Island Time……Northwest Style….

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A few days ago we went to visit some friends that live on Whidbey Island. Well, it is safe to say that it was one of the rare times we were able to get out of the house without pain or suffering.  A pretty smooth (for us) operation, we were so smooth in the transition from house to van that we left a bit early.  Ah, the feeling of not being rushed.  And no we didn’t forget anyone (this time) but we did get to Whidbey a bit early, so early in fact that if we went directly to our friends place we would have been about a hour early. So we decided to find a beach, or harbor to explore for a bit since we didn’t want to invite ourselves too early.


So we found a cute, little boating community that had a little beach front we could play at.  The kids took no time at all finding shells and other dead things to play with.



Even Charlotte was able to get into the action, but I not sure she wanted to get in on the action.


Because 2 seconds after taking this picture she dropped the crab, with a look of disgust.


It was a very fun way to start off our visit to Whidbey Island.  We were even able to burn off enough time here that we were back into our natural element of running late again.

Oh well, Life is short and God is good so might as well enjoy all the little get aways you can.



Homeschool Trip 2014: Canyonlands

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Our next stop was Canyonlands.  Honestly, by this point in our trip we were starting to get a little worn.  We’d been on the move the whole time and we were moving a bit slower each morning.  This year was the 75th anniversary for Canyonlands so it was quite a popular place to be.  As a result, our hotel was a little over an hour away.

This was really cool to see.  The rocks were green!  This was on the drive into Canyonlands.  We found out from the ranger its the same rusting process that changes the rocks red but for these there was no oxygen.  So instead of red they turn green.  How cool is that!  Another great science lesson.


We were also stopped by these rocks.  I mean really the rocks around here are pretty amazing.  I love all the different textures, shapes and colors.  These also had the added benefit of having a helicopter on top.  These rocks reminded me of a rock monster.  I was expecting them to come alive and start moving any minute!


We finally wound our way to the top of this “Island in the Sky.”



The kids got started on their Junior Ranger books right away.




This was pretty much how we all felt as we listened to yet another “millions/billions/trillions” lecture.  It was getting a bit old.  The rangers would throw it in even when it had nothing to do with their talk.  So, no, we don’t believe in millions of years.  We believe in a created earth as described in the Bible.


We didn’t do much hiking in this area.  Its a large park and most of the trails are long.   We found a great spot to eat lunch and work on the kids’ books but no one was excited for a hike.  So, we did a car tour and headed back to the hotel.


Homeschool Trip 2014: Bryce Canyon

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Next up…


What can I say, it was amazing!  I may have mentioned it before but, one of the things I loved about this trip was how different each area was.   In just one way, in Zion you start at the bottom and hike up.  Makes it nice for the return.


In Bryce, you start at the top and make your way down.  The decent is great.  You start to see the real size of the canyon as you feel smaller and smaller.

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And at the bottom its almost a different world.  As you’d expect each trial had sign.  But they also had a Benchmark (metal disc) on the sign to get a rubbing of.  The challenge in Bryce is to bring at least three rubbings back to show you Hiked the Hoodoos.  We would have loved to ‘collect them all’  but only had time for the three.  For this we rewarded ourselves with some ‘I hiked the Hoodoos’ t-shirts.

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Then the accent.


We chose a more gradual accent the second day but either way what goes down must come up.  These were probably the more challenging hikes and the kids did great.

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Once the trails were done we headed down the main road to see some other views.  We didn’t quite make it to the end before the sun set but we saw some other great sites.


Natural Bridge was one of those on our list.  We took along with us a great resource from True North on Bryce Canyon.  We really enjoyed being able to see these sites with information from a creation pint of view.


Homeschool Trip 2014: Mammoth Caves

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On my birthday we toured around the area and did some exploring.  We came across the Duck Creek area and even found a cute little visitor center. _MG_5649-1 We had seen signs about Mammoth Caves and inquired within.  The gentleman there gave us this great map and we were off. _MG_5653-3 The “road” through this area was questionable at times.  The recent rains also had us a little nervous.  One thing we don’t have on our van is 4-wheel drive.  And we won’t mention all the turns that weren’t on the map.  Thankfully they kept putting out these signs to keep us moving forward. _MG_5729-11 We loved seeing these Pronghorn roaming around.  There was a little heard of about 7 of these guys grazing. _MG_5673-4 We finally made it!  We had a nice little walk round the area before heading into the cave.  Ok, I’ll be honest.  We are apparently directionally challenged and were searching for the huge hole in the ground.  Yes, that one you see below.  The one we could have thrown a rock into from our car.  Thats the one.  Oh well, it made our trip just that much more memorable.  And we saw some great views from the edge of the mountain. _MG_5680-6 _MG_5651-2 ‘Mammoth’ in this case did not refer to the height of these caves. _MG_5698-8 _MG_5696-7 _MG_5711-9 The shorties of the group were able to go in with no problem but those over four feet had some trouble.  Especially with the additional baby on the back.  So, the spelunking adventure was a little shorter than expected but, still fun memories. _MG_5723-10 We headed back to the hotel for some teriyaki chicken and cheesecake _MG_5734-12 Thanks a lot honey…  🙂 _MG_5735-13 _MG_5743-15 See you next time! _MG_5741-14

Homeschool Trip 2014: Cedar Breaks

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On the road to Bryce Canyon we came across this little place.  It was a fun, quick stop to get out and stretch our legs. It also gave us a taste of what we would encounter later.


