Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Nature Outing to F.E.N.C.E. - Wetlands Study

Our nature group explored the wetlands of F.E.N.C.E.  It was a beautiful day to get out and hike.

We started our exploration by hiking the Mountain Laurel trail up the hillside.  We discussed erosion and the cause.  It had rained extremely hard a few days prior to our visit.  We noted the stream that flowed along the trail.  The banks had been cut away by large amounts of water.  We talked about what could be done to help prevent these things.

At the top of the Mountain Laurel trail, we found it connected to the paved Wildwood trail.  This trail is handicap friendly and has several placards identifying various types of vegetation along the trail.  We walked the loop of the Wildwood trail and took in the beauty of wild azaleas in bloom with other small wildflowers popping up.

We traversed back down the Mountain Laurel trail and continued to the Pinewoods trail. This area is repetitively flat and easy to navigate.  It connected to the Hardwoods trail which begins to wind up the hillside.  With the rain we have had, footing on the Hardwoods trail was muddy.  The boys enjoyed the jaunt up the hillside and the descent back down to reconnect with the Pinewoods trail.

Finally, we made it to the pond area.  There is just something about water that the kids gravitate towards!  At the pond, we discussed the wetland area and the purpose of the pond in this setting.  There is a boardwalk trail that is over the bog area.  We learned about plant and animal life in the area and why wetlands are important to the overall ecosystem.

The kids gained a better understanding of wetlands and we had a wonderful time enjoying nature.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Adding a few touches to the Avalanche 365MB

I want to have a theme for the interior of the Avalanche.  I decided to go with dragonflies.  We have tons of them around our site and I love watching them.  So, I thought I would bring that bit of nature inside our creekside retreat.

I guess I'm a bit different than many that want to paint the interior of their trailers.  I love the wood look and just wanted to bring in accent colors.  It is still a work in process, but this is what I have done thus far.

I found the water color dragonfly place mats on Amazon.  They feel like fabric, but are easy to clean with a rag.

I placed teal dish towels in the kitchen area for a splash of color.

I bought two ceramic soap dispensers and one soap dish from Walmart for the kitchen.  My friend from church used her Cricut machine to make vinyl decals for them.  It adds another pop of color to the kitchen island.

The sofa needed a bit of color and I discovered two dragonfly pillow covers on Amazon.  I had a couple of older throw pillows from home that I placed inside the covers.  They worked perfectly.

My fleece camping throw still works with the decor since I am mostly going with a nature theme.  We love that little throw!

I am still working on adding a few more touches to bring in the dragonflies.  I will post more when I get them added!

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Whimsical Touch

Behind our camper is a large tree stump.  It can be seen out the back window in our living area.  I wanted to do a fairy garden display on it and began my search.

While browsing at Big Lots, I stumbled upon a cute gnome camping set.  This was it!  I splurged and bought it.

I also, bought Gorilla glue to attach the pieces to the stump.  I didn't want them blown into the creek.

I think it turned out cute and magical.

I added a little solar light to a hook so the little gnome campground can be seen at night.  I love looking over and seeing this little display!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Pisgah Forest Gem Mine

Our home school group traveled to Pisgah Forest Gem Mine to learn more about rocks and minerals.  What kid or even adult doesn't like to pan for gems?

When we arrived our host, Lisa, gathered the kids around to talk about types of rocks.  She explained the difference between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

She explained how granite is an igneous rock that hardens underground.  Since it hardens underground it is considered an intrusive igneous rock.

Next, she showed them a piece of obsidian.  She told them that it hardens above ground.  Therefore, it is an extrusive igneous rock.

She then explained how geodes are igneous rocks that formed due to gas bubbles in the volcano.

Sedimentary rocks are typically found near water or places that had water when the rocks were formed.  They are made from mineral deposits being 'cemented' upon each other over time.

The kids learned that mica and talc are such rocks and they are used in everyday products.

The metamorphic rocks are those that go through many changes and found deep in the Earth.  Marble started off as limestone and worked its way down in the earth where the pressure and temperature changed the limestone into marble.

She told the kids that glass and mirrors are made of quartz, sand, and water.  The electronic chips used in all our technological devices contain quartz.  This special quartz is only produced in Spruce Pine, NC!

She showed them that glistening rubies start out as plain looking brown rocks.  Also, gems are measured in carats.  There are two types of carats - rough and cut carats.  Rough carats cost less than cut carats of course.  This is due to the fact that typically only twenty five percent of a rough carat gem stone is pure enough to be made into a cut carat jewel piece.

