Monday, January 21, 2013

Vulcan Quarry

Our homeschool co-op, Classical Conversations, took a field trip today to a local quarry, Volcan Materials Co. in Havre de Grace, MD.  It proved to be a timely field trip as we are memorizing geological science facts this half of the year.

It was free to all, buses included, which, for homeschoolers, is quite a big deal. I coordinated the trip with Pat Pieton, the assistant plant manager at Vulcan. He was super friendly and a delight with whom to work. He led our tour today which began with a classroom portion, followed by a bus tour of the quarry.

At one point during the bus tour, we were able to exit the bus at the top of the quarry and look out over the vast "hole in the ground". The following are some photos of our time.

What are the three types of rocks? 

Miner Jessie 

Is it a rock or a mineral?

It's petrified dinosaur poop!!!

Preparing for a blast!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year's Day Hike

We participated in something called, "First Day Hikes" this a.m. to kick off 2013 as a family. We love taking hikes and thought it would be a great way to get some fresh air, step away from the cookies and fudge for a bit and enjoy time as a family. We had more fun than we anticipated.

When we arrived, we were the only family with children present. I cringed thinking we might prevent  the rest of the group from advancing down the trail at their desired pace. But, thankfully, another family with three young children showed up, and our kids proved to demonstrate themselves as experienced hikers, keeping up with the crowd with little prodding or help from mom and dad.

The hardest part for them was not being able to stop and explore as much as they're accustomed to when we go by ourselves. Nevertheless, it allowed me to step back and observe how different life experiences are through the eyes of a child. My kids love to observe and explore. And, I love to let them. Hiking is a fantastic way to foster this childlike pleasure.

With the exception of one root-filled, semi-rocky incline, the trail was rather simple to traverse. We wore rain or snow boots anticipating mud and muck, which indeed was plentiful. But, mud means moderate temperatures and therefore a welcomed obstacle.  Truth be told, mud makes hiking all that more fun for kids even though mommy has more laundry to do as a result this afternoon.

Mud to muck in, sticks to turn into staffs, felled trees to climb over and under, and streams to cross all make for an enjoyable, memorable hike. It doesn't get much better than that as far as hiking goes, unless, of course, mommy manages to slip and fall into icy rapids and become soaked from hip to toe.

Our furthest destination on the hike today was a spot called "The Pot Rocks", a conglomeration of large boulders with holes in the tops of them resembling pots. I love bouldering, but not on January 1st and not with my kids in tow.  LA had a different idea. Most of the other hikers were keeping their distance from the water's edge, simply and safely admiring the view. But, not so my husband or children.

They tipped their toes as close to the edge of the rocks without slipping into the rushing water, making me a nervous momma and wife. My concerns were heard and considered, I think, but the other dad in our group must have sent out some sort of "man must conquer" vibe, and there was no turning back for Lawrence. He decided he would cross the rapids to reach the rocks.

My husband and children successfully to the other side, I breathed a brief sigh of relief knowing they would still have to cross back. After a few minutes of exploration, the ranger kindly let me know that we were welcome to hang out at the rocks for a while and head back to the trail head on our own, but that he would be leading the rest of the group back to the cars.

We decided to stick with the group; LA and the kids made their way back to the crossing. Being the conscientious (read nervous) momma, I stood on the other side of the watery gap waiting to grab my kids' hands to ensure their safe and dry return. Tucker was first up.

LA held on to him on one side while I reached for Tucker's hand on the other. The grip on my boots failed me; Tucker's reach sent me off-kilter, and into the icy water I fell.  In trying to avoid getting wet at all, I ended up falling right on my butt soaking myself from hip to toe.  Laughs abounded from everyone but me. I have to say, though, my heart was cheered knowing that though I was cold and wet, that was likely to be the most memorable moment of our hike.

And, on that concluding note, some pictures. Click on the slideshow images to see larger versions: