Seattle (Amazon!)

Today was the day we wanted to spend the day in downtown Seattle, and my Nana Marilee was joining us! We are staying at my Dad’s Aunt Kristi’s house in Pouslbo, Washington, and it is across the Puget Sound from Seattle. We started out the day taking a ferry from near Poulsbo right into downtown. It was a super great view of the tall buildings, space needle, the Seahawk’s stadium and many other ships. The ferry was very smooth, and it could fit over 200 cars on it.

Our first stop was the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park near Pioneer Square. My mom said grunge bands like Nirvana got their start near here. I learned a lot about the Gold Rush, and how most people got their start to Alaska here in Seattle. I also became a Junior Ranger – of course!

Our next stop was Pikes Place Market with their flying fish, fresh fruit and tons of tulips. We saw the nasty gum alley, and I got a hot chocolate at the original Starbucks.

When we left Pikes Place Market we wanted to go to the Space Needle. I really wanted to go to the “Amazon Go” store and it was only a few blocks off the path. When we got there we saw the spheres and we wanted to see if we could go in. When we started walking towards the door a random employee (Hi Tiffany!) came out and said, “You can’t go in without an employee, but lucky for you my meeting just got cancelled so I can give you a private tour.” So we got to go in the Spheres and it was awesome. There were so many plants and greenery. There was a wall called the living wall and it was a wall covered with live plants. There was also an awesome “Birdsnest” and it was a place for people to concentrate, and a conference room that looked like an eagle exhibit at a zoo. On the top floor there was a sun bathing place to work too.

Then we went to Day One, a massive Amazon office building. We went up to the 19th floor and the way the elevators worked was you pressed what floor you we going to and how many people were with you before even entering the elevator. That way you can tell if the elevator fits everyone. The view from the 19th floor was phenomenal. You could see all of downtown, the water, and the space needle, parts of the Queen Anne neighborhood and Lake Washington.

Then the worker had a meeting so we parted ways and went to the Amazon Go store. The way the go store works is you scan your phone and cameras track you while you are in the store. You can take things from the shelves and walk out and it charges your amazon account. We each grabbed something to drink, and the receipt came up on my dad’s phone about 5 minutes later! Today we got a once in a lifetime experience to see the Amazon campus and it was awesome.

Other things we did to finish the day out was walk to the Space Needle, take the monorail, walk along the waterfront and eat fish and chips at the famous Ivar’s on the bay. (WT & MT)

Crater Lake National Park

Today we started the day at our amazing campsite. Crossing the big log over the stream is my favorite thing about being there. That, and just hanging out in the hammock. The drive to Crater Lake NP was not that long, the National Park sign was only a mile down the road. On our drive we started seeing 20 foot tall posts that marked the road, I’m guessing so snowplows know where the road is. Then we started seeing snow upon snow.

At the visitors center the snow was probably 15 feet tall. All of this but there was no snow at our campsite just miles away! It was crazy! As at all National Parks, I started out by getting the junior ranger packet. I finished the junior ranger packet at the visitor center while we watched a short movie. Snow was up to the roof here, we entered through a snow tunnel instead of the front door! Then we started up the road even more as we still hadn’t seen the lake. At the main lodge area we finally got a glimpse of it. We walked a little trail to an amazing view point. The water was so blue and smooth. The reflection was cool. The lodge had a gift shop and a little exhibit about the park. The lake was actually a large volcano and when it erupted the whole top came off! The lake is fed by rainwater and snow meltoff. The snow can get up to 45 feet tall and they don’t have all the roads plowed until the 4th of July. It’s the snowiest inhabitable place in America. And it was awesome!

I made a Vlog here too: (WT)

Capital Reef National Park

Today we started the day off with a nice long sleep. Then we went to the Capital Reef National Park visitors center. There I got my junior ranger booklet. One of the requirements was to watch a movie. Conveniently it was starting in one minute so we rushed in there and sat down. The movie was really informative and interesting. At the end, a curtain behind the screen opened to show an amazing view of the park! So cool!

Then we went to the Gifford House in the Fruita part of the park, they make amazing pies with local fruit. On the way there we saw the fruit orchards on the side of the road and we all wanted some fruit because when the fruit is ready you can eat for free. Sadly the trees were only starting to bloom. When we got to the Gifford House we went in and we saw the pies and they looked so good. In one of the side rooms they had samples of salsa and cherry preserve. In all we bought a small ice cream, peach pie, salsa, sourdough bread, and cherry preserve. I think we were hungry!

