This year is the 100th anniversary of the national parks. There is also a really great program that started last year where all fourth graders can visit national parks and public lands for free. We somehow lucked out on this as our oldest is technically a fourth grader this year! It has been great so far on our adventure to have the opportunity to visit so many of these special places. Another great program they have is the Junior Ranger Program. This is a program that I feel really gets the kids excited to learn more about our protected lands. As a homeschooling mother I am always happy to expand on our education in a fun way.
When making the decision to go on the road our children’s education was a major factor in the overall plan. Since we were already homeschooling there weren’t any worries about taking them out of school to consider. Our thought was that learning the state capitol’s by visiting each one beats finding them on a map or reading about them in a book any day. So when we discovered this awesome Junior Ranger Program it was great. Our kids can get hands on experience learning about the places we are visiting in so many ways. This program consists of the children each receiving a book (even the youngest) with lots of questions and activities for them to complete all relating to the types of plants, animals, land, and things they can do to help protect these things within the park. They are required to complete a certain amount of pages, which varies from park to park, and then return it to a park ranger. Since it is part of our curriculum I encouraged them to go above and beyond what is required of them, and they always do! Upon completion of the book a ranger checks their answers, asks them some questions, to make sure they learned a few things, and then awards them a badge while they are sworn in as an official Junior Ranger. It is a great, fun program that we all enjoy participating in.
I consider this program to be our nature studies for science. To me it is so much more interesting and relatable for them to be doing these things hands on (in some of the most beautiful places in the country) than sitting at home looking at pictures or reading about them in books. We plan to visit as many of the national parks as we can and I am hopeful that they continue to be interested in this program at everyone of them. It is important to motivate the next generation to keep these places special and I think that the Every Fourth Grader in a Park program is an excellent way to get started with this endeavor.
There is a very large section of this country that is covered with evidence of many different volcanic eruptions, including lava tubes, caves, and miles of volcanic rocks. Luckily many of these areas are also federally protected lands. It is important to keep these areas protected as they help geologists to reveal so much about the history of the Earth as well as it’s formation and how it has changed over time. Some of these areas include Northern California, Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Central Idaho, and into South West Montana, and North West Wyoming. We unintentionally happened upon this trail without really knowing that it even existed.
Our first national park visit was to Crater Lake. This huge lake was created by a volcanic explosion that left it inactive. It was amazing to see how big and clear it is, and it is also the deepest lake in the United States. The island that is clearly visible on the western side of the lake still looks like a small volcano rising up from the depths. There is only one place around the entire lake that you can hike down to the water because the sides are so steep. We would have liked to take this hike, but did not want to have to carry a four year old all the way back up to the top, so we had to forgo this particular hike. Fortunately, there are many other hikes within the park that are more kid friendly that we enjoyed. The kids really enjoyed the Castle Crest Trail which took us through a meadow and over a stream where we walked along rocks through the water. This was the first stop on the volcanic tour we still did realize we were embarking on.
Here is Journey in single take format with no rehearsal giving you a tour of our home.
Somehow I didn’t fall and hurt myself!
Heading into Nevada, we stayed at the Ruby mountains and discovered a hidden gem in eastern Nevada. The campsite was difficult to get to, especially due to road work, but it was well worth the drive. Unfortunately we were hit by someone in a truck stop or clipped a road construction cone and had a small amount of damage on the back end of the travel trailer. We are not sure which, but have narrowed it down to one of the two possibilities.
We finally arrived in Carson and stayed with good friends after a quick visit with my parents who graciously fed us. It was a little strange being back in Carson after having only been gone for a little over a month, but we enjoyed getting to see some friends and family. Unfortunately we were not able to see everyone we wanted due to time constraints. It was getting a bit hot and we knew we had to leave soon, so we took care of business that had to be dealt with and headed over to the capital building.
If you are planning to go to Salt Lake City be prepared to pay a premium for your stay. Normally we try to find a good compromise between the low cost camp sites and the really pricey nice camp sites. In Salt Lake City there was very little choice and none of them were inexpensive to a family with a travel trailer. If we were tent camping again, we would have had several options for staying low cost. In our trailer though it was high dollar or hours away. Originally we were thinking of staying right on the great salt lake, but then we figured out that the peninsula had a toll and we would have to pay it each way! So we looked at all the resorts in town and decided on one north of the capital that was slightly less expensive. After driving all day we were informed it was $65 a night to stay at the place we had chosen. I was on the verge of going somewhere else, but we had already looked into the situation and knew that there was no where else decent to go. While we debated taking one of the last spots, people and lined up behind us with their motorhomes and travel trailers! We decided to bite the bullet and just pay for the space, but only for two nights instead of three. The shift changed and Sarah was able to get us in for only $45 a night with the new worker. I guess we got lucky too because by the time we pulled into the camp, there was five people behind us trying to find a site.
When I first started towing our trailer, I was petrified. Here was our home and I am responsible for making sure it isn’t destroyed in transit. I also have to make sure that everyone in the family is safe while we travel across the country. I don’t regret getting a large trailer though, since we are living out of it. I have had the chance to park in a pull through, do a blind back up, backed up into a space only a foot larger than our trailer, taken it on a mountain path on the edge of a cliff, and of course had to navigate tons of road construction sites. There are somethings I learned along the way that I thought I should pass on to anyone else who wants to tow a travel trailer. Continue reading
Life in the travel trailer has been an adjustment for all of us. One of the biggest adjustments for me has been food related. The grocery shopping, as well as the cooking, and preparing meals is still something I am getting used to. It definitely takes a little longer to do the shopping when you are always in a new store. We never know where anything is and the prices vary so much from place to place, but things are always less expensive when they are sourced locally. It’s not a bad thing it is just different.
Peanut-butter and Jelly Bites
As for the cooking……. well, it’s just a smaller space. I love to cook delicious, healthy meals for my family, and I didn’t want that to change when we decided to take our lives on the road. For the most part I am still preparing most of our meals in house, and I am grateful to have all that I need here in my little kitchen. It is not as challenging as I thought it would be to have a significantly smaller space to prepare our meals. It takes a little more planning on our part, as the refrigerator doesn’t hold an abundance of food (we have to finish all the milk before we buy more). We do our grocery shopping about once a week and plan ahead for meals. I prefer fresh ingredients and typically went shopping once a week anyway, so this was not a big change for me. Planning meals is a good habit in my opinion, it takes all the guess work out of meal times, and it makes the shopping easier because I know exactly what I need for the week ahead. I have even been able to do a little baking which is something I
The outdoor kitchen and barbeque are great and we use them on a regular basis!
love to do. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you and would love to try some of yours so feel free to share.
Here is Sarah cooking in her little kitchen for your viewing pleasure