Saturday, September 9, 2017


After spending time throughout the nation, we've found new favorites, as well as confirmed old ones.  Such a difficult list to narrow down, so forgive me if this isn't complete and I have to revisit.  Perhaps several times.

State Parks:

Hands down, Collier Memorial State Park (Oregon) is my favorite.  It's a beautiful location, first of all.  Nestled in the woods, a short walk through the woods and over a river into the logging museum, a wonderful laundromat and hot showers.  Yeah, this place rocked.  By no means is this the only great state park we stayed in, but state park quality varies, vibes vary, and subjective opinion all play a part here.  From this location we visited Crater Lake National Park (also in Oregon) and Lava Beds National Monument (California).  We could take a brief walk from our campsite to the river where the kids could take a dip and refresh and relax.          


This one is much harder.  Overall, our National Park system is the bomb.  Such amazing properties, such wonderful lands we have available to us, we all should take advantage.  Buy a year pass, take some time off, check them all out.  That said, there are parks that are more crowded and less enjoyable for me.  I love to be in smaller parks, where the population is smaller.  Our campground in Acadia was the least popular, and the coastline was really amazing.  Visiting the more popular side was filled with impressive sights, but there were miles of cars parked on the side of the road to get to the most popular areas.  Not my cup of tea.  If you're looking for a more leisurely experience, Joshua Tree and Death Valley in February were fabulous.  The weather was good, the crowds were minimal, and the locations are so incredible.  Shenandoah in May was great during the week, and even on the weekend, the property is so extensive that we were not in with crowds of people.  We were able to enjoy ourselves.  I just really loved getting out there and exploring the variety of parks within the system.  And don't forget the National Monuments.  Oh, and toss in some National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and you might as well visit Historical Sites and Battlefields.  Get the pass, and get out there!


Army Corps of Engineers (COE)-run campgrounds are the best.  Cheap, on the water, hot showers.  We lucked into our first one in Oregon, and we kept our eyes out for more along our route.  We got to stay at more in several other states, and we will always recommend finding a COE site.  As far as activities, you've got your water sports, and whatever the nearby towns hold, but they're usually only $20/night, including the hot shower.  And in Vermont, where everyone else wanted to charge us per person over 2 adults and 2 kids, COE didn't care how many kids we had with us.            


I am a huge fan of Herr's Salt and Vinegar chips, so we naturally had to tour.  And they did not let us down.  It's not a free tour, but it was one I was willing to pay.

Morse Farms had a very nice setup.  It was a self-guided tour, free of charge, that gave a glimpse of what it takes to make maple syrup.  The walk through their maples was really cool, as you could see their hoses up for the sugar season.  And of course, there were samples.  Yum!

Danforth Pewter let us check out the process of making pewter items.  After the tour bus left, we were the only ones there, so we got a lot of attention from them and got a personalized introduction to their business.  Way cool.

And let's not forget Marquam Hill Alpacas.  We arrived right at closing time, and we got an hour and a half tour and talk about their operations. Such a great   experience! And who doesn't love petting alpacas?


Wherever we went, we tried to get a taste of local.  Not everywhere we went did we find something that we had to take with us, but there are things we picked up that we want all the time now.

Mrs. Renfro's Jalapeno Slices.  Oh my.  These things are crisp, wonderful flavor, just the right amount of spice.  This is now what I go to when I make my salsa.  Love 'em!

Tillamook anything.  Except maybe their larger sized vanilla yogurt.  Butter?  Love it.  Ice cream?  Yes, please.  Cheese?  Well, I do like east coast stuff better, but it's good.  Everything we've tried, we like.  Places sell different things, so it's frustrating to find their ice cream but not their butter, or whatever.  But if we find it, we buy it.

Bulgarian style buttermilk.  Not a brand specific thing, but I love the Bulgarian style buttermilk.  Thicker, richer, tangier.  Can't find it here in Colorado.  At least, not yet I haven't.    I have read up on how to make it, though, so someday I'll spend the time and energy on experimenting.  If you haven't had it, you can get it in the south.  And it's freaking AWESOME.

Boulder Sausage.  Ok, we knew heading out of here we would miss this.  Their sausage really is just that much better.  We kept trying local sausage, hoping that someone else would make sausage as good, but it was a bust.  Their Hot Italian ground sausage is our go-to for homemade pizza, and we've been happy to have it again since being back.  Trust me, it's the one to look for at the store!

