Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dogs, Wildflowers, and Fossils at Hueston Woods State Park

It's one of the fundamental facts about me that I am physically, mentally, and morally incapable of taking my children on a vacation without making it at LEAST 75% educational.

To be fair, it's really more like 90% educational.

I'd tell you not to tell the children, but they're well aware of the score right now. They can even repeat for you my favorite saying, "The vacation won't be fun unless you study for it!"

So it won't surprise you that on this day in Ohio, the kids were expected to work on the history and geography of Ohio, botany, and paleontology. Mind you, I'd disguised all of this inside various Girl Scout badges and fun patches, because kids will do a LOT to earn a Girl Scout award, so they'll tell you that they were working on earning the Wildflowers of Ohio fun patch, the Buck"eye" Stops Here council's own badge, and helping Will research a possible idea for her Gold Award.

But just between us, it was the history and geography of Ohio, botany, and paleontology.

The night before this day at Hueston Woods State Park, Matt, champion of the world, had actually driven Luna to us in our Cincinnati hotel room, and then driven right back home again. He's basically the most awesome human being ever. But that means that on this day, we had Will's doggo with us, and the big plan was to take her on a big adventure exactly here:

It's a real, live dog beach! We'd gone to a dog beach without our dog back in San Diego last fall, and ever since Will has longed to take Luna, who loves the water, to one. Alas, neither of the lakes near our town have leash-free doggy swim areas, and the beaches both have signs explicitly forbidding dogs entirely. Will is contemplating trying to remedy this for her Girl Scout Gold Award, so this fun time with Luna totally counts as research

Luna was unsure at first:

And then decided that she really, really liked it!

She was a very happy doggo!

When Luna had finally worn herself out completely, we moved onto botany. The kids have studied photosynthesis and the parts of a flower, and so on this day I wanted them to work on identifying wildflowers in the wild and sketching them in their nature journals, paying specific attention to the parts of each flower that could be visually identified. You have to identify and sketch five Ohio wildflowers to complete that activity in the Wildflowers of Ohio fun patch requirements, so that was their goal:

Now that we're home, the kids will be spending some school time positively identifying the flowers in their field manuals, and refining and labeling their sketches.

After lunch and a visit to the nature center, Will and I spent the entire afternoon indulging in one of my most favorite pastimes:

Fossil hunting! Hueston Woods State Park allows you to actually keep the fossils that you collect there, and they have several really stellar places to look for fossils. By this time, Syd was super grouchy and tired and also has zero interest in fossils, the silly girl, so I actually let her sit in the car with the dog and the air conditioning for half the afternoon while Will and I hiked and waded and picked up stuff. We have a Prius, so it's kinda not 100% as bad as it sounds, but yeah, the state of my carbon footprint...

You do what you gotta do, though, especially with those thirteen-going-on-threenagers...

Anyway, Will and I had a marvelous time. We got pig filthy, and I kept picking up a piece of rock only to find something underneath that only didn't bite me because it was surprised, and also a few toads. We didn't come back to the car until I was half-sure that I had headstroke. It was glorious!

By the time we got back to the car, all Syd wanted in life was a freaking noodle cup, so Will and I packed our billion pounds of fossils into the trunk of the car and we drove a couple of hours due south into Kentucky. There, I unpacked my electric kettle so Syd could have her freaking noodle cup and enough free wi-fi to ignore me for the rest of the night in favor of griping to her friends and watching doll makeover videos on YouTube.



Tina said...

LOL! Teenagers.

Luna looks so happy! We need to find a lake out here because the closest beaches are way to rough for Bo to swim in. But he still loves to play in the water when the waves and undertow aren't trying to drown him!

I've been totally geeking out over all the cool shells and rocks that we have been finding. The beach is my happy place :)

julie said...

I am so jealous that you get to go to the beach so much!!!! Do you find that Bo ever tries to drink the seawater? Whenever we take Luna to a creek or a lake, her favorite activity is to make little waves and then snap at them, so I'm afraid that if we ever took her to a dog beach on an ocean, she'd drink saltwater and make herself sick. I'm probably just being paranoid, but Will and I read a vet's memoir several months ago, in which the vet described a small dog dying of pancreatitis after eating a hot dog, and it was BRUTAL.

Tina said...

Come visit!

Bo doesn't try to drink the water, so I don't worry about it to much. He also never really tried to drink when he was playing in freshwater. I do know that water toxicity from freshwater or saltwater is a concern for dogs that drink a lot of water while they are playing in it, so it's not you being paranoid!