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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Silhouettes Homeschool Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Silhouettes

This week we are going to be on the lookout for interesting tree silhouettes in our own yard and neighbourhood. Here is the link to the previous challenge: Winter Wednesday – Tree Silhouettes

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

In this challenge, be sure to look for the list of four ideas to use when completing this challenge with your children. You can also work on your Winter Tree Study and your Four Seasons Tree Study.

Homeschool Nature Study: Outdoor Hour Challenge

Special Activity: My Tree is a Living World
This may be a great week to revisit this activity:
My Tree is a Living World

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

You might also like to see how Tricia’s family enjoyed this winter tree silhouettes challenge. They did a blind contour drawing. They also noticed how paying attention to winter tree silhouettes made them notice the backyard birds!

Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #4. Use the ideas in the challenge to start a focused study of trees with your children. Use the accompanying notebook page to record your outdoor time and your focus area.   

It is simple to get started. We will show you how. Grab this free Homeschool Nature Study Guide and discover the joys of nature study in your homeschool.

If you do not own the Getting Started in the Outdoor Hour Challenges guide then hop on over to our shop and grab your free copy! We would love to have you join our membership for full access to the new year’s nature study plans as well as access to the curriculum with detailed lesson plans for each weekly challenge.

Homeschool Nature Study Membership - Bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool

Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Helpful Tips Year Round

An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

Connect With Us On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge on Winter Weeds? Be sure to tag @outdoorhourchallenge on Instagram and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

In addition to this winter tree silhouette challenge, our nature study homeschool members enjoy so much more! Membership includes three sets of Winter Handbook of Nature Study curriculum, additional nature study resources and ideas plus a calendar FULL of easy, daily nature study prompts. This Week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge comes from:

Handbook of Nature Study - An Outdoor Hour Homeschool Curriculum - Winter Wednesdays
Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes? Be sure to tag @outdoorhourchallenge on Instagram and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: The Habit of Taking Your Nature Study on the Road

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Week 11 – November 12, 2021

The Habit of Taking Your Nature Study on the Road

Our family has always enjoyed being outside together, hitting the hiking trail and doing a little exploring. But often the biggest obstacle to taking that hike was figuring out where to go. We may have had the desire and the time to get outside but wrestled with the question of where to go. Often we thought too big.

I realized over time that we didn’t need to travel far to find places to go on short notice or even for a half day’s hike. I loved being able to roll out of bed, decide to go on a hike, and be out the door in a short period of time. So, how did I overcome the dilemma of finding places to hike near our home?

Here’s the idea we landed on and have since adapted to our home here in Oregon.

“We found a long time ago that we can explore so many different places by using a simple idea. Take a map and place a big dot on your hometown. Now determine an hour’s distance from your home and draw a circle around your home at that distance. Make a list of all the places you can go that are within that hour’s distance and then start one by one giving them a try. We have been following this concept for over a decade and it always amazes us what we can find to do that is within that short distance range.” From my blog in 2010.

I wrote that blog entry when I still lived in California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. We were blessed with many trails within a short distance of our home, even some that were accessible in the winter. We of course had our favorites that we visited many times but over the years we tried to include new places each season. We were never without a few wish list places to look forward to trying.

When we made the big move to Central Oregon four years ago, we did the same exercise with an Oregon map. We drew a 50-mile radius around our hometown and then did research to find trails to explore in our new habitat. It’s surprising how many interesting places you’ll find if you give this a try. Everyone has a unique place to explore and it just takes a little preparation to get you going on some new and fresh trails.

Finding Resources

I did some research on Amazon and found that if you type in some particular words you can find some great ideas for books for your family just about anywhere you live. You can purchase the book from Amazon or look up the title at your public library instead.

Type in the search box on Amazon.com:

Easy Day Hikes _______ (with your state instead of the blank)
Best Day Hikes ________ (with your state instead of the blank)
Day Hike ____________(with your closest National Park instead of the blank)
Fodor’s __________(with your state or region of the US like Southwest or Northwest)
Moon Handbooks ____________(with your state, region, or national park instead of the blank)
Hiking ___________(with your state, region, or national park…this one will get you a lot more choices and can be overwhelming)

Another tip that I will pass on is to go to Barnes and Noble and look for their travel guide section. Browse and pick out a guide book to your own state and/or local area. Be like a tourist and read the guide book to discover more about your own locality. I keep one of the hiking guide books and a local map in the pocket of the door in my car. I refer to it when we are looking for local attractions for day trips.

