unschooling

Del Norte camping

We headed over to the redwoods forest and the beach in Northern California.

The salt flats of Utah are on the first leg of the trip and we got out to see for a few minutes. It looks like snow but it is all salt and it is hot out there!

Our campsite was in the redwoods. It was cool and beautiful and so, so green. We even had banana slug and millipede visitors along with sweet singing birds. After 95-100 degree days in Utah, it was lovely to have mid 60s weather there.

The beach we love nearby was closed due to landslides on the trail so we had to adjust our plans. We headed to Crescent beach for some walking and shell collecting.

We really wanted to do some tidepooling so we found a few other possible places and tried one out the next day. The area the rangers were setting up was very slippery and hard to maneuver and we couldn’t find much of interest besides the most common shallow critters like anemones and crabs so we headed to the other side of the beach and we found sandy pools that Lilah could easily get around and so many fun things to see!

There were ochre sea stars in a rainbow of colors

and leather stars

and another kind I’d never seen before except at the aquarium which some research indicates may be a blood star.

There were crabs, both hermit and bigger.

There were barnacles and limpets and mussels and anemones and snails.

There were several types of fish.

There were nudibranchs! We found lots of one type with orange tips and one of another that was beige, flat backed with dark brown polka dots.

There were baby sea stars!

And best of all, we even spotted a small live jellyfish flowing in the currents

and an otter!

I spotted the otter in the ocean looking at us and then as I yelled, “It’s an otter! Loooook!” it swam up toward the beach near us and then galumphed up, rested, then galumphed more into a pond up at the top of the beach where Gavin spotted it! We think it was a river otter.

Here’s the “I just saw an otter!” face on Lilah:

And here she is, looking at fresh otter prints.

We hiked to Hidden Beach, a beautiful walk with wildflowers, ferns, views of the ocean below, a few seals sunning themselves far out on the rocks.

The kids built forts, with Chris’ help.

We spotted more amazing animals during low tide there too. Here’s a limpet that had come off it’s rock.

A couple of things I’m still working on figuring out what they are:

these orangey red blobs, which were further down in the tidal zone, which look like they may be red ascidians (commonly called sea pork) which the nudibranchs above particularly like to eat

and this, which may be a tunicate, but I’m not certain.

We also did quite a bit of hands-on (feet on) research about which seaweed types are slippery, or good for gripping while maneuvering through wet rocks in the tide pools.

In between our beach fun, we played Hero Realms, Yahtzee and Dragon Farkle, roasted marshmallows, explored the campground and while driving we listened to The Land by Mildred Taylor, a book about race relations and a young man with a white father and a black mother finding his way in America right after slavery ended, some short stories and The Land: Founding by Aleron Kong, which is a role playing game themed series with some crude humor that I’d prefer was left out but otherwise is quite entertaining.

 

It was a wonder full week.

 

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unschooling

3 of us, california

Chris went to a work retreat for a week in Italy so the rest of us drove to California and spent the week in San Clemente so I didn’t spend that time writhing in the throes of jealousy.

The beach was a short walk away from where we stayed and we spent many hours there. The kids built forts out of sand, driftwood and whatever else they found. I did a little tidepool exploration but the tides weren’t the best during daylight hours and the kids weren’t wanting to do that much with me anyway. The kids tried boogie boarding and Gavin loved it. He watched other people and he tried some different things and figured out some pointers about how to accomplish what he wanted. By the second afternoon he was coasting in with the waves, lying on the board. Lilah was a bit cold and scared and so she let the board trail around behind her and tried kneeling on it in the very very edge of the wet sand as opposed to going out into the surf like Gavin.

Lilah enjoyed looking for shells and she found quite a few including a nice abalone. She was very pleased to find different kinds and knows quite a few of their names.

We drove to a few other beaches and explored different areas. Crystal Cove park was a really fun area with rocks and empty sandy beach right next to each other.

One day we took a ferry to Catalina Island and went on a semi-submersible boat tour that got us up close and personal with fish. It was amazing! I wished I had done more research about what to do on Catalina because we would have loved to explore further and to be able to kayak or paddle board there but without planning ahead and with only one adult, it just wasn’t to be on this trip. We did go mini-golfing which was fun, including lots of “cheating” as named and done by Lilah, happily done and happily accepted by the rest of us. We took 45 minutes to see the museum there, showing lots of historical pictures and artifacts from Catalina as well as an exhibit by Dale Chihuly, who makes amazing glass pieces. My favorite though was his paintings which looked to me like blueprints for his glass and they included graceful shapes and colors and painted footprints. I always enjoy seeing physical evidence of the artist in the art.

I have it so easy compared to all the solo parents out there. The trip was hard, reminding me of how long it takes to get ready when it’s only me doing it, how the kids always need things at the same time when they are tired and out of sorts and I need to be preparing dinner at the same moment. I desperately missed my partner in life, planning, fun, relaxation and clean up.

