Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 Spring Basket Contest!

2014 Spring Basket Contest

Well, it's been a while since I hosted a giving on my blog, so I thought it was time. This time around, I'm celebrating spring by giving one lucky reader a spring basket filled with goodies made by the wonderful Ann at Ann's AG Miniatures!

2014 Spring Basket Contest

What could be inside this lovely green basket?

2014 Spring Basket Contest

First of all, you get this green basket, tied with a coral ribbon.

2014 Spring Basket Contest

Here are the goodies that come inside! Wow, when you look at it up close, that chick looks pretty deranged!

2014 Spring Basket Contest

The first item made by Ann is this adorable chocolate cupcake with roses and green frosting. It fits perfectly inside this little box!

2014 Spring Basket Contest

The next item, made by Ann, is this little Tootsie Pop inside a little flower holder. Isn't it adorable?

2014 Spring Basket Contest

Finally, the last item sponsored by Ann is this adorable box of Spring-themed cookies. You get a ladybug, leaf, flower, and butterfly. So cute, right? They also fit perfectly into their own little box!

2014 Spring Basket Contest

So by now you're wondering "how can I win this adorable Spring Basket?" Never fear! Here's what you do!

1. Take a photo of your doll enjoying the spring.  Do you live where it's not spring? That's fine! Take a photo of your doll enjoying your current season!

2. E-mail your photo to my e-mail, inkymarina@gmail.com.  Include your name and your Instagram username if you're a member there!

3.  Make sure you do this by Friday, June 6 at 9pm Eastern Standard Time.  The photos and winner's name will be posted on Saturday, June 7.

4.  Since this contest includes a physical prize, you will need to have permission to give out your address so that I can mail you the prize basket.  International entries are welcome!

5. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below!

Good luck- and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Aztec Ruins National Monument

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On my trip to the Four Corners, I went to three different park service sites.  The last park I saw was Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico.  It's a really cool park! The rangers and volunteers are knowledgeable and friendly.  Plus, the park is fascinating.  I started out in the museum, where I worked on my junior ranger booklet. It has a lot of cool artifacts and displays that teach visitors about Ancestral Puebloans. Then it was time to explore the Ancestral Puebloan structures!


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I loved exploring the park.  There were several parts where you could actually go into and onto the structures.  In fact, there is a gorgeous reconstructed kiva too!  Aztec Ruins are not really Aztec, but rather Ancestral Puebloan- just like many of the other parks I have visited.  In fact, the people who lived at Aztec Ruins may have visited Chaco Canyon.

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Doesn't this series of doorways remind you of the doorways from my trip to Chaco Canyon in this post? I really liked going into the buildings and imagining what it would be like to live there.  Wouldn't it be cool to live in an Ancestral Puebloan great house with lots of other families? I would eat corn and turkey and maybe even swim in the nearby Animas River.

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Once I had finished exploring the different structures with my family, it was time to turn in my Junior Ranger booklet and be sworn in at Aztec Ruins! The volunteers were nice and very sweet about the questions I didn't answer correctly.  They gave me my badge and then it was time to make the long drive through the mountains to our hotel.

I loved visiting Aztec Ruins. I just wish I'd had time to stay longer and explore more.  One of the neat features of Aztec Ruins National Monument is that you can do their Junior Ranger program online and earn a patch! If you'd like to learn more about the park and participate in the online Junior Ranger program, click here!

Thanks so much for reading! Would you visit Aztec Ruins if you had the chance? Is there a National Park Service site near you?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park Day 2

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

My second day in Colorado started bright and early with the drive to the Mesa Verde park entrance.   Once we pulled into the park, we had about an hour's drive ahead of us to get to Cliff Palace for our tour.  It's a beautiful drive and you can look out over the landscape for miles.  When we made it to the parking lot, we walked down a short path to meet Ranger Wolf for the tour!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

