San Diego Zoo

After all my comments that I was not so impressed with Sea World, I loved the San Diego zoo. We probably should have spent several days between the zoo and the wild animal park. They were both super neat. If you can only do one thing in San Diego, definitely choose the zoo. Okay, that’s just my opinion. We didn’t even do Disney, that’s definitely more theme park than I can handle.

One of the highlights of the zoo was the baby giraffe. Just so you know, that baby is significantly taller than I am.

Baby Giraffe

We had fun feeding Lorikeets. Although, I think this picture is of a Lory, not a Lorikeet.


Baby travelled in style through the whole park. Was I ever glad that I hauled the stroller with us on this trip! I wasn’t sure if I would like taking it through the airport, but my back thanked me every day when we were out site seeing.

Stroller Ride

Then I found this monkey over by the orangoutang exhibit. He was climbing the bamboo poles.

G'tums climbing plastic bamboo poles

I thought he was so cute, I took him home!

G'tums climbing plastic bamboo poles

Sea World San Diego

If you can’t tell, I’m trying to catch up. Seems like that is often what I’m doing on this blog–trying to catch up. Anyway, here’s to a fun day at Sea World San Diego. Sea World was fun. The whales were beautiful. The dolphins were intriguing. But I don’t know, theme parks and I just don’t do so well together. I enjoy when the animals perform, but when the people perform, I think it’s rather lame. And it seems that Sea World is more about gymnasts than animals. I mean who goes to Sea World to see women dressed as parrots? Oh well, that’s just me.

Baby in the bleachers

Baby wasn’t too sure about the shows. We did keep her out of the splash zone, but the music was loud and there was a lot going on all around her. She was a little frightened. Zippy, on the other hand, loved all the activity, and sat in the front row, by herself so that she could get soaked. She scored. She was drenched to the skin, and it was kind of a cold day, so she shivered all day. Not my idea of fun, but hey, I’m not 12.

Of course, we have shots of the whales. All these pictures were taken with my point and shoot. We were afraid to take a good camera in there, for good reason. Anyway, my little camera did okay on these beauties. You can’t help but think that the Orcas are beautiful. Wish I could see one in the wild, especially as I don’t live terribly far from them. Maybe someday.

Shamu Show at Sea World

Shamu Show at Sea World

Note: If you’re curious about the whales’ names. Some Sea World employee saw my photos on Flickr and commented with their names.

USS Midway

USS Midway (CVB-41) after commissioning

Photo Credit: By US Navy Employee (Naval Historical Center)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the very interesting museums that we visited last week was the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. We ended up spending five hours touring that massive ship. I have no idea how the crew kept from being lost on that ship. I’m afraid I would have gotten lost and never figured out how to see the sun. Just gone in circles in a maze that never ended. We learned that 4500 crew members were aboard that ship when it was in service. Talk about a small town. They had their own dental office, post office, surgery ward, barber shops, jail, laundry (and I mean laundry–if I could have some of those tools, I would only have to do one or two loads a week, but I don’t know where they would fit in my house.) and the list goes on. It was impressive!

Here are some pictures of our day there.

First up is a young lady dreaming of being an Air Force pilot.

Future Pilot

Next is a young lady behind bars, who seems to know how to really act the part.

Baby in the Midway Jail

Just posing by one of many beautiful planes.

Three Junior Pilots on Midway

The USS Midway has a Junior Pilot program, somewhat similar to the Junior Ranger programs offered by the National Park Service. As we toured the ship, the three older kids worked on earning their Junior Pilots. At the entrance to the ship, you are given an audio device that you wear for the whole tour and then as you enter each section, you just dial in the appropriate number and you get an interesting narration about what takes place there. They also had a kids version, which happens to be what I listened to mostly, because my kids kept asking questions about the things they were supposed to fill out on their papers. But, I have to say, the kids version was very interesting and I learned more than I can store anyway, so that worked out great.

Here are photos of the swearing in and pinning as Junior Pilots.

Taking the oathThe pinning

As I said, we spent five hours in/on this ship. They figure that the normal time is three hours. There’s a reason we took five. You can see that we had our stroller with us, but strollers do not go up and down hatch ladders. I carried the baby up and down so many ladders that day, it was unbelievable. That’s the reason for the extra two, I just went a little slower than most and I made sure to enjoy all exhibits that included chairs. I was still glad for the stroller when Baby fell asleep, as you can see in the above photo. But I’m telling you, I figure that I knew what it was like to be one of the package handlers on that ship, hauling packages all over the place–it’s exhausting.

The Baby Carriage on Midway

Big Bend Pt. 3 – The Family

Pictures. Pictures. And more pictures. Pictures of the people rather than just the scenery. From oldest to youngest.

