Saturday, June 25, 2016

spiral slide

it's on the venture challenge, of course it is: Visit a state park playground (5 pts).

i was on my way home from my dad's house and button bay state park is very nearly on the way. DAR state park IS on the way, but button bay has, i think, the best playground of any i've seen at state parks.

so i went there.

then i spent a number of hours hanging out and birdwatching and talking with the nature center lady and i general enjoying the day.

here i am at the top of the spiral slide, and as a bonus, here is also a video of my trip down. it was more fun than i expected.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

leaf morphology

you may have noticed that this year's flask nature scavenger hunt is heavy on leaf morphology. why? because there's an item on the venture vermont challenge about leaf morphology, that's why.

Find and photograph these 3 leaf types (10 pts): Toothed, lobed and compound

by the way, if you are reading this blog at all, i encourage you to play the scavenger hunt. you do not have to do all the items or categories to play, and you can submit your entry over the internets AND there will be prizes. you love prizes, right?

uh, anyway. leaf morphology. there are a LOT of ways you can categorize leaves, but the venture challenge only asks for three.

golden alexander, yellow mustard, and stinging nettle are all good examples of toothed leaves.
golden alexander
yellow mustard
stinging nettle

oaks and maples all have lobed leaves.

probably a scarlet oak
sugar maple
in the field of compound leaves, it's had to do better as a class than ferns, but ferns by no means hold a monopoly on the compound leaf.

cinnamon fern
honey locust

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

beaver run

one of the things on the venture vermont list is "Find and photograph a wild animal path in the woods (10 pts)".

here's a short vid showing you a beaver run that crosses a trail from the woods into the beaver pond.

Monday, June 20, 2016

no, a different scavenger hunt.

a'ight. i belong to a scavenger hunt meetup in the greater burlington area. saturday afternoon we had our second scavenger hunt, which was some serious fun. the guy doing it is really skilled with puzzle setting and is just crazy enough, i guess, to have the desire to organize such a thing.

maybe it's an instance of having to create the kind of world you want to live in.

my teammates were smart and funny and had a more than passing knowledge of the terrain.

i'm only putting that in the past tense because the event is over. the people are still probably smart and funny and they still probably have a more than passing knowledge of the terrain.

the most comedically rich bits of the hunt come with the bonus items, which often involve enlisting the help of random strangers. because really, who doesn't love it when a carload of strangers comes screeching into a gas station to ask you if they can get pictures of themselves helping you fill up your tank?

this is us on a slide.  i wish to stress that we ASKED the present adults to be in the picture with us, but the child either volunteered or was volunteered. we did not snatch a child off of a playground.

the REALLY funny thing, i think, is the part where we ask some total strangers to sing "i'm a little teapot" with us. with motions. on video. the first couple we asked were not just random strangers, but limited-english-speaking tourists who may have been amused to help, but did not know the song.

the second people we asked were happy to help.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


oh, look! another post about the venture vermont challenge! so this item reads "Make natural tea using pine needles, spruce need les, or birch tree twig tips ( 5 pts)"

i have, in my day, made a lot of teas using these things. if you're caught in a survival situation, they can provide nutrients you NEED. plus it's just cool to know how to do it.

but let's face it: any tea made from anything in the evergreen family tastes a lot like chewing on a pine tree. or a hemlock or a spruce. they don't all taste the same, but have similar qualities.

birch twigs similarly can be pressed into service to make a not-unpleasant tea that taste a lot like birch twigs. go on, go outside and bite the twigs of some birch trees. i'll wait.

while i'm waiting, here is a totally unrelated video i like.

ok, are you back?

birch twigs have a fairly pleasant wintergreen taste. if you put some of the twigs in your tea infuser and drop it in boiling water and let it steep, you get a tea that tastes a lot like birch twigs.

so i made a cup of it and drank it while i sat on the front step working on my cordage! yes! i am making natural fiber cordage! it is very exciting and later there will be pics. you want to guess WHY i am making cordage? of course.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

finding myself

i decided to grab my junior naturalist bag and go up to the preston pond trails for a walk.

i thought i'd also go to a place that later on i could find on a topo map to do that thing from the venture challenge, "Use a map and compass or GPS to place yourself on a topographic map (10 pts)"

i'm all about fun and games, especially fun and games that involve maps, so the trickiest bit of this one is figuring which episode of this i'd like to document.

libby's look is good for this because a) it is close to my home and b) it is kind of a distinct geographical feature that you can see on satellite imaging and check your map work.

libby's look is a nice outcrop with a view and now it has a loop trail instead of the original spur trail. a bit before i ran into the lower end of the loop trail, i came across a pretty clear road sort of thing.

you know what these look like if you spend time in the woods. they're very LIKE a road, but you can tell what they're for most times by the presence of slash or sugar lines, sometimes both.

anyway, i walked up this thing, thinking that maybe it would be another way up to libby's look or maybe it would take me to the trail higher up or if not i could bushwhack over.

i got to the top and i was clearly in streeter's sugarbush. i turned on my GPS to mark the spot for reference, but also since i have topo maps on my GPS, i was able to use that to set a course for libby's look based on geographic profile because libby's look is not a location that gets labeled on most maps.

based on direction and contour lines i had two possibilities for it, and chose to set course for the near one because you can always go on, but backtracking kinda sucks. either way i had some bushwhacking to do on pretty steep terrain. i suprised a VERY large deer and yah-boo, i will tell you that meeting an animal that large will get your adrenaline going.

also there were some nice plants and cute little birds, so yay!

my bushwhack necessarily had to bring me down again before i could go up again, and i was figured to run into trail. i didn't run into it right where i expected it, but pretty close. and then of course the trail took me up pretty close to my guessed destination, which turned out not to be libby's look, but it was a simple matter to just stay on the trail until i DID get to libby's look.

view from here

and the MAP!!

Friday, June 17, 2016

people are awesome

i don't just toss my gopro into a bag; the part of the casing over the lens might get scratched. i have a sweet little mesh fabric bag with a drawstring to protect it.

and a couple of days ago i took the camera out of the bag to harass some tadpoles up at preston pond (well, not really preston pond, but the beaver pond above it). when the camera is all wet or muddy on the outside, i don't put it back in the bag until i have it rinsed at least, often dried.

so i didn't notice until two days later that i was missing the bag.

yesterday i was up on the trails playing junior naturalist and i thought maybe if i dropped it somewhere i could retrace some of my steps and i would find it.

and nearly back to the parking, hanging on a little painting in a tree (we have such things), was my bag.

so thank you, anonymous person who found a nice bag and assumed i would come looking for it.

thank you.


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