Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Fieldtrip: The Long Trail


The group loaded up and after a short drive made it to the starting point for the hike down Eagle's Point Trail. After dropping off the kids, Mrs. B. and Mrs J. drove off so as to leave one of the Suburbans at the other end of the trail. I was left with Mrs. P., to watch the urchins. After the long drive they were as twitchy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was having a blast watching Mrs. P. using the old school method of keeping a herd of schoolkids in line. It was nice to hear a teacher jump all over an out of line kid and not be the one getting their butt jumped on.

During this wait, Bratly introduced himself to me. Bratly is one of those type of kids that we are all familiar with. The kid has a pretty good heart but he is always in trouble. He is active to the point of consternation and would probably explode if he had to shut his yap for more than a span of a minute. He started taking pictures with his disposable camera right and left to the point that his entire roll of film would be used up before we even started the excursion. Watching him running around giving a non-stop running commentary of the surroundings and the world in general and taking pictures of mesquite trees, cactus, his classmates, and puffs of clouds, I couldn't help but think of the remarkable similarity to a famous urchin of the film world.

The other teachers arrived and we started our hike. The temperature was already starting to reach 90 degrees and it was only mid-morning. The canyon was remarkable not to the degree of The Grand Canyon but it was still remarkable the way nature had sculpted a work of art on a grand scale. Mrs. B. had taken a two week course in the park concerning the various aspects of the park so she proved a very good guide. The first real stop of the trip was a spot along a dry creekbed where the water running down the canyon had cut a natural bridge. We climbed off the main trail and gazed through the bridge.

The hike then resumed with the teachers pointing out the various plants along the trail including the sensitive plant. The sensitive plant is one that I have seen many times in the past but I had never before knew it's actual name although I had always been amazed by it's properties. Once touched, the leaves of the plant curl up to protect itself. The kids were also shown one of my favorite plants, the Stinkberry Bush, so named because the berries of the plant mimic the odor of a skunk.

That is when the trail took a turn for the worse. The trail started to climb back out of the canyon. And as the trail climbed, the temperature started climbing right along with it. I had been walking at the rear of the pack in order to keep company with the slower walkers among the children. I was pleasantly surprised by the stamina of the kids though for I heard very little moaning and groaning. Maybe those journalists who bitch and moan about today's kids should go on one of these nature hikes and just see that these kids still have some get up and go, including one little lady who had made the hike in a walking cast.

We arrived about at the end of the trail which was just another short walk down the paved road to the picnic tables and a sack lunch. The lunch ladies had known just what to pack; a sandwich, chips, and chocolate chip cookies. The lunch layover lasted quite a while as everyone was pretty well worn out from the hike and the heat.

After the layover was a trip to the Ranger Station where the Park Ranger gave a talk and a slide show presentation of the various bats that we would see at the bat fly out later that day. After the slide show the ranger passed out the hides and skulls of the various creatures found in the park including raccoons, deer, bobcats, badgers, and coyotes. Then she spoke of the parks history and the archeological site of Mammoths located at the park and of the Paleo-Indians that once inhabited it. We went outside and were given a short demonstration on throwing a spear with an atlatl.

The kids lined up and took turns attempting to throw the atlatl. One large kid chunked his spear about 100 feet. It was finally my turn and the damn spear went about 20 feet and that was about it. Mrs. B. had some practice with the device and was barely able to match the kid. I could have chunked the spear farther with my bare hand but I can see how with a little practice it would really make a spear fly.

While watching the final group throw their spears, Danielle introduced herself and attempted to teach me various phrases in German, French and Italian but it was rather odd hearing all of these languages spoken in the same redneck twang of an accent. After the throwing demonstration, the group loaded up for a trip back to the picnic area for a wienie roast; Hot dogs and Smores, but could I survive a barbeque without cold beer.

Tomorrow I will post the third and final installment of The Fieldtrip. Which will include the viewing of the bat fly out at Clarity tunnel.

21 comments:

Curare_Z said...