Grandparents in Big Bend

Grandparents in Big Bend

Quite a View in Big Bend


Zippy (age 11) in Big Bend

Budding Phtographer

JD Boy (age 9) in Big Bend

G'tums (age 6) in Big Bend

Rock Climbing (Gtums age 6)

King on the Mountain (Gtums age 6)

A Big Boy in Big Bend

Camping Baby (age 20 months or so)

Our tents

The last picture is just because I wanted to record for posterity that Nana and Papa went camping with us and actually slept in one of those tents! They had quite a thrill and promised us that this was the last time that they would do that. They had some creature, what it was nobody knows, come scratching at their tent in the middle of the night. Different possible guesses that were made were: humanoids, bear, javelina, skunks, you name it. Whatever the case, neither of them appreciated the visit one bit and are now in the market for an RV, just in case you have one to give away. Thanks Nana and Papa for all that you went through to make a fun vacation for us!

Big Bend, Pt. 1

We made a speedy trip to Big Bend National Park a few weeks back. This was another national park that I had wanted to visit for a very long time. We have a few friends who love this park, so I was very curious. It is indeed an amazing park. It is so, so, so big and so, so dry. I enjoyed the visit to the opposite type of place from where I live.

We took so many pictures, that I will have to split the post up into a few parts, so that I can share all of my favorite ones!

The first night that we were there, we stayed in campground called Cottonwood Campground. It was quite a nice spot for birding. It was very close to the Rio Grande River, plus there was a stream or spring or some water source that kept the campground green and it has quite a few trees. Here are a couple of shots of the Vermillion Flycatcher that lived in the campground.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermillion Flycatcher

In that campground, we also saw Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxia, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and some other more common birds.

One of the fun things we did that evening was to drive down to the Rio Grande. I was a little disappointed. It was my first time to see the river with such a big name. To me, it seemed like just a little more than a stream. But we had fun throwing rocks across the river and knowing that we were throwing rocks into a different country–Mexico.

Then we drove up the road and climbed around on hills made of volcanic ash, while my husband had fun playing with his camera. Here are a bunch of pictures that he took from this spot.

The above picture is of an Ocotillo bush. Someday, maybe I will get to see one with flowers on it. We saw hints of buds on a few of the Octotillos. The picture below is one that my husband and father-in-law spent a lot of time working on. It is of my father-in-law’s van driving down the curvy road at dusk, while my husband had a very long exposure on his camera. You never knew that a van could give you the race-car impression before, did you?

Car Lights in Big Bend

After we returned to our tents from this excursion, we were greeted by Javelinas. We were all excited to meet Javelinas, as long as they didn’t mess with any of our stuff. Well, one of them chewed the zippers off of one of our large duffels. Oh, well. This was a new animal for all of us. It was dark when we met them, so we don’t have any pictures to prove our story, but a few of my kids added pictures of Javelinas to their Junior Ranger Booklets. Here is one of Zippy’s drawings of the Javelina. It is the pig-like animal on the left.

Javelina and Road Runner Drawing in Big Bend Junior Ranger Booklet

Carlsbad Caverns

I have long wanted to visit Carlsbad Caverns and see the bats. Well, I got half my wish–I finally had the opportunity to see the cave but there weren’t any bats.

We went on the self-guided tour through the Big Room. It was absolutely stunning. I was so glad to finally see it for myself, and that my family was getting the opportunity to see it too.

Now you can take a photo tour of the cave with us, thanks to my husband and his camera.








Family in Carlsbad

Which one is your favorite? Now don’t you want to go there too? It really is one of the amazing natural wonders of this country.

The three big kids also earned their Junior Ranger Badges. So we were able to count this as a good solid school day! Here are three proud Junior Rangers with their books, certificates and badges.

Carlsbad Junior Rangers

What To Do When You Don’t Have Power

We recently spent four full days without power, plus had another half day without power earlier the same week. No power is a problem. I have to admit it’s not as much of a problem for us as it is for some others, because we have a generator, but nonetheless, much of life is put on hold until the power comes back on. For example, we had no internet that whole time. I kind of thought that it was a nice break! But at the same time, I was in the midst of communicating with various people about something or other, and then all of the sudden we were without internet.

Anyway, we found (along with half of the rest of the town, who was also without power) a great place of entertainment–the library. They had power. They had internet. And, of course, they had books. We just browsed through the books and sat there and looked at picture books and read stories to each other. It was really fun!

Okay, I think both of these pictures are priceless, even if they were taken with my phone and not in the best of focus.

