Ratcliff Lake Hike
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Ratcliff Lake Hike
Daylight Savings time changed and we were up at seven in the morning on Stewart’s day off, so I ask hubby, “What are we gonna do today?” “Well, first you are gonna cook me breakfast, something yummy, then let’s go to Davy Crockett National Forest and Ratcliff Lake.” So that is just what we did. I Googled and found there was a Davy Crockett Memorial Park in Crockett so I told Stewart I wanted to go there first and check it out their Veteran’s Wall since Veteran’s Day was this week.
On our way, we saw an awesome barn I just had to take a picture of it and share. I would love to have this kind of barn. Shoot, I would love to build a house to look like this barn and live in it!
When we reached the park in Crockett, I have to say I was disappointed. The park was not well kept, maybe in an old part of town and the Veteran’s Wall was very small but there was a tank in front of the Veteran’s building so that made it all worth it to the kids.Adam shouts, “Is that a real live tank?” I laugh, “Well, it is a real tank but I don’t think it is alive.” As soon as his feet hit the ground he was off to crawl on the tank. He looked to find a door to crawl in but only found ones welded shut. “That is to keep little boys out of there,” I explain. Then up on the front and down under the track and on the back, our little Adam crawled.
“Ahhhhh help me!”
Anna was not feeling to well so dad set her up on the tank so we could take a picture. After a look around the tank, Austin opened up a compartment and found some signs that said: “Please Do Not Crawl on Tank.” I laugh and say “Well I believe it is a bit late for that.”
I tell the kids to come on and lets looks at the Veteran’s Wall. We looked for names we recognised but found none we knew. I did come across a strange inscription on one, though. It said :
TO DO UNNECESSARY
I called Stewart over and said, “Hmmm, that is kind of a strange thing to write.” We talked with the kids a little bit about why this man may have wrote those words. I explained it like this, “Maybe he felt unqualified to fight in a war, which he thought was unnecessary, and knew the people are ungrateful towards the military.” They seemed to understand that. It is so sad that he thought no one was grateful. We are very grateful that we live in a country that brave men and women have fought for to protect us and give us the liberties we enjoy. GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES!
We needed to stop by a Wal-Mart so we decided to go to the one in Crockett. Anna still feeling sick, ended up throwing up in the Wal-Mart parking lot on our way into the store. Poor baby, I asked her if she felt better, “Yep, perfectly fine now!” was her cheerful answer. We bought her a Sprite to help settle her stomach and picked up the few things we needed and headed toward Ratcliff.
After paying our $3 entry fee we drove around the whole park before deciding where we were going to park and start our hike. We came across an old Sawmill Ruins, so we got out to investigate.
We thought it was really neat that the foundation was made of bricks and not a poured concrete slab. The kids enjoyed climbing all over it and investigating. Austin discovered that it apparently was a wonderful home for lizards, they were all living in the cracks between the bricks. We took turns guessing what could have been attached to the huge pieces of threaded rebar sticking out of the foundation. “Maybe it was a crane?” was one theory. I love provoking the thought process, it encourages them to research things for themselves.
Beside the mill ruins was a small playground that we let the kids play at for a little while. Anna and Adam played “fireman.” They would start at the “lookout tower”, run across the bridge, and slide down the pole to go on their fire call. I enjoyed watching the imagination of my children at work.
Austin sat and enjoyed the swing, he is such a calm natured child. Anna, on the other hand, was running wide open on the playground equipment. I would not have believed she was sick about a half hour ago had I not been there myself. Adam jumped in the kiddie swing so he could “buckle up”, Lord only knows what he was playing in his mind. Stewart even gave the swings a “go,” getting in touch with his inner child I guess.
Austin decided to try the fire pole out, passively of course. Then he climbed back up the pole and gave me a big smile when he saw I had got a picture of him. Adam ran back to the bridge and grabbed both chains and shook it like crazy…”Earthquake!” It was time to head out on our hike though the kids thought it was much too soon. I was afraid they would get wore out on the playground and not feel like walking the hiking trail.
We drive around to the hiking parking area. After a quick stop at the little store to get a hiking trail map, we go and look at the sign. The yellow markers are for a 3/4 mile hike one way, the blue is for a 2-mile hike (assuming one way), and the white is for the 20-mile hike (unsure if it is one way or not). Stewart asks, “Are we going for the twenty?” “Have you lost your mind!!??” I reply, unsure if he is serious or not.”Goodness, that is as far as Zavalla is from Lufkin.” I think that registered in his mind a little better. I told him I think that the small trail will do fine, round trip it will be a mile and a half. That is a good size when you have little kids and out of shape, folks walking it.
