Category Archives: Camping

Springing Deux…And a Maiden Voyage!

I heart dogwood blooms

I heart dogwood blooms

Pretty purple blooms; and  a lovely tilled patch of dirt (kind of a rarity in Spy Garden at the moment!)

Pretty purple blooms; and a lovely tilled patch of dirt (kind of a rarity in Spy Garden at the moment!)

Remains to be seen if these two (one of two pictured) banana plants will come back

Remains to be seen if these two (one of two pictured) banana plants will come back

Purple and green

Purple and green

Hanging out in the yard with Spy Sister

Hanging out in the yard with Spy Sister (note Babt literally hanging upside down in the Eno hammock!)

Unicycle practice! (It is hard!)

Unicycle practice! (It is hard!)

Baby does all sorts of tricks with this Eno hammock

Baby does all sorts of tricks with this Eno hammock

Face off haha

Face off haha

A gooseberry already! (seedlings were started indoors)

A gooseberry already! (seedlings were started indoors)

Leaping

Leaping

Hardy kiwi vines coming in strong (still need to make a trellis for these and the grape vines)

Hardy kiwi vines coming in strong (still need to make a trellis for these and the grape vines)

Hawk

Hawk

I spy a skink! (but no snakes spotted yet; we are wondering if they spent the winter in this tree again)

I spy a skink! (but no snakes spotted yet; we are wondering if they spent the winter in this tree again)

Dogwood

Dogwood

Unidentified woodland bloom

Unidentified woodland bloom

More blooms in the woods

More blooms in the woods

A mossy perch

A mossy perch

In her element

In her element

Hanging at the playground at baseball practice

Hanging at the playground at baseball practice

Enjoying the clover (rather than weeding it, ha!)

Enjoying the clover (rather than weeding it, ha!)

There’s a full spring load of weeding, planting, tilling and building of support structures to do yet! But enough about the garden…We took our canoe on it’s maiden voyage!!!

Smoochie and I taught Baby's school's kindergarten class about water safety.

Smoochie and I taught Baby’s school’s kindergarten class about water safety.

It was so fun to pull out all our old raft guide gear and show it off!

Raft guide gear bag from Unicorn Expeditions (where Smoochie and I met as raft guides!)

Raft guide gear bag from Unicorn Expeditions (where Smoochie and I met as raft guides!)

All the kids got to take several canoe rides around this lake (in Cuivre River State Park)

All the kids got to take several canoe rides around this lake (in Cuivre River State Park)

Dexie entertained the kids while they waited their turn!

Dexie entertained the kids while they waited their turn!

Dexie also enjoyed swimming of course

Dexie also enjoyed swimming of course

Catching tadpoles

Catching tadpoles

Happy camper

Happy camper

Who doesn't love a canoe ride?!

Who doesn’t love a canoe ride?!

Drizzly but serene

Drizzly but serene

We are going to call this canoe the SS Unicorn (after the rafting company we worked for)

We are going to call this canoe the SS Unicorn (after the rafting company we worked for)

After all the kids/parents left we all piled in for our own ride…

Aaaand we're off!

Aaaand we’re off!

Being on the water is always so rejuvenating (even on a cloudy day!)

Being on the water is always so rejuvenating (even on a cloudy day!)

And check out our new high tech canoe rack! lol

And check out our new high tech canoe rack! lol (a foam roller cut into pieces, $14! and it worked like a charm! We had straps on there too obviously!)

Little girl, big paddle!

Little girl, big paddle!

We are excited to explore other waterways in our area (the Black River and Current River are on the top of my list)! Hope you all are enjoying spring in your neck of the woods!

Best of Spy Garden 2015

I am officially one year into getting my doctorate in nursing, woo!! Likely because I started the program I have little recollection of what actually occurred in 2015, Haha! I read hundreds of articles and wrote pages and pages (and pages) of APA formatted research papers. Thank goodness for the Spy Garden blog to jog my memory. I enjoyed scrolling through all the posts of the year; realizing I did more than work and school. It all actually looked quite fun and relaxing! Haha!

2015 certainly wasn’t the best year for vegetables in Spy Garden. Sikkim cucumbers are the only thing that really stand out in my mind as prolific when it comes to produce.

Sikkim Cucumbers

Sikkim Cucumbers

The ground cherries also did well. The flowers in the garden were pretty great this year.

