Forwarding Address

Uncategorized

Hi friends!  When we got back from our road trip I decided to get serious about writing.  Please follow along at :  www.meghanstclair.com.  Thank you!

Want to read more about our trip around the United States?  Start here.

Advertisements

Week 11 – Coastal

On the road..., Uncategorized

We made it to Seattle and spent a wonderful week there with our family.  For most of our trip we avoided large, urban areas because of our parking challenges.  Let’s be honest.  We just liked to avoid large urban areas.

But, Seattle.

We visited  Pike Place Market and saw the proverbial fish toss. We watched magic tricks at the magic shop.  We lunched at Lowell’s for the sole reason that as we looked at the menu, someone walked up and said it wouldn’t be a mistake to eat there.  Then we got to business.  We picked up fresh herbed pasta at Pappardelle’s, then headed across the street to Beecher’s to watch the cheesemaking process, and to buy some cheese.  From there we started wandering in search of dessert and found Metsker’s Maps which was really the coolest travel store.  Our final destination:  Trophy Cupcakes.  I know we didn’t hit the mothership.  We just went to the mall location, which was kind of disappointing.  I’ve heard that the Wallingford Center location is in an old school house and it’s super cool.  Nonetheless, the cupcakes were pretty great.  As we walked back to our car we found the Seattle Antiques Market which was a must see before we headed home to make scratch Mac & Cheese.

Our second day in Seattle we spent all morning at the Seattle Aquarium, and did the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square.  We spent too little time at Magic Mouse Toys, the most amazing toy shop ever.

Next, we went to the Pacific Science Center, and we spent a whole day there.  When the kids were worn out from the inside of the museum, they played and climbed and made music at the park outside.

On our final day in Seattle proper we hit the EMP Museum which was pretty fabulous.  It was all things pop culture including newly designed games, a Hello Kitty exhibit from Japan, and hands on music opportunities.  I’m certain the boys could have stayed there all day.  Instead, we enjoyed our last hours in the city walking around finding the most amazing shops:  Pike Street Press and Ugly Baby, and riding The Great Wheel.

We spent the weekend with friends, and somewhere between gingerbread houses and Hallmark movies they asked where we were headed next.  In true form, we had no idea.  Suggestions were bantered. The idea of going to the place where my first travel adventures began put a little spring in my step.  That and being refueled by family and friends. We decided to spend our last week enjoying Portland, Oregon, the Coast and the California Redwoods.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Week 8 – The Business

On the road..., Uncategorized

With four weeks left to go on our trip, we sat down and re-wrote our plans.  Again.  As time goes on we become more flexible in some ways and less in others.  Although we had great dreams of south Florida, the truth is, Florida wasn’t as much our thing as we imagined.  We started to look forward to the west and wide open spaces again.  We dreamed of snow.  We decided that our trip up the west coast was not to be missed.  With little fanfare we bid the peninsula adieu and hightailed it across the country.

Here’s what that looks like:  we passed the 10,000 mile mark somewhere in Alabama.  Brad has driven every inch of our trip.  He has hauled that camper through the biggest cities and the tiniest of roads.  He has searched high and low for parking.  Every time we go anywhere, knowing we are too tall for parking garages (roof box with skis) and too long for one spot.  All the live long day, hooking and unhooking the camper.

We took a good long look at the weather, and a good long look at our budget.  In the last week Brad drove us through eight states.  Safely.  We agreed that pulling the camper through snow in the mountains was not what we wanted to do and therefore stored it in Albuquerque.  This requires us to reallocate our resources, but doesn’t break our budget.  So onward.

This week we look forward to the Grand Canyon and time in Arizona.  Our soft Florida cheek skin has become wind blown and dry in the desert.  We have loaded up on chapstick.  At least one of my boys is still wearing shorts (he is a true Coloradan).  We have so much to be thankful for.  Regardless of where we are.  We will miss the traditional family Thanksgiving feast as we pass through Nevada.  We will make the best of where we are and enjoy Las Vegas.  With kids.  It can’t be worst than that one block of Bourbon Street they saw, right?!?