Of course, you can just look things up on the internet, although when I am out and about it is reassuring to have a map and some directions in my pack as a backup. I do lots of research online, but I feel better having a book describing the hikes when we head out the door. At the very least, we carry a map of the area where we are hiking. I could write a whole post about bad maps and books and trail markers but I will save that for another time. 🙂

 

Nature Study When You Travel

Maybe you would like to incorporate a little nature study when you take a vacation or longer trip. I think this is a fantastic idea and we’ve done it in our family for decades. It brings an added layer to your vacation experience, introducing you to things you might otherwise miss if you weren’t thinking about nature while traveling.

The difference between a good outdoor experience and a great outdoor experience with an opportunity for nature study is sometimes just a matter of preparation.

Preparation for Nature Study When Traveling

1. Do a little research ahead of time for the habitat you’ll be visiting.
Determine what you’ll encounter on your trip that might make for interesting
nature study. For example, if you’re going to be visiting an ocean beach, learn what
plants, birds, and animals make their home there. You can also use the Handbook of
Nature Study to read about things you think you might encounter during your travels.

2. Find resources such as field guides or other nature related books to read or bring along with you. I suggest starting with a few field guides with common nature study topics: birds, wildflowers, and trees. Check your library for books you can borrow and take with you. To prepare, you should page through the field guides before you leave on your trip to be familiar with the layout of the book and perhaps to glean a few things ahead of time to be looking for as you go outdoors.

3. Bring along your nature journal or some pre-printed notebook pages. During down time it is nice to have supplies on hand to make a nature journal entry to record your nature study as you travel. Basic art supplies like markers or colored pencils are easy to pack. I also like watercolor pencils for nature journal entries. Keep it simple and light.

4. I also like to look up nature centers or nature trails in the areas we visit. A good nature center visit can take an hour or two and can provide a spark to capture the interest of everyone in the family. The staff is usually knowledgeable about the local habitat, giving you advice on where to go and what to see. They also can help identify anything you have observed but can’t put a name to as you try to make your journal entries. Most nature centers have bookstores that can provide additional resources to follow-up your nature study time.

Ultimate Naturalist Members:

Getting Started Ebook: In preparing for your trip, you could also look up a few of the Outdoor Hour Challenges before you travel, the first five challenges can be applied to any habitat. If you have the Getting Started Challenges 1-10 ebook, you can have that loaded on your laptop and reference it as you travel.

 

Printables:

  • Nature Center Notebook Page
  • Habitat notebook pages – see the various habitats available
  • Any of the specific printables for topics you may encounter on your travels

Newsletters :

  • December 2013 – National Parks (travel)
  • May 2015 – Nature Study Travel (printable notebook page for travel)

Take time to go through your Membership library to see what’s available to help you in your quest to make difficult subjects easier for you. My intent in writing the Outdoor Hour Challenges was to make your life easier when it comes to pulling together an interesting and rich nature study for your family.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

If you’re not a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study yet, please consider joining to gain the benefit of having a nature study library at your fingertips. There are numerous resources available for you to help create the habit of nature study within your family.

Please note that the Ultimate Naturalist Library will only be available until 12/31/2021. At that time my website will be shutting down.

If you’re an email subscriber to the Handbook of Nature Study, you may consider saving this email in a folder for future reference. The blog will be retiring at the end of the year as well.

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument-Painted Hills Unit: Tips and Images

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Painted Hills Unit

Oregon

March 2021

We moved to Central Oregon four years ago hoping to spend a good deal of time exploring this part of the world. The pandemic slowed us down but we’re hoping this year to get out and have some new adventures over the spring and summer months.

One place that’s been on the list is the Painted Hills here in Oregon. They are part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument found in eastern Oregon. Turns out they’re not extremely far from us and we took a day trip to hike the Painted Hills on a bright sunny spring day.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Painted Hills tips and images

If you’re traveling from Bend, Oregon, the trip to the Painted Hills is an easy drive of a little less than 2 hours. The scenery is gorgeous so the time passes by quickly. The route takes you through the town of Prineville where you can stop for a coffee break or pick up groceries for a picnic.

Painted HIlls trailhead
The Painted Hills are dog friendly so bring your leash and some extra water for the trail.

Once you arrive, there will be a place to stop at a restroom and gather up a map from the kiosk. The trailhead to the overlook is just a little way down a dirt road. There is plenty of parking for the short overlook trail. I highly recommend this as a first hike to get the best views of the colorful terrain.

