Browsing Category "travel"
19 May
2014
Posted in: travel
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Denver Zoo: Bunk with the Beasts

Last week we spent the night at the Denver Zoo as part of the Bunk with the Beasts program. I hear the words “field trip,” and I begin to reorganize my schedule. It’s hard to say who likes them more in our house: me or the kids.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Wildlife Show

For the last few years, the elementary school our boys attend has celebrated the end of 5th grade with an overnight field trip to Denver. The trip is educational, but also a culminating goodbye event for the end of elementary school and a celebration for the start of junior high. My husband and I tweaked our schedules for months to ensure that both of us could chaperone the trip. We recruited a grandma from out-of-town to stay with our three younger kiddos and headed south with 25 5th graders.

Denver Zoo Bunk with the Beasts

Our Bunk with the Beasts program began at 6:30 p.m. We arrived at 6 p.m.,  made our way to the classrooms we would be sleeping in and dropped off our sleeping bags and other gear. The program began with two zoo educators explaining our African-themed program and doing two ice-breaker games with our group. A third educator joined us and gave us an up-close encounter with two animals. The kids were encouraged to ask questions and touch the animals.

The setting of the sun signaled the start of our after hours adventure in the zoo. We split into three groups and toured the zoo for two hours. My family has been to the Denver Zoo several times, but I thoroughly enjoyed touring it without crowds and with a guide. Our volunteer guide was knowledgeable and allowed the kids to self-direct what they wanted to learn.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Elephant Passageway

We had several students in the class who hadn’t been to Denver, let alone a zoo. Their excitement was palpable. Our guide was patient with the ceaseless questions tossed her way. A station was available for participants to make their own buttons as a keepsake from the trip. The kids in our group appreciated this gesture. It really is the little things that make a big impression. We had a couple students in our group who brought sea lions into the conversation a few times. Our guide opted to take us to see the seals (sea lions were asleep), not scheduled on our African tour, which made her a hero to the kids. We also had the chance to use night-vision goggles to look at animals.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Elephant

Bunk with the Beasts included a late-night snack of celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing and popcorn. We enjoyed the snack around 9:30 p.m. before rolling out our sleeping bags and “bunking” for the evening. We had spent four hours at a local gaming center, Boondocks, earlier in the day, so our kids were quiet and tired. They were asleep pretty quickly. I can’t say the same for another school bunked in another classroom near us.

Denver Zoo - Bunk with the Beasts - Penguins

Breakfast was provided as part of Bunk with the Beasts. We had orange juice, coffee, breakfast burritos, fruit, and two different cereal choices. Our bunk wrapped up with a tour of the Toyota Elephant Passage. Again, the zoo without crowds is an amazing experience. Touring the exhibits while the animals are just starting their day was a peaceful and relaxed experience. Not having to wait for crowds to part to see animals made the visit enjoyable. We visited the commissary for a behind-the-scene look at what it takes to feed zoo animals. Our Bunk with the Beasts early morning tour ended with a wildlife show.

I went into this field trip with no concrete expectations. I was impressed by the knowledge of the guides and their patience with the kids. It was obvious the zoo has done the program for awhile. The schedule was seamless and only off by minutes of the itinerary we were given beforehand. I left with a greater understanding of the inner workings of the zoo. I look forward to chaperoning our other children when they wrap up 5th grade.

 


 
Geocaching: Modern Day Treasure Hunting
By     |    May 13, 2014
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Geocaching: Modern Day Treasure Hunting

I believe one of the most amazing technological advancements is the global positioning system (GPS) and its handheld receiving units. One of our favorite family activities is using a GPS device for geocaching, better known in our house as modern day treasure hunting. People hide caches and plot their geographical coordinates so other people can locate the caches using a GPS device. Currently there are over 2 million active caches in the world. Caches range in size from “micro,” which might... [Read More]

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Preparing for Summer in the Snow
By     |    Apr 30, 2014
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Preparing for Summer in the Snow

Snow has its time during the year when I actually enjoy the sight of it. That time is not April 30. I’m not new to Wyoming. I’m aware that history has proven snow will fall in April and May. I know those days in spring of high 60 degree temperatures and sunny skies will most likely be followed by a few cold, blustery snow-filled days. I’m not surprised by the flurries, gray skies and cold temperatures from the last couple... [Read More]

