Posted by: Kirsten | Monday, 31 December 2007

Our Family’s Plans for 2008

I always look forward to planning for NEXT year’s National Park trips.  Occasionally our plans don’t work out and we have to make alternate plans or scale back the grand vision I once had in mind, but it’s still fun nonetheless.  With that in mind, here’s what the Merryman Academy has in store, at least for now, for our 2008 National Park Field Trip Planner:

 Winter and Spring 2008:

  • Washington, DC monuments and museums (always accessible but the museums are especially nice when the weather is just too darn cold)
  • Virginia civil war sites (there are a zillion sites in Virginia alone, and there are plenty we haven’t been to yet, including Appomattox Courthouse, and the Richmond and Petersburg sites)
  • Any Maryland parks we haven’t seen yet (a short list, but the Thomas Stone House and Oxon Hill Farm are on it, as are Forts Foote and Washington)
  • The local parks we manage to visit just about every year — Gettysburg, Antietam, C&O Canal, Fort McHenry

The above list shows why it’s so great to live in the Washington, DC area.  Even with all the daily traffic headaches, it’s a great place to be for variety of educational resources!

Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park

 Summer 2008:

  • Father-Son paleontology field trip to southwestern North Dakota (sounds like a Dr. Seuss reference, doesn’t it?) We found an organization that holds dinosaur digs and runs it much like a summer camp for adults, with plenty of dig time, evening lab time, and ground transportation, meals, and roof over your head are all taken care of. It promises to be a great experience with some of the world’s most significant locations for recent fossil finds, including a turtle graveyard and a dino-mummy.  We get to dig for an entire week and hopefully can pull off a day visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is one of my favorite parks, and perhaps another chance at visiting Minuteman Missile Nat’l Historic Site, which we missed this past summer because of flight problems on the way there.
  • Daddy-Daughter trip to (drumroll…) Nebraska.  Nebraska (!?) you might ask. Well, I’ve thus far allowed my daughter to pick the state we visit each year.  In 2007 it was Kentucky, and this year she picked Nebraska.  Nebraska! Why did she pick Nebraska?  Well, it’s because dear old Dad told her in passing that people in Nebraska were very nice. I probably said Scotts Bluff Nat'l Monumentthat two years ago and she still remembered it.  So, looking at the NPS national map that leaves us with eastern or western Nebraska if we don’t want to traverse the entire state on this trip.  So, we’ll probably fly into Denver for a chance to see Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park, then up into southeastern Wyoming to see Fort Laramie, then into western Nebraska to see Scotts Bluff Nat’l Monument and Agate Fossil Beds Nat’l Monument. Looks like we’ll be learning about the westward migration of the 19th century with some geology, ecology, and paleonotology thrown in for good measure.

Beyond that I haven’t given it much thought yet.  The fall is the best time for a family camping trip, so I’m sure we’ll manage a long weekend with the Golden Retriever in tow.  Maybe a weekend in the Hudson Valley or in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Or perhaps Niagara Falls or a sailing adventure on the Chesapeake. We’ll see when it gets a bit closer (the intensity of the hurricane season may well decide that for us!)

I hope your 2008 National Park plans take you to places of excitement and chances for learning and adventure. The best bit of advice I can give you is to just do it, and don’t be afraid to be a kid again in the company of your own kids.  Love of seeing, doing, and learning can be contagious with the right role models, and who better than we parents to fill that role!

Parke Diem!
— Jon

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