With Daddy at the Library

Baby at the Library

Mount Saint Helens and the 7 Wonders Museum

We have been studying the Bible story of Creation for our Bible class, both from the Bible and from the book Patriarchs and Prophets. So I thought that it would be fun to visit a Creation Museum to confirm some of what we were studying. When my children were very little, my husband and I visited a Creation museum that is located at the base of Mount Saint Helens called the 7 Wonders Creation Museum. We called some of our homeschool friends and arranged a fun trip to the museum and the volcano. (I was the sole adult with eight kids! Call me brave! Not really, they are all really great kids and one of them was a very responsible 16 year old, so I had good help.)

At the 7 Wonders Museum, we were privileged with a lecture/PowerPoint show on different aspects of Mt. St. Helens that defy evolution. Because most of our group was kids, he limited it to three wonders, but in his normal presentation, he presents seven wonders–hence the name of the museum.

After that, the tour guide from the museum took us on a tour up to the volcano. First we stopped by the A-Frame that has been buried in mud. This A-frame was partially buried by the river of mud that came flowing through the valley about eight hours after the big eruption. You now, stand on the ground and look down on to the deck of the A-frame. It is quite a testament to how quickly the landscape can be changed. Here is a picture that one of the kids took.

Buried A-Frame at Mt. Saint Helens

Then we went to the top of a dam that was built for the sole purpose of holding back mud, in an effort to save some of the cities that are downstream from the volcano. This provided another evidence that changes can happen rapidly, but also continue after catastrophes. Still, major changes that happen in a matter of months are pretty rapid as compared to millions of years.

Here are a couple pictures of the dam.

The Mud Dam

River of Mud at Mt. St. Helens

Then we drove up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory that looks straight into the volcano. It is quite amazing to look face to face at a volcano. At the observatory, we attended a Ranger talk, watched the movie and all the kids worked on and earned their Junior Ranger Badges.  We had one young lady with us, who spoke primarily Japanese, and we were happy to find out that we could sign up for a translator for her, so she could listen to translations of all the signs in the exhibit. They have the translators for several languages. The rest of us were a little jealous, because the little device that she used was kind of fun to play with.

If you ever have a chance to visit Mt. St. Helens and the observatory, do not miss out on the movie. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise that comes in the movie, but it is amazing. I also highly recommend the museum, but only if you call ahead. The museum is run by a man and his wife and if you call ahead, they will schedule to give their “Seven Wonders” lecture, otherwise, it is small and you won’t get near as much out of it.

I met a man on the airplane a few days before we were planning to go to Mount Saint Helens who got into a discussion with me about Young Earth Creationism. He was a Christian, but just believed that the facts of science were too compelling to accept the Biblical rendition of Creation. I sure wished that I could have taken him with me to St. Helens. He might have got a new perspective. I did my best to help him have a new perspective, but I’m not sure how much headway, I made. Now I have a little more in my arsenal for the next time I have such a discussion.

Mount Saint Helens

Model of Moses’ Tabernacle

My daughter recently finished studying a thirteen week-long study about Moses’ Tabernacle, called “Path to the Throne” by Young Disciple Ministries. From that lesson guide, she studied about how the Sanctuary symbolizes the plan of salvation. For example, she learned Who the lamb represented that was sacrificed for sins in the Sanctuary service. That symbol is perhaps the most obvious, but there were so many interesting symbolisms that could be seen in the Tabernacle and the whole Sanctuary service. And this lesson guide was prepared to make it interesting to tweens/teens.

Just as she was finishing up the study, we found out that within driving distance from us, some people had built a model of Moses’ Tabernacle. (It was hosted at Sunset Lake, a Christian summer camp a ways away from us.) We headed there with some friends to take the tour. The camp director spoke of each of the pieces of furniture and what they represented in the plan of salvation. We were all better able to get an idea of how big the courtyard and furniture was. We were a little disappointed with how primitive the model was. We have often heard of the traveling Messiah’s Mansion, and we were hoping that we were going to see something of that calibre. (We hope that someday Messiah’s Mansion will be close enough that we can visit it.) The one we visited wasn’t nearly as nicely finished and wasn’t quite accurate to scale, but it was quite a bit nicer than anything we will ever get around to doing ourselves, so we still enjoyed it.

Here are some pictures that Zippy took of the model.

The Front Gate:

Front Gate

The Altar of Sacrifice:

Altar of Sacrifice

The Lavar (Wash Basin):


The Seven-branc Candlestick:


The Altar of Incense:

Altar of Incense

The Table of Showbread:

Table of Showbread

The Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat:

Ark of the Covenant (A little primitive)

The Ark of the Covenant was the piece of furniture that seemed the most primitive, but it was okay. The Holy and Most Holy place were not built to the same scale as the Courtyard and the Furniture. It should have been twice as tall as it was. But we still got a pretty good feel for the size of everything.