After climbing Mount Bonnell, we were looking for somewhere else to explore outside of downtown Austin to enjoy the beautiful Texas sunshine. Even though it was February and I knew there wouldn’t be much blooming, we headed to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Located 10 miles southwest of Downtown Austin, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is the state botanical garden and arboretum of Texas.
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson opened the gardens in 1982 as a way to showcase and protect native Texas flora. The wildflower center has five distinct zones: the central gardens, the family garden (top), the Texas Arboretum, the Savanna Meadow (below), and the hill country trails. Even though we visited in February and there weren’t a ton of flowers in bloom, there was green to be seen.
The hill country trails are a unique area of the wildflower center with 70 acres set aside to study prescribed fires and how they affect the growth of native plants. There are about a mile of trails in this section that give visitors an up close look at fire and land management.
The Texas Arboretum features 16 acres of native Texas trees. A mile long path takes visitors through the arboretum to see the variety of maples, oaks, and more. One of the most unique features of the arboretum is the Hall of Texas Heroes which features offspring of some of Texas’ most historically significant trees. Trees on display include the Battle Oaks, Heart O’ Texas Oak, and the Matrimonial Oak. These trees grew from acorns harvested by Arboretum staff from the famous trees and planted on the grounds of the Wildflower Center.
If you are planning a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, visit their website (wildflower.org) ahead of time to discover what is in bloom and get a lay of the land.
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Hartwick Pines State Park is one of the largest state parks in Michigan and is interesting because it is home to 49 acres of old growth pine forest with trees that are estimated to be between 350 and 375 years old. Somehow, these pines that was spared from northern Michigan’s booming logging industry in the 1800s. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built two buildings to house the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum, which focuses on the history of logging in Michigan, back when Michigan was the largest producer of lumber in the United States.
The above photo shows the Hartwick Pines Chapel, also known as “Chapel in the Woods” which is a popular location for weddings in a natural environment. It is also a great spot for quiet meditation during your exploration of the park.
Towards the end of my winter break, we took a day trip to Muskegon to check out the winter sports complex. I had heard about the ice skating trail and that sounded like a lot of fun. What I didn’t consider about this plan, is that I hadn’t skated since college. At least the first half of our visit was spent on the ice rink, trying not to fall down. We finally ventured to the 1/4 mile skating trail but decided to play it safe and use these walker-like devices to keep from falling on our faces. It was a little embarrassing being lapped by 6 year olds, but it was still a lot of fun.
Skating isn’t the only winter activity offered at the sports complex. There is a sledding hill and miles of snowshoe and cross country ski trails. If you want to try something exciting, check out the luge. The winter sports complex is home to one of only four luge tracks in the entire country and anyone daring enough to try it will be trained by an experienced luge coach.
I want to mention that any time you are traveling in Michigan in the winter, it is important to pay attention to the weather. On the day we went, it wasn’t forecasted to snow at home, but traveling several hours west, the forecast was different. We arrived at Muskegon State Park to flurries coming off of Lake Michigan and terrible roads that obviously hadn’t been plowed. It was a treacherous journey to say the least.
About the Photo:
The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is full of exhilarating outdoor activities and as I am not the most athletic person, I decided bringing my camera was a recipe for disaster. So, this photo was taken with the Lightroom App on my iphone.
iPhone 7 raw capture through the Lightroom App
January 7, 2017
Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. To plan your visit to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, visit MSports.org.