The rain has finally stopped and the temperature has risen enough for the kids to be able to get outside and play. It's even warm enough to play in the water, which Ryan has been begging to do for weeks now!
Sunday, May 24
Saturday, May 23
Daddy called late yesterday morning to see if we wanted to pick him up from work early and head to the zoo. It was a beautiful day, and he was suffering from Spring Fever, apparently. Since we homeschool, plans are pretty flexible (if Mommy is) and we're able to do things spur of the moment.
We have missed the Lorakeets the last couple times to the zoo, so we went there first thing this trip. They weren't selling nectar because they said the birds weren't hungry but that there were lots of cups of it left behind and we could feel free to try to feed them with the leftover cups. It turned out to be one of the best experiences we had with the birds! Indeed most of the birds weren't coming for the nectar, but we were able to coax several of them down for us, and they stayed and ate several cupsful that we had.
Thursday, May 21
We had a warmer night for our second night of camping, which made for a much happier Mommy! After breakfast and cleanup, we drove towards the next unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, The Painted Hills.
First we stopped to do a couple of quick geocaches and to let Abby pick up some rocks to keep before we got inside the National Monument and she wasn't able to do that.
I've lived in Oregon for 10 years now, and I never even knew these gorgeous hills existed!
We kept our hikes much short and fewer on our second day, mostly to keep our little boy happy. He had a much better attitude the second day though and seemed to enjoy himself much more. Abby was dragging a little bit, probably due to the heat and wear and tear of the previous day.
We found a nice place to have a picnic lunch, but a church bus unloaded at the same time so we didn't get a chance to get any of the tables before they were all gone. So we made our lunch and ate it in the car on the way to our next hike. It was a fairly hot day and there is no shade to be found on the Painted Hills, but everyone agreed the hot walk was worth every minute!
Again, we took many pictures that it's hard to keep from posting too many, but since it's my blog and I love seeing my kids, I'll just go ahead and post some more anyway.
Abby resting in the only spot of shade to be found...smart girlie!
Next we drove to the Painted Cove Trail to look at some hills that were very strange and different from what we had been seeing thus far.
These hills looked like what I imagine the surface of the moon would look like. Absolutely nothing can grow on these hills, and we read that when it rains, they actually appear to be different colors (as with all the painted hills) due to the way they absorb and refract the light.
Our last short walk of the day was to see this big hill which is just one big fossil dump. They have pulled thousands of fossils off of this hill, and continue to find more all the time. It was so tempting to hop the fence and go looking for ourselves, but of course that isn't allowed.
This was Ryan's favorite thing of the whole day, Red Hill. It was one of the pretty hills we saw on our drive back to our campsite. We came back earlier than yesterday so the kids could spend some time around the camp playing and exploring.
Abby built her very own log cabin and is doing her Vanna White pose for me.
Abby found this bird's nest and just had to take it home (it was abandoned). It now sits in our ever-growing nature corner at home.
We finished off the day with S'mores...at least Abby did. I only ate the chocolate, Daddy only ate the toasted marshmallow, and Ryan ate what we call "Smoes" (from the movie Toy Story), just graham crackers sandwiching a chocolate bar and not toasted. Each to his own, I guess!
I had to get a picture of the sign that greeted us when we arrived warning about bears. This is the first time we've camped in bear country, and it was a little unnerving. We tried to cover the sign before Ryan saw it, but it was too late (man, that kid can read fast!). Thankfully, we were able to allay his fears. We noticed a barbed wire fence completely surrounding the campground as well as several cattle guards (don't know if they keep bears out or not, but it made him feel better). Thankfully, the most dangerous wild life we saw were a couple of pronghorn antelope who took off at the first sight of us.
Our final night was just the perfect temperature for camping, and in the morning we ate breakfast, packed up camp, and made the long journey home. We had a fantastic time! In fact, we've decided to come back next month to the third unit that we didn't get a chance to see this trip.
Wednesday, May 20
We took our first family camping trip of the season last weekend, and it certainly wasn't boring, though we did see the offramp to go there.
Let's just say it started out with a bang. We stopped for a bathroom break at a gas station on the top of Mt. Hood and someone backed into our van.
No one was hurt (though Abby was pretty shaken up) thankfully, and the exchange of information went well and except for a terrible crunching and scraping noise when opening and closing the passenger-side door, we were still able to safely drive our van.
Aside from our small accident, this camping trip was our best so far! After leaving the gas station, we continued to drive several hours to the John Day Fossil Beds. We got to our free campground in plenty of time to get camp set up, cut up some firewood, and get dinner going before dark. We were almost completely alone at the campground, which was wonderful! The nearest campers were two sites away and though there was someone setting up camp each evening, they always left first thing in the morning.
After a frigid night (note to self: always bring the heater if you even remotely think you might need it!), we awoke, made breakfast and prepared for a day at the fossil beds.
Our first day was spent exploring the museum at the Sheeprock Unit. The scenery was incredible with tons of exposed strata, wildflowers, and small wildlife to see. Though many (dare I say most?) people who come through this area see Darwinian evolution at work, all I could see was a God who is more powerful and creative than I can possibly imagine.
We first went to the museum that houses the Thomas Condon Palentology Center. It was interesting to note that Thomas Condon was a Protestant minister who came out west to spread the gospel. He then was shown the fossil beds and began excavating them and sending the fossils back East, which created quite a lot of excitement among the scientists of the time.
Sadly, he chose to believe in evolution as God's method of working rather than the teaching of the Bible which says God made the animals after their own kind. While we saw hundreds of fossil specimens, I found it of particular importance (and pointed out to our children) that every single fossil was the same or incredibly similar to the species we currently have on our planet. There wasn't one transitional form among the thousands that have been found.
After leaving the palentology center, we drove just down the road to visit Thomas Condon's home which is now a museum which house the history of the people of the area during this time. We had a nice picnic lunch there on the grounds. The first picture is of his homestead cabin and the second is of the house he built later. Quite a difference, eh?
After lunch we visited the sheep barns and orchards and took a walk down to the John Day River. Then we decided to do some more hiking in the surrounding hills. It was beautiful, though a little warm for us Western Oregonians.
Ryan was rather grumpy due to the heat and all the walking we were doing, but the rest of us had a grand time! Abby thought it was a great hardship that she wasn't allowed to keep any of the rocks she kept finding everywhere as it's against the law to remove them.
We took hundreds of pictures, and I had a hard time narrowing them down for this blog post.
We usually incorporate some geocaching into our camping, and we did so this time too. Our last hike was actually to find the cache of a multi-cache we had been doing all day, and it gave us quite a view.
Finally we were out of time and energy and so we drove back to our campground for some dinner and rest. Stayed tuned for the day two post...