Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Vacation: Day 9

Astoria Heritage Museum and the Column:

Looking back at this day I don't understand how we did it all.  We saw so many fascinating places.  Looking back I also understand why we were so tired when we settled into the hotel that night.  I am going to divide the day into two posts not just because it  is way too much to read at once but because I am having trouble finding time to finish the page.

We started out heading into Astoria.  We had been here years before and had wanted to come back.  The original plan was to spend a couple days here and I kind of wished we had but we got off track somehow and gave up a day to catch up on rest which was important too.  There is a LOT of history in Astoria.   The first place we went was a museum we had seen years ago.  It is in a historic building which over looks the water.

Photo credit to Clatsop historical society

Astoria was one of the first settlements on the West coast.  It was primarily a gathering place for fur trappers to meet and trade.  This museum reflects the history of the fur traders, the Indian tribes who lived in the area and the military men who lived nearby at the forts.

Above was a neat replica of an Indian Longhouse.  The kids could climb in and see what their beds were like, what they may have been working on when they sat around the fire and some of the tools they would have used.  There was even a mock fire burning inside.  They don't allow flash in the museum so there was no way for me to get a picture of the inside.

Fur traders needed to be able to identify animal tracks. 
The kids got to give it a try too.

Mom and the camera stayed downstairs with the little kids.  Everyone else went upstairs where they have a replica of an old time saloon where the fur traders and soldiers went for drinks and.... other forms of entertainment.

There was an interesting KKK display that wouldn't photograph well without a flash.  The KKK was very active in this area in the 1920s.  But not for what they are known for.  There were no people of color in the area.  Their big issue was maintaining prohibition.  The KKK was vehemently against the consumption of alcohol.  During prohibition they went after bootleggers, intercepted bootlegged alcohol and were active politically against law enforcement in the area that was not upholding federal prohibition laws.  Homeschoolers:  If you can stomach a study on the KKK this is an interesting and often unknown agenda of the group.  In fact, by some accounts, it was their central and strongest reason for forming in the first place and responsible for their resurgence in the 1920s. 
Give it a read sometime.  Strange but interesting.

Next we went to the Column:

  It had been closed for repairs when we were in Astoria last time.  It really is something to see, especially when you realize it was created in the 1920s. 
But what we weren't prepared for was the amazing view from the park where the column is. 

Elayna wonders why letters are in the bricks on the ground.

Only Kylie and Jacob climbed all the way to the top of the 125 foot spiral staircase 
to stand on the observation deck. 

As you can see it was pretty much just us and some older couples.  Oh, and one other homeschool family from Canada.  We recognized each other as homeschoolers and visited for a minute.

Elayna overstimulated and shutting down again.  Just in time to get back into the van and head to the next place.  Fort Stevens....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Vacation: Day 8

Today the plan was to head down to 101 so we could start the Oregon coast part of the vacation.  I can't really remember why we got such a late start but we ended up tired very early on and just wanting to call it quits early in the day.  We decided to head into Longview and stay there and get to Astoria the next morning.  Unfortunately the hotel we found that had adjoining rooms wasn't super comfortable and we didn't really feel like hanging out there for the whole evening so we went out to Dinner and Bowling and the arcade.  It turned out to be one of those really fun spur of the moment things that becomes a fun memory.

Everyone bowled.  The 3 youngest had their own lane with bumpers.

The 8 pound ball was almost too much for Elayna but she was determined.

"Yeah I did it!"

Elayna thought it was fun even when she didn't knock any pins down.

Are these not the cutest bowling shoes you have ever seen?

Anna and Elayna comparing shoes.

Look daddy, my shoes look like yours.

Everyone hung in there.  Elayna and Anna even almost made it through the two full games.  But they were pretty tired by the time we got back.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Vacation- Day 7

Northwest Trek Day:

We had a few things planned for today.  But first we over slept and missed the free hotel breakfast.  Then we drove all the way out to Pioneer farms only to find out that someone (who shall remain nameless) hadn't read the brochure carefully enough and they are only open on the weekends after labor day.  We were out by Northwest Trek and that was one of our back up plans so that is where we went next.  It turned out to be such a great time that we bought an annual pass.  If our family goes more than once a year it is cheaper to buy a pass and we only got to see about half of it so we are going back soon.

When you arrive you get a time assigned to ride the tram.  Then you can walk through the trails and see some animals up close and learn about each one and their environment while you wait for the tram.  It is really very pretty and peaceful and we practically had the place to ourselves.

This is a cutaway view of the beaver dam.  You can see one of the beavers working on removing the bark from a stick up in the top middle of the picture.

One of the other beavers was really interactive.  At first I thought it was a coincedence.  But after awhile it was obvious he was really playing with the children through the glass.

This wasn't a great shot but this was a wolverine.  I had never seen one up close.  He had a really cute face once you got past the 2 inch long claws.

This squirrel was coming and going on this stump.  Making nice neat piles of leftover pine cone pieces and chewing on this leaf between pine cone nibbles.  I just had to get a picture of his handiwork. 

Kylie and Jacob waiting for the tram.  It was a really spectacular view.

The Tram ride begins.

Elayna loved it!

These elk were hanging out watching us watch them.

The bull was farther away but keeping an eye out for danger while the Elk cows and young rested in the grass.

Anna spotted this big Bison from a distance.  

 A couple of deer near the end of the tram ride.

Next we headed to the trailside animal encounter.  We didn't know what animal would be coming to show off for us.  It turned out to be the beaver again!  It was our family and just one other person at the encounter.  We got to sit just about a foot away from this guy and he was so fun to watch! But I think the poor zoo keepers ended up with more than they bargained for when they asked a family of homeschoolers to ask any questions that they had.  Hey, we already knew a beaver was a rodent and that their teeth constantly grow.  You gotta answer the big questions now.  We want to know how long their gestation is?  How many kits in an average litter?  Will they steal another beavers home?.....

Wait, the beaver is leaving?  We weren't done asking questions.....

While the older kids shopped in the gift shop mommy and the little girls went to do a craft project.  Turns out some moose needed little girl hands to give them some antlers.  Again, we were the only ones there.  

Elayna's Moose.  We thought she did a great job for 3!

Anna's moose.  Always the artist.  She wanted to take more time than we had so we took it home to finish.

One last look around before it was time to leave.
A tuckered out Stephanie.

It was really a fun day.  We learned a lot and saw some really neat animals.  There were so few people it really felt like we had the whole park to ourselves.  Looking forward to returning on another weekday soon.