A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Today, I discovered two mysteries as I went through my day. The first I discovered as I was taking Peter over to a friend's house for a playdate: I think that left is the new right here. There were at LEAST four people who were driving in the left lane WITH their left-hand blinkers on, who turned right. Huh??? *sigh* Welcome to Jordan.
The other mystery happened when I got home from dropping Peter off at his friend's: I went over to say hi to M'Shell and see how she was faring. As I walked over, I saw her along the side of the house and passed a stray cat sunning itself in the yard. I scared that guy off. Then, behind M'Shell, I heard a strange sound. It was a rustling in the leaves behind some of the bushed, and I thought sure it was another stray cat. They like to come and torment our poor tortoise and sit on her and stuff. Not sure if they think they can hitch a ride or something, but M'Shell is sufficiently ornery that she wouldn't go anywhere with them on top. Well, it wasn't a cat. Imagine my surprise when I see ANOTHER Tortoise!! And not only that, it's a BOY. So, apparently, M'Shell found herself a boyfriend. I have no idea where he came from or how he got in the yard, but, well, there he is! So, we now have two tortoises roaming the wilds of our front sidewalk. I wonder if we'll have more soon? He he he...
Well, we are home now. Such a lovely feeling! We enjoyed our last few days in Rexburg at the end of our trip. We were going to go to Yellowstone before we headed back to Rexburg, but after looking at the map and doing some figuring, the distance and thought of driving MORE sort of made us, well, REALLY TIRED, so we scrapped that idea and just went back to Rexburg. It's a good thing we did, too, as we had a LOT to do before we left! We didn't even get everything done that we had wanted to! Oh well. Such is life, I guess.
All hardships and back-to-normalness aside, boy it feels good to be home!
Now that the Cat's Out of the Bag, so to speak, I'm free to post on my blog! :D We have been thoroughly enjoying our time driving around the countryside here in the US. It's strange to imagine that next week at this time, we'll be back in Jordan! This is the first time we've ever taken a vacation to the US in the middle of a tour, and for some reason, it feels like we should be moving to another post! Thank goodness we're not, though, because we sure like Jordan!
Stay tuned for some serious Vacation Blog Posts!!
Since it's my birthday, I'm allowed to do whatever I want! I wanted the kids to finish their jr rangers at Beverly Beach, so we did that. Then, my next request was a big one: to drive back up to Depoe Bay to take a Whale cruise! Wow! We got to go out on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to watch whales!! I teared up quite often while standing on this little boat watching the whales surface to breathe! :) Once it got within 5 feet of the boat and you could hear the 'whoosh' of the blowhole! Amazing!!!! I loved every second of it! We saw whales, sea lions, brown pelicans... It's something I'll never forget!
After the whales, we tried calling some campgrounds to get reservations so we would have someplace to park at the end of the day, since we've had such a hard time finding places. Unfortunately, state parks don't take reservations on the weekends! It's a first come, first served basis. Doh! So, we decided to start heading down toward our camp site of choice. On the way, we saw a lighthouse that I was interested in visiting. It was a national parks site, so we stopped in! I'm so glad we did! It was super awesome! The visitor's center was cool with lots of super friendly rangers. The kids got to do Jr Rangers yet again, and learned tons about lighthouses! We took a little walk down to some tide pools, but the tide was coming back in, so we didn't see much other than a few dead birds and a LOT of seals playing near by! Then we hiked up to the lighthouse and had a tour! It was one of the oldest and tallest (and best) lighthouses of Oregon! Cool! The Ranger who gave the tour was very cute--all dressed up as if it were 1880. The kids were mesmerized! :) It was so enjoyable!
At the end of the tour, we had to run down to the visitor's center in order to get our badges before they closed! We made it just in time, and the kids are now lighthouse experts (ha ha).
We headed down to the next RV park...but it was all full. Doh! It's my birthday! Didn't they realize that?? So were the next 4 on the list. :( Finally, we stopped off where we are now, which is a tiny little campground RIGHT next to the beach in the middle of a National Forest! Ha! It's so fun! We're completely surrounded by trees, and there are HUGE Huckleberry bushes all around us (YUM!!), and yet if you walk about 100 meters west, you're on a huge sandy beach! Pretty funny! The kids got to play on the beach until it was too dark to see, then we ate roasted chicken, black beans, and roasted sweet potatoes for dinner.
Since it was my birthday, we ate ICE CREAM! yes, I had ice cream. i only have a birthday once a year! It was Breyer's, so it was better than most ice creams... :D We used matches for the candles and it was silly. Then, I shoved the kids into bed and I'm hoping for the best. There's no power at this site we're at, so there is no fan...just the sound of the Pacific Coast Highway on one side and the crashing beach waves on the other. He he he...
