Archive for the ‘ Trips We’ve Taken ’ Category

A Tour of Jamestown, Virginia – Fabulous for Kids!

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

On our way back from the Outer Banks, we decided we would spend a day at Jamestown.  This is a reconstruction of the first permanent settlement by the British in the New World. We first saw the film and toured the museum — which was just fabulous!  The kids spent a lot more time reading and browsing through the museum than I thought they would (I guess they’re growing up!!). Then we headed outside to visit the rest of the park.

After the settlers arrived in Virginia 1607, they built a fort to protect themselves from raids by the Spanish and local Indians. The fort was recreated from a description written by an English settler in 1610. The early colonists built the public buildings first such as a storehouse for supplies, a church and a guard house.

The kids absolutely loved the fort. There were guides there to share information about the buildings and the lifestyle back then.  The blacksmith was  a huge hit (we could hardly pry the kids away from there!) And of course, they all had to try on the armor.

Next we went to visit the replicas of the three ships that brought settlers to the Virginia colony: the Susan Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed.  We were able to go on board all three ships.

Finally, we went through the reconstructed Powhatan Indian village.  The recreated village was based on archaeological evidence from an excavated Paspahegh Indian site. I didn’t get any pictures, but the kids were able to try making rope for a fishing net, grind corn and play a traditional game. We wandered through all of the long houses. They were made by bending saplings and placing woven mats or bark over top of the saplings.

The kids really liked exploring all of the long houses which were full of fishing traps and nets, skins from all kinds of animals, bowls, tools, weapons, bags and things like that.

Below is a picture of Chief Powhatan in a longhouse. It is from a 1612 map of Virginia by John Smith:

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Large version of this map can be viewed at Virtual Jamestown

 If you have the opportunity, Jamestown Festival Park is definitely a fabulous place to take the kids.  It was educational; there was tons to see and do!

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Wild Horses and Light House Tour – Outer Banks, NC

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

One afternoon last week, we decided to do a couple of tours.  First, we stopped off at the Currituck Beach Light Station.  It is 162 feet and has 220 steps.  Construction on it began in 1873 and it was first illuminated in 1875.  It still serves as an aid to naviagation, lighting up every 3 seconds and off for 17 seconds throughout the night.

The exterior of this lighthouse was left unpainted to distinguish it from the other lighthouses in the region.

When the kids got to the top, they were pretty scared!  They mostly huddled near the buidling, though they did grab on to the rail to look over just for a few moments! The wind was pretty strong up there, so it made everyone pretty nervous!!


Right after that, we also went on a jeep tour to see the wild horses. The guide had such great stories and information, we were happy we went with the tour rather than just renting a jeep to go on our own. Horses were brought to the Outer Banks in 1823 by the Spanish so that they could be recaptured and used at a later time.  It was too far and too difficult to bring the horses back with them to Spain.

Herd numbers on the Outer Banks dwindled at one point to as low as twenty, but now there are more than 100.  There are horses on neighboring islands nearby and they are doing a breeding program to improve the stock.

We were lucky on this tour because we saw a number of small herds. The kids were very excited!!  I’ll share our most spectacular picture — taken by my niece, AJ. Isn’t it a great photo?!!

The guide also stopped along the way and picked up some fulgurite.  Any idea what it is?  It is when lightning strikes the beach and melts the sand. Cool, right?! I’m glad that wasn’t me standing there!  The amazing thing was that he stopped again and again and found piece after piece. Yikes!

Our guide also shared a story about the observation tower you see in the picture below: Our guide said that during WWII, this tower was used to look for German U-Boats. At one point, the watchmen thought they saw a German sub. They fired off a couple of shots and noted it in the log-book. Years later, an expedition found the remains of a U-Boat just off the coast with two shots through its hull.

I was intrigued by that story and went on to find out more.  I was fascinated to learn that 397 ships were sunk off the East Coast (of the US) during WWII. This began in 1942, after the US joined the War.  Many of these ships were destroyed by the 65 German U-Boats that lurked off the Outer Banks.  So many people were casualties of the German U-Boats that the Outer Banks were nick-named “Torpedo Alley” or “Torpedo Junction.” Over 5,000 people were killed, many of whom were civilians and merchant marines.

File:USA North Carolina location map.svg

Map Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We’re always learning — even on vacation!

Here are some other posts I’ve done about the Outer Banks in previous years:

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Fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains (VA)

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

We had two weeks of school and then almost immediately put things on hold to go to a timeshare (thank you, Grams!!!!) with our homeschool friends.  We do lots with this wonderful, inspiring family. The kids all had fun together and I can’t tell you how amazing it is to spend countless hours talking about homeschooling, good books, our past, the news… and just about anything that comes to mind!

This timeshare was nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The mountains really do look blue there, don’t you think?!

The deers were so docile there that they would come right up to the door and follow you around outside!  The kids loved that.

 They had so many great programs available. We went to a campfire and listened to a storyteller tell tales about Appalachia. We also went to a show about the animals of Appalachia. The woman had some really great stories to tell us. The snake below is a hog-nosed snake, in case you’re wondering!