Cedar's hummus.  Their carmelized onions and balsamic vinegar hummus is so so very tasty.  Truth be told, though, that was my absolute fave and I didn't really try any other except the roasted garlic the kids wanted.  That wasn't as tasty as the onion one, so I didn't eat it.  But try the carmelized onions and balsamic one if you ever find it.  You won't regret it.  Or at least don't tell me if you do.  Cuz I won't believe you.  Best part?  I can find it here in Colorado.  Yeah!

Joseph's pita.  So soft, so tasty, so darn good.  I was hooked.

Grocery Stores:

Kroger's family
Wal Mart
lots of different farmer's market type places--Snow Goose Produce in Washington, Robert is Here in Florida.  Those are just the ones I remember.  Ask locals, they recommend the best places!

Other Stores:

Vermont Country Store.  LOVE IT!
Jax Sporting Goods
L.L. Bean

So many things to see and do in this wonderful country!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Money Revisited

During the trip, I made several changes to the way I track money.  I've been meaning to go through and re-examine my data, try and get things to align since I didn't initially capture data the way I did at the end.  But the fact is that school is upon me and my days are full.  But here is what I DO have:

Total money spent:  $55,623.07

That way overshoots my initial goals.  I'm bummed.  But I'm gonna spend some time and justify my overspending ways.  I included in there a lot of items that were bought for the trailer.  LEDs, shower rods, curtains, organization items, cookware, and the like.  Yes, that's money spent.  If I took the same trip today, it wouldn't cost as much, because I would already have those items.  There are also medical expenses that are not solely trip related (though Lyme was, so stink on you, Vermont!  Whom I really love, so most is forgiven).  I have allergies that have to be tended to, asthma that simply can't be ignored any longer, a slow thyroid that needs some revving, and the miscellaneous headaches and other aches and pains.  We had two major services on the Sprinter, and that stuff costs a pretty penny. Let's break down that wad o' cash:

Fuel:  $7062.89  That comes to just over the $500/month that we budgeted.  We spent about 13.5 months on the road, so that's not so bad.  We had some very spendy months with fuel, and some very non-spendy months.  I'm overall pleased with our fuel purchases.

Laundry:  $562.25  I have to be honest, I didn't even track this expense initially.  What I'm saying is that I know this number isn't totally honest.  The money has most likely been captured in another area, but sometimes not.  Cash was our number one way of paying for laundry, and since I didn't write it down while we were in the laundromats, it sometimes wasn't the most accurate accounting.  Also, looking back at earlier blogs, I didn't even budget for this expense.  And oh my, this was a wildly varying expense.  Some weeks we could get away with $10, other weeks it cost us over $40.  And we generally washed the same amount from week to week.  Some weeks were bigger than others because of sheets and towels or what not, but the number one factor for how much it cost us was the laundromat itself.  The laundering experience was not my favorite on this trip.

Groceries:  $18743.50  My oh my is that a large number.  For those paying attention, we also overran on this category.  I had wanted to stick to $1000/month, so we overran by about $5000.  Which in truth was predictable.  Could I have done better?  Absolutely.  If it were you, could you have done better?  Surely.  But food deprivation is not my style.  Perhaps it ought be.

Restaurants:  $6772.19  Another category I denied in the beginning.  I just tracked food, so my numbers for groceries and restaurants are combined for the first two months and reflected above.  And I never budgeted for this.  So with the two categories combined, we spent just under $2000/month, just about double what I budgeted.

Lodging:  $7940.02  Um, I wanted to stay at $500/month or under.  Didn't happen.  Even with all the Wal Mart parking lots and relatives' houses we stayed in, that number is high.  We had quite a few places (especially on the East Coast) that were $30/night.  There was hardly a place we stayed on the East Coast for under $20/night.  Guadalupe Mountain National Park in Texas was $8/night.  We stayed in Hickiwan Trails in Why, AZ for just under $14/night, with full hookups.  We paid $25/night at Bradbury Mountain State Park with no hookups.  And it would have been $30/night had we used their reservation system (good thing we were there on weekdays and didn't NEED a reservation!).  We definitely spent more on a nightly basis on the East Coast.