As far as birthdays go, though, this was the BEST DAY EVER! :D
When we got up in the morning, we found that there is a cool Jr Ranger program for Oregon state parks! We were camping at Devin's Lake state Park, so that's where we start! The kids filled in their booklets and then we were off to find somewhere to do some laundry and go to the beach! :)
We found a coin op laundry place and had a great time throwing in ALL of our laundry at the same time! So fun! It's almost worth the $1.75 each load to be able to be done with a week's worth of laundry in less than 2 hours! Ha!
While we were waiting for the laundry, we took a walk, as we knew the beach was only a few blocks away!! We found a great beach access site, and the kids set out to have a great time! Dev and I left them on the beach with Devika and we ran back to finish the laundry. It was such a lovely day! When we got back, we all just enjoyed the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. So nice! I love the beach! Even if it's slightly chilly and cloudy, it's still incredible. It just goes on for forever and ever...
We had to leave to go grocery shopping, so we left the beach, grabbed food at the store, and cooked lunch in the parking lot. The kids and I did some science experiments while we were waiting, so that was good. :)
After eating, we headed on down the coast a bit more. We passed by a whale watching center, and stopped just out of curiosity. We walked in, and within seconds we saw whales!! Holy cow! apparently, at this particular spot, whales are there almost all year long! There's a pod (or 2?) that just migrate between there and Mexico. So, the chances of spotting whales in the ocean from that observatory are really high. The kids were SOOOOO excited! Better than a documentary! :) They did whale cruises, too, but they were all closed. Sadly, we only had 15 minutes to spend there before they had to close. We also learned that it was still high season there at the Oregon Coast, which is why it had been virtually impossible to find parking!!
So, in a panic, we found the nearest state park and found a spot. It was called Beverly Beach, and out of 350+ spots, there were 3 left. Whew!!! So, we got one right near the playground! :) It had a nice beach access, too, so we spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach...until Andrew and Peter made their 'volcanoes' in the sand explode and Andrew threw some of his 'lava rocks' at Peter's head. Oh well. It was time for bed anyway.
We headed home and passed the visitor's/ranger's station to pick up Jr Ranger booklets, and ended up going on a nature trail to get home. It was really pretty. We've decided that state parks are pretty much the best places to camp. Ever.
We really enjoyed our hike and learned lots of cool things with the help of our little Jr Ranger guide books. :) The kids played at the park while we cooked dinner, and we had a nice comfortable rest at this lovely park!
I should mention one of the things that I find difficult when I'm on the coast...no matter if I blow dry my hair or not, it ends up as you see above: a frizzy, curly-ish, wild mess! *sigh* Oh well. I'm on vacation.
We got up this morning and made our way into Portland. What a difference it is to be in a city vs all the time we'd been spending in the trees!!
Dev and i went to the temple and did a session (they let us in this time). The kids played with Devika. When we got out, we all went to the little visitor's center there and watched a few little movies. Then, we headed out to the coast!
Up to this point, we'd never had ANY problems finding anywhere to stay the night. There's always been plenty of room at every park we've stopped at--even the small ones! We haven't always had electricity, but that's been ok. Today, though, I needed a fan and we needed to find someplace with laundry. However, EVERY RV park we went to was completely full!! Holy Cow! We spent a really long time trying to find one--and ended up staying at a state park camping facility at the VERY LAST spot with electricity that they had open! Whew! We were able to plug in, cook our dinner over the coals and hope for a fun day at the beach the next day.
This morning, we woke up to deer standing all over our campground! There was a guy walking around with a bucket full of something (grain, maybe?), pouring it onto rocks and tree stumps, and this huge group of deer were just following him around! So fun!
We finally got ourselves up and going, and drove down to Mt St Helen's. It was so funny, as there are 4+ visitor's centers along the way, and most of them were closed. The visitor's center at the end of the road (Johnston's Observatory) is a National Park based place. It was so much fun! We watched movies, jumped on a seismograph to make earthquakes, went to a bunch of ranger talks, and did the Jr Ranger program there. The blast site is very cool--looking inside the volcano is pretty awesome!! :) Another winner in our book! (You might wonder what Peter is doing...He asked me what kind of rock it was and I told him it was an andecite basalt lava rock, and he said, "I want to hug it!" So he did. HA!!)
