Category Archives: General

We’re back on the road… Chasing the Sun Season 3

11067605_695710640533872_363420057902955872_n

We are back on the road again – for eleven months this time… it came about for many reasons, some simple and some complicated, but no matter how we got here – it is great to be wandering again!

It has been a whirlwind the last few weeks and as we get consistent wifi there will be a flow of posts coming. There will also be a new feature this year – Hunter’s Skateboard Park Reviews, a great project that matches his passion with some school learning opportunities.

We are enjoying a down weekend in Canmore after burning out on non-stop mountain biking, whitewater kayaking and visiting with family and friends. Next stop is Revelstoke for more paddling and mountain biking and then off to Chilliwack for the Slalom and Downriver Whitewater Nationals.

Excited for what the next year brings…

novalidplansforthefuture

Celebrating 100 Years

IMG_0710

Over fifty extended family members gathered in Edmonton over the Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate the  life of my Grandmother, Addie Manning, who turned 100 last October and passed away on February 1st, 2015. It was quite fitting that our events were based out of the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, which was also celebrating it’s 100th year.

The best part of the weekend was the chaos of immersion with family. It was the first time that Hunter, Robin and Justin (a new addition to the family) got to hang out together and they were quickly dubbed the 3 amigo’s as they were always together – basically a 48 hour sleepover. We had an intimate ceremony at the gravesite and a joyful lunch with 50+ family and a few close friends, most of whom had travelled to be there for the weekend. It was a wonderful reminder of the reach and impact that we can all have in our lives.

No trip to Edmonton is complete without a stop at West Edmonton Mall. We ended up doing 2 visits – one with the greater gang to catch an afternoon at GalaxyLand and a second one to experience the rest of the mall and do a little shopping.

Hunter definitely enjoyed the mall – it was a toss up between all the neat things to do and the fact that he was wearing his Heely’s and had so much smooth surface to glide on. It was a fairly hectic whirlwind of a weekend and not our usual style yet still fun to catch up with everyone and make plans for this summer.

Roadschooling through the Yukon

midnight with a Yukon River backdrop

midnight with a Yukon River backdrop

The Yukon tourism tagline is “Larger than Life” and it certainly lives up to that. While  not very populous in terms of humans, it is full of breath taking scenery, abundant wildlife and living stories of the Klondike Gold Rush. We firmly believe that coming to the Yukon (summer or winter) is a must do for all Canadians! With summer just around the corner we thought we’d start to plant some seeds out there…

We recommend the following adventures to make the most of any visit:

Drive the Alaska Highway:

The Alaska Highway is a historic monument in itself. Also referred to as the Alcan Highway, it was completed in 1942 to create a connection between Alaska and mainland USA for World War II, and is a partnership between the Canadian and US governments. Be sure to pick up the Milepost Guide Book which gives you mile by mile information for the entire highway.

Be sure to stop at the Liard HotSprings in Northern B.C. (between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake) for a soak or two in a natural hot spring. You can camp or stay at the lodge across the road.

There are plenty of provincial/territorial campgrounds along the Alaska Highway and you don’t have to worry about them being full other than on long weekends.

Skagway, Alaska – start at the beginning:

Recognizing the critical role that the Gold Rush played in Yukon’s history, it is best to take a side trip to Skagway, Alaska as this is where most miners started their Yukon adventure. Skagway is a historic town that is quiet 8 months of the year and plumb full 4 months of the year thanks to the cruise ships that show up every day.

Be sure to check out both the Skagway Museum & Klondike Gold Rush National Park centre to get yourself oriented to the region. They are both open year round.

There are a number of hiking options in the area, from and hour or so all the way up to the multi-day Chilkoot Trail (a national historic site). Another fun activity is to ride the historic White Pass & Yukon Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Carcross:

In order to get to and from Skagway, Alaska you have to pass through Carcross. Be sure to take an hour (or a day) to explore the area. It is located on the shores of Bennett Lake and has a nice beach for swimming, world class mountain biking trails, fishing off the town bridge and yummy eats, all surrounded by beautiful first nation’s art & carvings.

Whitehorse – the hub of the Yukon

Whitehorse is the capital city of the Yukon and where the majority of the services and people are located. It has many hotels and campgrounds (both territorial & commercial) to meet a broad range of budgets.

For the more active minded, the best way to see the area is by bike and canoe. We recommend Boreale Explorers for guided bike, canoe and hiking tours of the Whitehorse area. If you want to rent equipment yourself then stop by Icycle Sports for bikes and UpNorth Adventures for canoes/kayaks. Whitehorse was recognized as the top mountain biking destination by Outside Magazine in 2013.

Other fun stops on the living history tour are the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site and Canyon City Historic Site.

Haines Junction/Kluane National Park:

Haines Junction is the entry point to Kluane National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is home of Mount Logan – Canada’s highest peak. The visitors centre is very educational and well worth the stop for all ages. Kluane can be enjoyed from the ground but is best appreciated on foot through one of the many trails in the park.

Dawson City:

The heart of the gold rush, Dawson City comes alive in the summer time (June 1st – end of August). There are numerous festivals and a plethora of historic sites to be toured. From the dirt streets and wooden sidewalks, you can’t help but be transported back in time. If you have time, take a side trip up the Demster Highway to Tombstone Territorial Park for some rustic wandering.