Next we went to the 100 mile long waterpocket fold, which is a literal fold in the earths crust. We drove on a bumpy gravel road with gorgeous views until we got to the trail head of a hike that was one mile long one way to the water tanks. Me my brother and my mom all did it and my dad stayed back with Gunner. The hike was just walking along the bottom of a narrow canyon with high walls until we got to a really steep part which was .2 miles long. In those .2 miles I bet we gained 200 feet in elevation! We felt like we were off trail a bunch and there were a bunch of small lizards. At one part of the hike we went over a puddle and it was really hard. Then we went to the natural tanks that would normally have water but they were dry and full of sand. Then we started hiking back.

Next we started driving to a place that dad wanted to hike, Hickman Bridge. On the way we stopped at the Gifford house again to get another pie for desert(we ate the first one for lunch!). Me, my brother, and my dad hiked to the bridge and my mom stayed back with Gunner. It was really steep at the beginning but then it was pretty even for the rest of the hike. The rock bridge was amazing, and the hike back it was way easier. The view all over the Capital Reef was amazing. -(WT)

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

We’ve been at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park for the past 3 days, and we have had so much fun. Right when we arrived at our campsite within the Kings Canyon NP, I saw there was a huge snow pile behind our camper. I haven’t been able too play in any snow yet this winter, and I was so excited to build a snow fort and just play around in the snow, which I did every day in the afternoon when the temp was about 60 degrees. The snow was fun to slide down (slippery!) but I made a snow fort my brother and I could both fit in! My mom even got into it-it was a lot of fun!

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are sister Parks, you only have to pay once to get into both of them and they share the same rangers and volunteers. In Sequoia we visited the General Sherman Tree, which is the biggest tree in the world. It’s not the tallest nor the widest, but it is the biggest in volume. It is about 2,200 years old, 275′ tall and 120′ around! It’s so big that it doesn’t even fit into pictures! Pictures can’t even tell how big it is! It was in a grove with a bunch of other big sequoias, and in that grove there was a tree we walked through-that was cool. It was pretty with the snow all around as well.

Our campsite was really close to the General Grant Grove, which housed the General Grant tree which is the 4th largest tree in the world. Again, it’s hard to imagine just how big it is by just looking at pictures. I’m so happy we have seen these in person. There was another fallen sequoia here, but it was hollowed out so we could walk end to end in it. It was used 100 years ago by the cavalry that protected the Grant Grove. I could totally camp in it if it was an option!

In the afternoon, we went out of the park to the Sequoia National Forest. It was only 7 or so miles away and there dogs can be on the trails unlike in the National Parks. We hiked around Hume lake, which is one of my favorite hikes we have ever done because Gunner got to run free and I got to climb all over boulders. He was climbing logs and the boulders with me. He was such a happy dog – and that makes me and my family happy. Happy dog happy life!

My mom and I went on a moonlit hike in the park led by the Sequoia Conservancy. Our guide told us many stories about the moon, both with Native American roots and scientific roots. The sky was clear so you could see every single star in the sky, and I was able to pick out the constellation Orion. It was one I learned back in Texas at the McDonald Observatory’s star party. The moon was full and bright, but the large trees shadowed it until we were almost done. At the end of the hike, there was hot chocolate and a warm fireplace in the lodge. Our guide asked so what our favorite hikes were, and mine was the Grand Canyon with my family, grandparents and aunt and uncle, but I know I’ll remember this one with my mom for a long time now.

On Easter, my dad made us french toast with lemon curd and Mexican vanilla. We also had bacon and raspberries. It was the best Easter breakfast ever. After that we had a big Easter egg hunt that was awesome. I got a ton of eggs and a soft Kings Canyon T-shirt and a ton of candy. We played the worlds longest game of Phase 10 because we always took breaks!

I hope everyone had a happy Easter too! I’ll never forget the Easter we spent in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. (WT)

You can watch my video here:

Surfing the Waves

Today when my brother and I woke up our parents gave us the option to learn to surf. At first I was so excited that I was going to learn how to surf . My brother on the other hand was tired and didn’t want to surf, but my mom made him come along to watch. It was a short trip to the beach that we were meeting the instructor Jonny, our RV park was right on Pismo Beach! When we got there we saw his truck but didn’t see him. Then right when we got there he drove up. He had all our equipment ready. Then Andy decided he wanted to learn to surf too, he had woken up enough now. When we had our wetsuits on and our surfboards at our sides we walked to the beach.

Before we could get in the water we had a quick lesson on the sand. We mostly just worked on getting into the surfing pose. I was struggling so much with it.

