View of Tom Miller Dam from the walkway at LCRA Redbud center
The coolest part of the building as far as I'm concerned are the models of all the dams on the Colorado River, and they work...you can turn the water on and watch them run through the models and if I had a kiddo interested in "how things work" a little engineer...I'd have them there as quick as you can snap. My little brother would have loved this place when he was small...probably still would.
Isn't this just awesome?
Anyway, you get the point...I didn't include them all...you'll just have to go there yourself. So the class was on water, hydrology and aquatic ecology. We had several speakers, of which I thoroughly enjoyed the herpetologist who loved snakes, Dr. Travis J. LaDuc. He was wonderful and spoke so fast I hardly had time to take notes. He brought tons of slides and wonderful taping of frogs singing and it was baffling how one could train their ears to identify species in such a fashion. If you're interested you can get a Frog Call CD for $5 from the Texas Amphibian Watch at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/amphibians
He also showed up with several live snakes, I didn't include any of the photos of the snakes because when I saw them, they made me sad. I don't think there is anything sadder than seeing an animal in a cage than seeing one in an aquarium or plastic jar...those snakes were not happy.
He went on to explain about the various poisonous and non poisonous snakes, apparently we have only 4 poisonous species in Travis County...but lots of cool salamanders, frogs, turtles and other aquatic animals and insects. The class was interesting, the models of the wells and pollution were depressing, the lack of public knowledge astounding and I left wishing I'd savored the fresh glacial mountain lakes of Alaska more when I was a kid...and wondered why we couldn't just take better care of the earth...for our own sake.
This is Patty, our class president :) She's marvelous and I'm so happy to have met her in this class! One of the best parts of the CAMN program is the camaraderie and the awesome people you get to know, because...you spend a whole lot of time hiking, learning, eating and just having new experiences with like minded souls. I don't know if I have what it takes to hike the AT, but she's done it twice...and that is just utterly amazing to me.
Baker Sanctuary is another brand new location for most of us in the class. It's an Audubon Society site, the first local chapter to purchase land for a species habitat, that species would be our very own...Golden Cheeked Warbler.
Sometimes you just come across an experience that your not likely to forget and this is one of them. Mike Quinn is an Entomologist, the second one we had...the first class was an Introduction to Insects taught by Dr. Al Hood at St. Ed's U, Dr. Quinn is a freelance bug guy fascinated with beetles and is currently doing a study here in Texas. He showed us what you get when you knock a tree...all these critters came falling down onto the catch sheet and he was grabbing 'em up and putting 'em in bottles and talking all the while and I'll never forget the frenzy and excitement. I can't see myself doing a backyard insect survey anytime soon but I will take my time before rushing past the little guys from now on.
Here's my people...amazed by an empty field...city dwellers, craving nature. After lunch, which was lovely, Thank you :) we all had to do a presentation and more than once my eyes welled up.