IMG_1185Last weekend, Families in Nature camped out in the group site at Goose Island StIMG_0696ate Park.This was a camping trip where everyone from all of the different AFiN groups was invited to attend.  Although no one knew each other before this trip, everyone had a great time. The kids became instant best friends, building sand castles in the sandy areas of the campsite while parents set up camp. We were all nervous about the weather, but it was wonderful the entire time. In addition to having campsites where no kid could get bored (there is sand to play in), and sleeping is easy because the ground is so nice and soft, Goose Island State Park has so much to see.  Next to the campsites there is a bird sanctuary, where we could get up close to a lot of the smaller songbirds. Kids could even try out their photography skills in the bird sanctuary. There are also lots of easy hiking trails through the coastal woodlands habitat that we took a walk through on Saturday.

On Friday night, we enjoyed dinner & s’mores over the beautiful campfire. IMG_0743The fire pit was designed but student architects from the University of Texas. It included an oyster shell wall and beautiful wood bench seating. Unfortunately, one of our youngsters slipped his library book in between the wood slots like a mailbox. Most of us gave up, but one of the dads was able to maneuver the book out with marshmallow roasting sticks. The oldest child read the book for everyone just before bedtime. After a lovely evening of dinner and s’mores, some of us got a perfect glimpse (with a spotlight) of a Great Horned Owl that had been hooting inside the camp.

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On Saturday we joined a park ranger on a hike through a nearby coastal woodland trail. We learned a lot about local plants, fungus, moths, marine creatures, tracking animals and more during the trek. We had lunch at the campsite before going into Rockport for a Science on the Sphere presentation at the Bay Education Center. It was a fun & unique presentation covering a variety of marine topics, but focusing on marine debris.

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Afterwards we all played at Fulton beach, enjoying the warm weather in February. That night we had a potluck dinner, and we invited a family from Canada we had met while camping to join us. It was great!
 
IMG_0752Sunday morning we woke up extremely early to head back to Rockport and hop on the boat, but it was worth it.

We took a 3.5 hour boat tour to see the incredible birds and wildlife at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. We saw Whooping Cranes, flocks of Roseate Spoonbills, Seaside Sparrows, Bottlenose Dolphins and more. The kids and parents all had a blast.IMG_1445

On our way home from the trip, we stopped by The Big Tree where the kids explored and marveled at the ancient trees.  Near the Big Tree, there are flocks of birds in people’s yards.  Just off the road, we saw even more birds including another look at a whooping crane and several sandhill cranes.
Thankfully the cold front waited until everyone had already left for home before it hit. It was a great weekend of adventures on the Texas coast.
-Rebecca Cowser
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