Painted Hills

Note: If you’re on a road trip and are passing this way, take the time to visit the Painted Hills, taking a rest stop and a short hike.

Painted Hills

We walked out to the overlook, snapped a few photos of our group, and then headed back to the parking lot.

John Day Fossil Beds Painted Hills March 2021 (7)

We had the whole morning to spend exploring so we walked from the overlook trail to the Carroll Rim Trail. This was a little longer hike with some elevation gain on the way out. The day we visited was very windy so we were not too hot, but I would imagine in the summer this is a grueling, hot trail because it is completely exposed.

Painted Hills wildflower collage

In late March, the wildflowers were just starting to bloom. I of course had to stop and take a few photos. We thoroughly enjoyed this hike because it led us away from the crowds and up to the top for a bird’s eye view.

Painted HIlls

After the Carroll Rim Trail, we took the cars over to the Painted Cove Trail. This is the trail you often see on Instagram where people are walking along a boardwalk with the colorful landscape in the background. It’s a short accessible trail that you could add onto a day trip if you have time.

Paitned Hills

What a fun day we had! Views, hiking, picnic, wildflowers…just my kind of place.

We made it back to Bend in time for dinner at a local brewery. Everyone, including the dog, loved the adventure of a new place to explore together.

Even in the pandemic, we are determined to get out and hike if we can do it safely. Now that we’re all vaccinated it seems more likely to happen.

Tips:

  • There are no concessions at the Painted Hills, so bring all you might need for your day. I highly recommend a picnic at the grassy picnic area where there are lots of tables to sit in the shade.
  • This is an excellent day trip if you’re visiting the Bend, Oregon area.
  • I would arrange to arrive early to beat the summer heat.
  • There is no fee to enjoy the Painted Hills.
  • There is the opportunity to travel on from the Painted Hills to John Day Fossil Beds where there is a paleontology center and the official visitor’s center for this whole area. (We hope to visit here soon!)
  • There is a Junior Ranger Program.

 

 

You can read more of my national park entries by following these links:

 

 

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Outdoor Mom – August 2020

This has been a month for insect watching! It’s been a long time since I picked a “focus” nature topic for the month and it’s reminded me of the value of being alert to seeing things I might otherwise miss.

dragonfly lake hosmer kayak float july 2020

Dragon flies were the star for several of our outings on the water.  I have a fun memory of floating on the river with blue dragonflies landing on my arms and hat. Then there were the larger black and white dragonflies that look like small hummingbirds. They were spotted high up on tops of reeds and sticks, hanging out over the water where they sat waiting for a meal.

 wildflower garden august 2020

The wildflower garden has been abuzz with all kinds of insects. It makes me happy to sit nearby and listen and watch as they hop on, hover over, and dip into the colorful flowers.

We decided the meadow out behind the house should be called “grasshopper acres” this month because of the abundance of hopping and leaping that happens as you walk through the grasses. They are everywhere.

insect nature journal page august 2020

I’m keeping myself accountable this month with an insect page in my nature journal. It’s nothing fancy but it will remind me of a few of the insects I encountered during this month of looking for insects.

partial list august birds 2020

Our bird list this month has some surprise entries. The most inspiring addition was the Common Nighthawk. I wish I could post a video of the flying acrobatics of this amazing flyer! We noted the pointy wings, the white patches under the wings, and watched it on several late afternoons and evenings over the river.

Then there was the exciting visit of five Great Egrets. We observed them flying down at the river with their long thin necks, stick-like legs, and long yellow beaks. This is the first time we’ve seen a group of egrets here in our Oregon neighborhood.

But, the most compelling visitor we had this month is the Cooper’s hawk. He’s been hunting at my bird feeder. Twice I watched him dive at the feeder as the little birds flew off in every direction. Afterwards, both times, he sat in the tree over the feeder, unsuccessful in capturing anyone. I was able to get a good look at him as he actually posed for a few photos. A rather large and handsome hawk, he sat and patiently waited for a long time before flying off.

window decal review 2020
It’s hard to capture them in a photo.

 

On another bird related note, I installed some window decals that are designed to alert birds and prevent bird strikes. Our living room has a HUGE picture window and it has been the scene of many bird strikes and deaths in the past. I purchased the Window Alert window decals in the hope of reducing the number of birds who run smack into our window glass. They were easy to adhere to the exterior of the window. I was worried that they would annoy me as I look out the window but I’m happy to say that I don’t even really notice them anymore.

