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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Afternoon at the Nature Park

There are several nature centers near us in the Tualatin Valley. We have been to several and they have all been pretty amazing. While our daughter and the grandsons were in town last week, we went to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton, Oregon. This park has a constant stream of people coming in and out. Some are taking power walks, some are riding their bikes, some are testing sports products (Nike Headquarters is near.) We were there to enjoy the beauty of nature and to let the boys run around and burn some energy! It seems like this is a good time to say that unfortunately, I didn't have either of my cameras with me. All the following pictures were taking with my phone. Note to self: always take your small camera when you go to a nature park, especially with the grandsons!

Spotted Owl

We had walked inside the park about 500 feet when we saw a man headed toward us and he was motioning for us to be quiet. I thought, are you kidding, we are outside, in the woods! He proceeded to tell us about what was going on ahead, right off the path. A spotted owl and a king snake were in the middle of a stare down! We continued forward on tip toes, anxious to see what was going on. As we rounded the corner, we saw that a group of people had gathered and some were taking pictures. 

No wonder, it was shocking to see a large owl in plain view, sitting on a tree branch about 8 feet off the path. It was very aware of the crowd and glanced over his shoulder, looking at us, several times, clearly unafraid. One of the first things I thought about was the controversy surrounding these beautiful owls. Some would say that they single-handedly closed down the timber industry in the northwest. Here are two links about the spotted owl. You will find general information about the spotted owl at this link. You can read about their impact on the northwest here.

A funny thing happened on the way out. We couldn't find our way out! We had gone off the main paved path and had walked on several unpaved paths and then we couldn't find the paved path that would take us out. We walked around for about 45 minutes, convinced that we had found the right path and that we were almost out. When we passed a large white mushroom that we had passed going in the opposite direction, we knew we had a problem. We laughed at the thought of needing to call the nature center office and having someone guide us to the entrance. 

We kept walking and we soon realized that the sun was headed down and it was getting darker as we walked along. At this point, we also laughed at the thought of needing to call 911 and asking for help if the nature center was closed. All the while, we were assuring the boys that everything was just fine. We weren't lost, we just couldn't find the main path out! Before too long, we saw a nice man approaching us and he sent us in the right direction. Before long we were on the right path!

On our way to the car, the park ranger, Molly, was just getting out of her truck. Wiley and Ivan had lots of questions for her and she spent at least 20 minutes talking to them and answering all their questions. She also gave us lots of history and information about the park.

We were glad we got out before dark. All the wild animals come out when it gets dark! Don't worry, it wasn't even 5 o'clock yet!

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