head home, otherwise we could be caught in the Austin traffic for a while.  But, before we left, we went inside the gorgeous home on the property for a trip to the restroom and some cold water.  It was over 80 degrees today and we did a lot of exploring.   So, we drank all of the water we brought!

I love this room in the home.   It is so dreamy!  Here, Abbey was taking a little rest, while waiting on Luke, before we headed home. 

I read an article today from U.S. News and World Report that Austin was named the #1 place to live in the U.S.  I totally get why.  It is amazing!   We get to be outside year-round here.  Not only that, but there are so many beautiful places to explore.  Often when we go hiking within our city, we totally feel like we are in a far-away land.  I am so thankful that God planted me here back in 2005.  I have lived here for almost 12 years and I still find so many new places to explore.   In fact, while the kids were at their one day homeschool enrichment academy yesterday, I explored another gorgeous place:  Riverplace.  I last went there when I first moved here, so it was like a completely new place for me.  I can't wait to visit again with Drew and the kids.   Exploring we will go!  Always!

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