Saturday, July 28, 2012

Reid Park Zoo

Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

After my road trip with my friend Raven's family, I needed a lot of time to relax! One of the best places to do so is at the zoo! I met up with my friend Summer to explore Tucson's Reid Park Zoo. It was a truly hot day, so Summer and I did our best to scamper from shady spot to shady spot. Here we are in front of a waterfall and waterwheel-  don't they make it look nice and cool?

Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

Here is a photo of me and Summer by the duck pond. You can't see them in this photo, but there were baby ducklings swimming in the pond, following their parents! It was so cute. I wanted to chase them, catch them, and bring them all home with me! However, you should never feed zoo animals, so I stood back and enjoyed watching them.

Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

Finally, we headed to the see the zoo's latest exhibit- Expedition Tanzania! Can you see the elephants behind me? There was a bull, a mama, and a really cute baby. Did you know mama elephant are pregnant for two years? Wow!

Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

Expedition Tanzania has lots of interactive stations. At this one, Summer and I are seeing how much we weight compared to an elephant. Who do you think weighs more- me and Summer or a baby elephant?

Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

We ended up zoo visit with an elephant ride! Of course, we rode a statue instead of a real elephant. After the zoo, we headed back to Summer's house, where I got to meet her friend Rebecca! We drank iced tea and just hung out. I loved my trip across Arizona with Raven, but I was glad to relax for the day. What do you like to do to unwind after a long trip?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins

The day Raven and I went to Tuzigoot was supposed to be the last day of our big road trip. However, Raven's mom was tired and didn't think she could drive us safely all the way to the city where Raven lives. We ended up getting a hotel room and leaving for Raven's home the next morning. The extra time meant that we could visit another National Park site- Casa Grande Ruins!

Casa Grande Ruins

Casa Grande is a large, four-story building that was made by the Ancient Sonoran Desert People over 1,500 years ago. Can you see it behind Raven? It has survived until today, but it now has a shelter to protect it. You can't go inside it, but you can walk right up to it. There are lots of birds living in it, but no people. Many people through history have also carved their names into the wall. That is vandalism, so you can't do that any longer.

Casa Grande Ruins

Of course, we did the Junior Ranger program at Casa Grande Ruins. Luckily, most of the work we had to do was in the museum portion of the park. It was really, really hot there! I thought it had been hot at Sunset Crater, but it was even hotter at Casa Grande Ruins. We were only outside for a little while before I turned pink. We had time to walk around the ruins and see some cacti before we went back in. Back in the museum, there are cool exhibits that teach about the Ancient Sonoran Desert People and the native peoples that live there today. There was also a table full of different things for kids to touch; I thought that was really cool.

Casa Grande Ruins

When we finished our booklets, we took them to the park ranger to have them checked. The ranger was really nice and asked us lots of questions about what we had seen and which other parks we had visited. At Casa Grande Ruins, like some other parks, you only have to do part of the activities in the book. Still, Raven and I did the entire activity book! The ranger rewarded us for our hard work with an extra badge, sticker, and pin, in addition to the regular patch! We were really excited and glad we had done the extra work. After the ranger swore us in, we each picked out something from the gift shop. I got a keychain with little charms of a ranger hat, ranger badge, and park service logo!

Casa Grande Ruins is a really fun little park. The rangers are very nice and their Junior Ranger program is really fun. If you have the chance, you should definitely visit! I'm glad we did the extra work and were rewarded! Have you ever gone above and beyond and earned something special? In this entry, Inky wears: a white tee from Liberty Jane Clothing, striped shorts from Royal Doll Boutique, and bandanna and hiking boots from American Girl.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tuzigoot National Monument

Oak Creek Canyon Lookout

The day after we visited Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano, it was time to starting heading back down to Raven's family's home. Both of us were sad our trip was coming to an end, but there were a few more adventures to be had along the way. We stopped at an overlook above Oak Canyon before we headed down to follow the creek along the canyon floor.

Oak Creek Canyon Lookout

At the lookout, there was a little American Indian craft market. See the cedar bead necklace Raven's wearing? We got it from a nice lady who also gifted us with little Christmas ornaments. It was so nice of her!

Tuzigoot! National Monument

After we passed through the canyon and Sedona, we headed to our next park- Tuzigoot National Monument! Tuzigoot is pretty near to Montezuma Castle; the Sinagua people lived at both sites. Tuzigoot is a pueblo with a lookout tower, which we were eager to see and climb!

