Saturday, May 30, 2009

April '09 Vacation Pictures-Day 3

Day 3 of our trip saw us heading out to our river boat ride. We traveled Cape Fear River on the Henrietta III.

This picture was actually taken on Day 1 when we were at the picnic area next to the Battleship. We got a nice shot of the boat as it was going by. The boat travels right up near the Battleship so passengers can get a nice view of it as well. If you look at the 3rd story of the boat, you can see a group of school kids that waved to us as they went by.

The Captain was speaking during the tour but I couldn't really hear anything he said, so if we passed something interesting, I don't know about it. There's not much in particular to see. However, this rescue boat put on quite a show for all of us. They had all their sprayers going in all different directions. I heard one of the kids wondering whether or not those guys on board were getting wet. I'd say yes. LOL

The relaxing nature of the ride allowed our little ones to form their circle. They chit chatted amongst themselves for most of the ride. The conversations they had were quite interesting and revealing all throughout the trip.

After the boat ride our family headed back to the Civil War Museum on Ft. Fisher. We had promised Pooh a return trip so that he could finish seeing all that interested him.

Here are all the boys trying to push the big turn thingy that a canon is on. (No, I don't know the technical terms of these things. I was hot, tired, and frankly, a little bored of all the civil war stuff.) That's one large, heavy piece of machinery.

Next we headed to the trail by the aquarium. The sign said a bike trail so we hopped on our bikes and took off. I think the trail was only about 300 ft before it stopped. I was so upset! Talk about false advertising!!! So the redeeming value were the ponds on the trail. We startled some bullfrogs who got quiet as soon as we got there. But I did manage to get a photo of this dude hanging out on the bird box. This area must be full of snakes. We almost ran over a black rat snake with our bikes too!

Off to the beach again! This time with more sun. Tigger spent a lot of time going back and forth between sand play and water play. His facial expressions are always a hoot. I have some with his tongue hanging out. Some with him stomping through his sand creations like Stitch did in the movie Lilo and Stitch. He's a bit of a wild child with snuggles and kisses all rolled in.

Having a blast with his water board in the waves.

"Hey, Mommy. Did you see me? I'm having a great time in the waves."

Pooh has already captured a few female hearts with his big brown eyes. Mine is one of them. ;D

Up from where we were on the beach was a fishing pier. They let us go on there free since we weren't going to fish. One of the fisherman was cutting up his catch in the sink area provided. Perched right near him was a pelican. When the fisherman noticed my fascination with the bird (I was taking shots like a madwoman!) he started tossing bits of fish to the bird. What fun! and such a great thing for the boys to be able to experience. (Me Too!)

These birds are so much bigger than you'd think. Just the size of their feet are amazing. They are also more colorful than this photo shows. Under its beak is an amazing olive green color. Combine that with the other colors and the light blue of it's eyes and you have one beautiful bird. I grew up in Florida but this was the closest I had ever gotten to a pelican. I was impressed.

Evidently some sting rays had swum past and one was caught by a boy on the pier. He left it to die there. I wasn't happy. I asked--he wasn't going to eat it or throw it back or anything. It always gets me how some people can be surrounded by nature and beautiful things and show no appreciation for them.

Seagull footprints in the sand. Something I don't see in my part of the country.

And here are a flock of the culprits.

Back at camp. This is our tent. It held up pretty well. There was light rain the first night and no one got wet, so I consider that a success. The vestibule area on this one is great. I hung towels from there and we had a nice dry area to keep some of the bags so they didn't have to be all inside the sleeping area. The D-door is GREAT! So easy to open and easy to get in and out of.

The campground had a life size chess set that the kids had a fun time with. (These two turned out to be best buds.)

A group volleyball game in progress.

Girl time at the swings.

Our homeschool group has lots of activities we do during the year. However, this trip took them beyond some of those activities. They were relaxed and had a chance to chill out together. They talked, explored, collected wood and roasted marshmallows together. Before the trip was even over, several of the parents requested we do it again even without the field trip stuff. Just to hang out together and enjoy good association. We will hopefully be putting something else together soon. Plans are beginning already for the next school year.

Try camping with some families in your area. You'll have a blast and so will the kids.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

April '09 Vacation Pictures-Day 2

After a camp breakfast of pancakes prepared by one of our moms, we headed to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. We were able to receive FREE admission! It's something that the aquarium will provide to state homeschoolers one time a year. Cool, huh?!?

Our group entering the aquarium.

The Wood Duck. Proof that God is the greatest artist.

Special effect photo. Two turtles and one reflection.

Happy stingrays. They were actually bouncing up and down against the glass. I figured they were happy. ;D

Tigger gets some instruction on holding and touching a horseshoe crab.

Young sea turtle. Once again, a nice reflection.

The divers went into the big tank to scrape algae.

The Hammerhead Shark goes pretty fast by the viewing windows.

Pooh's favorite drinks are Dr. Pepper and Root Beer. He paid for his own soda from a machine. A first on all counts.