Hebgen Lake Earthquake

Uncategorized

The boys collaborated on this post about their visit to Quake Lake in Montana.  

Quake lake is a lake that was formed by an earthquake in 1959.  Our Aunt Katie was working at Old Faithful in Yellowstone. She felt the earthquake from Old Faithful. Quake Lake is approximately 56.4 miles away from where she was. Our Aunt Sara and Grandpa John could feel it from Idaho Falls which is 118 miles away. Earthquakes can be very powerful.

IMG_0609

Quake Lake, Montana

There is a thing that measures the magnitude of an earthquake, it is called the Richter Scale. The Richter Scale rates earthquakes on a scale of 1-10. 1 being least magnitude and 10 being the highest.

IMG_0030

The Hebgen Lake Earthquake was a 7.5. The Nepal earthquake was an 8.1. There was a big difference in the amount of people that got hurt. In Nepal 9,000 people died and 23,000 got injured. But in the Hebgen Lake earthquake 28 people died and 250 got hurt.  There are not as many people in southwest Montana, where Hebgen Lake is, than there were in Nepal.  That’s why there weren’t as many deaths.

Please watch the video below to see a survivor’s account of the Hebgen Lake Earthquake.

Montanada

Uncategorized

We were able to use our location in Idaho as a launchpad for a side trip to Glacier National Park in Montana (and Canada).  The weather in the area has been dry and the fire danger high.  Wildfires have been burning in and around the park for weeks causing roads to close and the air quality to be poor with low visibility.  We (I) considered bagging the trip.  There are countless opportunities to experience nature right where we are, next door to the Tetons and at the foot of Yellowstone.  Glacier continued to dangle that carrot, though, and we loaded up for the ten-hour drive.

IMG_7311

It may have been a risk to drive all that way not knowing what circumstance we would find ourselves in when we got to Glacier.  As we drove towards the northern border, a storm system moved its way south down the Rockies.  A fresh blanket of rain and snow put the fires to rest, and the air was washed clean.  The next morning the peaks around Lake McDonald were crisp and clear when only a week earlier they were hidden behind smoke.  We found the Going to the Sun road closed for the first time of the season, covered for days under six inches of snow and ice.  Going the distance to Glacier proved a risk worth taking and surprised us in ways we hadn’t foreseen.

IMG_7484

As we finalize our plans for the next three months, the test drive to Montana gave us a lot of insight.  Our plans are not rigid, but fluid.  We can’t be limited by the unknown.  And, in fact, our ten-hour trip turned 92 days will be defined by our willingness to push past the hesitation regarding our next destination.

Details – Mileage: 1,483 miles.  Countries visited:  Canada.  States visited:  Idaho, Montana, Wyoming.  National Parks:  Teton National Park, Glacier National Park, Grant-Kohr’s National Monument, Yellowstone National Park.  Animals spotted:  Black Bear, Stellar’s Jay, Pileated Woodpecker (GNP), Moose pair, Bald Eagle, Bison, Elk, Osprey, Downy Woodpecker (YNP).

Road Scholars {the descriptive the boys use when someone asks them where they go to school}

Uncategorized

Lest anyone think that I have my stuff together, let me tell you that road school is giving me an education.  Every day I am reinventing the wheel.  When I go to bed I dream about the educational opportunities I am able to provide my kids the next day.  And every morning I wake up, cling to my coffee and pray that we will make it to lunch without WWIII.  Sigh.  Let’s all take a moment and thank the amazing educators in our life that mold these little minds every live long day.  They do not get paid enough.  They are miracle workers.  They have thankless jobs.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

National Wildlife Art Museum

Uncategorized

One of our learning opportunities this week was to view the Ai Weiwei Zodiac Heads Exhibit at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  If you are not familiar with Ai Weiwei, take a moment to learn about him.