Tuzigoot! National Monument

After we picked up our Junior Ranger activity guides, we headed up the hill from the Visitor Center to the Pueblo. Raven and I stopped to take a photo with this sign. It's a good reminder when you're visiting a park. Even though you might find cool things like flowers and artifacts, you should leave them behind for everyone to enjoy.

Tuzigoot! National Monument

Once we reached the top of the hill, we climbed up into the lookout tower. From there, you can look over the whole valley! We imagined what it would have been like to be Sinagua girls. We would have eaten corn, beans, and squash. We probably would have helped our mothers grind corn with a mano and metate. We would have loved our valley home, no matter what.

Tuzigoot! National Monument

After we had spent more time exploring the Pueblo and learning about the Sinagua people (when their young children died, they buried them under the floor- whoa!), we headed back down the hill to the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a small museum where you can learn all about the different cultures that lived in the area over the past few thousand years. When we had finished exploring the exhibits, Ranger Chris checked over our Junior Ranger guides and swore us in as Junior Rangers! Now that we're home again, Raven has told me that Tuzigoot was her favorite park on our entire trip. I loved it too! Have you ever discovered a special place while traveling?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sunset Crater National Monument

Sunset Crater!

The day we went to Wupatki National Monument, we had to drive through Sunset Crater National Monument. Of course, we had to stop there too! After we cooled down from our hike through Wupatki, we drove back up from the valley floor to Sunset Crater.  Sunset Crater volcano is a cinder cone volcano that is about one thousand years old.  It's named after the sunset because it has sunset colored cinders on top. Holy hotdogs, it was hot! After we studied the museum in the visitor center, we headed to the short lava trail. I was so hot that my face was turning bright pink; Raven laughed at me!

Sunset Crater!

This is me with the volcano in the background. Because they were causing damage to the volcano, visitors are no longer allowed to hike on it. Raven's mom told us she hiked up it when she was little, but we had to view it from below. Still, it was pretty impressive! Imagine living nearby, like at Wupatki, and suddenly the ground starts to rumble- and then over the course of days, a big volcano grows! Yikes! The Junior Ranger booklet assured us that all the people in the area had time to leave before the lava flew, but I was a little skeptical.

Sunset Crater!

Raven and I had fun hiking the lava trail and working on the Junior Ranger workbook. This is Raven by a huge fallen log. This was our fourth day together and we were already close buddies. We were still joking about not seeing any wildlife but a few flies and a faraway condor.

Sunset Crater!

Here I am climbing around on some aa lava. (You say it "ah-ah." Like "ah-ah" it hurts!) There is another kind of lava called pohoehoe too. Aa lava is rough and broken, but pahoehoe is smooth and ropy. We also saw a feature called a "squeeze-up," where lava squeezed up through dried lava like toothpaste from a toothpaste tube. The area really reminded me of my trip to El Malpais National Monument because of all the lava.

Sunset Crater!

After we finished our hike, we headed back to the Visitor Center. There were a bunch of other kids there also turning in their workbooks. Raven is a little shy, so she hung back until all the other kids had gone. Then, we ran up to the ranger to be sworn in. We were given Sunset Crater badges, but we also got a patch for kids who are junior rangers at both Sunset Crater and Wupatki. Cool!

Sunset Crater was a fun place to visit, but I recommend that you go when it is not a hundred degrees outside- yikes! I hope to go back someday when it's warmer and do some of the other trails. One of the highlights of the day happened while we drove back to our home base in Flagstaff- we saw a ground squirrel run across the road! Raven yelled so her mom would stop the car and we watched the little guy scurry across the road and up the hillside. We saw wildlife! Score!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

It's time for another post about my trip with Raven! The day after the Grand Canyon, our parents suggested that we take a day to rest. We said "NO WAY!" and off we went to a new National Park. This time, we visited Wupatki National Monument. Wupatki is a Pueblo where people no longer live. You can go and see the buildings and ball court, check out the museum, and of course, do the Junior Ranger program.

Wupatki National Monument

We started the day with a photo by the park's welcome sign. This is a tradition that started when I went to Canyonlands National Park with my friend Violet. Now, I try to get a picture at the welcome sign of each park I visit. To get to Wupatki, you have to drive through a different park, but I'll talk about that one in the next post. (Bonus points if you can figure out the name of the other park!)

Wupatki National Monument

One nice thing about the Junior Ranger program at Wupatki is that you can do it all inside! It gets extremely hot in Arizona, so it was great that we could do the workbook in the comfort of the air conditioned museum. There were lots of interesting questions, including a section where you get to use artifacts to figure out things about the Wupatki people. Once we finished, Ranger Cassandra swore us in!