Do they work? I can’t say they have eliminated ALL of the bird strikes from happening, but I have noted that the very few that still hit the window must see the decals and slow down enough that it isn’t a fatal collision. We haven’t had a single bird death since putting the Window Alert decals up.

I call that pretty successful. I purchased them at our local Wild Birds Unlimited store for $6.95. The package says to replace the decals every four months since the UV coating will eventually fade and not be as effective. I guess I’ll get another set next spring.

Here are a few more fun things we did outdoors this month.

fishing crooked river august 2020

We made a day trip to the Crooked River to have a picnic and go fishing.

Koosah falls oregon august 2020

We took a new hike at Sahalie and Koosah Falls. What a magnificent place to take a 3-mile hike alongside the McKenzie River. I think this is my top pick for a day hike here in Oregon.

lavender farm hood river july 2020

My daughter and I had an awesome time cutting lavender at the Hood River Lavender Farm. What great memories we made that day! It was a hot day and the scent of lavender was thick in the air. We tasted lavender lemonade for the first time and loved its refreshing flavor.

 

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Are you following me on Instagram? I post regularly about my garden, the Central Oregon habitat, and our adventures. If you add the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge to your Instagram posts, I’ll come visit your images!

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

All members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to the 2020-2021 nature plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Look for it in your library.

 

 

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Nature Study for Your Summer Travel Plans

Four steps to preparing for nature study as you travel this summer.

Archive Post from June 2011 –with updates

Right now we are all ready to be outside and doing our normal summer activities. If you are planning a trip to a natural area to enjoy the outdoors with safe social distancing, you may want to implement some of the ideas below to enhance your outdoor time.

Now more than ever, it is so important to prepare ahead by researching the places you will be visiting for limiting hours or closures. You may even need to make reservations to visit your preferred natural area.

From my original post:

“The difference between a good outdoor experience and a great outdoor experience with an opportunity for nature study is sometimes just a matter of preparation. Summer nature study is a perfect fit for most families with the weather being more enjoyable and with longer days to enjoy. Whether you are visiting a new city, exploring your own city, or taking a road trip, including nature study in your plans can make your time more fun and interesting. Our family tries to include some element of outdoor time to each traveling experience.”

Nature Study and Summer Travel Tips @handbookofnaturestudy

1. Do a little research ahead of time for the habitat you will be visiting. Determine what you will encounter on your trip that might make for interesting nature study. I linked some ideas below along with some simple nature study books to get you started. Make sure to use your local library to find more books to prepare your family before your trip so you have some things to look forward to seeing in real life. For example, if you are going to be visiting an ocean beach, learn what plants, birds, and animals make their home there. You can also use the Handbook of Nature Study to read about things you think you might encounter during your summer travels.

Habitats Might Include:
Seashore
Woods
Desert
Pond
Deciduous Forest
Boreal Forest (Northern)

Please note the links above and further in this blog entry are Amazon affiliate links.

2. Find resources such as field guides or other nature related books to read or bring along with you. I suggest a good bird field guide, a wildflower field guide, and perhaps a tree field guide as a basic set of resources to have with you. Check your library for books you can borrow and take with you.(See my post on my Favorite Field Guides.) To prepare, you should page through the field guides before you leave on your trip to be familiar with the layout of the book and perhaps to glean a few things ahead of time to be looking for as you go outdoors. Additional field guide ideas will be found on my website (Handbook of Nature Study) by clicking the topic tab in the pink strip at the top of the page.

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3. Bring along your nature journal or some pre-printed notebook pages. During down time, it is nice to have supplies on hand to make a nature journal entry to record your nature study as you travel. Basic art supplies like markers or colored pencils are easy to pack. I also like watercolor pencils for nature journal entries. Keep it simple. Taking their own photos is fun for children and then to use as they document their own view of the trip. Encourage your children to take photos of things that they observe for future reference in identifying or including in their nature journals.

My suggestions for nature journal supplies and then nature journal ideas can be found here:  
Nature Journals-Ideas and Tips.
 
In preparing for your trip, you could also look up a few of the Outdoor Hour Challenges before you leave, the first five challenges can be applied to any habitat. If you have access to the first Getting Started with the Outdoor Hour Challenges ebook, you can have that loaded on your laptop or phone as a reference while traveling.

