Tag Archives: junior ranger

Fort Moultrie National Monument, Charleston

fort moultrie signFort Moultrie was first built in 1776 (at that time called Fort Sullivan) to prevent British naval incursions into Charleston Harbour. It was built of palmetto log walls that readily absorbed the shots and shells fired when 9 Royal Navy warships attacked on June 28, 1776. Colonel William Moultrie and his 400 men fought a day long battle that ended with the heavily damaged British ships being driven from the area. This decisive American victory galvanized the Patriot’s cause for independence, and resulted in the fort now being called Fort Moultrie.

The first fort was beaten up and washed away by storm waves so a 2nd fort was built in 1798 of earth and timber. It unfortunately faces the same demise due to coastal storms. The third and present fort was constructed of brick in 1809. Originally fitted with 40 guns, the fort garrison consisted of 500 men.

On December 26, 1860, six days after South Carolina left the Union, Fort Moultrie’s small Federal garrison abandoned the fort, moving to the unfinished but more defendable Fort Sumter. State militia troops occupied Fort Moultrie the next day. Confederate Fort Moultrie participated in the April 12, 1861 firing on Fort Sumter that began the American Civil War. Heavily damaged by Federal bombardments that commenced in 1863, Fort Moultrie remained in Confederate hands until February 1865.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Fort Moultrie underwent numerous changes as improving military and engineering technologies added to the complexities of coastal defence.

New threats of submarine and aerial attacks ultimately rendered static seacoast defences obsolete. On August 15, 1947 the army lowered Fort Moultrie’s flag for the last time, ending 71 years of service.

This was the last of our Charleston Forts and Hunter proudly got another Junior Ranger Badge along with his Civil War Historian patch!


Crystal gazing at the Petrified Forest National Park

hunter arms full petrified wood


Petrified Forest National Park is another lesser visited national park located in the North East corner of Arizona as you head towards New Mexico. The Hedderman family had stopped at the park a few days before us and raved so we thought we would spend some time in this self proclaimed “science park” while on our way to New Mexico.

After the highlights of discovering Route66 I wasn’t sure if there would be the patience and focus required for this visit. With a Junior Ranger badge on the line, Hunter snapped right to it and got to work. They also had a Junior Paleontologist program so we signed Tim up so he could be part of the learning as well.

hunter tim paleontologists

We enjoyed the historic information and education on what forms petrified wood. There are some great trails there and we explored a few short ones, only because we ran out of time to catch the longer ones initially planned.

It was incredibly quiet with few people there and drastically different landscape that you see in most other places.

Hunter and Tim both successfully completed their programs and got badges. Hunter also got his first patch, which was a big hit and has sent him in search of more!

hunter petrified forest jnr ranger

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Cape Verde Arizona

montezuma castle

Montezuma Castle National Monument is halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff in Arizona. It was created back in 1906 when President Roosevelt celebrated the passing of the Antiquities Act by declaring the first 4 National Monuments. The 20 room high rise “apartment” represents the Sinagua culture and civilization from over 800 years ago.

montezuma castle 3

After a very long day of driving yesterday (8+ hours) we had a slow morning at the Distant Drums RV Resort and spent the afternoon just down the road at the National Monument. It is a fairly small “park” but has a great Junior Ranger program. We visited their museum, played with an interactive display that gave you 360 visuals inside the Castle and then wandered out down the paths to experience the Verde River basin and the amazing cave formations. One of the neat things we learned was they made “T” shaped doorways (look carefully in photos) to symbolize that they were a friendly and welcoming community.

hunter swearing in jnr ranger book


It was a wonderful learning opportunity about ancient civilizations, relative timelines (when this was happening in North America, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was being built and the ceiling on the sistine chapel was being finished), and how cultures rise and fall due to location, disease and amenities.


Great Basin National Park & Lehman Caves, Nevada

nevada cave features

Great Basin National Park is tucked in a remote corner of eastern Nevada, just off historic highway 50. It is the 9th least visited National Park in the USA so the staff were happy to see us! This obviously leads to curiosity about who else is in the top 10 least visited parks – check out the list here… http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/national-parks-124040809#slide-9. Not a surprise to see 3 Alaska parks in the top 5.

Anyways… one of the main features in the park is Lehman Caves so we thought it would be a great stop on our way to Reno. We pulled in just before dark and were able to pick up a Junior Ranger book to work on and find a camp site. There was about an inch of snow on the ground and the campsite was at 7300 feet elevation so things were definitely cool that night!

nevada cave ranger katie

The next morning we were up bright and early to make it to the Ranger Station for the 9am cave tour. Ranger Katie toured us through the caves for 90 minutes and it was so interesting and captivating. To make it accessible, the park has put in a paved entrance and exit, paved floor path and LED lighting throughout. They have done a good job with the lights and paths and they aren’t all that intrusive into the experience. It was much better than we had anticipated.

hunter cave candle

Lehman caves was discovered in the late 1800’s and the first explorers paid $1.00 and were given a coffee can with a candle inside and the guarantee that someone would come in after them if they did not return within 24 hours of going into the cave. At one point Ranger Katie had Hunter hold a coffee can lantern and then turned all of the lights around us off. She then had Hunter blow out his candle and we were all left in the dark imagining what it would have been like to be exploring, trip and fall and have your candle snuffed out. Total darkness with no sense of which direction to turn.

Doing the Junior Ranger book the night before was great as we all learned about Cave features such as stalactites (hang down), stalagmites (come up from the ground), cave popcorn, cave drapery, cave parachutes and the best of all – cave BACON (named for it’s wavy shape & brown colour)!

Hunter successfully completed another Junior Ranger book and got his badge after being sworn it. Note the coat & hat due to it being very WINTER like 🙁hunter jnr ranger swear in