Wupatki National Monument

After we earned our badges, we went for a walk around the Pueblo. Here's Raven in a section you can actually enter! You can walk down to the ball court too, but it was too hot and our parents made us sit in the shade and drink water instead. Archaeologists don't know what kind of game was played in the ball court, which is shaped like an oval. What do you think the Wupatki people played?

Wupatki National Monument

I was able to climb up this little outcropping at Wupatki and look down over the ballcourt. Raven and I thought it was a beautiful place to live. I love the red rocks and the big blue sky. I'm glad we got the chance to visit Wupatki Pueblo! Have you ever visited a place where people lived long ago? What I wore in this entry: shirt: Doll Closet; socks, shoes, pants, bandana: American Girl

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grand Canyon- Again!

Grand Canyon

Three summers ago, I was lucky to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with my friend Violet. In June, I was able to go back to the Grand Canyon with my friend Raven! We visited the more popular South Rim. It was pretty busy, but the canyon was just as gorgeous as last time. We started our day at the Visitor Center, where I found this big cat statue. We picked up our Junior Ranger books and headed out to explore the park!

Grand Canyon

Our first stop was at the site of some Ancestral Puebloan ruins. To earn a Junior Ranger badge and patch at the Grand Canyon, kids need to attend a ranger program. Raven and I had fun learning about the Ancestral Puebloan people living near the canyon. The ranger explained the different plants we passed. In this photo, you can see me in front of a plant called "Mormon Tea."

Grand Canyon

After the program, we sat down on some wooden benches to work on our workbooks. There were lots of cool activities about the geology and animals of the park. Raven and I still hadn't seen any wildlife, so we were sad we couldn't do those particular activities. Raven was very silly and put down "flies" in the wildlife observation section! When we finished the books, we went to the little museum where a kind ranger swore us in. Since we did the hardest activities, we earned both a badge and a patch called the Scorpion Award! The ranger told us there is a special patch you can earn by hiking to the bottom of the canyon and visiting the Phantom Ranch. The catch is- it takes 7 hours to hike to the bottom- and the joke is it takes 107 hours to hike back up. Yikes! Raven made her mom promise to take her one day, and I made Raven promise to bring me along. I hope we get to do it someday!

Grand Canyon

After earning our badges, we met up with Raven's aunt and uncle to look over the edge of the canyon. Our moms kept telling us to quit running up to the edge! I wanted to climb over the fence by Mama grabbed me and held me close. Stinkbugs!

Grand Canyon Just as I was taking this picture of Raven, she spotted a condor! Whoa! I tried to take a photo, but it only showed up as a tiny dot in the photos I took. It was huge- its wingspan is bigger than a child my age! We both grabbed our Junior Ranger workbooks and added "condor" to our wildlife observations. Score!

Grand Canyon

Raven took this photo of me just before we left to go eat dinner at the Bright Angel lodge. Doesn't it look like I'm close to the edge? I like this picture because I look like a true adventurer. The Grand Canyon is a great place to visit. I'm glad we got to visit, but I wish we had been able to hike to the bottom! Don't you hate when parents don't want to do what you'd like? Stinkbugs! Still, the Grand Canyon is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been. It's impossible to describe how big and colorful it is. My wish is that all of you guys get to visit it someday yourselves. What's the most beautiful place you've been?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chaika Comes Home!

Missing Chaika

As many of you know, about seven weeks ago, my cat Chaika disappeared. Chaika was a gift from my parents' friend for New Year in 2008. I was devastated when she was lost. In this photo, you can see me doing what I've been doing for weeks- hanging up posters in my neighborhood. My moms told me that she was probably gone forever- they even set up an appointment to get a new kitten with a Russian Blue cattery for this weekend. Still, I knew in my heart that Chaika was still alive!

One

Today I was at my desk, doing math homework. I may be unschooled for the most part, but my parents insist I use a curriculum for math. I was doing some calculations in my head when I heard my Mama come in. "I put something on your bed for you Inky! I'm off to the store to buy some milk, see you soon!" she called.

Two

I didn't think anything of it, but then I heard a small noise and turned around. When I saw what was on my bed, I jumped out of my chair and threw my hands in the air.

Three

It was Chaika!! She was sitting in her cat carrier on the bed, like she'd never left.

Four

I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling. Chaika had been gone for about seven weeks and while my parents told me I could get a new kitten, I just couldn't give up on Chaika.