Celosia/Cockscomb (also called wool flowers)

Celosia/Cockscomb (also called wool flowers)

Celosia amazed with vibrant colors and unusual shapes and I saw more monarch butterflies than ever in the garden this year.

Celosia

Celosia

Orach was another favorite

Orach was another favorite

We went on lots of outings; several trips to the St. Louis Art Museum, Forest Park, Grant’s Farm,

Meramec Caverns

Meramec Caverns,

the AB brewery, and got to see the beautiful…

Chinese lanterns at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT)

Chinese lanterns at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT)

and the kids explored the awesome children’s garden at MOBOT.

ROA (a world-famous artist) coming to Forest School was very exciting:

ROA painting a mural at Forest School

ROA painting a mural at Forest School

Baby watching ROA paint another mural

Baby watching ROA paint another mural at Forest School

Baby and the Spy got to ride horses a couple of times this year.

Babyzilla on horseback

Babyzilla on horseback

We painted a lot; and doing a collaborative painting (still in progress) with a friend was a highlight.

Painting in the garden

Painting in the garden

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I started some new hobbies; running on trails and ballet. Well, when I say “ballet” I use that term loosely. What I mean is that Baby and I put on classical music and dance around; inspired by the ballerina project. We continue to work on our arabesques and grand jetes daily. Haha

Another huge highlight was the Spy attending summer camp (the same one I went to!)

The Greatest Place!

The Greatest Place!

Fencing at camp

Fencing at camp

Kayaking at camp

Kayaking at camp

We spotted numerous varieties of mushrooms this year.

Beautiful Mushrooms

Beautiful Mushroom

Sulfur-colored Chicken of the Woods

Sulfur-colored Chicken of the Woods

Smoochie cut down some big dead trees in the yard…

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and built an awesome new shed.

The Spy started pitching in little league and their team won their league championship.

Winners!

Winners!

Nana and Pop were in St. Louis the whole month of July which was really great.

The kids with Nana and Pop

The kids with Nana and Pop

We went all out with the Christmas decorations; our best yet!

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A big standout of the year were the snakes living in a tree just feet from our front door. Getting to watch them (quite frequently!) this summer was a treat and I think this is the best photo I’ve ever taken:

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And a close second

And a close second

And though scary (I almost stepped on it); seeing a copperhead was quite exciting and dramatic!

RRrrraaaaaghhhh!!!

RRrrraaaaaghhhh!!!

It seems the snakes may still be calling the tree home, so maybe we will catch them in 2016…

Snake excrement icicles?! Ewww! (Picture taken 12.31.15)

Snake excrement icicles?! Ewww! (Picture taken 12.31.15)

Eucalyptus in Spy Garden February 2015

Eucalyptus in Spy Garden February 2015

Happy New Year to all and thank you so much for visiting Spy Garden; see you in 2016!

Camp!

This past weekend we traveled to…

the beautiful blue ridge mountains!

the beautiful blue ridge mountains!

At about the ninth hour of driving...Dexie, is that a wink or an eye twitch?!

At about the ninth hour of driving…Dexie, is that a wink or an eye twitch?!

Baby, only three more hours to go! haha

Baby, only three more hours to go! haha

Look at all those onions.

Look at all those onions.

Finally! Into the smoky mountains we go!

Finally! Into the smoky mountains we go!

Black Mountain, NC...home of...

Black Mountain, NC…home of…

The Greatest Place on Earth (or at least right up there with Spy Garden ;)

The Greatest Place on Earth (or at least right up there with Spy Garden ;)

Camp Merri-Mac has been a major influence in my life. I was a camper there from age 11-16 and I was a CIT (counselor in training) at 17. It is very fun for me to think of all of the things I do in my adult life that somehow relate to my days as a camper. Art, crocheting, gardening, swimming, exploring the woods: all of my hobbies and interests have some sort of roots in Camp Merri-Mac. There are wooden swings in our backyard. We spend lots of quality time in creeks. We even live on a one lane dirt/gravel road (just like camp!) Pretty much on any given afternoon, I might as well be at summer camp…enjoying our low ropes course (zip line, slack line and again, those joyous wooden swings!), singing camp songs to the kids (since they were babies!) and just generally spending loads of time outdoors learning new things.

