hummingbird nest with two babies in colleyville nature center

Colleyville Nature Center

The Colleyville Nature Center is owned and operated by the City of Colleyville Parks and Recreation.  This 46-acre refuge which features nine ponds and 3.5 miles of trails is a nature lovers paradise located right in the middle of a neighborhood!

I learned of this pocket of paradise, just 20 minutes from my house, through a group called Hiker Babes.  The group is global, and it has both a North Texas Chapter and a DFW Chapter which posts events on Facebook regularly.  It was my first time joining them for an activity, and me and my friend Laura had a nice time. And Laura even walked away with a backpack giveaway! Lucky winner!!


Ennis Bluebonnets

Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and Festival

Ennis, Texas is located 35 south of Dallas off of Interstate I-45.  It is best known for its free Bluebonnet Trails and Festival which takes place the third weekend in April.

The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas and grows wild across the hills of the state along with Indian paintbrush creating lovely blue and red fields.

Ennis, designated the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas in 1997, features 40 miles of driving trails through the native bluebonnet fields, found mostly on private land. 


Free Giveaway Just in Time for Summer Travel

I’m pleased to announce a free giveaway in conjunction with GPSMyCity, a travel app that provides offline GPS guided maps for numerous cities.

For a limited time (May 03, 2023 – May 10, 2023), you can get a free, one-year premium membership. The membership provides access to all guides and articles available within the app along with offline GPS guided maps.

Start with one of my recently published articles below or check out thousands of other guides and walking tours in the app.

It only takes a few steps to claim your free, one-year premium membership (an $18.99 value).

  1. Download the GPSMyCity app.
  2. Register for a GPSMyCity user account
  3. Go to the “More” Screen and “Feedback” to send an email with the following claim code: 24390503

Remember, you only have ONE WEEK to claim your premium membership.

driftwood on matagorda beach

Things to Do in Matagorda

History of Matagorda

Matagorda is the third oldest town in Texas.  It was settled by Elias R Wright, one of Stephen F Austin’s surveyors, along with 60 settlers in 1829.  Once the county seat and thriving shipping port, Matagorda is now a sleepy fishing village approximately 100 miles southwest of Houston.  It is located at the intersection of the Lower Colorado River, the Intercoastal Waterway, and the Gulf of Mexico.


How to Visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico

How to Visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico

For those who don’t know, 25 to 50 million monarch butterflies migrate from the USA and Canada to the monarch butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico every year.  This is a far cry from the billions that made the journey until a rare freeze in Mexico obliterated 80% of the population creating piles 13 inches high of dead monarchs on the ground.  Regardless, it is still an amazing phenomenon that could go extinct…not the butterflies, but the migration. So go check it out before it is too late!

The monarchs arrive in the high-altitude Mexico mountains around November 1st and migrate back to the USA and Canada in mid-March.  They concentrate in 12 known areas over three hectares in the biosphere reserve.  Four of these areas are sanctuaries that are open to the public.

clustered monarch butterflies

The Monarch Butterfly Migration

I’m not sure how I originally heard of the Monarch butterfly migration.  All I knew was that a bunch of monarchs cluster on trees in Mexico during the winter, and I thought it would be cool to photograph.  Well, I got so much more than I bargained for and learned a ton.  What a special experience!

Before I delve into the details, I have two major tips for seeing the monarch butterfly migration in Mexico. 

  1. Unless you are fluent in Spanish, read the book Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman, as the guides don’t speak English.  While she pushes her agenda on occasion, she provides a wealth of knowledge about the monarchs I wish I had known prior to visiting.  I ended up listening to the entire book on my extended travels home from Mexico.  It made what we watched that much more fascinating.  I have a renewed appreciation of the monarch butterfly.
  2. If you only have time to visit one Sanctuary, make sure it is El Rosario and go on a weekday.  DO NOT go to any sanctuary on a weekend.  They get way too crowded.

Things to Do in Pátzcuaro

I had never heard of Pátzcuaro, Mexico until I traveled to the area to watch the monarch butterfly migration, which is a remarkable phenomenon. I didn’t know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by all that Pátzcuaro had to offer.

How to Get to Pátzcuaro, Mexico

Pátzcuaro, Mexico is a 1 hour 30 minute drive southwest of General Francisco Mujica International Airport which is located just outside of Morelia.  Our tour company, Mexico Specialists, sent Maria and Juan Carlos to pick us up.

They met us outside of immigration and after a stop in Morelia to see the cathedral and a few other places near the main square, we made the easy drive to the charming town of Pátzcuaro, situated at 7,000 feet on the southern edge of Lake Pátzcuaro.

Upon our arrival, the bustling community of 50,000+ was actively preparing for a Fat Tuesday celebration the following day.  A variety of hearts, remnants of Valentine’s Day from a few weeks past, dotted the Plaza Grande, at which our hotel, Hotel Casa del Naranjo, stood on the corner.


Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge

The Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 40 miles southwest of Katy, Texas.  Between my two horse shows at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, I took a half day to check it out.

The refuge includes a visitor center with a variety of stuffed birds and a movie about the Attwater prairie chickens, a 4-mile auto loop and two short trails, 1.2 miles and 0.8 miles.

I visited with my priority being to walk Annie but was disappointed to find that the lek, where the prairie chickens boom, is off limits to the public!  What a bummer since the booming season (or courtship ritual) was just beginning.  It lasts from February to April.


Things to Do in Spearfish

There is so much to do in the Black Hills of South Dakota!  Most visitors to the area likely go to see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.  Along with visiting these iconic places near Custer and Hill City, don’t forget about towns farther north, including Spearfish, Deadwood and Sturgis.

We took a five-day girls trip to South Dakota which only gave us a taste of the Black Hills.  If I had to do it over again, I would have gone for longer and split my time between the southern and northern parts, basing in Hill City and Spearfish.

south dakota

Top Things to Do in Hill City

Well, it’s better late than never, I guess.  I’ve taken almost a 3 month hiatus away from my blog with a stint in the hospital (I recommend not getting acute pancreatitis) and a not very smooth move into my townhome.  Then the holidays came and my blog on Hill City, South Dakota had to wait!

Now Hill City is covered in snow, but my soccer peeps and I visited while the black hills glowed in beautiful fall colors at the beginning of October.  It was my second time to the area, the first being 11 years ago during my year-long road trip across the USA. I liked the Black Hills so much I have wanted to return. I finally made it back and already want to return again!

Several small towns pepper the Black Hills, but Hill City was one of my favorites and great base for visiting Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and more. We spent five days in Hill City, not only exploring the sites nearby, but also driving up to Spearfish and spending some time around there. 

We rented a house on VRBO with a great location outside of Hill City and adjacent to the Mickelson Trail.  It had great views of horses, fall colors and sunsets.  While I very much liked the location, if I had to do again, I’d stay longer and split the stay between Hill City and Spearfish because there is so much to see and do and it eliminates a lot driving.