In the video, Ai Weiwei is quoted as saying, “To be yourself.  To be outside the system.  This is the most dangerous but also meaningful act for a person to take.”  It took awhile for us to really dissect that statement.  As we were driving we talked about how it relates to what we are doing.  We considered the “dangers” or consequences of our choice to road school and travel.  We discussed whether or not that choice is inside or outside the system.  And then the boys were able to relate our situation to the ways in which Ai Weiwei takes risks outside his system every day.  We concluded that we are both inside and outside the system as we road school because it is a choice that is offered to us.  We also found that our risks are decidedly less costly than his. IMG_0131The Zodiac Heads have traveled the globe.  This was an amazing opportunity to see an international exhibit in such an intimate setting.  We learned about the Chinese Zodiac Symbols and the lore behind their significance.    We are rat, tiger, rooster and pig.  One boy was super excited to share all the things he learned about China when he was in first grade.

IMG_0103

Some felt more comfortable with this exhibit than others.  It gave us a chance to talk about how we like to experience an art exhibit.  As we sat on the wooden benches and rocks provided for viewing, we took in the  traditional Chinese music playing in the background. We sat patiently and waited for others to remove themselves from the art.  We thought about respect, personal space and awareness of others.  We made notes in the back of our minds about our own successes and failures in this way.

#FindYourPark

Uncategorized

I am a superfan of the National Park Service.  We are so fortunate that our leaders, almost 100 years ago, thought to preserve our national heritage and lands through the park system.  It is a particularly great time to visit as the NPS celebrates its 99th year and looks towards its centennial celebrations.  This school year 4th graders and their families can visit national parks, etc. for free.  The park service has an interactive website, a list of 99 ways to find your park, and their own hashtag (#FindYourPark).

Scenic Cruise on Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Scenic Cruise on Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Because Brad works at the base of the Tetons (in the park!!) we have had so many wonderful opportunities to explore.  This week we took a scenic/ interpretive cruise around Jenny Lake.  The boys learned about glaciers and the way nature shapes the land and lakes in this area.

IMG_0062

Phelps Lake via Woodland Trail, LSR, Grand Teton National Park

We also spent time at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve where we learned about land conservationists who have shaped and sustained the park system by sharing their private land for the benefit of all Americans.

IMG_0041

Roadschool Day 3, Junior Ranger Program at Grand Teton National Park

Our first week of road schooling behind us.  I will share that there were a lot of things that did not work.  We are learning about the process, expectations, limitations and patience.  However, there was one thing that did work.  I agreed to exchange one day of writing for the successful completion of the Junior Ranger program.  Win, win.

Teewinot

Uncategorized

Teewinot means “many pinnacles” in Shoshone. It is the sixth highest peak in the Teton Mountain Range. Mount Teewinot is 12,330 feet high at its highest point. Jenny Lake is the lake that is beside Mount Teewinot. Jenny Lake was carved out by a glacier long ago. Jenny Lake is 256 feet at its deepest point. The glacier that carved out Jenny Lake came down through Cascade Canyon. We have spent a lot of time over the course of 4 months at String Lake and Jenny Lake. String Lake is a feeder lake to Jenny Lake. There is also a shuttle boat service called Jenny Lake Boating. When you go across the lake on a boat you can go on a hike to Hidden Falls. It is a waterfall that comes from snow melt year round. Hidden Falls also gives water to Jenny Lake. Lots and lots of people climb Mount Teewinot every year. That would be a fun thing to do. That is one of my goals.

road school

Uncategorized

I will love and hate road school.  Here are some of my reasons.  I do not have to go to a school building. And I can sit in the car and sleep. I can play on my iPad if I do a little work. And I will get lots of time to walk around and also play.  That makes it kind of fun. I did not know that it is easy to make  school more fun because we do a little work so that we get to play on screens. I hate road school because I will miss my dog Gus.  It is really hard to be away from Gus because he is so cute.  That is hard to be away from him five days and now I have to go away from him for four months.  I really miss him most of the time when I don´t have him in front of my face. I approve this message.