Then we went into the ocean. Our wetsuits kept us warm in the freezing cold water. On my first time trying to get up I fell into the water and I got the salty water in my eyes and mouth . This happened over and over again until I kind of got it. I was standing but on the edge of the board so I was turning to the right constantly. Then my brother and I switched boards because mine was thinner and his was wider. I continued to fall over and over again until I got it. I got up and made it all the way to the beach and while I was surfing I was thinking “I am actually surfing”! It felt so cool and at that moment I understood why surfers loved surfing. By that time it was almost time to go. When we got on shore I filmed my vlog that you can check out here: .

What I learned is that hard work and persistence pays off.-(WT)

The La Brea Tar Pits

Today we started off the day by dropping Gunner off at a kennel. It took us an hour to go the 5 miles to get there, and another hour(or so) to get 15 miles downtown. The upside was that we ended up driving the back roads through Beverly Hills and we saw a bunch of expensive looking mansions.

We were on our way to the La Brea Tar Pits. About 2 weeks ago, I started learning about them in my online earth science class. I knew we would be close so I asked if we could go there if we had time, and we had time, so we went there! There is a large public park downtown that most of the tar pits were in. We also went to the museum there that was free, we happened to hit it on the free first Tuesday of the month. My mom and dad was very happy about that.

So in these tar pits, tar has been bubbling out of the ground and it carries lots of ancient fossils in it. Different animals that are now extinct that can be found here are saber tooth tigers, wooly mammoths, dire wolves, Bison, large sloths and more but sadly no dinosaurs. We got to watch paleontologists work on the fossils. In one area, they were sorting tiny fossils from sand using a tweezers and a microscope.

Outside we saw more working tar pits where paleontologists were uncovering more fossils by slowly digging out the tar from the fossils in the pit. In other tar pits we could actually see bubbles surfacing. The tar is the same temp as the air, so when it’s cold out you can walk on it(animals can that is). The way that all these fossils got into the tar is that the animals like wooly mammoths would go into the tar, get stuck and then die. Then the predators like dire wolves would think it was an easy meal, but end up getting stuck in there too.

This the only area in the world that is like this. It’s crazy that it is downtown LA! Adjacent to Park was the LA County Art Museum with some funky public art spaces. And across the street was a line of food trucks. We had a “little lunch” of buffalo chicken mac and cheese, mango sweet rice tacos and a creme brûlée donut that we shared.

Use your imagination to guess how long it took us to get home that night. Maybe if I meet you one day, I will tell you. (WT)

Nixon and Regan Presidential Libraries

On our way into Los Angeles, we stopped at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. At the entrance there was a memorial to Billy Graham, he seemed to be a friend to many presidents. The library was built on the same grounds that he had been born on, literally! The same house he was born in is still in the same spot it has always been, and we got to walk around it. Outside there was also Marine One, Nixon’s helicopter, beautiful rose gardens and pond . It was also the burial place of Richard Nixon and his wife Pat.

A couple of things I learned about Nixon was he passed Title IX legislature, helping women get a chance to play collegiate sports (like my mom!). In his first election, he won in the state that his opponent was from. He ended the military draft, and helped to create a voluntary military. He also lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. In his second term he resigned under a cloud of conspiracy. But he did many good things under his presidency too.

Fast forward 2 days, and we spent the day at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. This was one of my favorite libraries and I learned a lot about his life and his presidency. The best part was the getting to go in his Air Force One. The building was huge and built around the AF1. The building also housed Marine One, his helicopter. It was big but was dwarfed next to the airplane. In both vehicles, the place where the president sat had the presidential seal. In AF1, the seal was on the seatbelt buckle, and in the helicopter it was on the headrest.

Ronald Regan was an actor, which I did not know about before going here. But because he was, there were lots of pictures of him at an early age. He married the actress Nancy Davis, and she loved wearing red and spearheading the “Just Say NO!” program. There were lots of interesting gifts given to President Regan, including 372 belt buckles, many of which were on display. Regan loved to be a cowboy but he also loved fighting for peace.

There was even a section of the Berlin wall at the library, Regan had a famous line of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”. The library had a beautiful overlook of the Simi Valley, and both the President and First Lady are also buried here.