4. I also like to look up nature centers or nature trails in the areas we visit.A good nature center visit can take an hour or two and can provide a spark to capture the interest of everyone in the family. The staff will be knowledgeable about the local habitat, giving you advice on where to go and what to see. They also can help identify anything you have observed but can’t put a name to as you try to make your journal entries. Most nature centers have bookstores that can provide additional resources to follow-up your nature study time. I found this list of Nature Centers in the United States. (This list does not look complete but it will get you started.)

We just returned from a camping trip to the coast. I had brought along my nature journal supplies and a few field guides. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to end the day by creating a recap of the daily events and things of interest we observed. Capturing the details as they happen help remind you later of things you may want to research further. Nature study will help you train your children ask good questions and get them to observe things more closely. These skills are ones that will cross over into all areas of their life.

Use the time ahead of a trip to prepare for your nature study and you will reap the benefits as your family takes their learning to a new level. Explore a new place this summer!

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

You may wish to become a member here at the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Click the link above to learn more about the 26 nature study related ebooks available for download.

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Acadia National Park (Maine) – Tips and Images

Acadia National Park – Tips and Images

Bar Harbor, Maine

October 2019

Last October, my daughter and I were able to check a place off of our bucket list. Acadia National Park had been on our radar as soon as my daughter moved to New York. We love visiting national parks and Acadia had always seemed so very far away from our west coast home. But, now with a new home base just a long day’s drive from this particular national park, we could make plans to visit during the colorful autumn season.

I purchased a guide book and started doing my research into the Bar Harbor, Maine area before I flew out to meet up with Amanda. There were hikes and viewpoints to work into our schedule. The weather was a factor so we made contingency plans just in case the rains kept us from being outdoors.

These were both very helpful in guiding our plans. Please note these are affiliate links to Amazon.com.

I’ve wanted to share the highlights of our trip for months now and since I have more free time while sheltering in place, the time has finally come to show you the enchanting place called Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park Tips and Images

Our drive from New York to Maine was a wet one. We ended up breaking up our travels with a half day drive from Orange County, New York to Portland, Maine and then continuing the next day into Bar Harbor, Maine and the national park.

Since neither of us had been to this part of the world before, making a short stop in Portland gave us the opportunity to explore an interesting area and do a little shopping at the L.L. Bean flagship store. If you get the chance to visit Portland, we highly recommend the L.L. Bean outlet store for some real bargains! We spent most of our time walking around the Old Port, looking in shops, drinking coffee at Bard Coffee, and eating a potato doughnut at Holy Donuts. It was a lot of fun.

The next day we drove up to Mt. Desert Island where Acadia National Park is located. With sprinkles on the windshield and a few colorful trees along the highway, we made our way to the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center. I always like to stop at the visitor center to get our bearings at any new park.

Acadia National Park trip October 2020 (2)

We picked up a map and a bus schedule which was invaluable to our time spent exploring the park. I would like to mention here that this is a free shuttle system and it will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. The system is easy to figure out and there is a brochure you can pick up at the visitor center to determine which shuttle bus you want to take to reach your destination. We were pretty good at using the shuttle by the time we left.

 

Acadia National Park October 2019 (2)

Since it continued to rain, we opted to visit Jordan Pond and experience the famous popovers served at the Jordan House restaurant. I’m told that on a normal day the wait is LONG to get a table for tea and popovers. They are famous for their popovers which are a pastry they serve with jam and butter. Yum!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (4)

But, the combination of being late in the season and the weather made it possible for us to walk right up and be seated at a beautiful spot at the window, looking out over the pond and gardens.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (3)

Taking time to experience this treat was a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Before we finished, the weather cleared a bit and we were able to walk down to the pond itself and see the beautiful colors and the reflections in the water. I can imagine that the summertime gardens here are amazing.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (5)

We finished off our first day by driving the loop road around the park and back into Bar Harbor where we had hotel reservations. Bar Harbor is a quaint little town and the main streets are lined with lots of cute restaurants and shops. We had dinner at the Peekytoe Provisions. It was a fun atmosphere and delicious food.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (6)

The next morning we woke to clearer skies so we jumped on the chance to get out and hike! First stop was breakfast in Bar Harbor at Café This Way. Super delicious! After that, we parked our car and rode the shuttle out to the trail head for the Ocean Path. We decided to walk the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Point. This trail went along the coast for about 2 miles but you can opt off the path at several spots along the way to shorten your walk by jumping back on the free shuttle.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (7)

We stuck it out the whole length of the trail because it was such a great way to see the ocean, the rock features, smell the distinct fragrance of the balsam fir coming from the trees, and just stretch our legs. The path is fairly level and I would recommend it to even beginning hikers. Parts of the trail were a little congested, especially at the Thunder Hole.

