Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Volcanoes and Earth Science: An Epic Field Trip

We spent a couple of weeks exploring some awesome, scenic, parts of this great corner of the U.S., so our school start date was officially today.

Our trip included Yellowstone, where we explored for three days all of the steaming, bubbling, gurgling, boiling and erupting areas. We saw Old Faithful, of course, and the Grand Geyser, which only erupts every day and a half. Buffalo, ravens, and elk were the main animal sightings, and we saw a huge canyon there, as well as amazing rock formations and beautiful lakes and rivers and waterfalls. Yellowstone, for those who don't know, sits atop a caldera, and we learned a lot about what was going on under our feet. Their website includes a lot of virtual things you can do at home, so in case you're interested, you can learn more here.

We learned that the blue water is super hot!

From there we made our way to Idaho to see Craters of the Moon. It's like visiting another world. It is young, compared to Yellowstone. The landscape at Craters of the Moon is from volcanic activity 2,000 years ago. You can learn more about it here.

Luckily there are paved pathways for exploring this park. 

We spent a day exploring there, and ventured on across to Silver City, Idaho. It's a mining town that became a ghost town that has been revived, but it's still really primitive. No electricity. It's 25 miles off the main highway, and it's not a smooth ride.

Onward, and into Oregon. Our next stop:John Day Oregon to see the John Day Fossil Beds. We stopped off there a few years ago, but weren't really prepared to spend time and vowed we would go back. This time we had the proper attire, and were ready to really explore it. It was still very hot during the day, but this time we came in from the other direction and stopped at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. I could have spent the day there, and they had a nice room for kids to explore fossils, and had a microscope, too. We drove on to the Clarno Unit, where we hiked a short distance, got to see some cool fossils in the rocks, and I got some nice pictures. To learn more about John Day Fossil Beds, click here.
Leaf fossil in a rock on the trail.
Our final stop was Mt. St. Helen's, which was on the way home. By this time the kids were tired, and Sean didn't want to even get out of the car. But I was tired, too, which meant he was getting out of the car to finish this trip, LOL.

Once he was inside the visitor's center he found some interesting things, including a seismograph that records movement you make on the floor beneath it, and one which shows measurements of the current conditions at Mt. St. Helen's. For more information click here.

Seismographs are cool.

Chuck and I had a great time, and I hope the kids both have fond memories of it as they grow up. We experienced new towns, some good food, some interesting people, cool animals, and amazing beauty. They learned a lot, and I brought home a lot of pamphlets and got some Junior Ranger books, and a Junior Paleontologist book for Sean. We've been working in those for a couple of weeks leading up to our first official day of school today.

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