Tigger goofing around as usual. I guess the frog needed a little sugar boost.

Up next, another bout of history for Pooh as we visit the Ft. Fisher Civil War Museum. This is free to the public. We only had time to tour the actual museum on this day. On Day 3 we returned to tour the grounds and see one of the battlements that was built.

This canon is outside the front of the museum.

Enclosed in glass is a model of the battle at Ft. Fisher. You press a button and it tells you the story along with certain areas lighting up with the explanations. Pooh found it fascinating.

Later that evening we visited the beach where Pooh and Tigger didn't let the cold water get in the way of their enjoyment.

Pooh loves putting boats in the water and watching the waves crash over them.

Getting late. Time to head home for a nice camp dinner and warm fire.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

April '09 Vacation Pictures-Day 1

Here is a long-awaited post about our April vacation. Really, it was a field trip to Wilmington, NC organized by one of the moms in our homeschool group. The purpose of going was to see an aquarium and take a river boat ride. Good reason, no??

Out of the six families that went, 3 camped in tents, two in cabins and one stayed in a hotel.
Here is a peek at our camp life-the first time we've ever camped as a family outside of our yard.
Tigger looks nice and cozy.

The King impersonating a pack mule--ie collecting wood.

Pooh chillin' by the fire with some nice hot tea.

We arrived a day earlier than the other families. We turned this into a little family vacation because we knew there were other things the boys would love to do. They've never been to Wilmington before and frankly, the only thing I've ever done there is hit the beach.

So the first day's agenda went like this:

First off, the Battleship North Carolina. You knew that was coming, right? Yes, a huge history lesson right up Pooh's alley. Model ships everywhere. A really huge ship to explore. It even had a plane on it. LOL

Here are the boys on the anchor. Yes! that's the anchor!!! That was my favorite part. ;D

The model ships were pretty cool too. They had all the tiny men on them and all the guns were depicted. (Not crazy about how mean these things are.)
We watched the movie they had there about the history of the ship. It was so funny that we were there when a large tour group of elderly people came. Ours were the only kids sitting in the movie room and were just as enthralled as they could be. The older ones got a kick out of it.

The rest of the day you could say was devoted to nature study. We didn't plan that, it just sort of happened. After the ship tour, we sat at the picnic tables beside the Cape Fear River and had lunch.

The seagulls enjoyed lunch as well. Another first for the boys, feeding seagulls.

We had a visitor. A tent caterpillar.

Not too far from where we parked, a killdeer had nested. She had one egg she was sitting on. Aren't her colors beautiful?

Here it is: white with brown speckles, right beside the brown leaf. Can you see it?

We didn't do this, but had to get the shot for the boys. This is how some tour downtown Wilmington.

Next up was the Cape Fear Serpentarium. Warning: If you go, they only take cash. This place is really cool, although the guys running it weren't exactly overly friendly. Maybe it's being around all those snakes all day. Anyway, we saw some fascinating creature. All sorts of vipers, pythons, anacondas, alligators, crocodiles and the saltwater croc too!

This picture doesn't do justice to the amazing yellow color.

These Asian Spitting Vipers (if i remember correctly) were mating while we were there. It was cool! I know, I'm weird. But it's not like you really see anything. LOL Basically, the female laid around and the male squirmed all around her over and over again. She would then move away and the male would follow her and the process would repeat. Sounds pretty typical to me. ;D

This crocodile actually stayed in this exact position the whole time we were there. Mouth open and everything. You could almost be conned into thinking he wasn't real, except he was in a glass enclosure AND if you got right up to him, you could see at the back of his throat a little movement from his breathing. No wonder animals get eaten!

And finally, my very favorite place of the day-Airlie Gardens. I figured since the boys had drug me around all over the place looking at boy stuff, they could drag around behind me looking at my stuff. They had a nice time despite themselves. It would have been better had Pooh not been tired from all the previous walking, but he rallied and enjoyed seeing some of the animals we spotted. Like this:

Canada Geese and their babies.

I've always loved it when old trees grow like this. Makes you want to haul out an old quilt and have a picnic.

A highlight were these swans with their babies. They were so sweet. I just happened to spot them through the trees. You had to go a little off the beaten path to see them. I'm frequently off the beaten path in more ways than one. LOL

It kind of looks like a daffodil in this picture, but it's not. I don't really know what it is because the little sign had been worn off. In the center is a completely enclosed thing that looks like a big flower bud. Anyone have an idea??

This beautiful structure was made entirely out of wire and glass bottles. The wonder of recycling.

My most fabulous find ever! I followed a very strange bird call that I just KNEW had to be something good. Sure enough: an Osprey! I was able to get right up under it and zoom in. You can't see it in these photos but he had caught a nice fish from the river right next to here. Isn't he beautiful?

Well, that's it for day one. I have lots of photos but I'm bringing you the highlights. Since I took about 400 photos all together I figured I better be pretty judicious about what I chose for the blog. LOL