I told Adam, “We have to follow the yellow markers to stay on the trail we need to be on, so you watch for them OK.” We start off, Austin toting his Science Pack and his “hiking” stick and the two little ones in the lead. I remind them to watch for snakes and to slow down. Every time we passed a marker on the tree Adam would announce, “Blue, white, yellow.” “Blue, white, yellow.” “Blue, white, yellow.” This became old pretty quick, so I told him just tell us when it is no longer all three colors.
Adam was in the lead walking like he was a man on a mission. We could barely keep up with him. He was pretty determined to find the trail marker that would tell us which path to take. Anna was trying to out run him and had to be called back so she flashes me her mischievous grin.
We come to a wildlife viewing booth, so we stop for a photo op. We set and look out the viewing area, we saw a few butterflies and noticed bird and squirrel houses on different trees. Stewart says jokingly, “Que the deer.” We were all talking and laughing and Adam scolds, “You guys be quiet or the deer won’t come out!” I laughed and explained daddy was only joking, and that the deer were not going to come out right now anyway.
Those crazy kids of mine are photo hogs I swear. They found a fallen tree and “Boom!” up they go “surfing.” “Mom take a picture!” We look at a few more trees, “Looks like a Tornado must have come through here.” I decide. I point out how the tree was twisted and broken, not just fallen over. We hurry to catch up with Austin and Stewart, who has started leading the way.
I get a picture of a Buckeye Butterfly and right after snapping the shot it flutters and almost lands in my hair.
Finally, we come to the fork in the trail and Adam walks right by it. I ask him if he was still watching for our trail markers, oops, he had forgotten with all the other things we were looking at. Anna races to look for the marker we was at and she pointed the way, much to Adam’s disappointment, she can be such a little stinker to her brother.
We go a little farther and cross over one of the park roadways and go onto the bridge-way. They liked walking on the bridges, I explained that more than likely the water would be all the way up under the bridge-way if the water level was where it was supposed to be. We spot some more bird and squirrel houses. I am beginning to wonder for sure what kind of house these are we keep seeing.
We come across a big vine hanging beside the trail. Of course my two little monkeys have to try to climb it but much to my surprise, my biggest monkey has to also. Maybe Stewart was playing Tarzan, who knows? I am just glad that he is a man who can be silly and have fun and makes me laugh. Austin is completely unimpressed, as most teens are when there is such antics going on.
We look at the sign that tells us what all can be seen in the area. Then walk on to where the creek flows under the bridge. Time for a photo op. for me. Stewart tries to remember to make me take pictures too. He says the kids are always going to wonder why mom was never there if I do not make an appearance in a picture or two. So against my will, I allow a picture to be taken, I feel much more comfortable on the other side of the camera. The little creek is pretty, we can see the reflection of the overhead trees in the water below us. Anna spots a red bird, but not in time for a picture.
We walk along a bit more and Stewart calls out, “Hey guys look! Beaver chew marks!” Sure enough, this area had beaver chews on almost every tree. We look out in the water and see how he dammed up the back end of the lake and we see a clump of brush that is probably his home. The beaver had chewed on some trees that were way to big for him to carry off. Anna being silly pretends to gnaw a tree like the beaver. “With those big ol’ teeth of yours, you probably could!” we tease her. She just laughs and shines her big beautiful pearly whites. She is such a carefree soul.
The cypress tree was growing a bunch of Cypress’ knees up beside the bricked area of the lake so we stop to take a picture. Adam tries to climb a tree, then he and Anna hug the huge pine tree. My little tree huggers, I am so proud.
We spot a woodpecker, I am pretty sure it was a Red-cockaded Woodpecker but a lot of giggling scared it off before I could take a picture of it.
We make it back to the main part of the park and come to the Amphitheatre . We play “church” for a little bit. “This is my kind of church ! Right out here with GOD. Adam, go ahead and preach son!” I urge. He steps out from behind the “pulpit” and says “I’m too short!” Austin is looking at the other “pulpit” and Anna has to come see if he is finding anything worth looking at, but no, nothing there. I tell them to line up for church so I can take a picture, Stewart looks mighty “at home” behind that pulpit.
The view of the lake was wonderful. We walk out on the pier and look around. Austin looks through his binoculars to see if he can see the beavers in their homes, but no luck.
We had a really good time at Ratcliff. I believe someday soon we will have to camp here because there is much more to do in this park than in the ones local.
I have linked information to certain things of educational interest. Partly for my own homeschooling needs but also to show people how homeschooling children study under a different curriculum than public school children. This is why I can not “label” which “grades” my kids are in. They are all learning so many different levels of things at different times. The “standard” that the government uses to categorize the children do not apply to us.
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