Post-Nuclear Family Gift Suggestions 2013 – 3

Okay, so far, we’ve been discussing getting through the nightmare that is January and February with physical resources. Books and plants, among other things. Sometimes, though, you need a change of scenery to get by. Sometimes, all you need is the plan of a change of scenery, where you know that you’re going to be someplace wonderful in a few months. It also has to be something different: what’s the point of going to Hawaii in January when every experience you have is one held by every tourist visiting the islands? (That’s why I recommend New Zealand instead. It’s a much further trip, but where else are you going to see keas and tuatara?)

With the promise of getting away from the cold, it may seem odd that I’d recommend a trip to Canada, but that’s what I’m doing. More importantly, I’m recommending a trip to Alberta. Drumheller, specifically, to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. That’s because the Royal Tyrrell just re-opened its world-famous Cretaceous Garden after an extensive renovation. The only thing more jarring than wandering through the Garden’s cool damp and looking through the windows out on the badlands surrounding the museum would be seeing meter-high snowdrifts out on those badlands. Because of that alone, make the trip.

A little closer to home, I actually have a reason to visit Austin. Specifically, my next trip through Austin on my way to San Antonio is a perfect one to visit the Hartman Prehistoric Garden at the Zilker Botanic Garden, just to see a reasonable view of plant life in Texas during the Mesozoic Era. Between this and the Austin Nature & Science Center, and I’m in trouble. (Alternately, for those seeking reasons to ransack the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, combine a trip through the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and a drive due south to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose for much the same effect.)

Acrocanthosaurus

Going a bit further afield, I’ve needed to make a trip back up to the Pacific Northwest for various reasons, and the biggest one is to visit the only US state refuge specifically set up for a carnivorous plant species. This is the Darlingtonia State Natural Site, southwest of Portland and right along the Pacific coast. Much like the Portland Japanese Garden, I missed out on visiting the Natural Site when I lived in the vicinity, and it’s time to go back and claim to be gathering data on plant growth and soil temperatures.

Finally, speaking of fighting winter blues, might I make a suggestion? What always works for me is a good swim, preferably in an actual lake or river with no chlorine or other additives. It’s even better when said lake is full of wildlife, and the water is clear enough that you can watch them from waaaaay off. Between alligators, anhinga, manatees, and swimming year-round, how could any other place beat going for a swim in the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park?

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