Friday, March 10, 2017

Local Ecology

This week has been "spring break" for my kids. Williamsburg Academy, their online school takes a week off at the Mid term. Sophie had to take a few tests and the boys were given a few assignments to do over the break.  One of the things the boys were supposed to do was visit a local place and study the ecology of that place.  When they told me about the project I thought of the many different places we could go. We are only about a hour from the delta or even the ocean. That would be some fun ecology to study.  But instead I thought of Big Trees. It is a State park about 45 min from Grandma's house. It is a beautiful redwood forest with lots of very tall and BIG trees.  So we planned to go over the break. I told the kids that morning as we were headed out the door that since we had had so much rain the last little while it was probably going to be muddy. Little did I know and certainly didn't prepare for what was actually there. 

As we drove to from Grandma's house toward Big Trees we passed through Angels Camp and discussed the jumping frog of Calaveras County and why that is the mascot of that town. When we got up to Murphys we started to see little tiny bits of snow on the ground and the kids got excited. This was the first snow they had seen all year. Ian went up to camp in the snow but the rest of us have stayed snug in our wet, rainy valley and hadn't had any snow days this winter. As we kept going up higher toward Big Trees (3,000 ft) the snow became thicker and much more plentiful. Finally, when we only had about a half mile left before the turn off, there was a sign that said "snow chains required".  We ventured slowly up to the parking lot for Big Trees state park and I could hardly contain my excited kids. They were miserably prepared but they loved every bit of the snow they could. 

Quickly formed snow balls and threw them at each other.

Pulled icicles off the roof of the visiter's center.

Yes, Henry was only wearing some knit shorts but he was too excited to be cold. 

We did go into the visitor's center and looked around at the displays they had that showed what animals and such we would find out in Big Trees. 

But that visit didn't last long. We had to get out into the forest and see all that snow.

We tried to follow the trail, we knew where is should have been but it was so covered with snow that we had to just blaze a trail of our own. 

We actually couldn't go very far into the park. Years of drought and then with all the rain that we suddenly have had recently there have been a number of the really big trees that have fallen down and the trails are blocked until they can get in there and check out the full extent of the damage.

We were able to get all the way to the big stump that had been used as a dance floor back in the logging days. 
I played with my phone's camera and took a few pannoramic photos of clearing we were in.

It made people look a little strange but the scene was beautiful.

The boys decided to build tiny snow men on top of the stump.

Henry's hands were just a bit cold!

 But there was no complaining about the cold from anyone. (Okay, Sophie may have complained a bit about the coldness and her lack of boots and gloves)  They were all too excited about the adventure.

It was really beautiful to play in the fresh snow that hadn't been walked in.  We did spy some animal prints in the snow.

The boys and Molly decided to leave their own marks in the snow as well. 

Perfect snow for snow angels.

They could have stayed longer but we left the snow behind. 
 But they asked if we could come again next week. I told them perhaps later in the Spring or Summer.
I had never been the Big Trees in the snow before. Having grown up in the area I have been there many many times but this was one trip that will be quite a happy memory. We didn't see many of the BIG trees. But we certainly got to see snow!

On the way back down the hill we had to stop for a late lunch and a quick run around the local park. Funny what a difference a 10 min drive down the mountain makes.

Oh, and one more stop on the way home. We decided we had to go see the 44 lb gold nugget that was on display at one of the local vineyards.  It had actually been found in a gold mine only a mile or two from my parent house.

Gotta love the Mother Lode!

Pull ups

Ian is trying to get his Physical fitness merit badge and needed to start a regular exercise routine.  I had been thinking of different things we could add to our equipment that might interest the kids.  I decided to try a pull up bar. Henry has been asking for one for years. But I never did because I thought it would damage the door frame.  I threw caution to the wind and ordered one. 

 The one door in our house that isn't constantly being opened or shut is the laundry room door so that is where we decided to put it.
 Henry is currently the only one of the kids able to do an actual pull up. Mostly the others just struggle and try but can't quite do more than hang.
 But give it time and they might be able to do it.  But for now it counts as a little bit of P.E.