Friday, July 26, 2013

El Chorro Macho

While we were staying in El Valle de Anton in Panama, we took a jaunt out of town one day to visit El Chorro Macho, a nearby waterfall. There is an outfit that runs a canopy zipline tour there, and they've capitalized on the natural beauty of the area, so we had to pay to hike their trails and see the falls. It was a good opportunity to talk with the kids about how our taxes go to pay for trails and maintenance of public lands where we live, but that's not always the case. Our admission fee included the use of nice wooden walking sticks, and the kids thought that was fun!

We enjoyed walking through the thick forest.

There are many waterfalls in El Valle, as it's nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano. This one is El Chorro Macho, the Male Waterfall! There is a nearby Maiden waterfall as well, which I can only assume is more dainty than this one!

The abundance of growth everywhere was amazing! It seemed that every tree supported many, many other types of plants, both small and large.

I love to look up through the canopy when I'm in the forest. The leaves against the sky are so beautiful!

Near the waterfall was a natural swimming pool with water diverted from the stream. We enjoyed cooling off in its waters after hiking through the forest.

Peregrine made a friend! Yikes, that is one big bug!

These were some lovely baby mangoes growing by the side of the road.
We had taken the bus out of town to the waterfall, and planned to take it back as well. After waiting for some time,  we decided to start walking and flag it down when it came by. We walked, and walked, and walked, and finally the bus caught up with us as we reached the edge of town. It was a fun outing. My Gramps used to say he never met a waterfall he didn't like, and I often think of him when we visit waterfalls. I love carrying on the spirit of adventure and exploration that has been passed down to us.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Science World

The kids in front of Science World in Vancouver. The dome was built as part of the World's Fair, Expo '86. I was eleven that summer, and my parents let me go off for a couple weeks with my best friend and her family.  We did a lot of camping and spent a few days at Expo. It's neat that they've turned this building into a great, hands on science museum. We have a membership to the University of Oregon Natural History museum, and they are part of ASTC, so we were able to get in free to Science World. We've also used it to visit a number of other great science museums on the West Coast over the last year. I think it's well worth it to buy a membership like this, and we look forward to visiting museums across the country on our upcoming road trip.
Poppy and Raphael had fun using pulleys to pull themselves upwards.
Peregrine explored water currents and changing water flow. They also had mini locks the kids (or the moms, ahem) could play with, which was fun after having visited the Panama Canal earlier this year. 
I've always suspected that my kids were an alien species.
Pearl was thrilled to meet a leopard gecko!
Peregrine has been super into dinosaurs lately, so the T-Rex skeleton was a big hit with him.  He sat and gazed at it for a long while. 
Poppy and I had fun putting all the internal organs in this 3D human body puzzle. Talk about hands on! (Or maybe hands in?)
The kids all greatly enjoyed the science show, and can't wait to go back again for more. This show was about "cold" and used both dry ice and liquid nitrogen to demonstrate different things.
My favorite was when three balloon animals were placed into the liquid nitrogen and they shriveled up. When taken out, the air expanded and they took on their original forms!

We had a great afternoon exploring and playing. The kids can't wait to go back again! 

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Fort Langley

A few days ago we spent the afternoon exploring the birthplace of British Columbia, historic Fort Langley. Situated strategically on the Fraser River, the fort was run by the Hudson's Bay Company. HBC men were encouraged to marry First Nations women, strengthening the ties between the two. For the most part the Company and the First Nations peoples had a peaceful relationship. The fort has been wonderfully restored and is a great way to experience hands on history. All of the employees within the fort dress in period costume, and are very helpful and ready to answer any questions visitors might have. 

The wall and watchtower as we approached the fort. What kid could resist? We were able to climb up into the watchtower and walk along the upper walkway. 
The cooperage was an important part of life in the fort. While it was the fur trade that fueled the early economy, goods such as salted salmon and cranberries were also shipped out from Fort Langley and became important commodities. There are ongoing demonstrations of barrel making in the cooperage.
There were all kinds of furs that the kids could touch and feel. And try on, if they were so inclined!
We happened to be there on a day when there weren't many visitors, which was nice. The staff were all friendly, helpful, and available to answer our questions. 

This map showed how most of the goods traded went to and from Europe, all the way around the tip of South America. Beaver hats were all the rage at the time, and the demand for pelts was huge. I found this map especially interesting after having visited the Panama Canal earlier this year, and learning how the opening of the canal has changed worldwide shipping. At this time the TransCanada railway was not yet completed either, and the "kilometres of daunting wilderness" in the middle of the country made it impractical to transport goods from the East Coast of Canada.
We almost had the place to ourselves!
Panning for gold was a big hit with all the kids. Or maybe I should say it was a big splash, as they all came away rather soggy!
This woman was showing Peregrine the ropes. After the California Gold Rush died out a bit, over 30.000 American miners came north to seek gold in and around the Fraser River. At the time, the area was known as New Caledonia, and while Russian and European traders were active in the region, the Hudson's Bay Company had a monopoly on trade in the region.  The governor of Vancouver Island claimed it as British territory to prevent what seemed like a possible takeover from the US, and thus it became official Canadian land. One of the great things about travel is getting to hear history from different perspectives. 
Poppy found a nugget! 
Raphael was taking it very seriously after both Peregrine and Poppy found some. Where did my round faced little toddler go? 
There is a nice, big garden inside the walls of the fort, as well as chickens, rabbits, goats, and sheep. The kids enjoyed getting to feed them. Historically, the HBC farmed the lands around the fort, providing wheat and butter to Russian traders, as well as other types of produce.
Fort Langley is "the birthplace of British Columbia". That short fellow in the front looks an awful lot like Peregrine, doesn't he? 
One of the buildings contained rooms set up to look like family dwellings would have back then. I had to take this picture to compare with the next one, which was taken six years ago...

.... when Poppy was only two! I visited Fort Langley with Peregrine and Poppy while I was up in BC visiting my friend Shelley. She could hardly see over the top of the bowl! (You can see more pictures from our previous visit here.)

My handsome boy.

And my sweet big girl.