We ate our lunch sitting on a rock overlooking the ocean. I was glad we had made a stop at the grocery store in Bar Harbor and put some lunch items in our backpacks. Food always tastes better along the trail!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (9)

After our hike, we hopped back on the shuttle bus and went to Sieur du Monts where there is a beautiful native plants garden and spring. From there we took the Jesup Trail and saw the most beautiful autumn color of the whole visit. Sometimes a boardwalk and sometimes a dirt trail, we walked serenely along the trail. The trees are all around you and it’s so peaceful and quiet. We found ourselves in an open space that had a vista of colorful trees. It felt like we were inside a postcard image!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (8)

The sky was blue and the trees were varying shades of yellow, orange, burgundy, red, and gold. This is how we imagined a New England autumn!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (13)

We soaked in the views and then headed back to our car because we would need it for the next activity on our list. We wanted to experience Cadillac Mountain at sunset and you need to drive up there in your own car. We were told that you need to get there about 1 ½ hours before sunset to get a parking place and I can imagine that in the busier months, this is a nightmare to plan. Again, because we were there in a less popular time of year, we were able to drive up to the top, find a place to park quite easily, and then hike around at the top to take photos. We ended up leaving before sunset but only because it had been a great day already and the crowds up at the top were a little overwhelming. We didn’t want to ruin our good vibe!

Acadia National Park October 2019 (14)

We drove back to Bar Harbor and ate dinner at a brewery…pizza and beer after a day outdoors is just what we needed! Then back to the hotel for an early night.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (15)

On our last morning, on our way out of the park, we drove out to the Bass Harbor area of Acadia National Park. This is the place to see the iconic lighthouse that you see so many times in advertising and literature for Acadia. It looked just like you would imagine a Maine lighthouse would look like, perched up on the rocky cliffs.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (16)

It was a beautiful day and after taking photos at the lighthouse, we decided to hike the Wonderland Trail. Mostly under the trees and eventually ending up at the ocean, this is an easy flat hike with a gorgeous view at the end.

Acadia National Park October 2019 (17)

Thus ends our first ever epic trip to Acadia National Park. I was so impressed with the beauty of Maine in general and the variety of things to do and see at the national park. I can see why so many people visit this very out of the way place during the summer to experience the hiking and the beaches. But, if you find yourself with the time to visit in the autumn, the fall color will not disappoint.

We left with great memories but also a feeling that things were left undone as well. But, I always feel that way when leaving a national park.

I will think back on this trip and try to remember the fragrance of the balsam fir and sea air.

 

Additional Tips and Information

  • There is a $20 entrance fee that you need to pay at the visitor’s center. We used our National Parks pass.
  • I highly recommend staying in Bar Harbor and taking advantage of the free shuttle that picks you up at the town square. It takes you right into the park and comes frequently.
  • If you are hiking in the park, make sure to pack a lunch or snacks!
  • I would plan on at least 2 days to get the most out of your visit.
  • Take the park loop road at least once, stopping at some of the turn outs to take photos.
  • There is camping available in the park and I noted that one of the campgrounds is on the shuttle system.

 

I invite you to read my other national park entries to inspire your next visit. Make a plan and then make it happen!

You can read more of my national park entries by following these links:

 

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Outdoor Mom – July Part 3

Outdoor Mom July: Part 3 – Travels

This is Part 3 of my Outdoor Mom entry. You can read Part 1 here: Outdoor Mom Part 1 – My Own Backyard  and Part 2 here: Outdoor Mom Part 2-Wildlife Sightings

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I keep reminding myself that the perfect summer weather is only here for a few short months in Central Oregon. It could get cold and wet as soon as September or early October so we need to be outdoors as much as we can right now. We made lots of time for kayaking and exploring in July, both close to home and during a trip to New York. Here are a few of the highlights.

 

Hosmer Lake

Our youngest son was home for a few days at the beginning of the month so that gave us an opportunity to get out on the lake in the kayaks. We were there fairly early and it was fantastic weather for exploring this crystal clear lake up on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. We paddled across the lake, through a canal of sorts, and then over to the other part of the lake. We had the dog with us and she is such a good passenger, even if she gets excited when we see ducks and geese. The yellow water lilies were blooming and the damselflies were out in force, landing on our arms and legs if we stopped paddling.