Though there was no gardening at camp, gardening is very much a camp-type pursuit (again, outdoors: learning new things!). The excitement of tribal competition (Go Seminoles!) I now find at little league games (Go Knights!). Chapel is now church and the alarm clock is Reveille. Well maybe that last one’s a stretch;)! My sister always tells me our laundry smells like the laundry at camp. This is probably because we always have at least a couple of articles of clothing that have gotten thoroughly filthy and wet (another important tenet of summer camp!).

A major reason I’ve never gotten my kids any video games or let them play on a phone and limited TV time is because camp was (and still is) always totally technology-free. True to form, even on the (looong! 11+ hours!) drive to North Carolina, the kids stared out the window and sketched on scrap paper; no ipads or video games on our road trips just like “in my day” (I can say that now! Hahaha)!

In my professional life as a psychiatric nurse I guide and encourage others to find joy, meaning and purpose in life: something I began to learn at camp. Exploring the deeper value of leisure pursuits and conveying the importance of exploring spirituality are passions born at camp.

And of course there’s the creek and mud and friendship of Baby’s Forest School: much like camp (year round!)

Even though Camp Merri-Mac and Timberlake are on the same campus, they keep the two camps quite separate. Until now I didn’t know too much about Timberlake but I figured it is probably the greatest place on earth for a boy in the summer; since that’s true about Merri-Mac for girls!

So off we sent our first-born, our precocious progeny, into the blue ridge mountains for the next two weeks!

But first we checked out the sights of...

But first we checked out the sights of…

Montreat

Montreat

Lake Susan in Montreat

Lake Susan in Montreat

Snapping turtle laying eggs next to Lake Susan

Snapping turtle laying eggs next to Lake Susan

Baby's first time in a canoe! (canoeing was always my favorite camp activity and I took trips to the many rivers in the area)

Baby’s first time in a canoe! (canoeing was always my favorite camp activity and I took trips to the many rivers in the area)

Ready to...

Ready to…

Hit the trail!

Hit the trail!

Centipede

Centipede

Skilled hiker!

Skilled little hiker!

Cute little red mushroom

Cute little red mushroom

We hiked for four hours (much of which was uphill!) Whew!

The woods are loaded with magnolias

The woods are loaded with magnolias

Magnolia buds

Magnolia buds

Magnolia blooms

Magnolia blooms

Dexie enjoyed many dips in the cold clear mountain streams.

Dexie enjoyed many dips in the cold clear mountain streams.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Snail

Snail

Wildflower

Wildflower

Little Feather

Little Feather

Flat Creek

Flat Creek

We also explored Black Mountain, NC with easy walking access from this cheap and convenient hotel

We also explored Black Mountain, NC with easy walking access from this cheap and convenient hotel

My Father's Pizza (a Black Mountain tradition!)

My Father’s Pizza (a Black Mountain tradition!)

Father and son at My Father's Pizza

Father and son at My Father’s Pizza

At Dairy King (a Black Mountain tradition!)

At Dairy King (a Black Mountain tradition!)

Iconic Dairy King sign (iconic to me anyways;)

Iconic Dairy King sign (iconic to me anyways;)

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

This area is a beautiful place for a nice drive…

Ahhhhh cool mountain air!

Ahhhhh cool mountain air!

Chimney Rock drive-by

Chimney Rock drive-by

Feel free to make a joke about what else this rock looks like.

Feel free to make a joke about what else this rock looks like. lol

Many pretty vistas

Many pretty vistas

Finally it was time for drop-off!

Home forour little (big!) camper for the next two weeks!

Home for our little (big!) camper for the next two weeks!

Outside the cabin (these hammocks must be all the rage! We saw them all over the place!)

Outside the cabin (these hammocks must be all the rage! We saw them all over the place!)

Blue Heaven; the first cabin I was ever in (age 11)!

Blue Heaven; the first cabin I was ever in (age 11)!

The counselors snap shots of the kids and post them to a parents’ site so fortunately we have a little window into what he is up to…

Initiated into the Seminoles!

Initiated into the Seminoles! So far, so good!

In 2012, a great camp friend of mine invited me to be a raft guide, the summer after my freshman year of college, which is where I met Smoochie. So no camp? No Smoochie, no little spies, no Spy Garden! Thank God for camp!

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