Visiting the Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas, Texas

Are you a Dallas resident? If so, you may or may not have heard of the Trinity River Audubon Center situated 10 miles south of downtown Dallas. I only recently discovered it a few years ago even though it’s been around since 2008. It boasts as the largest urban hardwood forest in the entire United States and is home to an extensive array of plant and animal species. My wife and I toured a couple weeks ago, and this is our photographic walk-through as we traversed through its bottomland hardwoods, wetlands and grasslands.

The view from Raccoon Pond

The view from Raccoon Pond

The Center provides a lovely walk through a diverse route selection and allows you to get familiar with the surrounding plant and underwater life. We happened to visit on a cloudy, calm day that was near-perfect besides the occasional trail puddle from the rainstorm the day before. Everything along the way became a photo-op.

My lovely wife as we began our adventure

Turtle BOI

Turtle BOI

At the edge of one our first pathways, we happened upon a massive turn in the ever-meandering river that is the Trinity. The overlook wasn’t anything remarkably grandiose, but the water reversed direction in unfamiliar and curious ways. You could practically feel the history behind this broad-sweeping waterway.

Tiff at the overlook

Tiff at the overlook

One of my favorite features about this place is how immersed in the environment you feel. A few fuzzy caterpillars greeted us along the walkway coupled with a tree somewhat off-trail who wore mushrooms proudly. Everywhere we looked it seemed something was vying for our attention.

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Nature isn’t the only appeal along the trails. Occasionally you’ll come upon small clubhouse structures that act as vantage points for unique views. Weird cut out frames in the sides of the modest buildings direct your attention to specific sections of the landscape presented to you. It’s fascinating the way it’s all prepared.

Overall, the Trinity River Audubon Center is an impressive, easy hiking area with some wonderful views. There’s still a lot of the exterior portion of the property we haven’t wandered yet, but we plan on returning soon to explore it. More information is below and some other images I collected from our experience!

Hours, Fees, & Directions

Hours:

  • Monday through Friday 9am – 4pm

  • Saturday 7am – 3pm (We offer guided early morning bird hikes most Saturdays at 7am, check our event calendar for more info!)

  • Sunday 11am – 5pm

  • Closed on ALL major holidays as well as most federal holidays.Please give us a call for the most up to date holiday hours at (214) 309-5801.

  • Please note: We close one hour early the day before a major holiday. Please check our Facebook or call us for the latest information regarding early closures.

In observance of the holidays, we will be closed December 23 - 26 and December 30 - January 1.

Admission:

  • Adults (Ages 13-59): $6

  • Children (Ages 3-12): $3

  • Seniors (Ages 60+): $4

  • Members, children age 2 and under, and 75217 residents: free

  • Free general admission the third Thursday of each month, 9am – 4pm, for individuals and families

Free and discounted admission rates to not apply to field trips and groups.

Group Rates/Tours:

Group admission: $5 per person (for groups of 10 or more)

Private one-hour guided tours available at $40 per guide (20 person max/guide, available on weekends during the schoolyear and daily throughout the year). Ask about our school programs.

For more information, or to schedule a school program or group tour, call 214-309-5801 or email trac@audubon.org.

Professional and commercial photographers and film crews – please contact us at trac@audubon.org for information regarding our media policy and rates.

Location:

6500 Great Trinity Forest Way*
Dallas, TX 75217

*Dallas recently changed the name of the street. If Great Trinity Forest Way does not show up on maps or GPS, please try "6500 S. Loop 12."

For more information call 214-398-8722

Longitude and latitude coordinates: 32.712636, -96.70879

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Visiting the BEAUTIFUL Lyon Arboretum in Oahu, Hawaii (A Photographic Adventure)

As many of you know from my Instagram and my wife’s Instagram, we spent our honeymoon in the beautiful state of Hawaii on Oahu island. We saw a lot of really amazing stuff, but in this post I wanted to focus on our journey through the Lyon Arboretum. It was hands down my favorite arboretum I’ve been to and we were lucky enough to visit them on their 100th anniversary.

(To view any picture up close, tap/click on it and it will expand. All photos are raw shots/unedited.)

We first arrived not really knowing what to expect. Most arboretums that we’ve visited are very structured with clear, graveled walkways. Lyon was in a realm of its own as it presented us with a dirt trail that became more and more treacherous and jungle-like. I suppose this is what one should expect on a tropical island.

The off-path feeling actually made everything a lot more enjoyable. In fact, it was even a bit dangerous as some trails had signs that basically translated to, “You may get hurt or die. If you think you might do one of these things, it’s best not to do them. If you think you might not die, however, go for it!

I realize now you may be reading this and thinking I’m roasting the park or that I’m speaking ill of it in some way, but I’m not! I just found it humorous and a bit more dangerous than your average arboretum. Like I said at the beginning of this, it was hands down my favorite arboretum I’ve been to. I thought the entire place was unbelievable. I even took a picture in the bathroom while peeing… of the window and view, of course.

When we first arrived, Tiff had spilled coffee on her shirt so we decided to visit the gift shop before hiking in and taking pictures. The greeter inside was extremely helpful, nice, and knowledgeable, (about the park - not stained shirts). We went to the restroom, (as previously stated - no clue why I had to mention our bladder powers again) and we were off down the trail.

The path opened up to a peaceful and scenic view, though as a sucker for close up photography, I started taking pictures of flowers immediately. The diversity of plant life here is amazing. It’s even more spectacular when compared to the Texas/mainland flowers we’ve grown up with all of our lives.