We have other categories, but the one we spent the most in was just a miscellaneous column.  There we put all the car expenses, trailer stuff, medical stuff, and souvenirs we bought.  That was an outlandish $14077.91.  I know we spent on the order of $2400 just in car maintenance/repair.  We bought things like chocks and LEDs and solar for the trailer.  We spent more than $1000 on medical and dental.  But once again, not budgeted and I certainly didn't keep them categorized.

So, am I disappointed that I can't keep myself to as strict a budget as I could when I was 25?  Absolutely.  Did I want to live like I did when I was 25?  Truly did not.  It wasn't fun enough the first time around.  BUT, we had the money in the bank for this trip, we came back with some money, so it was a choice we could afford to make.  Bill did not have a paycheck for eight of our nearly 14 months out, so it was tougher than I would have liked.  I would have liked to have come back with more money in our accounts, but we spent the money the way we wanted, and that's what the money was in the bank for.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Back in CO

We've been back in Colorado for a little over a week now, and we're still working on settling back in and gearing up at the same time.  Bill's out right now getting our trailer into a storage area.  Not only did it take us a while to clean out almost nine months of living from the trailer, it took us a while to get up the nerve to face the task.  But we have, and it's done, and soon we'll start planning our next adventure.  Alaska.  Before that, though, we'll have some weekend trips thrown in for good measure.

Just to give you an idea of the absolute enormity of our trip, I'll give you the quick and dirty numbers I have at my finger tips.  We travelled just about 50,000 miles on this journey of 406 days.  I accumulated over 8,000 photos (of varying quality), K earned somewhere near 70 Jr. Ranger badges and patches from a variety of national parks/monuments/recreation areas as well as state parks and US Forest sites.  NB and J also did a ton of Jr. Ranger programs, but K did all that she could.  We crossed international borders 20 or so times (we did quite a bit of back and forth when we stayed in Canada our last time) and managed to check out the only park run jointly by Canada and the US.  We drove through 47 states, camping overnight in 39.  For those interested, we managed to miss out on Delaware, in addition to Hawai'i and Alaska.

Favorites?  Oh, that's a tough one.  We enjoyed so much about our trip.  When we've had a chance to sift through all the pictures, we might end up with a favorite, but I'm doubting we will.

I'll come back and give more numbers for our trip later.  Right now I need to continue setting up our space in my parents' basement, get ready for a new homeschooling year, and come up with our new permanent home.  Keep checking back, I'll keep you updated.  Thanks for following our journey--I hope you've enjoyed it as well!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Looking Back, Part II

We've listed the things we're looking forward to and the things we WON'T miss, now it's time to talk about what we WILL miss....


  • Local foods
  • Seeing new places
  • Friends and family
  • Different birds and flowers


  • The views
  • All the different homemade ice creams
  • All the new places
  • Seeing family and friends


  • Getting to see new places
  • Seeing relatives and friends


  • Seeing things I've never seen before
  • Seeing relatives and friends


  • Travelling
  • Getting to see relatives
  • The small space
  • Seeing something new every week or so


  • Seeing a lot of places
  • Having a lot of different rocks to climb around
  • Outside space
  • All the different types of things you get to do in all the different places


  • Camping
  • The outside cool of the air
  • Making new friends

And that's our list.  See you back in Colorado!

