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.”


The Emerald City

No, Toto, we’re not talking about the land of Oz. We’re talking about Seattle, Washington.

Although this was a pretty magical experience and visit.

Never before had any of us been so far west. Never before had we flown with our cat…or any pet for that matter. Never before had we seen such majestic mountains and views. Never before had any of us stood atop and looked out from a structure as tall as the Space Needle or seen a peak as high as that of Mount Rainier.

And then there was the childhood dream of Mama Skiy’s that came true, to meet a man she idolized in her youth, a man whose movie had such an incredible impact on her and her younger brother’s lives, a man who our sons have now grown very fond of and because of the same movie: Tim Noah, the writer, singer, and actor behind the multiple-award winning production In Search of the Wow Wow Wibble Woggle Wazzie Woodle Woo. (To say he was just as nice, fun, and energetic as he was in his movie is an understatement.)

Never had we been anyplace like Seattle.

There’s something for everyone in Washington: nature, hiking, shopping, history, casinos, big cities, small villages, museums, parks, resorts, campgrounds, arts, dining… Everything.

We’re also not convinced that it rains all of the time in Seattle. Okay, so we got lucky. In the 8 days we were in Seattle, it rained twice: the second day we were there and the day we were flying out. The first full day we were there it was clear and beautiful, so we went to the city and went top of the Space Needle. Although it rained the second day that was when we had made plans to see Tim Noah at his Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish, and even then it was just a light rain and still cleared up enough for us to take an afternoon hike in one of the evergreen forests. Then it was a partly-cloudy day when we took the long drive to one of the lookouts at Mount Rainier, clearing up enough to see the peak, a glacier with water coming out of it, and a waterfall piercing one of the mountain’s sides.

And to top it all off, on the way back down the mountain, we passed a village that had families of elk grazing and making their way through the yards!

The remainder of the stay was a mix of fifty hours of work for Papa, four days of schoolwork for the boys, and family outings to playgrounds, a popular trailhead with a series of trails, and general errands.

We packed a lot into those 8 days. It was fun and productive.

More than anything, we all discovered how beautiful and diverse Washington is. This was our first visit, and it won’t be our last.

The next time, though, we plan to go in our RV.