To get from the overlook where the tour group met down to Cliff Palace, we all had to take some narrow stairs. I was a little nervous, but I remembered that my mama did it when she was only six! Soon, we made it to a little shelf right by the cliff dwellings. Ranger Wolf taught the group about the people who had lived in Cliff Palace. He also shared some stories about a group of Hopi kids, the descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans who built Cliff Palace, who had visited recently.  Then, it was time to walk through Cliff Palace!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace is really beautiful! Ranger Wolf taught us that the Ancestral Puebloans who lived there would farm and raise turkeys on the mesa top. The girls would carry water from springs in large potteries. Wow! I imagined carrying a load of water; it probably wasn't fun. I'm glad I get my water from the faucet!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Can you see that some of the doors have a T shape? That reminded me of the doors at Chaco Canyon! Also, do you see the tall tower toward the right of the picture? The upper stories are actually reconstructions. Cool fact, right? The group gathered around a kiva, a ceremonial space, to listen to Ranger Wolf talk and answer questions. He's a great ranger!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Places like Mesa Verde's Cliff Palace make me understand how badly I want to be a park ranger someday. Sometimes I worry that I made the wrong decision when I decided to stop dancing so seriously, but when I am at one of our nation's national parks, I know I made the right choice. As the ranger talked, I daydreamed about working at Mesa Verde someday. That would be so cool!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Before we made the climb back up to the top of the mesa, I looked back behind me. See that lookout point where all the people are? That's where the tour group started! We had to climb down into Cliff Palace from there.  Can you imagine living at Cliff Palace and climbing up and down from the mesa top multiple times a day, all while carrying water? Wow!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace was definitely a tough place to live, but it was beautiful. I wanted to ask the ranger if the people at Cliff Palace were among those who would walk to Chaco Canyon, but I didn't get a chance. It would have been a very, very long walk. It took my family several hours to drive from the Chaco access road up to Mesa Verde. Still, I think it would have been a gorgeous trip. The Four Corners region is so beautiful!

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

I took a last look back at Cliff Palace before it was time to climb up to the mesa top. That's right- I said climb! To leave Cliff Palace, visitors have to climb a series of ladders.  Awesome! As you climb out, you can see the hand and toe holds that the Ancestral Puebloan people carved into the walls.  I kept thinking of the girls climbing with the pottery jars of water.  I was really impressed by that information.  I loved visiting Cliff Palace, but soon it was time to make the drive down to the visitor center to turn in my junior ranger booklet and receive my new badge.

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

The ranger who read over my booklet was really nice. He was happy to give me my newest junior ranger badge! I told him that my mama and grandma are from two of the Rio Grande Pueblos and he impressed me by saying hello in one of the indigenous languages.  Someday, it's going to be me swearing in junior rangers! Until then, I'm me, Junior Ranger Inky!

What do you think? Would you like to visit Mesa Verde National Park someday?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park Day 1

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Hello everyone! I'm going to blog some more about my trip to the Four Corners.  After we visited Hovenweep, my family enjoyed lunch in a town called Cortez. I had a green chile cheeseburger- yum! Then it was time to visit a park that my family has loved for a long time- Mesa Verde National Park! My family has been coming to Mesa Verde for a long time.  My mama visited for the first time when she was six! This would be my first trip to the park.  The first thing we did was stop at the Visitor Center to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet and stamp my NPS Passport. Then it was time to drive to see the cliff dwellings that make the park famous.  It takes about an hour in the car from the park gate to get up to the cliff dwellings. I was surprised at how nervous I was driving in the mountains! I kept asking my grandma to slow down.  Yikes!  You can kind of see in this picture how high up we were.

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

The first time we stopped to get out and look at some cliff dwellings, I was so ready to be out of the car! Since it was later in the day, we decided to drive the Mesa Top Loop road to view some cliff dwellings. Then we would come back to the park the next day to see Cliff Palace, the largest group of cliff dwellings. I believe that the cliff dwellings visible in this photo are called Square Tower House.  They're so beautiful! It was so cool to think that my grandma and mama's ancestors built these beautiful structures.

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Here I am on the trail back to the car. There were lots of families visiting the park, all speaking different languages! I have visited some World Heritage Sites in Ukraine, but I would love to see National Parks in other countries as well.

Inky at Mesa Verde National Park

Finally we reached the overlook where we could see Cliff Palace. It was amazing! Do you see the buildings built under the overhang just to the left of my head in the photo? Wow! The people of Cliff Palace only lived to be about 25-34 years old, and around half of the children died before they turned five years old. Can you imagine living in such an environment?

After we drove the loop, we went back down to the park's entrance to purchase tickets for a tour of Cliff Palace the next day.  I was really excited! Then we drove to the town where we were staying, Durango, and explored a bit. We went to a really cool candy shop called Fuzziwig's, where I got some jelly beans. We also went to a chocolate shop where we bought a caramel apple. Yum!

I love visiting National Park Service sites, but what really makes my adventures special is sharing them with family and friends.  Do you have anywhere special you like to visit with your loved ones?
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