The Final Stretch

After Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we set forth on a whirlwind tour of the midwest and Rocky Mountains area. We hit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  The hike we took to the lakeshore goes up over the dunes.  It was a challenging walk--sand is loose, stairs are high, etc...  But the return part of the hike is a sidewalk through the dunes instead of up and over them.  The water is very choppy, and there was no swimming that day.  The lifeguards got to swim, though.  Not to rescue anyone, and I'm not sure what they were doing, but they went out past the markers in the water.  I didn't wait to see if they made it back to shore, but I'm sure they're fine.            
We busted through Indiana, and spent the night in Wisconsin.  We were only down the road from the Mars Cheese Castle, which the internet told me I had to check it out.  Turns out, they were wrong.  It's cool to say I've check it out, but it's not nearly as exciting and fun as the Vermont Country Store.  The kids described it as a grocery store.  A very limited grocery store.  So stop if you must, but it's not a big deal.                
I love gas stations that put a little something fun to make your visit noteworthy.  We had this guy, a couple of orange moose, and a leaping deer.  Why?  I have no idea. But they made me smile.                                      
We overnighted in Minnesota on our way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  On our drive to the park, we saw metal sculptures on the side of the road.  Well, we saw the Flying Geese.  We would have had to take the Enchanted Highway to see the rest, and I was not up for a detour.                  
We got to see a lot of bison on our visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We stayed in the North Unit, which I think is probably less visited than the South Unit, but is definitely worth the visit.  The first night we were there we spoke with a family who missed the ranger talk because they were stuck in bison traffic, so we hopped in a car to check it out.  Later in our visit we got stuck in a herd crossing the road at their own leisurely pace, but that first night we got to see a herd on the topside.              
They also have a herd of nine steer, which we were fortunate enough to see before heading out.  We stayed a couple nights, which allowed us to see the animals and check out a hike or two.  We really liked this park that we had truly not heard anything about before coming to visit.                  
Next on our list was Badlands.  The campground was filled up, so we camped at the Cabela's in Rapid City, but we got to spend a few hours checking out the badlands and the animals in the park.      
From the Badlands, we headed to South Dakota, Black Hills country.  We hit Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, and Mount Rushmore.  We drove by Crazy Horse because we've done it before and didn't feel the need to go again.  We did drive by it again and saw Crazy Horse carved in the mountain.                                    
We began this trip visiting a national monument that we love, and we're ending the same way.  Devil's Tower is a place we really enjoy, so I'm glad this was the last stop on this amazing journey.  And now, we head home.


Somehow I completely forgot to blog about going to Punxsutawney, PA.  What?  Ok, so this dude is Phil.  You can tell he's taxed from his one moment in the spotlight every year.  In fact, he rests so much, that one of the most common inquiries is whether he's actually alive or not.  Fear not, he is truly alive.                  
Phil holds a special place in our hearts, though we've never met him until now.  We invited him to our wedding, but that's the only day he has work obligations, so he had to decline.  It was worth the small detour to make it to Punxsutawney.  There are these groundhog statues all over the city, and it's fun to go looking for them.  We've really enjoyed the cities that have fun statues all over the place to find.  Just a fun little way to explore.  I'm happy to have visited Punxsutawney, but I'm equally glad we weren't there on the 2nd of February--just a ton of folks come out to check out Phil's prediction.  If you get the chance, check out the town, and say hi to Phil at the library.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Quick Stops

As we make our way back across the country, we have to balance wanting to get home as quickly as possible and wanting to see as many things and people as possible.  Originally we were going to try to see friends in NY on our way back, but it was not really on our way, by many hours, so that hope was dashed.  But by not hugging the great lakes in NY/PA, we went a faster route AND got to see my aunt Rita again.  Truly, who doesn't enjoy a phone call asking for a meet up in three hours' time?  But she was flexible and came out to dinner with us--hooray!  
We planned on stopping in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, cuz it's a national park, duh.  But Ohio is so close to West Virginia that Bill's parents were able to come out and meet us, bringing along Bill's nephew.  Before they showed up, we checked out the Brandwine Falls.  The park is along the Ohio & Erie Canal.  The path to the overlooks is easy, though it has a bunch of very steep steps.  K, NB, and J all did the Jr. Ranger program, so they had a few things they had to do and see.                                  
Their first stop for their senses scavenger hunt was to go over by the foot bridge and write down what they smelled.  There were flowers aplenty there, some very beautiful ones.  On the path to the falls overlook, NB shoved a flower up my nose, which one of our fellow travelers thought was a hoot.  But it smelled wonderful, so how bad could it have been?                                  
This is the Boston Store Visitors' Center.  I can't remember what they were supposed to do here other than sit in the rocking chairs.  The Boston Store is a beautiful building, and I do so love their rocking chairs.                    
A joined us on part of the senses scavenger hunt.  This one had us over at a lock.  There were some ducks here that we found, too.                      
After all the fun and adventure earning Jr. Ranger badges, NB decided to spend more time on his one handed handstands.  Perhaps it doesn't come across so well here. But it's actually impressive.                                      
We finished up the short visit with an early dinner.  A & J got the kids' menu breakfasts.  That's enough for a small army.  Holy cow.  After dinner we pushed on a couple hours to a Wal Mart on the other side of Ohio to make our travel day the next day just a bit shorter.  Onward to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

