States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Custer State Park: Thursday, July 8th

Given the hard work the kids had already put into their Junior Naturalist books, we decided to head back into the Park with hopes of completing them. Due to the program requirements, this meant 3 back-to-back programs as well as a hike. We arrived early enough to attempt the mile-loop hike of the Legion Lake area. Unfortunately the trail was not well marked and although we hiked up some steep hills, we’re pretty sure we did not complete the loop as intended, regardless, we hiked!

As we came closer to the Visitor Center, we passed the cabins on the opposite side, with an enormous field of bison just wandering around between them all! The downside of this was that the next stop for the bison was the open field area, directly next to the creek that we should have been 'panning for gold' in. At the meeting point, the Naturalist unfortunately decided to cancel that event for today; the kids were hugely disappointed. Apparently the bison had been there about half an hour earlier, she’d requested they be cleared by park rangers, which they had been but then they returned, so it wasn’t worth taking the risk that they wandered off and then came back with many people 'panning' at the creek.

Instead of actually going down to the creek, she did share information about the gold rush and the history associated with that in the park. She also showed the kids an example of the yellow ore that they might possibly have found.

In the end, it worked in our favor as they were able to complete some more of their books and have some lunch while waiting for the next program to begin. At 2pm, we sat and listened to the 'Horns vs Antlers' talk. Of course, the kids knew quite a lot of the information about horned and antlered animals so shared perhaps more than they should! The Naturalists passed around multiple examples, including an enormous elk antler; their antlers grow back each year, after they have shed, about an inch per day!

After a couple of games of tag in the field, all four settled down to complete the Junior Naturalist program about recycling. Having learned a bit about recycling (hopefully they knew most of it already), they made a ‘bison bank’ with a recycled water bottle, some twigs and a little coloring project – they came out very cute-looking, the downside: where to locate FOUR water bottle banks in the camper??

Once their journaling page was completed in the book, they went into the Visitor Center to get everything signed off. This program was very thorough in checking everything they learned, so they were all happy to receive their certificates, seals and patches, a good effort indeed.

Dave was eager to return to the narrow tunnels and rock spires again to take photos of them in better weather and lighting. This time, we were happy to actually locate the needle rock and the kids were happy that it coincided with a big area of rocks they could climb over (and disappear on). They didn’t mind too much about the extra drive, given that they’d been waiting to watch ‘Matilda’; both Jake and Caitlin read the book this year, so were eager to see the movie. Hopefully they’ll write a comparison at some point between book and movie as they both noted a few differences. I’ve recently been fascinated to discover that many of the books they read this year are way above expected grade level and discovered a website via an online friend’s blog: which details suitable titles for their grade – if I gave either of them some of the recommended titles for their age, they’d be shocked at how easy they were; so happy to have kids who love to read!

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