Swamp Sunflowers

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Every October the meadow trail at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center blooms with swamp sunflowers. Last October, I visited the Arboretum for the first time, and coincidentally it was during the blooming period. This October I went purposely to get  photos of the meadow (and some photos of me!)

Swamp sunflowers are a variation of the sunflower, and they grow in all coastal, wet areas, from the gulf to the eastern coast. This makes sense, because this meadow is right next to a pond.

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Hermann Park train

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One day last week Derek said to me, “I’m bored, let’s go somewhere for lunch.” I suggested the Pinewood Cafe in Hermann Park, right next to McGovern Lake. After a nice lunch, neither of us were ready to go home.

Derek started walking towards the train station/gift shop. At first I thought we were just going to browse inside the shop, but then he bought two tickets for the train ride.

The train ride is something I wanted to do since we first came to Hermann Park the first week we moved here. I am so glad that we did it. We were the only adults without kids on the train but that situation is nothing new for the two of us.

Tickets are $3.50 each for a 20ish minute ride. The ride is quite scenic, going through and around the whole park. It was nice to catch the breeze on a hot day. There is also running commentary for points of interest.

Now that I’ve been on it once, I’ll definitely go on it again. I know my parents will love it.

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Art Car Parade preview

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The Art Car Parade is an annual event in Houston, and I’ve been told by many people that it is quite the quirky thing to attend.

Unfortunately the parade is on a Saturday, (like most events) and I work weekends. However, I lucked out this time because there was a special preview of about half the cars at the Discovery Green park on Thursday night.

It was really neat to see so many different cars. The collection of “junk” on some of them was just amazing! The owners of the cars really get to show off their artistic abilities and their creativity. My favorite car was  one with singing fish and lobsters. The lobsters and the fish would move in sync with songs! It was hilarious!

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Bluebonnets

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The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet, named so because the petals look like the shape of a women’s bonnet. Photographing bluebonnets was high on my Texas bucket list.

You can find bluebonnets just about anywhere in the state, but they are more prevalent the more west you go. I was figuring that I would have to take a road trip quite a distance out of Houston in order to find some. But then as bluebonnet season approached, I saw some pictures on Facebook of bluebonnets in Houston. Every time I came across a photo, I would comment, “Where was this picture taken?” But still being fairly new to the area, the vague answers I got did not help. I kept searching though. Eventually I found a picture of bluebonnets that said it was taken in Hermann Park. Ah hah! I know where Hermann Park was. That narrowed it down a bit. Then I saw in more pictures that the field of bluebonnets in question was by the Bill Coats Bridge. Google maps is my friend. The map showed me right where it was, on the southern end of the park.

That Wednesday I set out to find and photograph them. I was nervous though. Just because I had seen a picture of the bluebonnets weeks ago, would they still be there? I knew it was about a six week growing season, but had it just started, or was it ending? Well I had no worries because I walked from the parking lot smack into a huge field of them. They were beautiful, and I was not disappointed!

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Houston Zoo

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Derek and I went to the zoo this week. We had a good day! It is a fairly large zoo, and even with spring break crowds, it didn’t feel all that crowded.

Some photo highlights:

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We really loved the blue feathers on this kookaburra!

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An ocelot.

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Stick bugs! The bug area of the zoo was actually quite fascinating.

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This tiny owl was so cute!

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This chimp has the right idea. Nap often!

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This baby tapir was born in February. Their baby stripes are so cute!

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All of the big cats are my favorite!

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A mother’s love. Awww.

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These cuddling cloud leopards were adorable.

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I was most excited to see Shasta the cougar. He is the mascot for the University of Houston. Some trivia from Wikipedia: “Shasta VI was born in September 2011 in the U.S. state of Washington, and was adopted by the university as a cub. Shasta’s mother was killed in 2011, when a hunter shot her. After a search from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Shasta VI was rescued, and transported to the Houston Zoo on December 11, 2011. In March 2012, the University of Houston Alumni Association announced that the cub would be adopted. Shasta VI is the first live mascot since 1989.”

 

McGovern Centennial Gardens

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I discovered McGovern Centennial Gardens within Hermann Park by accident.

I usually park in the same lot each time I go to Hermann Park, but one particular day that lot was full, so I had to drive around to the other side of the park to find another lot. I was walking along the trail, and stumbled into the entrance for these gardens.

I did not have my camera that day, because I was not intending on seeing anything new. I was fairly mad by the time I had looked around the whole garden, because there was so much to photograph! So two weeks later, I went again with my camera in tow.

I’m still in awe that there are flowers pretty much year round here! I will never tire of photographing flowers and plants!

Here are some photos:

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