This weekend we went on a family camping trip.
It turned out to be an adventure in California wildlife. At Leo’s last count we saw 10 banana slugs, a baby skunk, a dead mouse, a dead scorpion, too many bumpy red backed newts to count, a pacific giant salamander and a shiny iridescent frog.
The kids go to home school program with a group called Wild Child. My children feel wild and free. The have turned into these outdoor naturalists who are squeamish about nothing and prefer adventuring to hiking. What is adventuring you might ask? Adventuring it’s something they learned about at wild child. It is when you go for a hike and then something catches your fancy and you spend your time doing that instead of hiking. Moms and dads do not get any exercise during adventuring.
Since we were with the wild child crowd when our group went on a hike I thought it might turn into adventuring expedition especially when Lucy spotted this dead mouse on the side of the trail.
Lucy is a sucker for dead animals. Last week when me and the kids went for a bike ride in Shoreline park it turned into a dead animal adventuring time. We had been riding along for I’d say about 50 feet when Leo saw a cool tree on the side of the road and went to check it out. Of into the bushes we went. Then Lucy found this dead turtle.
And that was really the and of any bike ride aspirations. After playing with the dead turtle we found some bones. Mysterious bones. Mysterious hollow bones with something that looked like it might be a beak. We concluded the mystery bones must belong to a duck. And then about 2 hours and no bike riding later after poking around in the bushes around that same spot we concluded that it was too late for bicycling. So we collected up our carcasses and headed on home.
So you can see why I might have been scared when the first thing Lucy ran into in a hike was a dead mouse. But peer pressure pulled her away and we were able to hike up the trail and along a rocky creek bed that was full of bumpy backed newts.
Later back at our campsite Leo and Caleb went in a jaunt up the creek. When they got back the claimed to have seen a Pacific giant salamander swimming in still pool in the creek. So today when we woke up and after we had breakfast with this guy …
… we headed out to find once again the salamander so I would also have a chance to see it. I pretended to be an agile 7 year old climbing over the rocks. I only had to say slow down once or
twice. We climbed through the tunnel that goes under the road. Finally we got to the pond but there was no salamander. Caleb used a stick and poked into the corner of the pond it had been in yesterday and, voila, out he crawled. Probably about 7 inches long and little frills over his ears. Wow. Our as our fellow camper who came along for the trek said, “Awesome”.
You will have to believe my words because I certainly did not carry a camera up the stream.
Im pretty sure what we saw was actually a cope’s giant salamander, a variant of the Pacific giant. This is what that guy looks like on the internet.
I had never seem a salamander in the wild before a few weeks ago. But as I said before, Lucy is particularly enamored of gooey animals hiding our in nature. Two weeks ago I got to meet this guy who must also be some kind of salamander that was hiding under a rock in my yard.
Now no camping trip would be a camping trip without a fire. Here the kids are sitting by the fire. The kids roasted marshmallows by the fire at night and then ran around like crazy with their sugar highs.
That is every kid except Leo. Leo was beat after the long day and wanted to sit in the tent and read comic books. I joined him soon after. We have a big rooftop window in our tent so we could look up at the forest. “I’m the only kid who wants to sleep,” said Leo. It was nice to fall asleep with my boy looking up at the big trees.
A little later Caleb and Lucy returned. Caleb says Lucy was pretty upset that her dad was making her go to bed. She was complaining with fervor but the mid complaint passed out right asleep she was so tired.
Here are pics of the kids being happy in the wilderness.