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Friday, August 25, 2017


Today is National Park Service birthday. They are all free so get out there and have a great time!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Here Comes the Solar Eclipse!

Are you planning on learning about and watching the solar eclipse with your young naturalist on August  21st? Our family is really excited and we have some ideas to make it memorable for yours as well.

A great way to start is getting your kids informed and thinking using the Eclipse Junior Ranger booklet that you can download from this site. If you are near a national park in the line of the eclipse, turn it in for an awesome one-of-a-kind badge or mail in your booklet to get a badge

U.S. Department of Interior
National Park Service
Junior Ranger Coordinator
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

 If you have a cub or Boy Scout in your family, he can earn a special patch through his troop as well.

Visit the NASA 2017 Eclipse website for a countdown, safety information, and list of events. (It is important to  make sure you have safe glasses. They can be purchased here.) Or make your own viewer from a shoe box:

 At timeanddate.com  there is a list of cities in the U.S. to search when the eclipse will be  best viewed in your area as well as a live stream of the event.
Each of you can take the time to write & draw in your nature journal and ask yourselves these questions:
*  Did you notice animals acting different before, during, and after the eclipse? Did the birds still sing during the eclipse
*Did it feel cooler during the eclipse?
*  Did the change in light make the landscape look different?

Monday, July 31, 2017

SImple Summer Days

How is your summer? Although I am working full-time, ours is turning out to be nice and simple. Over the next several weeks I will share photos and thoughts on our simple summer days with while looking forward to the academic year ahead. 

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The best way for our family to simplify our summer is to get back to nature.  Our big trip this year was several nights camping at Shenandoah National Park.  It was wonderful!
(And we all happily survived without electricity, phones, and screens.)

Nature Time

A Shenandoah Salamander

Buddy dog worn out on the Appalachian Trail

Friday, January 6, 2017

Free National Park Days

The National Park Service just celebrated 100 years of caring for America's treasures.  We sure had fun visiting Shenandoah National Park for the first time last summer and even bought an annual pass to encourage us to explore even more.

This year, you have several opportunities to get out and explore over 400 National Parks, both natural and historical parks, for free on the following dates:

January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents' Day
April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

If you take kids, don't forget to ask about the Junior Ranger program at the visitor center so they can earn a cool badge or patch.

(Don't forget to thank rangers and staff for their role in providing an excellent experience.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Urban Nature

I've been thinking about my role as a Park Ranger lately.  I would like a change of pace, but it will take time to make that happen. In the meantime, although I am surrounded by history in a big city, I am drawn to signs of nature.  It is there, I just have to look closely.

Sometimes it is quiet and still...
Above my head in the London Plain tree sits a hawk watching cars go by.
...while other times, nature is noisy and energetic.

This squirrel chitted at nearby birds after burying a supply of acorns.

Sometimes nature offers an unexpected surprise...

yet often provides an expected comfort during change in a rushing world.

No matter where or when, signs of nature help me regain my focus

Friday, October 14, 2016

Autumn Nights

The season is changing. Are you ready for cooler nights and rustling leaves?  Nowadays, I get home from work after the sun has set, but we keep up with our tradition of taking Buddy dog on a walk the moment I walk in the door.  It gives the boys and I much needed time together to talk about the day that has passed. Knowing I love all things nature, one of my ranger friends told me about a great app and I want to share it with you.  It is called Sky Map.   We used it on our walk last night to track the stars, constellations, moon and planets on our walk last night and my youngest loves it!  It is free and helps us to see how the stars make a constellation and shows where the planets are in relation to where we stand. Give it a try, it is free and will open a new world of curiosity.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Find Your Park - Shenandoah National Park

We had a wonderful trip to Shenandoah National Park a few weeks ago.   We definitely celebrated the National Park Service centennial in our favorite way. Camping and hiking - it doesn't get any better for our little family.

If you go, bring sunscreen, bug spray for evening hikes, and stop by the visitor centers so the kids can get a Junior Ranger book and you can get trail maps.
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