Sparks Lake

We had some young people come and stay with us for a week and one thing we did was kayak up on Sparks Lake. I love this lake! The view of the mountains, the relaxed paddling around the lake’s edge, and the beautiful wildflowers all contributed to the enjoyment of the day.

Kayak LIttle Deschutes

One of the most amazing parts of living where we do now is the ability to drag our kayaks straight from the backyard down to the river. We had left the truck down at the pull-out earlier in the day so all we had to do was jump on the water and go. We went further than normal and it ended up being a four hour paddle/float down the Little Deschutes. The girls were really good sports about the unexpected length of the trip. My husband made up for it with a delicious dinner when we got back home.

Niagara Falls

I had the opportunity to spend some time in New York and Ontario with my kids during July. We were driving right through Niagara Falls so we made the stop and took the Hornblower cruise from the Canada side. All I can say is that it was WAY better than I expected and it was overwhelmingly beautiful. The power of the falls is awe inspiring.

We took one day while the girls were here to make the trip to Crater Lake National Park. We stopped and viewed the lake from two different viewing points, hiked the Castle Crest trail to see the wildflowers, and then hiked to Plaikni Falls. I will be writing up our entire trip in a separate entry.

Paulina Peak

This is a peak in our area that you can actually drive up to in a car. Let’s just say we’ll be driving up there probably every summer to take in the splendid view atop a volcanic mountain. It is breathtaking!

Paulina Lakes

I hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse into our July travels and adventures. It was fun to have some young people to share the experiences with us.

 

This is Part 3 of my Outdoor Mom entry. You can read Part 1 here: Outdoor Mom Part 1 – My Own Backyard and Part 2 – Wildlife Viewings

 

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Crater Lake National Park – July 2017

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Revisited in July 2017

We took the short drive from our new home down to Crater Lake bright and early on a Monday. We were hoping this would be a good time to see the park without the crowds. It worked out! We arrived at the North entrance and headed straight to Watchman Overlook. They were working on the parking lot but we were able to park alongside the road.

Crater Lake

The view was spectacular! There were still patches of snow along the road, on the edge of the lake, and in shady spots in among the trees throughout the park. The water was a deep aqua blue as it shimmered in the morning sunshine.

Lichen on rocks at Crater Lake
Such beautiful lichen on the rocks

We then went over to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook right behind the Rim Village Visitor Center. There were a few more people here but still very enjoyable to take the walk out to the overlook and see the lake in all its glory.

After that, we drove down to the Steel Visitor Center so we could watch the movie about Crater Lake and how it was formed. We all really enjoyed this and learned a lot about the natural history of this amazing spot on Earth.

Columbine at Crater Lake

Wildflowers were next on the list of things to see in the park and we headed to the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail which was a short drive from the visitor center. Overwhelmingly beautiful!

Wildflowers Castle Crest Crater Lake

There were so many flowers in bloom of all shapes and colors. There is a creek running down the hillside which provided the background soundtrack of babbling and rushing water. There were many, many insects including a hummingbird moth that we observed for some time.

White bog orchid Crater Lake

I was super excited to discover a “new to me” wildflower growing in abundance along the trail. The White Bog Orchid was so delicate and beautiful! I’m hoping to add it to my nature journal soon.

Plaikni Falls Crater Lake

Our last stop before heading back home was Plaikni Falls. This is on the east side of the lake and it’s a very easy two mile round trip hike on a fairly flat trail. The falls themselves are a cascading series of falls that you can hike to the base of and then look up to the top. We sat on some rocks and let the cooling mist get us a bit damp. People were taking off their boots and soaking their feet in the icy water. I was glad we had saved this for the rather hot afternoon.

I know we’ll be making more trips here in the future since it is an easy hour’s drive from home.

You can read my previous entry for Crater Lake Here: Crater Lake National Park Tips and Images

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Outdoor Mom – April 2017

 

Outdoor Mom April 2017

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

April 2017

The past month has been a month of wildflowers. Coming out of the wettest winter in our memory, we are so grateful for the green sprouting grass and the pops of springtime color.

Spring House Yard

It has been a time of yard work as well. We listed our house on the market so that meant a whole yard tidy and sprucing up. I weeded and weeded until my hands were sore and I still didn’t get them all.

Point Mugu HIke Wildflowers 1

Last week we flew to Southern California to meet up with my son who was out from New York to be in a friend’s wedding. What did we do with our time together? We hiked of course! I realized we could take advantage of the “super bloom” of wildflowers and using Instagram search, we found a place near where my son was staying to visit for a long afternoon hike in the hills.

