Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

A few weeks ago we decided to go Geocaching for an EarthCache in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park just a few miles away from where we were camping.

Dune Not Disturb at Topsail Hill Preserve EarthCache on our Geocaching App.
The first evening we went to the park around 4 PM and the park closes at sunset, so we did not have much time.  We also discovered that just to get to the trail head we wanted, it was a good two mile walk or bike ride.

The park did provide transportation to the boardwalk via trailers pulled by a truck to one of the trails. Then, we could walk to the trail head we wanted, but it was way too late for that this day.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park trail map.
So we rode the tram down to the beach and hung out there the rest of the evening.

One neat item they had at the park was a sandcastle that was built during a Halloween event that was held at the park.  The artists used Elmer's glue in the sand so that it holds its shape and does not deteriorate from the elements.
Front view of sandcastle built this past Halloween.
Good detail on sandcastle.
I guess that the glue works pretty good since the structure was still in pretty good shape a good three weeks after it was built.
Rear view of sandcastle.
We then rode the tram down to the beach boardwalk and spent the rest of the evening there.   The beach was pretty busy for the time of year. 
Beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
 While the kids played on the beach, with Misty watching them, I tried to get a picture of the Moon from overtop of a sand dune with some grass in the way.  

A good friend of mine posted on Facebook, not too long ago, that just because you own a camera, does not make you a photographer.  How true that is.
Don trying to get a picture of the Moon over the sand dune next to the boardwalk.
 Some people have the gift of a photographer's eye, but I am not one of them.  The picture below does not look anything like the scene viewed that day and using my iPhone did not make matters any better.  The Moon looked much closer with the naked eye.
Shot of the Moon through the grass.  The Moon is very small, but is really there.
The next day we loaded up all the bikes, which is an accomplishment within itself since we are talking six bikes and a Schwinn buggy, into the Yukon and headed out to the park.

Once we got there we unloaded everything, along with a backpack of water and the makings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and hit the road.  

While we were a good two miles into the trip, Ian's back tire went flat, so we ditched his bike by the side of the road and he had to squeeze into the Schwinn buggy with Avery and Chloe.
When we are faced with a difficult situation, we simply adjust and move on even though this meant that Misty was now pulling three little ones!  She is one tough cookie as she kept going until the last quarter mile and then I took over.  She said her legs had never felt so much relief when starting to peddle my bike.
Bike rack at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
After we parked the bikes, we then had to walk the other two plus miles into Morris Lake and the trail where we had to get the information for our EarthCache.

An EarthCache does not have a treasure hidden like traditional Geocache, but instead takes you to a place where you learn something about the Earth.

For this one, we had to learn three reasons why sand dunes help us and take a picture of an example of dune erosion.  Below is a  picture of the reasons sand dunes help us.
Stay off the sand dunes so they can help us.
Another interesting fact about the lakes in the park were that there are only four locations in the world that have freshwater dune lakes like these.  I'm not sure where they are and was too lazy to research it, but may one day.  Feel free to research it for me, if you like.

There was some excitement added to our quest with the danger of alligators.  The kids were ready to turn back after seeing the warning sign, but after a little encouragement they continued on the journey.

Unfortunately or fortunately, we did not see any alligators which was a relief for Ethan, since I tasked him with the responsibility of using himself as bait so the rest of the family could escape in the event of an attack.  

His duties were clear, he was to keep its attention, using whatever methods possible, until the rest of us could get a safe distance away.  Then we would send help back for him, once we made our four plus mile trek back to the ranger station.  

No, I'm only kidding, I would have called the ranger station on my cell for them to come save him.  What do you take me for?
Alligator warning sign.
After we made it through Alligator Alley, we found our erosion subject and took a picture.  Our picture was to show the erosion around the roots of the bush behind us.
Erosion which has exposed the bush's roots.
The kids also had some fun playing in the sand while I searched for my picture spot.
Ethan's sand drawing.
Courtney carrying Chloe during our nature hike.
Tia drawing in the sand.
Tia's beautiful artwork in the sand. 
Misty enjoying herself on this fine November day.
Morris Lake made a nice backdrop for us to also take some family photos.

Ian, Courtney, Ethan, Avery, Don, Tia, and Chloe in front of Morris Lake.
Ian, Courtney, Ethan, Avery, Misty, Tia, and Chloe in front of Morris Lake.
All in all we had a very good day, even though we were tired by the time we made it back to the RV.  We had biked over four miles along with walking over four miles, so we had a pretty good workout.  All the kids said there legs felt like jello and we would have to agree!

The day was coming to an end with the Moon showing overhead.  So of course I had to take a picture.  I am a sucker for the Moon and just love to see it in the sky.
The Moon overhead.
So that was our Topsail Hill Preserve State Park trip and EarthCache.  Once again, if it was not for Geocaching, we would have probably never come to this park and enjoyed it.

Until the next blog, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

God bless and remember Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas, not just because it is another holiday.

Don, Misty, and Kids...

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