We noticed different patterns in the sand, how the color of the water changes, hermit crabs in their pools. We noticed egrets and pelicans fishing and floating. We noticed so many anemones and mussels and lots of tiny fish in the rocky areas. We noticed trees and plants near the water and further away. The kids particularly like palm trees because they are a novelty… there are none in Utah. They decided the palms look like fireworks.

We played Dragon Farkle at our home away from home and the kids played MineCraft while I did some yoga every morning.

We saw this parking meter and all agreed it was a great face.

On our last day, I collected some things and started on a seaside mandala and then Lilah joined me. It was fun to plan and collect and create. Gavin read a book while we worked on that and then we started the long journey home.

We spent most of the drive out and back listening to the Tuesdays at the Castle series by Jessica Day George. We are really enjoying it. Each book so far has a day of the week, in order, title so the kids spent several minutes coming up with possibilities for the two remaining days that don’t already have titles.

It’s good to be home and back together again as a family.

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fresh air & surprises

We went for a walk up the canyon a few minutes away and beyond the usual enjoyments like blackberry flowers, birdsong, fresh air and tossing sticks and rocks into the creek, we discovered something new this time.

As we were leaving we went down to the creek in a different spot and spotted a swing across the water. Lilah crossed the logs and swung, and then we spotted a rope hanging from a tree right in the middle of the creek. So we tried that one too.

We left happy, making plans to return soon.

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art, books, unschooling

a trip to Joshua Tree & San Diego

We left Utah for a week and visited Joshua Tree National Park, a barely visited place for Chris and I; a new place to the kids.

There was climbing

exploring

photographing.

Lilah took this one:

Gavin took this one:

There was lizard spotting, oasis hiking. The palm trees in the far right of the picture are at the 49 Palms Oasis, at the end of our hike.

The frogs were singing when we arrived at the oasis and there were birds settling in the for the night. We hiked back in the twilight and at the end, the moonlight.

We stopped at a free air art gallery of Noah Purifoy’s work near Joshua Tree, preserved since the artist’s death, to look at a huge variety of art made with things used and thrown away. Toilets, metal trays and tires were some of the most used objects in his creations.

 

Between Joshua Tree Park and San Diego we stopped through the Anza Borrego desert preserve to see wildflowers in bloom. We were a bit early for the full effect but it was still amazing.

In San Diego we visited tide pools nearby

and the beach.

We made forts out of driftwood

and watched sandpipers and cormorants

and played in the water

 

and collected shells.

While tidepooling we spotted lots of snails of various kinds

and hermit crabs and bigger crabs, and fish, tiny and medium, one itty bitty sea star, lots of sea grass and kelp, tops, a few cowrys, a shrimp, mussels and barnacles, a huge keyhole limpet,

anemones,

lots of sea hares

and several nudibranchs of the Spanish Shawl variety plus one other I think was a Red Sponge nudibranch.

We saw a few seals swimming about offshore and then in La Jolla we visited their pupping beach and there were so many mom and baby pairs, swimming and sunning and enjoying life.

It was a lovely trip. We finished listening to Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan while driving.

When we got home were greeted by spring weather! The tree over our deck has burst into blooms and smells lovely and is bringing bees and butterflies to visit. There are so many visible buds and we’ve been eating outside every evening.

 

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unschooling

Del Norte

We drove over to the top of California to camp in the Redwoods, visit with Chris’ parents and visit the beach.

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It was so nice to play in the sand, to toss driftwood (or logs!) in the water and watch pieces go out and come back in or sometimes just keep moving out.

The kids made their own game using driftwood, rocks and shell pieces and played for hours.

We collected shells, especially lots of sand dollars.

We caught up with Chris’ parents and had lots of fun with them on the beach, at the aquarium, at Trees of Mystery. It’s always so good to see them and the kids look forward to every visit we get.

We went down the the beach early to tide pool.

As we were about to leave the beach I looked out and spotted something with a fin so we watched for a while as several dolphins, lots of pelicans and other birds and a family of sea otters were catching some fish out in the water. Lilah was particularly excited to see dolphins!

We picked wild blackberries on the trail to the beach.

We saw sea birds, sea stars, anemones, mussels, barnacles, snails, limpets, hermit crabs having a fight over a shell, other crabs, fish, a tiny sea cucumber, chitons, a nudibranch and a gumboot chiton at the beach.

At the campsite in the redwoods we saw jays, ravens, other birds I didn’t recognize, chipmunks, mushrooms and banana slugs.

There are large stumps of old, old redwoods to climb on, in and around all through the campground.

It was wonderful. It’s so much fun to go exploring in types of places we don’t have near home (and types we do)!

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