A Day In Palo Duro Canyon

If I told you our recent outing to Palo Duro Canyon resulted in scraped knees, a sprained ankle, an attack of wind and sand, car trouble and temps in the 100’s you might be left with the impression it wasn’t a very good day.  But, take my word for it, it was.  Surrounding those mishaps was time spent together hiking, exploring, eating,  watching wildlife and a great musical.

When we arrived, our first stop, before going down into the canyon, was at the scenic overlook.  Rugged, simple, beautiful – that seems an apt description of the view.  Everyone enjoyed the scenery, the visitor center/gift shop and even took this first opportunity to meander down some paths and explore some old ruins.

Top of the Canyon looking down

Old dwelling just waiting to be explored

Leslie and Ben hiking

The sun was hot but soon, cloud cover moved in and provided a welcome respite.   With the clouds came a few rumbles of thunder and we searched the sky to see which way things were moving but, weren’t overly concerned since it seemed to be moving away from us.  We had been there for 15-20 minutes when I took the grandbaby, Colette, and stood on the path to admire the view.  Suddenly and without warning,  a gust of wind whipped the hat right off of her head.  It landed just over the side and got caught on a small branch but, between juggling her and the ‘big’ camera I wasn’t sure how to retrieve it.  That predicament was short-lived and ended up being the least of my problems because just a few seconds later the wind became ferocious and big, fat drops of rain began to pelt us.  Trying to run – into the wind – we were assaulted with grains of sand while getting drenched.  Trying to shield the baby and the camera from the rain and sand I finally made it back to the car where, luckily, the door was unlocked. Meanwhile, in haste to seek shelter five-year-old Gianna fell and skinned up both of her knees. Two minutes and two band-aids later all was calm again, and the brief storm both Mother Nature and Gianna unleashed had passed. The camera and Colette – baffled by the commotion and Nana’s antics – were fine.

As the saying goes here in the Lone Star State, “If you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes and it will change.”

Just like that, the sun came back out and we decided it was time to move on.   We gave the teenagers, Patrick and Ben, a moment to alert their peeps that, once in the canyon, there would be little to no cell service.  The anticipation anxiety of being cut off from social media required some deep breathing on their part but after a moment they too recovered and we began to make our way down.

At the bottom, it was HOT – about 111 degrees  – with very little shade.  Meandering the two-lane road we kept the a/c in the car on full blast while we took in all of the rugged beauty. Undaunted by the heat, we got out and braved the high temperatures to hike, play and explore.  And, drink lots of water.

Our first stop was to look at some rustic cabins that we hadn’t seen on previous trips.  We marveled at the Cow Camp Cabins and the man who, in the distance and in the oppressive heat, sat with his easel painting.

Rustic cabins with bunk-beds, a/c, and a fireplace but no running water.

Can you see the speck sitting on top of the hill?

Unfortunately, Ben stepped off the side of the asphalt wrong and twisted his foot. Immediately, it swelled up but since we had coolers filled with ice and drinks we were able to get a nice cold-pack on it quickly.  It was sore and swollen for the rest of that afternoon and evening, but the park hosts provided us with an ace bandage and that, along with ibuprofen and ice, kept the discomfort to a minimum.

Moving on we discovered a cave in the side of the hill so all of us (except Ben and Granny) jumped out to explore it.  The pictures tell the story better than I can.

Let’s check out that cave!

Grandpa helping Therese

Almost there

Success

What a view

Following that fun, albeit hot and steamy hike we stumbled across a surprise snow-cone stand.  Without a second thought, we overpaid for the luxury of cold, refreshing flavored ice and enjoyed it in the only spot of shade around.

Days like this make me feel like I’m the luckiest person on earth and I’m very thankful to God for the opportunity to have these adventures. I love my family and I love spending time with them.  Even though we were missing several members we had fun with those who could be there.  $$-wise we didn’t spend a whole lot of money but the memories we made – priceless.

I hope this summer you find fun, too.  Even when things don’t go absolutely perfectly.

Carpe Diem!

To all the father’s out there – have a very Happy Day!  And may God bless you and your families.

The Heard on Black Friday

 

It’s not this time of year without the madness of the Black Friday frenzy.  And, while I have, in past years, jumped on the bandwagon in search of savings, this year I had no desire to join the crowds.

However, I did feel the need to get outside and make the most of the sunshine and mild temperatures.  With such good weather my daughter and I made  a plan to visit dinosaurs and explore trails at   The Heard Museum in McKinney, Texas.

Arriving earlier than the rest of the family I was able to get in two miles before we met up.  I enjoyed the solitude in nature as I encountered fewer and fewer people the farther out I went.

The water, the turtles and our version of autumn

When they arrived I met them on the dinosaur trail, and as I came up behind the kids I was met with the wonderfully familiar sound of “NAAANNAA” as they caught sight of me.

Dinosaurs – oh my! Let’s take a a selfie.

As we wandered along we came across a trail that none of us had been on in a while and decided to follow it.  Five year old Kolbe was convinced that this was the trail with the giant white sycamore and really wanted to find the tree.  Despite the rain a few days ago everything had been relatively dry so we thought, “okay!”

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-16It may have been a little muddy in a few spots.

We were thoroughly enjoying our hike when we came across areas that had obviously been flooded.  Seeing a bridge which had been washed away from who-knows-where along with all of the piled up branches, trees and debris we commented on the damage.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-2

See the bridge?

Walking a bit further we suddenly found the spot where the bridge had been.  And, it was where we needed to cross. 11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-1We wondered, “Should we turn around and retrace our steps or see if we can get across?”

Now let me set this scene for you.  We were a party of seven.  One Nana – that’s me, one daddy, one pregnant mommy, two school-age kids and two young-un’s.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-11

The littlest ones

What the heck – it was time to be adventurous.  If we fell in the water or slipped in the mud it wouldn’t be too bad.  After all, it was 62 degrees with sunshine and no wind!

It’s an adventure payoff!  We all got across and no one fell in!

Time for another selfie.  Or two!

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-7AND – we found the giant sycamore!  More than 160 years old!

As we came to the end of the trail we realized we had been hiking a closed trail.  Due to damage from flooding. Oops.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-17I don’t know what happened to the sign at the start of the trail, but our ‘adventures’ made a good day truly memorable.