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Showing posts from June, 2013

BTOW: Muir Woods

Despite the rain and a lack of parking, Muir Woods was a great experience. The kids thought it looked like Endor and expected Ewoks to jump out from behind the trees!

One thing we learned was that these redwoods do not grow from seeds, but form family circles. That's why they are often clumped into small groups. Walking through the forest, you truly begin to feel small, even the clovers are big.

There was a cafe and gift shop so mom was able to stay dry and shop. Elizabeth thought the bear carvings were especially cute. The kids were able to complete their Junior Ranger requirements on a hike. The path was mostly boardwalk or well kept crushed rock, very easy hiking. The neat thing was that the Junior Ranger badges were not the typical plastic variety. Instead, they were carved right from pieces of redwood, very unique.

Afterwards, we drove down to the Pacific ocean for the kids' first "dip." They wanted to strip down and swim in the frigid water but were content to …

BTOW: Forest Learning Center

On our way out to Mount St Helens, one of the places we stopped was the Forest Learning Center. This was a free museum tour that focused more on the lumber industry's recovery efforts following the blast. It's educational elements focused more on the science of the lumber industry, the economic importance of the region's timber forests and how certain practices produced a faster return of the environment to productive levels.

There was a helicopter diorama that kids could climb in and feel like they were flying over the landscape. They also had a very nice outdoor playground. The museum was staffed by retired lumber workers who were both passionate and knowledgeable.

This was a nice stop before seeing the volcano up close. It also helped that Amy has taught the subject and was able to take what we were seeing and bring it into context. Plan about 1-2 hours at this stop, depending on how involved you want to get with the exhibits.

Also, an observation that may be lost on mo…

BTOW: Badlands NP

After driving across the high plains for what seemed like days, we rolled into Badlands National Park at 7pm. The visitor center was closed and the kids couldn't do the Junior Ranger program. But with the setting sun, we were treated to amazing shadows and light across the rock formations.

Elizabeth found one group of shadows that looked like a big smiley face. It was the beware of rattlesnakes signs that really got Josiah. At first he thought we were kidding; welcome to the Wild West!

Trail hiked: Window Trail
Animals seen: Chipmunk, Pronghorn Antelope, Prairie Dogs

Fort Armstrong on the Mississippi River

Fort Armstrong on the Mississippi River, a photo by Ben Biddle on Flickr. On our way back home, we took a slight detour through the Quad Cities to see the locks and dam on the mighty Mississippi River. After crossing the bridge to Rock Island, we pulled over to check out the remnants of Fort Armstrong.

I'm not sure how the youngest got stuck with firing the big guns while the oldest stands around and tells her where to fire. In addition to the memorial stones, cannons and replica log tower, you could walk under the rotating bridge and see the locks. We opted not to enter the arsenal and visitor center as everyone was anxious to get back home.

Heron Haven Boardwalk

Heron Haven Boardwalk, a photo by Ben Biddle on Flickr. One morning the kids and Ben walked down to Heron Haven, a wetlands preserve near Uncle Allen's house. We saw several snails crossing the path and a big bullfrog on a log, but no turtles or herons.

Eating out at Famous Dave's

Eating out at Famous Dave's, a photo by Ben Biddle on Flickr. After a long day of working the garage sale, we all went out to eat at Famous Dave's. We got the American platter which served everybody. We could all try different sauces and meats.

The restaurant was decorated really well too as we sat near lots of old car parts and supplies.

Iowa State Capital

Iowa State Capital, a photo by Ben Biddle on Flickr. While on our way to Omaha, we stopped off for a moment in Des Moines. We've always been able to see the capital building from the interstate but this was the first time we stopped.

Found Things Antique Store, Iowa

Found Things Antique Store, Iowa, a photo by Ben Biddle on Flickr. Amy discovered this store in a magazine article from 2008. We stopped on the way out to Omaha. They had lot's of neat things but didn't purchase anything large until the return trip. Amy picked up a green window screen.
We paid fifty cents for an hour on the parking meter. When the kids returned with only two minutes left, they were very concerned that we needed to leave before the time ran up. They thought the car would get towed as soon as the meter ran out!

Cousins Pose for Photo Shoot

The four kids tried to stand still for a few pictures on the farm. This was one of the last weekends the Biddle and Benzing cousins will be together before they move to Mississippi.

View the entire Cousins set on Flickr.