The kids spent a lot of time just playing outside.  ED learned to roller skate (well) for the first time. I strapped on some roller blades too (that I got at a thrift shop a couple of years ago) and had a lot of fun rolling around on the roads! ED and I had a lot of “races,” but wouldn’t you know, she won every single time! There she goes…

LD and K and DD and C played an elaborate game about dragons. It went on for days and they created dragon’s nests, food storage areas, playgrounds and all kinds of things!  Their creativity was really fun to watch.  The kids have such great imaginations.

One morning, ED and I left the other kids with Ms. J and headed off to a petting zoo. I don’t get to take the kids out individually very often and we had a really lovely morning together.


Do you know those projects the kids beg you to do and you put off and put off??  Well, I also tossed in my sewing machine to help the girls make stuffed animals while we were away. I did the sewing on the machine, but the girls helped with various steps along the way (cutting out the patterns and materials, stuffing them, sewing on the eyes).  K sewed the entire face on her kitty. ED discovered her new felt puppy sticks to trees!

The kids absolutely loved the adventure ropes course and rock climbing wall.

LD decided the wall wasn’t challenging enough and said he wanted to climb up it without using his feet! He got a fair way up the wall before he had to plant his toes on the rock! The girls loved the rock climbing as well. They all got to the top and hit the buzzer.  The also gave the bungee trampoline a try. That’s LD flipping round and round.

The absolutely best part of the trip — was just spending time together with our friends. I came home incredibly motivated and inspired — and can’t wait to show you what I did in our homeschool room after a whole lot of conversations with my friend.  I’m out of time — so I’ll share that tomorrow.

Oh–and we are back in school now… we’re doing some basic review work as we get back into the swing of things.


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Garden of the Gods – Manitou Cliff Dwellings (Colorado Springs)

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

We love traveling and really try to the make the most of any trip we take.  As I mentioned several posts ago, Hubby’s cousin got married up in the mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado.  After the wedding, we stayed with Hubby’s sister (husband and son) who live in Colorado Springs.  Joined by his other sister (husband and 2 kids) and Hubby’s parents, it made for a lot of kids, a lot of chaos and a lot of reasons to get out of the house to see things!! We hit both the Garden of the Gods and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings on the same day.

Garden of the Gods: In the late 1800s, Charles Elliot Perkins owned about 480 acres including a portion of the Garden of the Gods. Upon his death in 1909, his family donated this land to the city of Colorado Springs on the condition that it would be a public park.  The city of Colorado Springs additional surrounding land and the park is now over 1,300 acres. It is free to visit.

It really is a beautiful park!

On our way into the park, we saw bighorn sheep. The kids were pretty excited about that!

We spent a LOT of time wandering among the red rocks and taking family photos!  I’m not going to make you sit through the dozens of pictures of the kids, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents (whew, right?!)… But overall, we loved the park!

The kids can’t wait for the day that they can do some rock climbing. It is allowed in the park, but proper equipment and a permit is required.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings: Since we didn’t have time on this trip to head down to Mesa Verde (in southwest Colorado), we had to be content with a visit to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.

In the early 1900s, the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings were relocated to Manitou Springs as a museum and tourist attraction. The stones were taken from a collapsed site in southwest Colorado.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed exploring the dwellings and loved climbing up the ladders and through the various windows.

There was a museum and large gift store on the premises as well.  All of us adults traded off watching the kids and spent quite a bit of time enjoying the museum.

The kids were fascinated by the papoose. Apparently, because babies spent so much strapped onto their Mother’s backs, many people wound up with permanent misshapen skulls. The babies heads were often strapped down to prevent them from bouncing around and the result was the deformed skull you see below:

So, that’s about it on our trip out to Colorado! If you’re interested I wrote posts on

Next week I’ll be sharing some of the things we did for our first week or so back to homeschool.

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Olympic Training Center and Ghost Town Museum — Colorado Springs

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I have been super busy since we returned from our trip, but I’m going to wrap up our trip in the next post or two.  Hubby’s sister and family lives in Colorado Springs and we spent about a week with them.  We had a lot of fun visiting some of the sites in that area.

Olympic Training Center: One afternoon we visited the Olympic Training Center and took the tour of the facilities.

Before the tour began the kids tried out some of the equipment — the barbells, rowing machine, bikes, etc.

There was also a display area with photos, etc. We adults spent a lot of time reading through things while the kids tried their best to do the long jump (the record — more than 8 meters or over 29 feet, which was marked out on the floor).

The tour let us take a look at some of facilities — such as the men’s gymnastics training area (part of it, at least) and the weight-training area. Since athletes have to be at least 16 to train at the Olympic Training Center, most female gymnastics (who typically are younger than the male gymnasts when they compete at the Olympics) train elsewhere.  Male gymnasts are typically older 20-25, so many of them train in Colorado.

Ghost Town Museum: This is an indoor museum, so it was perfect on one of the rainy afternoons.  There are store-front replicas of an old gold mining town.  There are lots of hands-on things for the kids to do.

They had an amazing collection of old artifacts from the late 1800s. Each room had different tools, books, clothes, furniture and so forth.

I spent a lot of time looking at the old-time dentist drill. It’s in the picture below on the right. Could you imagine your dentist using a foot pedal to drill your teeth? Ugh!!

At the end, you could pan for gold. All the kids found little flakes of gold to take home:



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