The afternoon was just the right amount of time to visit the site. We enjoyed our time there and learned lots, and then we were done! :)
We drove to a campsite that was still technically within the park bounds, but outside the blast zone. Whew. We cooked dinner over the coals, the kids played on the playground, and I took pictures of the lovely lake and view! :)
I think it's rather funny that while we're at these parks of volcanoes, I'm constantly hoping that it doesn't decide to explode while we're there! I think about all the people who live within range of destruction of this one, Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, Mt Shasta, etc., etc., etc., and wonder how they can stand to live so close to these huge threats!! And this coming from someone who lives in the center of the middle East surrounded by countries that are constantly at war and in upheaval. I guess it's all about your perspective. :)
In Andrew's words, as is his norm, this was the BEST DAY EVER!! Mt Rainier is one heck of a spectacular park. We learned that the roads of the park were specifically engineered to give you the most breath-taking and spectacular views possible. They did a really good job. As you go around switchbacks, around every turn is an amazing view of this huge towering volcano. Wow.
We were able to stop at some reflection lakes and got a few nice pictures. I couldn't believe how blessed we were to be at Mt Rainier on a crystal clear day. We saw the summit for two whole days! Many park visitors, we learned, come and go without ever even SEEING the top of the volcano! So beautiful, and made for such wonderful pictures! :)
After the lakes stop, we made it up to Paradise. Yep. Aptly named. It was so beautiful! We stopped in to the visitor's center so the kids could do their Jr Ranger. We lucked out and got there just in time to finish the booklet part and have a Ranger-led discussion, so they got their badges in less than an hour. Impressive! Then we ran down to the motorhome (which was parked on an overlook over a huge valley), cooked lunch, then ran back up to go on a hike up some of the mountain! We were planning to hike quickly, then go on our way. It didn't happen that way, though. Instead, as we were hiking up, we saw a whole lot of plants that we recognized: Wild Blueberries!!!! So, we spent 5 hours on the slopes of Mt Rainier picking blueberries!! YUMMY!! We ate and ate and ate, and also managed to fill 2 waterbottles full of them! The kids passed them out to hikers who passed by. We had a GREAT time and there were sure some gorgeous views on the way.
Honestly, it really was the best day ever. We had a great time just taking it easy and munching on wild berries in a subalpine forest. You can't ask for more than that!
We camped on the other side of the park at a cute little spot with a playground. the kids were so happy and played while we did some laundry. Hooray for modern conveniences.
And just for fun, here's a lovely panoramic view:
Well, here we are on a Sunday morning, and let me tell you, it's been an interesting ride already, and it's only 9:30am!! We all got up early in order to get ready for church. The kids all showered (GASP!!), and we pulled out in plenty of time to arrive at church. We found it easily (thank you, GPS) and were 10 minutes early! However, as we pulled into the parking lot, we saw that we were either REALLY early, or no one else knew what time church started there. Doh! The parking lot was empty, the building locked; 9am came and went and not one soul passed through. The only conclusion we could come up with was that it was stake conference day.
So, instead, we plugged the computer into the audio cable in the motorhome and we're listening to last April's conference over our own loud speakers as we make our way to Mt Rainier. Here's another sad thing. We drove all through Washington yesterday without seeing ONE fruit stand. And now, we're on a local highway, and we've seen NOTHING BUT fruit stands! Oh, the sadness! Since we can't attend church, though, we should probably make an effort to keep the Sabbath day holy. Sacrifices. It's so sad to pass by all these peach and apple orchards without stopping to pick some! :( Oh well. That's what happens when you leave on your vacation a few days late.
(later) What a perfect day! We drove up the Chinook pass to the Eastern side of Mt Rainier. SO beautiful!
We entered the park and hiked a trail called 'Grove of the Patriarchs'. An easy trail through a SUPER old growth forest that consisted of HUGE trees, banana slugs (they're so big!), plants, flowers, mosquitoes...and EVERYTHING was covered in moss!! It was so beautiful! We got to play next to a river, a butterfly landed on Claire, we crossed a suspension bridge (which was supposed to be one person at a time, but the kids wouldn't move, so I had to get on and shoo them along)... It was a lovely hike!
Next, we were driving to our campsite and saw another hike called Silver Falls, so we decided to do that one. We trekked down a steep mountain side to these beautiful falls! So pretty! The kids loved the bridge!
We made it to our campsite early and settled ourselves into the BEST campsite ever! No electricity (yet again), but we camped right next to a stream, and that was the kids' favorite part! As soon as we parked, the kids jumped out of the RV and proceeded to play. They were angry when we told them it was time for bed (like 5 hours later)! I'm sure they'll be up early, ready to jump in the stream again! They were making a boat regata--complete with dock, launching site, and races! I love imagination! There's nothing you can't do with rocks, sticks and water!
While the kids played, Dev and I went on a 'date night' walk around the area. We found a little path that led to a 'hot springs'. It wasn't marked, but we found it by the smell and the warmth. Interesting. Sort of freaky, but it was there. Then we found lots of cool GIANT moss covered rocks. My favorite was one that Devin's standing by a giant moss covered rock with trees growing out of it! Cool!
And for those who are fans of Anansi the Spider: "Look at that strange moss covered rock!" *Kaboom!*
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
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