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5 Historic Places to Visit in Wyoming
By     |    Apr 25, 2014
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5 Historic Places to Visit in Wyoming

I’ve lived my entire life in Wyoming, but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I started traveling around the state visiting the many historic places the Equality State has to offer. I classify a few of the places on my list as hidden gems. These places are seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but well-worth tracking down. We’ve discovered that places taking a little effort to reach rarely disappoint. 5 Historic Places to Visit in Wyoming 1. Oregon... [Read More]

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Summer Travel Planning with Kids
By     |    Apr 14, 2014
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Summer Travel Planning with Kids

April rolls around and I start summer travel planning. Three months is never enough time for me to see everything I want to. I’m continually adding onto a mental list of summer travel destinations. The USA has such a variety of locations for families to visit that I feel like the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. There are so few days to work with. We’ve never flown with our children. The price of flying and renting a vehicle has... [Read More]

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5 Favorite National Parks
By     |    Apr 2, 2014
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5 Favorite National Parks

We’ve visited 22 national parks, all west of the Mississippi River. Our bucket list includes seeing all the national parks in the lower 48 states. The National Park Service sells National Park passport books, small blue spiral books broken down by regions. Each region has listed places run by the National Park Service, not just parks, but monuments, memorials, refuges, and historic parks. At visitor centers, tourists can stamp their passport with the name, location and date of the place... [Read More]

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Touring Las Vegas with Kids
By     |    Mar 21, 2014
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Touring Las Vegas with Kids

We finished our spring break trip in Las Vegas. Yes, we took our kids specifically to Las Vegas Boulevard…aka The Strip. Go ahead and judge. We were originally going to watch college basketball while in Las Vegas, then decided not to once we were there. We kept our kids out late  one night, soaking in the neon lights and Bellagio fountains show. The next day we spent primarily on the Strip, again partaking in a scavenger hunt for squished penny machines.... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Death Valley National Park
By     |    Mar 20, 2014
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Take a Trip: Death Valley National Park

When I say we went to Death Valley National Park for spring break, people seem perplexed by the choice. I’ve been asked numerous times why we chose that park for a vacation. We’ve been to loads of destinations run by the National Park Service. It has yet to lead us wrong. The places the park service has set aside and protected for the enjoyment of people are varied and stunning in their own right. Death Valley is no exception. The... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Joshua Tree National Park
By     |    Mar 19, 2014
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Take a Trip: Joshua Tree National Park

The landscape of Joshua Tree National Park is comprised of geologically odd rock piles and misshapen trees. No two Joshua trees look alike. Despite the muted colors, the park looks as if Dr. Seuss’ Lorax would be at home in this forest reminiscent of Truffula trees. The top of the Joshua trees may branch out a couple of times or dozens with green, prickly tufts at the end of the branches. Massive rock piles dominate large areas of the park,... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Mojave National Preserve
By     |    Mar 18, 2014
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Take a Trip: Mojave National Preserve

All I’ve ever known is living in the shadow of mountains. The parched, cracked desert with its muted colors always seems otherworldly to me. The first stop on our 2014 spring break vacation was the Mojave National Preserve in California. The varying degrees of yellow land marked by cactus, creosote bush scrub and Joshua trees is starkly different from the dark green pine and spruce trees of the Rocky Mountains. The Mojave National Preserve contains 1.6 million acres of land... [Read More]

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Peace in Disconnecting
By     |    Mar 17, 2014
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Peace in Disconnecting

Disconnecting from my everyday routine is a driving force in my love of travel. I thrive on no appointments, no Internet, no computer, no phone…disconnecting from the rigors of daily life helps me to center myself when I feel like I’m unraveling. I don’t own a smart phone. I have a smartish TracFone. I know I’m able to connect to the Internet if I need to, but I’ve never actually attempted to do it. As soon as we back out... [Read More]

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Tips for Road Trips with Children
By     |    Mar 6, 2014
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Tips for Road Trips with Children

I’m a huge fan of the great American road trip. My family likes to travel, and when we do, it’s by SUV. I realize 1,600 miles with six people in one vehicle, is not everyone’s idea of a vacation. We’re known to travel 16 hours or more from our home to our ultimate destination. I have this road trip thing down to an art form after years of practice. Make the journey part of the vacation. We, mainly my husband,... [Read More]

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