Certainly Beats the Classroom

This just never gets old.

Yesterday there was a teaser on TV regarding the NHL team St. Louis Blues, which is one of the teams in the 2017 NHL playoffs. (If you didn’t already know, we’re die-hard hockey fans.)

During the teaser, the boys saw the St. Louis Arch. They got so excited and started yelling: “That’s the St. Louis Arch! We saw that! We drove right by it!” Indeed, this past September we did drive right by it on the way to Mississippi from Illinois.

We can’t even tell you how often they’ve made comments like this, positively thrilled that they saw, experienced, and learned about things in person, not merely from books. We’re not saying they haven’t learned about things from books or the Internet, but what they remember, what they talk about, what gets them super excited, are the things they have actually seen, been to, and done.

Our boys can say they’ve been to the top of a lighthouse because they’ve climbed the 203 steps to the top of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Florida.

Our boys can say they’ve seen hundreds of huge windmills because we drove by and between them in states like Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, and more.

Our boys can say they’ve played in the snow while a young moose walked by only feet away and watched two bull moose fight in Alaska.

Our boys can say they’ve been to the top of the Space Needle and looked out over Seattle, with Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains as the backdrop, in Washington.

And yes, the boys saw the St. Louis Arch glistening in the setting sun in Missouri.

Already they’ve stayed at least a week in each Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico, and D ‘Skiy has been to New Mexico, although he was only one year old at the time and doesn’t remember it except for the pictures.

(And then there’s our home state of Florida, of course.)

The boys have camped in the sweltering heat of the Florida Keys and the snow-covered hills of Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

They have been on steam engine and diesel engine trains, climbed many rock walls, rode on wave runners, took on several ropes courses, snorkeled crystal-clear waters, canoed and kayaked, fished in both salt and fresh water, walked dozens upon dozens of trails, and splashed in freezing mountain streams.

They’ve been to many gardens, zoos, museums, science centers, historical landmarks, and amusement parks throughout the country and the Caribbean.

The beauty of it is that they’re still so young, and they still get so excited whenever we go someplace new, enter a state we’ve never been to before, and pack for any adventure, whether we’ve done it ten times or this is the first.

That’s part of the beauty of homeschooling. The world is their classroom and everything is an open book.

And it never gets old when they can point to something on TV or in a book and say, “I’ve been there.”

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The Last Frontier

Up until now, Washington was our favorite stop on this journey.

Then we touched down in Alaska!

Washington has some steep competition here!

We couldn’t have gone in a better week either. The day before our plane landed Alaska had their first snow storm of the season. And during the entire week, it never snowed again and the temperature never rose above freezing.

It.Was.Perfect!

And you can tell we’re Floridians when we admire and get excited over something like the amazing details of the snowflakes!

Mama wanted to see one thing especially though: moose. We were informed they’re shy and there’s a good chance we wouldn’t see any…and for most of the week, we didn’t.

Although the first day Papa reported for work, there was a young bull on the property!

Mama was jealous.

But, oh, the snow! The weather was clear, cold, and crisp, and we planned ahead, bringing snow suits for the boys and multiple layers for everyone.

And just how cold was it? Well, one morning Papa got a cup of coffee from the hotel lobby before driving to work. When he tried to set it in the cup holder of the car, some of the coffee spilled. He grabbed a napkin to clean up the mess, but when he turned to wipe it up the hot coffee had already frozen! In just a matter of seconds!

Yup. Cold.

This was the boys’ second time seeing snow, their first happening earlier just this year in February. And that’s all they wanted to do all week: play in the snow! Fortunately, the around around the hotel had plenty of the white stuff, and they played in it until Mama was numb from the cold and demanded breaks.

When Papa wasn’t working we drove to the mountains, looking for wildlife, letting the boys sled down snowy hills, and walking on nature trails. One took us to a popular location for beavers, but the lake was frozen over and we saw no signs of the buck-toothed critters.

Then we found out about a park near the airport back in Anchorage where moose tended to live. We drove there one night…and saw several moose, including one mother with her calf. But it was dark, and it was difficult to see them well.

So the day before we were set to fly out of the Pacific Northwest, we decided to spend the day at the same park. At first we didn’t see any moose. Then we went for a walk on a trail…when a young male crossed the path directly in front of us! He was knock-kneed yet graceful, and he wasn’t at all bothered by our presence.

He was pretty photogenic too!

After the walk and letting the boys sled a little more, we climbed back into our rental car and started to leave the park. On the way out, we noticed several cars ahead that had stopped and people standing outside their cars, looking through a chain-link fence.

There in the field was a female moose…and two bull moose, with their massive antlers locked in battle! It was like a National Geographic special on TV, only it was live and happening a few dozen yards from us!

We were in absolute awe!

We watched the display for about half an hour, and then we called our Alaskan adventure a successful one and headed back to the hotel to pack our belongings.

At the airport the next day Mama started talking to a woman working at one of the shops there. She had asked how our trip was, at which time Mama went on and on about the bull moose we had seen fighting. The woman was amazed, informing Mama that she’d lived there for more than twenty years and had never seen bull moose fight!

We got lucky.

As much as we loved Alaska, we were ready to get back to the continental US, where we didn’t need to don two or three layers of clothes just to go to a grocery store and it didn’t take half an hour for our vehicle to warm up.

We can’t wait to go back though.

Oh, and did we mention that our cat Luna joined us here too, flying with us on four more planes?!

When we touched down in Kansas, we found out the weather in Alaska finally rose above 32 degrees and the snow was melting away.

We definitely got to see Alaska during a beautiful time.

And let’s not forget about the moose!