Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cades Cove

We took the kids to Cades Cove during the vacation with my parents to Pigeon Forge.  It has been years since we visited and neither child remembered.  The weather was decent and the traffic on an early Wednesday afternoon wasn't that bad.  I love this little piece of history and always try to imagine what it would have been like a hundred years ago.  Here are some of the pics I took on our little adventure.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pisgah: Stream Investigation

I took the kiddos back to Pisgah for another Stream Investigation class.  They were excited about going back and conducting another investigation.  The weather was threatening and before the class, a massive rain storm hit.  Luckily, it stopped ten minutes before the class started.  Whew!

The class was a bit different this time than last summer.  That was a definite plus.  They were able to learn new things and I love that.

There were three parts to the investigation this go around.  1. Physical Assessment of the Stream  2. Abiotic Assessment of the Stream  3. Biotic Assessment of the Stream

Physical Assessment of the Stream -
The rangers gave each group a clip board with a rubric to score the attributes of the stream.  He lead the group to the bridge and discussed each criteria.  The group then decided upon the ranking to give to the stream.

After the physical assessment was complete, the rangers led the group upstream a distance and into the water.  They would conduct the remain assessments in the stream itself.

This guy was hanging out watching everyone go by.

Abiotic Assessment of the Stream -
The rangers had several hand held probes for the student to use for data collection.  He explained the purpose of each station and probe.  He explained in detail how to work the equipment and gather the data.  Each group collected their own data and rotated stations to use all the probes.  They all seemed to enjoy this method of data collection.

Once they finished collecting data on the stream, they began analyzing it.

Biotic Assessment of the Stream -
The kids remembered this part from last summer.  This was the fun part to find all the little critters in the water.  They picked up rocks and looked closely for larvae.  They used a kick net to stir up insects and larvae.  Everyone was busy trying to find critters.  After they collected their specimens, they had to use a dichotomous key to identify the organisms.  Then based upon what was found, they ranked the stream health.

The kiddos had a great time and learned more about what wildlife biologist do.  We will definitely be back again to participate!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Chautauqua: Mark Twain

Another outstanding performance from Chautauqua!  Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain was absolutely fantastic!  I have always enjoyed the quick witted humor of Twain and was so happy to see him on the Chautauqua line up.  I wanted to introduce the children to this amazing man.  We have read Tom Sawyer and they knew a bit about him, but this lecture was a real treat!

 Musical Entertainment before the lecture.

We went back in time and met Twain in his golden years.  He was retiring and living life to the fullest!  He told us how turning seventy was a wonderful thing.  He could do and say anything he wanted because he was older and wiser than others.  He reminded us that we are never to old to have adventures. Then he proceeded to tell us about his adventures in his later years.

He told us about living with his daughter Clara and how she looked out for him.  One could tell that he loved his daughter very much.  However, he did let us know that he was not a child and would do as he pleased.  Twain's white iconic suit story was wonderful!  How I wish we had men of his wit and caliber today.

The stories he told and reminisced upon were like sitting on the porch and hearing my grandfather talk.  Little tidbits here and there to spin the yarn.  These bits of information wove together to give more insight into the man that is an icon of American literature.

I love this quote from Twain that sums up what I am trying to instill upon my children.  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the things that you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover - Mark Twain"

Actor George Frein did an excellent job portraying Twain.  The children and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him.  We were so engaged that we forgot he was acting the part!  Thank you Chautauqua for the wonderful events! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Chautauqua: Matthew Henson

Adventure abounds in the heart and soul to explore his surroundings and go into the unknown.  Although, many are born more adventurous than others.  Matthew Henson happens to be a name that most of us are unfamiliar.  I never learned about him in school.  In fact, until I was reading about the upcoming Chautauqua festival, I didn't know who he was.  Now, I know I will not forget.

Music presentation before the lecture series. 

Our education system I have found out does not tell the whole history of our nation or world.  Of course, history is a massive study and somethings are cut out.  However, this man's amazing life does deserve mention.  I am pleased that my children will know about him.

We traveled back in time to 1913, to hear Matthew Henson recount his adventurous life.

He was the son of a freeborn sharecropper.  He was orphaned as a child and ran away at age 11, to Washington D.C.  A sailor, Baltimore Jack, filled his head with sea stories and he soon dreamed about a life of exploration.  He took off to Baltimore to fulfill his dream.  He was an eager lad and was certain he would be able to follow his dreams.

He became a cabin boy for Captain Childs on board the Katie Hines.  He had such found memories of Captain Childs.  Childs taught him the skills needed to be a mariner.  He learned math, geography, cartography, and the Bible.  He learned medic skills and carpentry.  Childs was like a father to him and taught him how to read people and understand that the fist should not come first.  Unfortunately, Childs died when Matt was twenty and he had to return to Washington D.C.

Matt Henson told us about how he had to work in a hat shop after he returned.  He still wanted to seek more adventures.  He was twenty one and was hoping for an opportunity. Then one day, Robert Peary stopped in the store and chatted with the owner about needing a cabin boy.  This was Matt's chance!  Peary didn't want to give Matt the chance because he was too old to be a cabin boy.  Matt told us that somehow he convinced Peary to take the chance.  He told him of all his skills and Peary agreed to let him be a valet.

Henson told us that he was Peary's right hand man.  Peary called upon him every time there was an expedition.  He told us that Peary was the first person to give him a birthday celebration.  They were very close.  The pair tried five times to reach the north pole and finally had success on the sixth attempt.  Henson told us that the sixth attempt was going to be their last whether they made it or not.  They had been trying for eighteen years and both men were getting older.

At last, Henson and Peary made it to the North Pole on their sixth and final attempt.   Peary had Henson go first in the last leg of the trip.  Peary followed with his sled team.  Henson stopped his team when he thought he may have overshot the pole to wait on Peary.  Peary's team carried all the equipment to determine their coordinates.  About thirty minutes expired and Peary caught up to Henson.  Peary checked the coordinates and they were spot on at the North Pole!

Peary and Henson took pictures with the Inuits to record the historic moment.  However, it was after the trip back to the ship that Peary changed towards Henson.  Henson recalled how Peary did not speak to him or recognize him.  It left Henson dumbfounded.  How was it that a man he had spent all this time with, could suddenly not acknowledge him? It was implied that Peary was upset that Henson had been the actual first man to reach the North Pole and not himself.  Neither man ever commented on this.  Peary and Henson never resolved the why.

Matthew Henson tried going on tour and giving lectures about his adventures.  Many dismissed him because Peary never publicly acknowledged Henson on their return from the North Pole.  The black community in New York, however, never let Matthew Henson's achievement be buried in history.  It was due to the black communities that Henson's story has been told and recognized.  What a story it truly happened to be!

Keith Henley did an outstanding performance of Matthew Henson.  He provided a level of excitement and engagement to the audience in his characterization of Henson.  Henley in his own right has an amazing background.  I am looking forward to seeing him portray other characters in the Chautauqua series.