Overall, the 2 Los Angeles area presidential libraries have been very educational and fun to go to. It’s good to get ideas for what to put in mine one day.(WT)

Biosphere 2

Bio1Today we went to the Biosphere 2. Before our tour we looked around at a small museum about the Biosphere 2. Our first stop was the rain forest. It was awesome, hot and humid.bio3

The next stop was the ocean biome. There was a coral reef in it that wasn’t doing that well. They are about to remake it similar to the sea of Cortez. It is using new advancement in ways to make coral more durable/sustainable.bio ocean

Then we saw the hydroponics area. It was a irrigation system where koi fish poop was the fertilizer of plants, and that poop water flowed through lava rock that 4 levels of plants were in, and then the water was recycled back up to the top. This saved 90% of the water that was needed to grow the crops. Some different types of plants growing here were chili peppers, Swiss chard, strawberries, rosemary, tomatoes, corn and lemons. I would like to try this at home someday because not only does it save a lot of water, it would be kinda cool to have a koi pond.

Right next to it was the Mangrove Forest and then we saw the desert. There were different cactus in this desert biome then were just outside the building, so it was fun to see the different varieties.bio4

Next we saw the technosphere which was all of the electronics and technology underneath all of Biosphere 2. All of the air that would expand and contract because of temperature changes went to the “lung” which we saw next. There were 2 lungs built with the worry that the building’s windows would break with the pressure, but this worked perfect. Only one was ever used.

The Biosphere 2 was a great way to learn about the world and the possibility of life on Mars or perhaps the moon. I really do think that could happen with what I saw today! To see the inside check out my Vlog.

(-WT)

The Petrified Forest National Park

image1.JPG4Today we started the day at the Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona. The Park was mostly a 23 mile drive through amazing terrain. It was so beautiful. Our first stop was the Painted Desert Inn. This was a popular stop for people on Route 66. We learned a lot about the Hopi and Navajo tribes here.image2image1

Then we kept going to the Newspaper Rock. There were 250+ petroglyphs on 2 large rocks, it was so cool. Next was the Blue Mesas, which were layered teepee-like rocks. It reminded me a lot of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It was like I was in another world. image1 - Copy

Our next stop was the Juniper Forest. Here were more layered mesas, and a ton of petrified wood. Here’s a video I took from there: https://youtu.be/LmdklKcrfOQ

Did you know, this area used be as thick with trees as the Amazon, millions of years ago. The petrified wood was wood that crystals steeped into, turning it into a stone-like stump.image4image2 - Copy

We ended at another visitor center where I became Junior Ranger again. Did you know this is my 38th National Park/Monument? Petrified Forest is one of my favorites!image3

We happened to be staying in the same town as the famous WigWam teepee motel on Route 66. I recognized its similarity to the traffic cone motel on the movie Cars. I bet this is where they got the idea from. Each teepee had a retro car in front too.image3 - Copyimage1.JPG5

We decided to travel the whole way to Phoenix and check into our RV Park one day early. We took a back route and saw a bunch of beautiful hills and mountains. For about 30 miles, there was fresh snow on the ground. At one point, my mom pointed out a saguaro cactus and then we just started seeing them all over. They are exactly like the cactus you see on postcards of the desert. Even though we hit rush hour traffic, the weather was warm and we have beautiful views at our RV park. They were emptying the pool when we got here. I really hope they fill it back up tomorrow so we can go swimming! I can’t wait explore more of Phoenix! (WT)

Sledding on Sand in New Mexico

This morning we got up at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and saw U.S. Border Patrol special forces. They were ready to go on a hike with all their gear, it was super cool to watch.

Then we headed down the road toward Alamogordo, New Mexico. When we were driving through El Paso we pulled over at a gas station. There they had a fair amount of Mexican candy, things that Andy and I had been looking for like tamarind flavored candy. We also got a mango chili icee that was amazing. I like the flavors of the Southwest. We also passed Fort Bliss, an Army base that specializes in tanks and artillery. They have a ton of space to train in the New Mexico desert, and while we were driving in the middle of nowhere, we even saw some tanks and APC’s practicing and it totally look real! We also drove by Holloman Air Force Base where Germany trains some of their Air Force (we heard over 3,000 Germans are stationed here!) We saw a couple of fighter jets flying over us too, that was really cool.

We went to the first KOA we have ever been to in Alamogordo. The guy working there said that they have sleds for the White Sands National Monument that we could borrow. Just down the highway, WSNM is where you can sled on beautiful sand. When we got there we started looking for a place to sled. We found a perfect place and started sledding. We sled until we were tired of sledding. Here is a video of that: https://youtu.be/bV04_ZwOKZw

Then we started jumping down the dunes and rolling down the dunes. It was a blast and I think Gunner loved it the most! It was nice that dogs could come into the park. Then we went home and took showers and got all the sand off our bodies. Mom made a really good instant pot meal, she has been a great cook in the camper! (WT)