New Brunswick, One More Time

I'm so glad that I sometimes go back and double check what I've posted so far.  I completely forgot about Campobello in my rush to talk about times with friends!  Please forgive me as I take you back in time, way back before Cici & Ruwan and the kids came to visit.  Ok, the day before.  But still....  
As you turn down the road headed towards Schoodic Woods Campground (which is where we stayed in Acadia, if I haven't mentioned that before), there are signs for Campobello.  So glad they had those signs, I had completely forgotten about it.  Roosevelt Campobello International Park is a joint venture between Canada and the US.  FDR used to vacation there as a child, and as an adult he continued the tradition.  His family "cottage" (is 16 bedrooms really a "cottage"?) is there and preserved by both US and Canadian workers, and is just inside New Brunswick on an island right across from Lubec, Maine.  I had read up on it, I knew I wanted to go, and Cici said they didn't have passports, so we did this without them.  And on our way, we went to Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge.  No moose, tons of biting bugs.  We did do the mile-ish hike, but that was as far as we could make it with our insect buddies.  My big regret from that visit is that we were only about 14 miles from the St. Croix Island Historic Site but didn't make it over there.  Bummer.                      
So this is where Franklin and Eleanor brought their family to vacay before the presidency, and even for a bit after he was elected.  It was here that his polio was diagnosed, here where the second FDR, Jr was born.  I did not even know before the visit here that they named a second son Jr as well, the first having died as a young child.  This is indeed waterfront property, and it is gorgeous.  I definitely liked their entire food setup--kitchen, pantry (larger than some bedrooms I've had), and a butler's pantry (the approximate size of the other pantry).  Yeah, I think that's a workable setup.  There's not a whole heck of a lot about the park.  We read through the stuff at the visitors' center, watched the film, toured the house, walked the grounds, and then we left to explore more of the island.  One of the docents recommended a public beach, so that's where we headed first.      
Real quick before the beach--here's the sign warning of drunk bees.  I love the graphic.  I met no such bees.  These are in a couple spots at the international park.                      
This is from an overlook close to the beach.  We didn't bring any suits or anything, so the kids just tromped around without their shoes, but didn't get in.  Good thing, too, as a grandma there warned us about strong undercurrents.  She was very concerned about some other kids there who weren't being as safe as she'd like.  But, as the kids weren't getting in the water, I felt they were safe from the undertow.  From here, we decided that we should investigate the island more, afterall, the drive was more than an hour and a half.  Let's find a lighthouse!                                
This isn't the best picture of the lighthouse, I'll show that to you in a minute.  First, let's survey the land.  There's a sign before this point that says you're taking your own risks here.  That staircase is roped off, because it ends in water.  At low tide, you can cross from this space over to the other ladder in the background of the picture and explore the island where the lighthouse is.  But alas, it was not low tide when we were there, and the current is quite strong and the water is full of sharp rocks.  A deathtrap, as it were.  We did get cool pictures, we rock hopped a bit, we checked out what's at the water's edge, and we felt adventurous for taking the risk of walking around.  But we did not touch the water.          
You can see the lighthouse better, while getting a feel for how isolated it is.  I wish it showed the current there.  Definitely not something you want to cross.  It's a shame our timing and the tides didn't match up, I would have enjoyed exploring this bit.                  
Crossing back over the Bay of Fundy to get into the US, the fog started rolling in.  Really cool to just see the blanket of fog.  While we were on the bridge, G spotted some seals, so we toodled around Lubec to find them.  Lubec is the eastern most city in the contiguous US.                  
A lot of people gathered to spot the seals.  There were quite a few out that day, just rollicking and having a grand old time.  We stayed for a bit, but it was getting close to the time to have dinner, so we headed out towards Acadia again.                  
I had a hard time getting any pictures, but I did manage to get a couple.  When we talked to one of the guys at the Schoodic Institute, he recommended (if we were inclined to drive a bit) the Quoddy lighthouse.  In Lubec.  While it was beautiful and I'm glad we went, we did not go back to see that lighthouse.  I hear it's gorgeous, though.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Beginning of the End

Our last day at Acadia was a slow day, spent preparing for the ride home.  Our buddies headed back out to the Bar Harbor side to check out the lighthouse--we've seen several lighthouses, so we passed.  I'm glad that we did--just taking a moment to gather ourselves and put our house in order before heading out helps out so much.  We did get together for one last dinner before we headed back to our respective homes.

