Monthly Archives: March 2014

Scrambling in Joshua Tree

IMG_0923We stopped in Joshua Tree for a few days to break up the drive from Sedona to San Diego. Both Tim and I have great memories of previous trips there and we wanted to share the fun of scrambling in the jumbo boulders with Hunter.

We had initially hoped to camp in one of the campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park but unfortunately they just aren’t designed to hold a 49 foot monstrosity! After finding the one spot that would fit and realizing we were on an extreme angle and parked next to an area that had a sign warning of dangerous bees (really???), we decided to give up on that vision and head into 29 Palms to the commercial campground there. 29 Palms Golf Resort is an older, smaller worn down version of the Voyager resort in Tuscon. It was just fine for a 2 night stop…

Joshua Tree has a number of different areas / zones to the park. Situated between the Great Basin desert to the north and the Sonoran desert to the south, the Mojave desert is a rain shadow desert with a mix of latitude, elevation, geology and plants. We successfully completed another Junior Ranger badge and enjoyed the learnings through out the day.

One of the interesting “geographies” is the Chulla Cactus Garden. As you drive from the south entrance to the north entrance you suddenly come across this area full of chulla cacti. It is maybe a couple of kilometres deep and stops as quickly as it starts, leaving you really curious about the ecosystem that created it.

IMG_9435We spent a good three hours exploring all of the rocks and pushing our various comfort zones with heights and gaps.

IMG_9442Although the rock looks just like the slick rock found in Utah and northern Arizona, it is not! It’s a scratchy mixture that is almost like rough concrete. Not nearly as comfortable to slide or contort yourself when scrambling but it does provide good grip.

Another fun day playing outside in the sunshine 🙂

Shakespeare is cool!

hunter as donkey

I’m sitting here having just received a passionate lecture from Hunter about how the school exercise I created regarding Macbeth doesn’t make sense… It made me smile as I love that he has become so interested and engaged with Shakespeare – definitely not the norm for most kids his age.

In seeking to ensure that he really understood the story that he read a few days ago, I asked him to write a letter from Lady Macbeth to Macbeth about why she was going to kill herself. His immediate reaction was that this didn’t actually happen in the story, that it made no sense to pretend that it happened in the story and then he carried on to lecture me about the entire premise of Macbeth, what happened and why.

Learning objective complete – and he doesn’t even realize it! Big thanks to Aunt Christy, Uncle Sean and the Intrepid Shakespeare Company, who make Shakespeare fun. Last weekend Hunter read the abridged version of Macbeth for kids on Sunday, had Uncle Sean explain the play to him (after having just played Macbeth in their theatre production) and then got to see a school production live on Monday afternoon. The end result being that he intimately understands the story and likes it. He also spent time helping with some filming that the team was doing and enjoyed dressing up as Bottom (Midsummer), Puck (Midsummer), Harry Potter and a Businessman (just because).

We have been really lucky as we have had a front row seat to theatre, thanks to the family connection, and this has made Shakespeare interesting, cool and fairly every day to Hunter. It has also really re-enforced for me the idea that “how” you learn something can make a real difference in what you actually learn and your view of the topic/content.

Hunter learned about Midsummer Night’s Dream when they tackled it at their Montessori School last year (thanks to their teacher Dominic who is also passionate about Shakespeare), and also got to see it live when we visited San Diego (January 2013). At that same time, Intrepid was in rehearsal for Hamlet so we read that book and got to watch it coming together in real life. Hunter went to many rehearsals and thought that the fight choreography was the best part.

I will say that our interest in Shakespeare is certainly helped by the fact that the man liked to write about battles and fights and death and there are a lot of weapons, of various forms, used throughout his plays.

We’re moving on to read the Tempest next week so we can take advantage of Uncle Sean and his ability to teach the in’s and out’s of Shakespeare. Maybe we’ll enlist the cousins and put on a mini version of the play so everyone can share in the fun!

Shameless plug for Intrepid Shakespeare – study after study has shown that exposure to live theatre has a positive impact on kids ability to learn, read and communicate. Never mind how it brings classics to life and expands kids perspective on the world. Intrepid has an amazing school program. They happily take donations for anyone that wants to contribute to their school program so they can take it to underprivileged schools that can’t afford to pay 🙂

6 months on the road – where has the time gone???

familiy photoWow – we’ve been living in our little world (100 sq ft) for 6 months. Time has flown by and I can’t believe that we will be back home in only two months… It seems quite surreal at the moment.

I can also envision this loud ticking clock that is counting down our remaining days. But that kind of thinking infers that we are counting down towards the end of something. What if this is just the beginning of the adventure and more is to come once we get home? We are already talking about a summer filled with kayaking and biking and how paddling season will be so much better this year because we can go when the water is there and take school with us rather than working around school and work schedules. And then there’s next year…

So – 6 months on the road, where is our thinking? What have we learned? What observations do we have?

  • patience is a wonderful virtue that we have all gained some more off – learning not to react to every situation and give the benefit of the doubt to the other if they react in a certain way or make a snarky comment. Knock on wood we have not had a single blow-up, by any of us, in 6 months.
  • You really don’t need very much stuff to get through every day – clothes, toys etc. We have many things that we packed thinking we couldn’t do without them and they haven’t been touched yet (and imagine how much stuff we left behind…)
  • Time is the biggest gift you can get and family is a wonderful place to spend it. We have ended up spending close to 10 weeks with or around extended family and it has been wonderful to have this time, especially when we live so far away from everyone
  • Diesel gas and reliable internet are two things that are not easy to find and should not be taken for granted! Clean showers and recycling are the other things that should be maximized when you find them…
  • We did not end up boondocking (staying in the middle of no where with no services) as much as we had originally envisioned due to a mix of weather (cold, rain, yuck) and the locations we were hitting. We spent more time in urban and somewhat urban locations for school experiences than we normally would in our adventure style.
  • Roadschooling is fabulous. I love how much opportunity is out there to bring learning to life. We have learned so many things, by taking advantage of situations that just present themselves, that we wouldn’t have had in a traditional classroom.

We are moving forward with a sense of certainty that we are going to slow down and simplify. We can’t tell you exactly what this means, other than knowing it includes less work and more adventure time together. We don’t yet have answers to “where” and “what” but we do have the comfort and confidence that we will figure it out as we go. At the moment we’re taking one month at a time and one decision at a time, knowing that anything is possible and it’s just up to us to choose what makes the most sense for us.