Five

Something about Chaika was different.... one of her ears was torn off! She still had a bit of it left, but she had definitely changed. I couldn't bear to think what Chaika had been through to lose an ear. My poor baby!

Six

I called for my Mom and ran over to Chaika. Mom came in the room and explained that someone had seen our posters and had turned Chaika in at our vet's office down the road. The person had found her wandering in the park where our neighborhood Farmers' Market is held. Dr. Tello, the vet, thought that Chaika had probably been in a fight with another cat- but the wound is healed and Chaika is going to be fine!

Seven

I'm so glad Chaika is home. I was so worried. I really appreciate all the encouragement my friends have given me during the weeks she was away. Thank you so much for your friendship and love!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle

On my trip to Arizona, my friend Raven and I went on a road trip. After stopping in Phoenix for lunch, we went to Montezuma Castle National Monument. You might think that the monument is a castle built by Montezuma (he was a king of the Aztecs of Mexico), but it's neither! Montezuma Castle is a cliff dwelling that was built by the Sinagua people around 800 years ago.

Montezuma Castle

Here I am with the structure behind me. Archaeologists think about 35 people lived there. It was a difficult climb up to the dwelling- I think I would be too lazy to live there! Actually, I would have loved to live there. It would have been amazing to live high in the cliff, looking down over the valley and Beaver Creek.

Montezuma's Castle National Monument

This is a better view of the cliff dwelling. Isn't it amazing? The Sinagua had to carry their building materials up the cliff in order to make the structure.

Montezuma Castle

Raven and I decided to team up to do the Junior Ranger program, called Beaver Creek Bingo. Kids get a bingo page full of things you can find at Montezuma Castle. Once you find an item, you have to use the signs on the trail or in the museum to answer the questions. Raven and I had fun doing it- the hardest part was identifying wildlife. It was so, so hot - we thought the wildlife must have been hiding out of the sun. We didn't see any cliff swallows, but we did see their nests up in the cliffs. Cool!

Montezuma Castle

As always, I loved exploring the park. It was so cool to imagine that I were a Sinagua girl living there. How would I have been different? How would I have been the same?

Montezuma Castle

At the end of the day, we returned to the Visitor Center so that the rangers could check out our Beaver Creek Bingo pages. We did pretty well, even though we didn't see any wildlife. I told Raven that my goal for our trip would be to see some wildlife. She agreed. When the ranger swore us in, I felt proud. Montezuma Castle is a beautiful place- even if Montezuma never went there and it isn't a castle! I'm so glad I got to experience the park with Raven. Have you ever gone somewhere special with a friend?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Camping with Summer

Camping with Summer

One of the most fun things I got to do in Arizona was meet my friend Summer! Summer and I have been friends for a long time on the internet. She has a blog at Dreams of Trees. Our parents talked and decided that we could meet. Summer and I decided to camp in her backyard. Luckily, I had packed my tent!

 Camping with Summer

Summer's yard was full of tall trees. We climbed them and pretended we were wild kids, living on our own in the wilderness. Both of us have a dream of getting to go backcountry camping. We pinky-promised each other that someday we'd go on an epic camping trip in one of the national parks.

Camping with Summer

I had such a great time with Summer! I loved that she had a big yard. I live in New York City, where my family doesn't have a yard. Our apartment building has a big courtyard, but kids aren't allowed to play in it or climb the trees. I was so envious of Summer- it's like she has her own private Central Park. Awesome pants.

Camping with Summer

Summer has a big dog, named Tatlo. I was a little afraid of him when I first saw him, but he is very gentle. He is so smart too- he stays right by Summer without even needing a leash! I was envious of Tatlo too- my parents say it's not fair to have a dog in a New York City apartment. I told Summer how my cat, Chaika,ran away. She gave me a hug and told me she could imagine how sad she'd be if Tatlo ran away.

Camping with Summer

I loved climbing all the trees in Summer's yard. I really want to move to live in a place with a big yard sometime. I'd love to get to climb trees every day!

Camping with Summer

Not only does Summer have many climbing trees in her yard, she also has a fort! I would absolutely LOVE to have a fort. I told Summer that if her parents ever need a part-time daughter, they can sign me right up.

Camping with Summer

In this picture, Summer is trying to give me a piggyback ride. We both kept falling over and laughing. There is nothing better than spending a day with a good friend. I hope I get to go back to Arizona again someday, so Summer and I can hang out again. Of course, I invited her to come to New York City. New friends are great fun. Have you made any new friends this summer?
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