Banner Years

It’s that time of year again when we update our web site header, which sadly happens about as often as we update our Daily Snapshot on the home page. Instead of merely letting the old header slip away into digital oblivion, we thought we’d take the chance to look back at banners past and tell a little of their stories.

With each header, we try to show in pictures our family motto, “Living, loving, and learning on the fly” from the year to date. The first picture shows something about where or how we’ve lived, the middle is always a family picture, and the final picture offers a glimpse of what homeschooling on the road looks like.

2015
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We’ve covered a lot of ground this past year, journeying from Croatia to Germany on our roundabout Train Odyssey that took us through 13 countries in 15 days. The picture on the right of the header is from the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, a windy day indeed. The picture on the left shows our rental in Wyoming upon returning the the US. Though spring came unusually early to Star Valley this year, there were a few small storms that provided enough snow for us to make some smaller creations, just the size for the neighbor’s dog, Captain, to perch upon. The middle picture is from this past June in King’s Canyon National Park in California, where we spent a few days camping among the giant sequoia trees.

2014
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In 2014 we spent quite a bit of time south of the border in Mexico. The first picture is from Bahia Concepcion, just south of Mulege in Baja California Sur. We got our fair share of Vitamin D playing on the warm sand beaches and splashing in the water, and when we needed a break from the sun the palm-leaf palapas were just steps away. The right-hand picture is from our time in Chiapas, exploring Palenque and the many fascinating local flora and bromeliads. Finally, our family picture was taken from our back patio in Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula.

2013
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This was the year of exploring our neighbor to the north, Canada. The right picture is from the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. Having just returned to the mainland (more or less) from Newfoundland, we were practically living in our rain gear. Louisbourg was having an Archaeology Week when we visited, so we had a chance to get our hands dirty and learn about the process of uncovering, identifying, and preserving artifacts. The middle picture is from Prince Edward Island, where we spent the summer in Stanhope and biked to the red sand beaches every day. The left picture, truth be told, was a hold out from our previous banner.

2012
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In 2012 we sold our house in Maine and embarked on our first big adventure, driving the length of U.S. Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida. We camped almost every night of our 2.5 month trip, which gave us many snapshots of “Living on the fly” to choose from. The one that won out was our awesome site right on the lake at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina. Some parts of the route had very few camping options, so that is how we ended up at the Jupiter Beach Resort in Florida and had occasion to get cleaned up and dressed up for a family photo. The final picture is in front of a chunk of coral at Biscayne National Park. Learning about the plight of coral reefs and humans’ impact on them was eye-opening to say the least.

And finally, the header that started it all….
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We created this in May of 2012, before we officially hit the road. From Maine to mangroves, we knew we were in for an adventure. However, we couldn’t have possibly dreamed or hoped that after 3 years, the adventure would still be going strong :)

Finals on the Fifth

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It’s hard to believe a year has passed since we last watched the World Cup, and probably like many other Americans, we had no idea the Women’s World Cup was going on, let alone that the USA was playing in the finals today (and won!). Even if we had kept up with the tournament from the very beginning, we would have had trouble finding any online brackets to make our picks like we did last year. Unlike the NCAA Tournament and the Men’s World Cup, media networks don’t promote a Women’s World Cup bracket; this is part of a larger sports disparity, according to a great article in the Columbia Journalism Review, in which women make up 40% of all athletes yet receive only 4% of all sports coverage. We regret that we didn’t give the women their fair share of our soccer enthusiasm, but we couldn’t be happier about the outcome of the tournament :)

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A Dip in the Swimming Hole

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We’d heard hints of some good places to swim around our rental for the summer, but we had little success in uncovering the details of how to actually get there. The other day though luck was on our side, and a stroll down a dirt road in our neighborhood led us into the National Forest, and a trail chosen at random took us past a lovely swimming hole, cold and clear.

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Now that the secret was out, we found ourselves splashing around every chance we got. After breakfast, after lunch, even after dinner…it didn’t really matter. We also raided our local dollar store to buy anything water-related we could get our hands on.

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A week has passed, and thankfully we have found some balance and are now making time for some activities best suited for OUT of the water. Our local librarians likely would have frowned upon us reading while submerged up to our knees, and believe me, we were tempted. While this might not be THE swimming hole, for us it’s everything we were hoping for :)

Sequoias and Serenity in King’s Canyon National Park

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After our trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountains last year ended up being less than stellar, we’ve been determined to take another trip to spend among the giant sequoia trees that grown on the western slope of this range. Living in California for the summer, we didn’t have too far of a drive to spend two days camping in King’s Canyon National Park. Adjacent to Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon may not have the superlatives of its neighbor (it has the second largest tree in the world, General Grant, while the largest is General Sherman in Sequoia), but it does have plenty of opportunities for a quiet stroll beneath the largest trees on Earth.

Our first excursion after arriving was to the General Grant Grove area. The size of the sequoias is hard to appreciate until you’re standing next to one, and we had plenty of chances to get up close and person with these magnificent trees. While the living trees are certainly the stars, the massive remains of fallen trees were a treat to explore as well. The trunk behind General Grant made for an awesome natural playground, and the kids spent countless minutes climbing up through its well worn remains and sliding back down again.

Next, we settled into our campsite at Azalea Campground, right next to Grant Grove. We luckily happened upon Site 57, which is probably the best camp sight we’ve ever stayed in. Much of the campground felt cramped, but our site gave plenty of space and privacy, with a big rock outcropping behind it for the kids to explore to their heart’s content. The previous occupant left plenty of firewood, so each night we cooked dinner over the fire while the Younger Fives prepared elaborate skits and songs to liven things up.

The next day we decided to take a hike off-the-beaten path at the Redwood Canyon Trail, a short drive from the campground which required about a mile and a half down a dirt road, which was in pretty good shape. Unlike at Grant Grove, we didn’t see a single person the whole day we spent at Redwood Canyon. The sequoias here were not the celebrities of the forest, but they still looked as huge as any we had seen. We also had a good lesson on how sequoias grow by examining the cones, which when they dry out (often after a fire) release seeds, which soon grow into seedlings. The peace and beauty of this grove was incredible, and we happily spent the day with no destination wandering beneath (and sometimes into) the trees, crossing streams and enormous logs along the way. We felt so fortunate that the stars aligned for this visit to the sequoias and that we had the privilege to walk amongst these gentle giants.