Saturday, October 04, 2008
Having fun at the TPWD Expo 2008
Since I had told my kids we were going to the Expo, they were pretty excited. My youngest one was up promptly at 7am and was ready by 7:30am. My son took a little longer to get up and get ready but we were out the door by 8:30am.
Having experienced the limited parking at the Expo before, we have been taking the shuttle buses for the past couple of years. Once we got to the expo we headed to the required education for shooters, got our hands stamped, and then got in line for the clay shooting. Unfortunately for us this wasn't the youth shotgun queue and so we had to move and go get in another long line.
My son waited about 30 minutes and finally got his turn. They get three shots at three slow moving clays that pretty much are launched directly towards them as opposed to the side. He didn't hit any of them but still enjoyed it. He particularly liked how the shells ejected though he wasn't sure he liked the recoil. He still prefers shooting the air rifle for now.
After that, we moved over to the fishing area and took a look at some freshly caught fish that are on ice that kids are encouraged to touch. They had everything from shark to mullet on ice. They also had tanks with live sea creatures that can be touched. My daughter tried to touch a crab and it struck at her though its claws were bound so it couldn't hurt her. As she pulled her hand, she punched her brother in the nose as he stood behind.
I took a photo of my youngest in front of an exhibit sponsored by the Texas ShareLunker program. This is a program where by an angler that catches a bass weighing 13 pounds or greater can donate the fish to TPWD for breeding and study. In return, they are provided with recognition of their catch and I believe they get a replica mount of their catch. There a few replicas of bass over 17 pounds on display. They looked like real pigs!
We then moved on to the fly fishing tent and the kids sat down to tie some flies while I checked out what the various fly fishing clubs from around Central Texas had on display. There are a lot of great fly tyers in the area. When I returned to see what my kids had tied and they gave me their flies, I didn't know that my son's fly had super glue on it and almost got it stuck to my fingers! As I type this, I still have some tiny amount of feather on my thumb and index finger.
The next stop was to visit the Texas Buffalo Soldiers. Their exhibit had a real frontier feeling to it and their uniforms and dress were very authentic. They were all great story tellers as well.
After having some lunch, we visited some tents with some "critters". We saw a peregrine falcon, various amphibians, reptiles and snakes. My daughter startled a diamond back rattlesnake in a plexiglass cage and it took a defensive position and gave us a good warning with his rattle. I told my daughter that if she ever encountered one of these snakes on her own, to back away.
As the kids were getting tired after four straight hours of activities, we went to take a look at some native insects, plants, and walked one small trail before heading back to the shuttle bus. We barely got to scratch the surface of the exhibits, activities and events available. We saw a large tank that provided people with the chance to learn to scuba dive. We saw several folks wearing wet suits about to get in the large tank. That looked kind of cool.
All in all, I had fun, the kids had fun and it was a great learning experience for everyone as well. If anyone ever has a chance to be in Austin next year during this time, I highly recommend going to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo. It really is a great event.