Point Mugu HIke Wildflowers 2

Point Mugu was a perfect place to hike right along Hwy 1 on the coastline of California. You start at the day use parking lot and head up the hill on the fire road. Masses of wildflowers covered the hillside!

Point Mugu HIke Wildflowers 3

We could identify many of the flowers and the others I have images of to use with a field guide. I quizzed my son about flower names and he remembered quite a few which made my Outdoor Mom heart happy. Don’t be fooled…they are paying attention even when they don’t act like it.

I have been struggling with keeping up with my nature journal but I am determined to keep my page a week goal. Look for my nature journal entry later this month or follow me on Instagram for my Wednesday nature journal posts.

Oregon river

Many of you have heard by now that we sold our house in California and we will be moving next month to Central Oregon. I am so excited to start learning about my new habitat along the Little Deschutes River. I am going to try to keep up my posting routine here on the Handbook of Nature Study so hopefully you will not notice much difference here on the blog except for the topics I will be covering in my nature journal.

 

 

 

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

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Outdoor Mom’s Journal – March 2017

Outdoor Moms Journal @handbookofnaturestudy

 

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

March 2017

We have had so much rain that the thought of traveling somewhere warm and more on the dry side was very appealing. My daughter and I had started planning this trip way back in August because she lives in New York where the winters are far too long for that California girl.

Big Island Landscape @handbookofnaturestudy

One of my favorite places to be warm and beachy is on the Big Island of Hawaii. It made sense for all of us to rendezvous there for a winter escape. The added bonus was this year our friend was able to round out our group to make it more fun. This was her first time traveling to Hawaii so we got to see all of the things through her eyes and enjoy sharing our favorite places.

We have been to Hawaii several times but never during the month of February so that part was new to all of us. What a treat! We were able to see whales just off the coast as they breached and spy hopped out of the water.

Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (5)

Snorkeling just about every day gave us plenty of opportunity to see the colorful fish and sea turtles in abundance. I love the feeling of just floating around in the water and watching the turtles as they feed off the coral. One afternoon we boarded a boat and did some serious snorkeling in Kealekekua Bay.  The conditions weren’t perfect, but we still saw plenty of interesting things including a puffer fish.

Akaka Falls Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (8)

The day the weather was gray and a little misty, we ventured to the Hilo side of the island.

Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

We hiked to Akaka Falls which are amazing and the walk down to them is lined with all sorts of interesting plants.

Hawaii Volcanoes Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

Later that day we made it over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The internet has been full of images of the lava lake and the lava spilling over into the ocean so we were hoping to see this in person. We were able to see the actual lava lake in the caldera of Kilauea but we weren’t prepared for the 8 mile round trip hike to see the lava “fire hose” going into the ocean. The weather was turning rainy too so we decided we would be satisfied with the lava that we could observe from the museum’s lookout. Totally worth it!

Coffee Tree Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

We visited an actual Kona coffee farm for a tour and tasting. The experience was even more special because we saw cardinals singing and a chameleon hiding in an orange tree.

Chameleon Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

I never thought I would see a chameleon up close like that and they are amazing creatures.

Sea Turtles Waikoloa Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

We did lots of beach walking in Waikoloa where we were staying but you need to put aside your preconceived idea of what a “beach” is to do that. These are not white sand beaches but rather black lava rock with coral washed up on the shore. It was fun to do beachcombing and we nearly always saw whales off shore and sea turtles sleeping on the beach.

I squeezed in some nature journaling time while there and I have a short list of things to research and record now that I am home. I will be sharing my journal entries in a separate post next week!

Sometimes taking a trip is not really a vacation but this one allowed me to relax, spend active and quiet time in nature, and enjoy the company of my family and friends.

 

Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

Just a Note about the Cost of Traveling

We make our trip fit our budget by taking advantage of air miles for free tickets, researching condos for the perfect location and amenities, cooking almost all our own meals, and then planning activities that are within our financial reach. Also, traveling with other family members and friends allows us to split costs like food, gas, and the condo. Our condo had snorkel gear, chairs, beach umbrella, and boogie boards for us to use while we were there, so check into that benefit if you are thinking about booking a condo on the islands.

Hawaii 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy (7)

Read more about my experiences: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge Plans for Sept 16 to March 17 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can use the free monthly newsletter along with the Handbook of Nature Study book for your nature study. Adding a membership gives you access to the Ultimate Naturalist Library’s ebooks and printablse which provides members with even more in-depth studies each month.

Read more about it!