After the lesson on the different types of rocks and gems, the group made their way to the panning area.  There each student received a gallon bucket of mining material and began their search for gems.  They had a good time finding the treasure!

Next, the group was split into boys and girls.  We had almost an even number of each.  One group went inside to do experiments on the different rocks and minerals.  The other group picked out one of their gems to make a wire wrapped gem necklace.

In the experimental class, the students learned about rock classification.  They used streak plates and hardness testing.  They also checked to see if their rocks fluoresced.

The outing was a great way to learn more about geology and maybe piqued an interest for a future geologist!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mapping Our Explorations

We went seasonal last year for camping and the plan is to stay seasonal.  We love our campground and there are plenty of places to hike and explore.  I love seeing the maps of the United States and how people add a state to their map when they camp in a new state.  Being seasonal, we won't be camping in other states.  So, I contemplated what I could do for our explorations in our area.

I decided to make a cork board map of the Blue Ridge Parkway that we would be exploring.  I went to Michaels and found a cute frame.  I bought a foam board that had a cork side attached.  Next, I went home and printed out three sections of my map.

Sizing the map to fit the window areas of the frame was the hard part. I didn't want the map to be too small.  I didn't want it to be to large and not have the places we were planning on visiting left out.  It took trial and error to get it just right. 

Once the sizing was perfect, I taped everything together for the final fitting.  Then I marked the foam cork board to cut to size.

Next, I glued the paper to the cork board.  Then I glued the frame to the cork board. I added four finishing nails to the backside to make sure the frame and foam cork board don't separate.

Finally, I bought map pins and began marking the places we had visited this past year.  The yellow pin marks our campground.  The blue pins mark the waterfalls we have visited.  The green pins mark places we have explored.  The white pins show historical sites we have visited.

Our adventure board is one of the first things you see when you walk in the Avalanche.  I love it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Few Mods to the Avalanche 365MB

Camping season has officially begun!  Now that I can access the Avalanche more, I am tweaking little things to make life a bit easier.  This is just another process of creating the home away from home we love for seven months out of the year.

The Zinger had large night stands on each side of the bed.  Our Avalanche has these little shelf night stands attached to the slide out frame.  Both hubs and I wear glasses.  Placing our specs on the minute night stand and keeping them there all night was a problem.  Roll over and move the covers, the glasses would fall.  Trying to find the glasses on the floor in the dark without stepping on them was an accident waiting to happen.  I had purchased these adhesive hooks from Amazon for another purpose, but started thinking how I could use them for our glasses problem.  I mounted the hooks to the top night stand area and they were perfect to secure our glasses at night!

Another issue I ran into was seeing the control panel in the dark.  In order to turn on the hall light, you must find the switch in the control panel.  So, I placed a LED puck light on the control panel door.  Easy fix!

The bathroom doors do not have locks.  It wouldn't be a big deal if kids would remember to knock, but you know kids!  I wanted to put a lock on the door leading to the hallway from the bathroom.  The sliding door to the bedroom isn't a problem.  The kids don't use that door.  I purchased a sash lock from the hardware store and installed it.  It works wonderfully!

We have a great spot in our Avalanche to hang keys and hats when you walk inside.  However, there really wasn't a good way to hang sun glasses.  I looked into several solutions, but wasn't satisfied with what I was finding.  I wanted something simple that could be mounted on the drop-off center.  That is when it occurred to me to use the hooks I had used in the bedroom for our glasses.  I placed the hooks on the frame of our entry drop off center.  It was perfect!  Right now I only put two hooks up, but if needed I will add more.

Finally, I love the added counter space in the Avalanche and did not want to clutter it with produce.  I purchased a wire hanging filing basket and mounted it under the island counter.  It works great and keeps onions and other produce contained and out of the way.

There are still things to do to our vacation home on wheels.  I love being able to make it more organized and fit our needs.

Click here for more mods I have done to the Avalanche.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring Time at Hatcher Gardens

Our homeschool group did a spring scavenger hunt at Hatcher Gardens.  We were hoping to see the spring blooms that we normally miss.  However, spring has been finicky this year and the plants seem to know that it isn't the right time to bloom.  We did however, see many daffodils, trees, and shrubs in bloom. 

This little piece of nature in an urban area brings a sense of peace to all that visit.  We love strolling the paths of the garden and listening to the waterfall!