When we visited King Arthur Flour on our way out of Vermont, I restrained myself a lot.  On our route back home, I decided to hit King Arthur Flour once more and to get a variety of flours.  They all say things about using them all for pizza crust, and I have decided to experiment and try to improve my homemade pizza nights with better crust.  So that was our first stop on our way back to CO (the extended version).

While we could make the drive in maybe 5-7 very long days of driving, that option does not appeal.  And instead of simply busting butt, we're continuing the adventure and checking out a few things on our way.  Thus the trip to King Arthur, and then we also met up with my aunt Rita for dinner as we passed through.  We have plans to hit four more national parks, meet up with some more family, and check out a few more parts of the country.  We've gotten a bit of pushback from the kids, who are very done, but I think they'll enjoy the national lakeshores and parks and such.  Plus, we're hitting Devil's Tower again, which is a family favorite.  Onward Ho!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bar Harbor

We got to Bar Harbor early in the morning, right around 8:30 (planned for 8, we ran a bit late) and hit the visitors' center.  I'm so glad we got there early.  What a zoo!  Acadia is a very popular national park, and pretty much all the visitors go to the Bar Harbor side.  And since we were there for just the one day, we saw the big sites, which meant we hung with the crowds.  We did the loop road, and hit the things we wanted to see/do from there.  Our first stop was Cadillac Mountain, which they weren't sure at the visitors' center if we could make it up because of our size.  What?  So easy.  And at the top were huge tour buses, so I'm not sure what the ranger was talking about.  Anyway, at one of the pull offs, I noticed this guy. Butterflies are so gorgeous, and so challenging to take pictures of!  I think I took about 20 pictures between this stop and the top.  Bill likes this one because of the difference between the underside of the butterfly and the topside.    
This may be my favorite find of the day.  Cadillac Mountain is the highest spot on the northeastern seaboard (under 1600 ft), so this is a very popular spot, especially in fall and winter when you can get up there before dawn and be the first person(s) to see the sun hit the continental US.  As I was traipsing over the rocks, I took a good look around and saw this little man.  M ended up naming him What What.  As in, "What?  What?"  There's a huge sign telling all about staying on the trail, following cairns and blazes, and info about leave no trace.  Does this dude count as leaving a trace?  Cuz I don't think he's natural....            
While I set off myself to investigate the rocks, so did the kids.  I managed to snag a few along the way, long enough to show K, J, and M the What What.  But as we headed back up the mountain, we snagged a few more.  Not all the kids, but all the non-teenagers.  This was a kids' dream, nature's own playground.  Rock climbing/scrambling is fun.  J did freak M out a bit by how far he was willing to go over the edge.  Once you're there, you see that it's not really a cliff of doom or anything, but from where we had been, it sincerely looked as though the mountain just ended and J was going over the edge.  Everyone reamined completely safe, I assure you.                              
The BIGGEST attraction by far off loop road was sand beach.  The area was parked up for what seemed like miles.  I'm not kidding about that.  Shortly after the beach (which we did NOT stop for), is Thunder Hole.  The waves hit this rock formation and make a noise like thunder.  When we returned to the visitors' center, the intern told us that the sound is rare.  I couldn't tell if she was making a joke and bad at delivery, but it made me wonder because we heard very loud crashing.  Was that really not the sound?  If not, how the heck much louder does it get?  But I do know that the waves crashing that we saw were small because it was low tide.  At high tide, the waves can get so large that they close the viewing platform.  I'm glad we got to go on the platform, though, because it allowed us to see how the rock was carved out and how the wave travelled it.  The large waves would have been way cool, though.                        
We even managed a group shot.  This is up the rock formation and back up the road a bit from Thunder Hole.  Getting 11 people in the right place can be a challenge, but we got it done!                    
At one of the pulloffs, NB and I took a walk and checked out this beautiful gull.  The shoreline in Acadia is beautiful and rocky.  This gull is clearly used to having his picture taken, cuz he didn't take off, even when people got close to him.  Of course, all the gulls I've ever seen are pretty calm about people--I think it comes from their overwhelming desire to steal food from people, and you can't do that if you run away from peeps.                                  
We planned our day around a trip on Diver Ed's boat.  Diver Ed takes you out on the water, takes a camera down into the ocean, shows off ocean critters in their natural habitat, then brings a bunch on board for you to handle and photograph.  This is his dog, Nori the Newfoundland.  Such a beautiful, well tempered doggie.  Just gorgeous.  G has decided he'd love to have one.  *psyching myself up for the mess* I guess that would be lots of fun.                                  
The kids got to hold a lobster.  Diver Ed called the kids up front so he could show them the critters, but then some of the critters got taken around the boat for all the rest of us to see.  Diver Ed does an outrageous show where he kisses all the critters, including the lobster and crabs.  He also put a sea cucumber in his mouth.  I'm still recovering from that one.  We got to see sand dollars, brittle stars, crabs, lobster, sea cucumber, scallops, and sea stars.  Mini Ed, a toy diver, went down and showed us how to kiss all the creatures in the ocean.  He got a little man handled by the lobster, but managed to live.  He's the 175th incarnation, though, so his time is coming to an end, I can feel it.                            
Here's an up-close of the scallop.  First, I did not realize they were so huge.  And Diver Ed told us this one is only about half the size they can get.  Second, take a look at the black dots around the opening.  Those are all eyes.  And still their vision isn't wonderful.  How do you put glasses on all those eyes?  So, after checking out all the wonderful sea life, we finished up the evening with a seafood dinner.  Or barbeque, depending upon who you were in our party.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Safety Safety Safety