At each of the parks the kids would get their Junior Ranger books and work toward earning their badges.


The ranger at this stop was great.  He was so excited the kids were working on their books and went through each step with them before giving their badge to them.


Homeschool Trip 2014: Zion National Park

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Zion was the first stop in our journey this year.  It was beautiful!  We had planned two days to explore.



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We were eager to ditch the car and hit the trails.  It was stunning to be walking down the canyon and looking up to these.  Seeing all the various colors of rock.  You had to remind yourself to watch where you were going so you didn’t trip!_MG_5019-3 _MG_5034-6

We hopped on the bus ride to get a general lay of the land and see the park as a whole first.  Ezekiel became known as Hawk-eye.  He had a knack for being the first always to spot wildlife.  To which everyone on the bus would whip out their cameras. _MG_5089-13

Charlotte was very happy to NOT have to be in her carseat._MG_5091-14 _MG_5092-15

Our first day ended with a downpour.  We were on the bus headed to a trail and it just dumped.  We decided not to venture out.  Initially we were quite bummed by all the rain.  And although this rain was nothing like here in the northwest I wanted to be hiking.  But, as a bus driver pointed out, we were witness to something most people never see.  Waterfalls in Zion.  We watched the canyon walls as we witnessed the birth of many waterfalls.  It was a site to be seen.


Our day ended with a drive through the rains.  To see what that was like take a look at Greg’s GoPro video.  We also kept getting notices like this on our phone.  So, we left. 🙂



Day 2 started a little sketchy.  The rains created a flash floods in the areas south of us.  Roads had been washed out, houses flooded.  Watching the news in the hotel the kids were quite surprised to find out the rain we were in the previous day had played a part in what we saw.  Flash floods were the science lesson of the day.


When we arrived at Zion (an hour drive from our hotel) we discovered all but one of the trails (a bike trail) had been closed due to the flooding.  We headed in and decided to eat lunch and then get on our bikes.  That may have been it for the day but we would get the most from it.  This bike ride earned Oliver the nickname “Rooster.”  He never saw a red mud puddle he didn’t want to ride through and as a result had the longest streak of red up his back and sweatshirt hood.  The ‘rooster tail’



What started as a questionable day in Zion ended quite rewarding.  Many people had been told Zion was closed.  Others left when they found out most of the trails were closed. As a result the park was fairly empty.  The updates were all very minute to minute.  Just was we were about to leave we were ease dropping on some Rangers and heard that all trails except the Narrows had been opened!  We quickly hit the trails again but were cautioned as many places were still very slick with mud.  Our first hike was to Weeping Rock._MG_5129-17 _MG_5126-16 _MG_5132-19 _MG_5133-20

One water fall still flowed the remains of the previous day._MG_5135-21

The blue sky from the previous day was missed but the cooler weather made for some great hikes._MG_4975-2

The ‘rain’ you see here is the water ‘weeping’ out of the solid rock.  _MG_5136-22 _MG_5087-12

The last hike we did was the 2 mile Riverwalk.  It was a beautiful hike with new views of the canyon, vegetation and wildlife._MG_5164-23  _MG_5292-24 DCIM100GOPRO

One of the things I enjoyed most about Zion was the variety of the trails.  Each trail provided a glimpse of something new.  A feature of the canyon you can’t see from anywhere else.  This is one place I can see visiting again and discovering new areas.  _MG_5025-5

Mt. St. Helens (part 2)

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Ok, so most of last post was about the bus.  How about some actual trip footage.  Our first day there found us at the children’s Museum in Portland.  The desire was for the zoo (right next door) but the spring rains forced us indoors.



There was face painting…


An awesome gravel pit…


This was Oliver’s favorite.




And one darn cute little 3-year-old!


I want one of these in my house.  Giant Light brite.


We ended our museum play with clay.  They had a great setup that even allowed for your pieces to be painted and fired!


The Ape Caves (Day 2)


Day two took us to the Ape Caves.  Since it was (still) cold and wet outside this seemed to be better option than hitting the outside of the mountain.  Although, I do think we got just as wet in the cave.  But it was on our list to do and we are, after all, northwesterners!


Oliver cautiously taking the stairs down to a very long, dark cave.



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Needless to say it was challenging to take pictures in the caves.  At least for me.  Greg was able to get some better ones and some cool camera effects along the way.  We started hiking down the kid friendly side of the caves.  I’m not sure how far we traveled, given our slower pace with 9 kids 8 and under but it was far enough to be in awe.  I was very proud of all the kids.  At first I wasn’t sure we would all make it very far but each one overcame the darkness and enjoyed the hike.


Melia, Zoe & Kellina a bit more wet than when we arrived but still all smiles.