Going above and beyond:

Epic trips that really allow you to experience the splendour of the Yukon are:

  • Canoe the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City (7-10 days)
  • Explore any river in the Peel Watershed and see some of the most pristine wilderness in the world (10-15 days)
  • Drive the Dempster Highway up to Inuvik (or Tuktoyaktuk when the road is finished) and then head to the Arctic Ocean
  • Raft the Tatshenshini-Alsek River and be in awe of the glaciers & landscape

Home Schooling connections:

The Yukon was home to a number of key historic figures over the past 100 years. They provide a lot of pre and post learning opportunities:

At 483,450 square kilometres (186,661 square miles), the Yukon is larger than California and covers more area than Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands combined. It represents 4.8% of Canada’s total land area. That’s a lot to explore so be sure to give yourself lots of time!

Learning is Everywhere

lee & hunter hugging a tree

The below article was published in What’s Up Yukon: http://whatsupyukon.com/family-learning/education/learning-is-everywhere/#sthash.vDOclfV8.dpuf

‘Road-schooling’ is the concept of using travel, either by itself or in concert with a curriculum, to educate a child. It brings learning to life and is grounded in the belief that learning is all around us, waiting to be explored and embraced.

We began our road-schooling journey 18 months ago when we decided to take eight months to travel and avoid winter. We had been on a fairly traditional educational path — our son attended daycare at Yukon College, entered the French immersion program at Whitehorse Elementary School in Kindergarten, and transitioned to Yukon Montessori School for Grade 4.

Knowing that I wanted a different home-school experience, not full of textbooks and workbooks (I envisioned the hell of living in small quarters and having a running battle about doing school work), I sought assistance from Dominic Bradford of Yukon Montessori School to help me design a learning plan that both leveraged our planned travels and met the B.C. curriculum requirements.

Bradford’s assistance set us on the path as road-schoolers, and boosted my confidence in our plan.

The first few months were stressful; I was constantly questioning myself and wondering if we were spending enough time on what I had traditionally thought of as school. By month three I wrapped my head around the concept of measuring how we were doing at “learning” versus the amount of time spent at the kitchen table doing math or spelling.

Our first trip was eight months on the road around North America, from September 2013 to May 2014. We successfully avoided winter, and we spent as much time as possible adventuring. We covered over 36,000 km and played in oceans, forests, deserts, and everything in between.

Using a combination of books, videos, and National Park Junior Ranger programs we dove deeply into American history (Lewis & Clark, War of Independence, Civil War, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil Rights Movement), and culture (regional diversity, live music, and imagery, to name a few example). And gained a real-time sense of geography, and how it influences people and places.

The knowledge stuck, since our method of learning brought information to life. The things we learned were real, and relevant; we had a rich learning experience.

It has changed us as parents — we intentionally take advantage of the learning opportunities that are presented to all of us in our daily lives. If our son asks a question and we don’t know the answer, we pause and Google it, and then leverage the curious moment to dig a little deeper into the topic.

When out for a walk, we make sure we talk about the flora and fauna as well as other things we notice, such as a stream that is overflowing or a new type of plant. We have learned our biggest roles are to be learn-facilitators, and curiosity-enablers. This is something that can be integrated into every family, even if it isn’t off adventuring.

– See more at: http://whatsupyukon.com/family-learning/education/learning-is-everywhere/#sthash.vDOclfV8.dpuf

Finding your tribe as a road schooler

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.49.29 PM

As a homeschooler, a road schooler and only child, Hunter is not surrounded by other kids on a daily basis. Before we hit the road in 2013 we asked ourselves, and others, a lot of questions regarding how they deal with the “socialization” situation as road schoolers, especially with only children.

Hunter was out an event Saturday night hosted by an adult friend of ours. It was a group of 6 people, of various ages (from 11 – 40) that came together to play a multi-player networked computer game called ARTEMIS, whereby you are simulating the flying of a spaceship (think Star Trek). Each person has a role (helm, communication, engineering & weapon control) plus the captain. Everyone has to communicate (lots of loud voices yelling commands) and work together to fly the ship through the different scenarios.

The interesting part was that Hunter came home from the evening pronouncing “I found my people” mom! He had a huge grin on his face and was thrilled with both the experience as well as the new people that he had met, most of which he described as “minecraft geeks like me”. He was invited to access their private server and this has moved his minecraft efforts to a whole new level.

When I reflect over the last 3 months, I can also identify at least 7 people that Hunter has met and really clicked with, building fast and deep relationships… more additions to his tribe. These are people of all ages and from all walks of life. In some cases he only had a few days with them and in other cases, he is starting to build what will likely be a geographically distant yet longer term friendship.

A few months ago I read this great article that was written in response to some homeschool bashing that was taking place in the media… and specifically arguments that homeschooling just shelters children and impedes their socialization.  What really resonated with me, and finally parked the anxiety that bubbles up every once in a while, was the comment:

“A child in school is largely being told exactly what to do and when to do it. Where is their independence again? How exactly are school children out in the world? And tell me again, when in real-life are you in a room of 24 people grouped only by age and neighbourhood?”

Through our travels Hunter has become fairly independent and confident in this independence. He often is the first one to seek out someone for answers or directions, has no qualms about participating in a conversation with a group of adults and is developing this amazingly diverse group of tribe members. Over the last 12 months we can really see how he is starting to grow into his own person and stand within that space with confidence, and that is thanks in part to all the great people he has met along the way and all that they have contributed to his experiences. I am no longer worried about the traditional perspective of socialization…