This is Tidal Falls at low tide.  There's something like 15-20 additional feet of ground we can walk on.  And many, many tide pools to check out.  This was a pretty amazing trip.  The tide went just a bit lower than this, as this was about an hour before official low tide.  That ground is not covered in rocks.  It's covered in shells.  COVERED.  The crunching sound as we walked over it was a bit disconcerting at times, but I think most of the shells were empty.              
The shells were all pretty much connected, too, so you couldn't pick up very many individual shells.  So many great science lessons in tide pools!                      
This tide pool was filled with life.  I loved watching the periwinkles move around.  And we got to see the creatures poking their bodies out.  Really cool.                      
I'm not sure what this is.  Perhaps it's the beginning of seaweed?  I need to research.  But it's just so cool to look around and see all the things you can't see when the tide is high.  So much life!                    
J found this sea star eating.  On this side of the shoreline we found tons of sea stars.  The shellfish were abundant, the barnacles were plentiful, but the sea stars and the crabs kept themselves somewhat hidden.  But once we found a couple of sea stars, we must have found 15.  All different sizes and colors.  Unfortunately, a lot of them looked like maybe they were dead.  The kids were really great with picking up and handling all the critters.  When we went to the touch tank, the ranger didn't let them handle the sea stars, but they were very gentle with them when we were at Tidal Falls.            
NB showed off his prowess with catching crabs.  They were all excited to find the larger crabs.  The teeny finy crabs are everywhere (if you have the patience to find them), but the larger crabs are more elusive.                                      
J found a blood star.  They're much smaller than the sea stars, and a vibrant/deep red.                                        
Why is this post named Safety Safety Safety?  Because falling in the ocean is still a bad idea.  Because falling on rocks covered in barnacles is no fun for no one.  Because one of our adults is an idiot.  Do you see how my shoulders are a different, much lighter, shade of green?  That marks how much of me was in the ocean.  Fortunately for me, the tide was not rushing in or out, so it was a gentle abuse, mainly imposed by the barnacles (thankfully, the large crabs in the area decided to leave me alone).  Since I had found crabs but did not have my camera, I was turning around to go get my camera.  But the rocks were wet, my shoes were wet, and down I went, grabbing a hold of M to steady myself.  She's the smallest kid I had with me at the time, so that made sense.  Oh, and I was the only adult, so the kids were freaking out a bit.  I couldn't find any hold on the rocks to help myself up, I could get no traction with my shoes, and I just kept slipping in further the harder I tried to escape.  So with K and M grabbing hold of me, I just kinda kept getting beaten up by those darn passive barnacles.  Thank goodness we travel with our dressers, so I was able to change into a new set of clothes, and we had towels to dry me off.  I still hurt.  And Bill saved me from the ocean, so he's my hero.