I have to start with this adorable being.
Her name is Buckbeak Diamondsparkle Castro, and she is a baby box turtle. She was found injured and so we brought her home to raise her up safely. At a whopping 1.5 inches across, she was only about 2 and a half weeks old, and had a nice sized tooth mark on either side of her tiny little shell. :(
Adorable, am I right?
So, now, we are raising a tiny box turtle, and doing a lot of research and meal worm shopping to boot. We are now following the Tiny Turtle Journey of Beans & Bento and their mom and step? dad. A wealth of info and some super cute turtle pics!
Our garden got a late start, so the plants are all still very small. The corn probably isn't even getting enough sun, but the fun is watching anyhow, right?
|Baby einstein & his garden.|
I don't know if it's all the rain we've gotten this summer or not, but the lightning bugs are out like crazy! Sometimes in the evenings, it looks like the stars have fallen completely out of the sky and are floating around in our own backyard!
The firefly hunts are short and fun.
There's a lot of squealing and running and jumping. It reminds me of a pair of cats watching a laser pointer pointed at a disco ball.
|See the bug butt a-glow??|
The moments these two share in the evenings under the stars is precious and beautiful.
I like to disappear in the dark and listen to the whispers and thoughts that surround the hunt and gathering.
And then the release of the little lights. To head back to the skies for another evening of tag with the little einsteins.
|a wave goodbye.|
The next morning, we headed up north for a long weekend away. Our annual camping trip was extra special this year because the baby einstein was finally old enough to float the Illinois river!
The main area of the river is known for its party life, and so we stayed a little further down at Sparrow Hawk Camp.
My dad was taking care of the Castro Zoo except for Buckbeak, who came along with us.
|She's in there somewhere!|
We got a perfect spot right on the river, and got settled in!
Our camp was separated from the river by a little flooded rock path that the einsteins LOVED exploring and walking through.
In true Castro form, a new family member was collected right away. He was named "Camouflage Castro" and was found to be an Eastern Fence Lizard, due to the turquoise underbelly.
Em collected about two bazillion baby frogs, their mom, and a grouchy friend.
Evan though it had been raining before we arrived, the river was clear and cool.
Isn't it funny how being outdoors seems to bring you closer to yourself and your faith and your family? You sit there starring at the mountain full of green trees and the river of cold water filled with fish kissing the currents as they pass, and the breeze off the both blow through your hair and you realize how beautiful this is. How powerfully awesome that life can be.
|Yes, the go-pro was mounted atop any one of us as much as hubby could bombard us with.|
While I cooked dinner, the einsteins entered Buckbeak and Camo and the frogs into the nature journals.
No ipods. Yahoooooo!
Ev's favorite thing to the whole trip was to play with a mini jai alai game I had saved back from a kids meal from who knows how long ago.
They tried to pick me flowers, but the soft soil on the riverbank ended up letting the entire "Charlie Brown Tree" as they called it, come up. So, I had a nice plant to decorate the tent with. ;)
GLAMping at its finest.
|Spaghetti. It's whats for dinner.|
The biggest tree on our camp was full of whimsy. There was a little "cave" at the bottom, which I thought was a fairy house, but it promptly became the backdrop for a Littlest Pet Shop photo shoot.
And now, some river exploring...
|He waded out to a big stone in the river!|
|"Floating" down the river.|
|That tree again. <3 td="">3>|
The evening brought campfire, s'mores of a different sort, and more fireflies!
Rise & shine!
The clouds and thunderstorms threatened to come down ALL weekend, but they never did! They made the days cool and breezy and PERFECT and although we thought a big rainstorm in a tent would be fun, we didn't get one. Ah well, next time, right?
We spent much of the morning fishing and skipping rocks.
The einsteins found me some more heart rocks for my collection. We've never found so many at one place!
|That big rock again...|
They would float down the river together and their daddy would be waiting downstream to catch them.
They could have played that game ALL. DAY.
We were scheduled to float the river the next day, but they called us around lunchtime and said they had a spot for us, if we wanted to go right then, and so, we did. Because, well, when you're camping, you have no tight scheduled meetings and such...
|Riding the bus upriver!|
We went for the 6 mile float, and it would take us about 3 hours to get back to camp.
At first, everyone was excited to paddle around.
But soon, the clear waters were too tempting, and they coasted along with the raft.
Would you be brave enough to build your house here?
Runner girl problems:
When we made it back to camp, Emma realized that her tantrum about wanting to take the 12 mile float, not 6, was unjustified, and we all showered the river off our bodies and started the campfire up to warm our tired bones.
The next morning, since we had already floated, we decided to leave a day early and take a long way home visiting geocaches and roadside oddities on the way.
We packed up and headed into Tahlequah to eat at a sandwich shop I loved when I taught school there, years ago.
The next stop was the Blue Whale of Catoosa, a Route 66 attraction. (And you really need to read the history behind it. Love it.)
Look at these boogies!
Can you spot 3 Castros in this picture??
|Turtle & fish feeding|
I loved the rainbow colored whale tables.
|But first, lemmie take an USsie!|
It was around this time that we realized baby einstein was feeling warm. He was really tired and quiet. It seemed that our long ride home would be a little shorter.
When we passed this bridge, though, he wanted to stop and walk it, and so, we did.
There happened to be a geocache at the Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge, which is the main reason that Route 66 came through Oklahoma! (Another interesting history read!)
After getting back to the car, we headed home as he slept his fever away.
|Camo shows off his colors on the ride to his new home-for-a-few-days.|
Our dashboard lizard was a little confusing for Camo, as he is for most people who get in our car for the first time.
Baby E slept until the next morning, when he felt better. It seems he tends to get these I-stayed-all-day-in-the-heat-yesterday-so-I'm-gonna-fever-today type fevers. I'm guessing that's what it was. (Yay!)
It was a wonderful weekend, and we had so much fun.
We love you two so very much, and this was the *best* first river rafting EVER!