As we rounded the start of the trail, it opened to a large, sprawling field with strange trees and mountains hiding at the back of the landscape. The trees had their roots as their base and were exposed. Some hadn’t reached the ground yet and looked somewhat phallic. I, of course, had to showcase this in a photograph below.

Birds were heard overhead, though most were hiding from sight. We traversed a small bridge and came upon trees with the strangest root systems. They rose from the ground like a city’s walls. The way they ebbed and flowed as you followed their tops with your eyes were mesmerizing.

Along the path laid a variety of mushrooms, flowers, and other variants of nature.

As we walked through this area, I realized how obsessed I’ve always been with the forest’s floor. Looking up and through is always wonderful, but there’s something about looking down at the debris that covers the ground that holds an oddly satisfying feeling. Life thrives and dies down there.

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Most of the notable insects we came upon were invisible and only made themselves known by the red welts they left on my wife’s leg, (mosquitoes, we assume). Though besides a large, flying bug that blocked our path, (which I wasn’t able to get a good picture of) we encountered the cricket’looking creature from hell that can be seen below.

We did however see a few normal-appearing bugs as well. Some are harder to see in the photos than others.

Further down the jungle-y, Hawaiian rabbit’s hole we went. The pathway led us by mossy rocks & coconuts, strange-to-us plants & flowers, and more tropical greenery than we were used to. I snapped more photos.

It was a lot to take in and I didn’t come close to capturing it all through my camera. The moment seemed a little more important than the future’s remembrance of it.

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I could get lost in this for days with Tiff and be completely content, (besides all of the bug bites and humidity).

The hike went higher and higher up. The walkways became more dense. Our route elevated and provided us passing root systems that become convenient stairs. The entire climb up we could hear rushing water, but we couldn’t view its source. A directional sign popped up as the only man made object and directed us toward a small waterfall.

We followed the arrow past the sign and its metal sister that warned against falling rocks. After another 5-10 minutes had passed, we were standing before the ‘Aihualama Falls. It stood as a large rock wall with a peaceful stream flowing from it. The entire area was enchanting and belonged to just Tiff and I for a brief, fleeting moment.

We hung out for a bit and began our trek back down. We took a small detour down a part of the path we hadn’t yet traveled.

The rest of the photos are from our trip back down. I can’t recommend Lyon Arboretum enough. If you find yourself in Hawaii on Oahu island, add this to your trip itinerary! You can visit their website by going to: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/lyonarboretum/

Enjoy the rest of the photos below!

Robber's Cave State Park: History, Hiking, and Alien Encounters

Most people tend to think about Oklahoma as a flat, boring state. Well, for the majority of the landscape you'd be right, but not the Robber's Cave State Park Area. Robber’s Cave has some really cool winding trails through giant rock cliffs and an amazing view from the top if you go in the fall, (like Tiff and I did). It’s located in the scenic, hilly woodlands of the Sans Bois Mountains of southeast Oklahoma and just might be among my favorite camping grounds within 4 hours of Dallas, Texas.

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A Brief History

The area surrounding the present-day park has been a hunting ground for hundreds of years. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest people were related to the builders of the Spiro Mounds. By the 1600s, the Osage and Caddo tribes dominated the area. French hunters and explorers also visited, leaving their mark by naming some of the prominent geographic features, which are still used.

After the Civil War, this area became legendary for sheltering fugitives from the law. Some of these included Jesse James and Belle Starr. Other fugitives included the Dalton Gang, the Youngers and the Rufus Buck Gang.
— Wikipedia
“Dalton Gang” - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

“Dalton Gang” - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

My First “Alien” Encounter

When I was a wee lass about 10 or 11, I went on a camping trip to Robber's Cave State Park in Oklahoma. Something happened there that separated itself from other childhood trips: I saw an alien. Well, okay, I REMEMBER seeing an alien or a ghost or something. All I know was I woke up from a dead sleep, looked out of the window that was positioned at the foot of the bunk bed I was sleeping on, and BAM. In front of me stood, (or floated) this incredibly bright, green figure that eerily stared at me unflinchingly.

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In the years that have followed, I’ve tried to scour the internet for sightings similar to my own around that same location. The only similar story even remotely like it is that of “The Spooklight” or “Hollis Light”. A mysterious event that can be seen from the Oklahoma/Missouri state line from a small town in Hornet, MO.

The only issue with this commonly reported sighting compared to my own is that the two events take place a little over three hours from each other. In The Spooklight sightings, most describe it as an orb, whereas I remember a large figure that felt imposing and yet calm somehow. I had always hoped I could return to Robber’s Cave to see if I could experience the same phenomenon. In November of 2017, I got my chance.

My Trip As An Adult

My girlfriend at the time, (now wife) and I decided to go on a quick trip some place close, but out of North Texas. I told her about my encounter and my wish to return to this place that forced me into such wonderment as an adult. It had a lot of hiking and things to climb so she agreed and off we went. Below are some of the photos we took. (Click to Enlarge Them.)

Final Thoughts

As much as I’d love to say I saw the green thing again, I didn’t. Instead, the trip ended up being really great. We explored the area, climbed the rocks, cooked food over an open flame, drank wine, pet farm animals, stargazed, and more. The locals were extremely accommodating at the cabins we stayed at, the nearby gift shop, and the people in the nearest town where we ate dinner the first night.

I often think, maybe it saw me and I was completely oblivious or maybe and more probable, it was all a brain failure at a young age. Either way, I highly recommend visiting RObber’s Cave State Park for yourself. Who knows, maybe the glowing thing is waiting there to meet YOU.

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