I hope you asked that spear throwing kid if he had an agent...you could make millions Fuzz... :-)

Great tale, I'm eager to see pictures of the bats. Ewww. Gross.

Big D said...

Cool deal

phlegmfatale said...

wow! That's really cool. I think Bratley probably needs his arms super-glued to his sides, but otherwise, the kids sound great!

angel, jr. said...

Rattlesnakes. Don't those trails have any of those?

Mimi said...

A weanie roast with no beer? Thats a sin!;)But I guess the smores made up for it.

:P fuzzbox said...

curare: That kid was a natural. He is the pitcher on a Little League team right now and he shows promise.

big d: It was a trip, chunking spears like ancient man. I might try to pick up an atlatl. They are a blast. I went to one site where they showed hunters hunting wild hogs with them.

phlegmmy: I was pleasantly surprised.

angel, jr: It is certainly the country for them but the only snake that I saw was a Racer. No Rattlers, which is rather nice.

:P fuzzbox said...

mimi: The smores did take the edge off of the sting of no cerveza.

Catch said...

Isnt it funny when your around a bunch if kids there are a few you just take an immediate liking to...and a few that you know would soon drive you up a wall...lol. This is an interesting trip Fuzz...Im enjoying it, all but the heat...whew.

Green Eyes said...

NO BEER? OMG!

When I was a girl scout we went camping often and had smores. But, you know I'm a picky eater. I would skip the marshmellows and eat my ghram crackers and chocolate seperately! Since I didn't eat the marshmellows, I got extra chocolate! Always have a plan!

Pixie said...

Stinkberry bush ? Sounds interesting...

I enjoyed your tale fuzz, the bit about Danielle's accents all in the same Twang made me LOL.
The Lunch Ladies provided the food ? When we had school trips we always had to take our own, unless of course you were poor and claimed free meals.

siren said...

This field trip rocks :) I love the narrative of it, you're really doing a great job. Makes me feel like I'm there.

The Phoenix said...

He gave the kids a spear? I hope he has good liability insurance.

You might not be so skillful with the atlatl, but you can kill a chupa with your slingshot from 100 yards away.

:P fuzzbox said...

catch: There has to be balence, I suppose. The kid that I spoke of with the walking cast impressed me greatly especcially when the teachers had to tell her to get out of a tree that she had climbed.

green eyes: Extra chocolate, you are tricksy.

pixie: The county in which I live has been deemed an economically deprived area so all kids are eligable for free meals. Although few enroll, this area is low on money but high on pride.

siren: Thank you so much! That means a lot!

phoenix: They should put a laser site on it. So you would know when to release the spear.

phred said...

That ''tunnel'' looks like a good place for a chupacabra ambush...

Someone mentioned snakes. My 5 year old grandson came in last night with a 10'' rattlesnake (dead) in a shoebox.
Only in WEST TEXAS...

:P fuzzbox said...

I bet that gave you quite a fright, Phred. BTW, I like your new user pic.

Jim said...

you didn't say there would be a sandwich, chips, and chocolate chip cookies or we all would have gone with you!!!!!!!!!

Keshi said...

**The kids were also shown one of my favorite plants, the Stinkberry Bush, so named because the berries of the plant mimic the odor of a skunk.


interesting...not that I would ever wanna make dessert out of those berries tho - I know, I can be grossss :):)


Keshi.

Ben Heller said...

No sign of Bigfoot yet Fuzz ? And that Bratley kid sounds like a sweet kid really.

:P fuzzbox said...

jim: They were those chocolate chip cookies with the M&M's in them. Crazee Tastee!

keshi: They aren't very tasty but they are unusual.

ben: The only sign of wildlife were the bats, bugs, and birds.

ozymandiaz said...

Did you know the stinkberry bush can grow inside the human body? Yup, appearently there is one up my ass.
Bar-B-Q? No beer? I' so afraid...

:P fuzzbox said...

That's funny dude. The plant always makes me think of the movie, 'Mallrats' as it would be a great way to give someone the stink palm.