White House

Happy 228th anniversary to the White House!

Construction started on this iconic building back 228 years ago in Washington DC. Every President except George Washington has resided here since 1800. The White House stands about 55,000 square feet, six floors, and has 132 rooms.

At various times in history, the White House has been known as the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.” President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.

“I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has.” ~Abraham Lincoln, August 22, 1864

Happy 228th!

Dinosaur National Monument

Happy 105th anniversary to Dinosaur National Monument!

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A few years ago, we planned a vacation to Colorado and we planned on driving from California to Colorado. At the time, our son loved dinosaurs! I mean really loved them and even talked about growing up to become a paleontologist! After some discussions and checking out the routes, we decided to stop by this national monument and check it out.

We really enjoyed this national monument! Our son loved seeing real dinosaur fossils!

From the Quarry Visitor Center, we took a shuttle up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

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In this hall, you can see approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones! There are even some places where you can touch them!

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Our future paleontologist loved this national monument! IMG_4997

Beyond the dinosaurs, there is much more to do in the monument. For example, you can check out carvings in the rocks, called petroglyphs, left by the Fremont people nearly 1,000 years ago. You can also take a hike, go camping, go fishing, or watch wildlife like elk or bighorn sheep there.

Definitely check out this national monument if you’re in the Utah or Colorado area.

To celebrate this anniversary or if you can’t wait to visit there, click here and check out their Junior Ranger activity book. 

National Trails System Act

The National Trails System Act created the National Trails System back today in 1968.  The Act created national trails to promote the enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access.

The Act established four classes of trails: national scenic trails, national historic trails, national recreation trails, and side or connecting trails.

The first two national scenic trails established under the Act were the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest trails. These two trails cover almost 5,000 miles between the two trails and go through some of our nation’s most beautiful areas.

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Today, the system consists of 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails and over 1,000 National Recreation Trail and two connecting-and-side trails, with a total length of more than 50,000 miles.

I love maps, so had to share one! Click here for a map of all the trails in the system.

To celebrate this 52nd anniversary, go and get out on a trail today!

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Yosemite turns 130!

Happy 130th anniversary to Yosemite National Park!

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In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation creating the nation’s third national park. The establishment of Yosemite National Park preserved over 1,500 square miles of land.

Yosemite National Park is located in central California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Yosemite ignites many images when you say its name. It’s hard not to picture the iconic Half Dome or Yosemite Falls. You can also find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

This park has some cool history facts here too. For one, America’s first female park ranger in the National Park Service came from Yosemite National Park. I highlighted Clare Marie Hodges in this blog post here.

Yosemite has a long history with junior rangers. It had a Junior Nature School that was organized in June 1930 and went until 1954. Could you pass a 1933 junior ranger test?  The national park service has one on their website. Try it here.

Definitely put Yosemite National Park on your bucket list of places to visit and check out the cool landscapes and history at this national park! As of now, you need reservations to visit here, so make sure to check out their website.

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Banned Books Week

It’s hard to believe that in the year 2020, people still try to ban books in schools, libraries, and bookstores. Yet, it still happens today.

The American Library Association (ALA) launched Banned Books Week in 1982 to celebrate the freedom to read and highlighting the value of free and open access to information. ALA publishes the lists to draw attention to literary censorship, but ALA officials stress that the annual report provides only a snapshot of book challenges, with ALA acknowledging that most challenges go unreported. In 2019, ALA reported a 17% increase in the number of challenges to library, school, and university materials and services—with an uptick in the number of challenged books that included or addressed LGBTQ+ content.

Here is full list of the top 100 most challenged and banned books of the last decade (2010-2019):

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  2. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. George by Alex Gino
  6. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  7. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  8. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  9. Internet Girls (series) by Lauren Myracle
  10. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  12. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  13. I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel
  14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  15. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  16. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
  17. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  18. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  19. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
  20. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
  21. Alice McKinley (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  22. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris
  23. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  24. Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
  25. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  26. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  27. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
  28. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  29. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  30. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  31. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  32. It’s a Book by Lane Smith
  33. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  34. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  35. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  36. A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer
  37. Bad Kitty (series) by Nick Bruel
  38. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  39. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  40. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  41. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey
  42. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman
  43. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
  44. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  45. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  46. Goosebumps (series) by R.L. Stine
  47. In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco
  48. Lush by Natasha Friend
  49. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  50. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  51. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  52. The Holy Bible
  53. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
  54. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  55. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  56. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily von Ziegesar
  57. House of Night (series) by P.C. Cast
  58. My Mom’s Having a Baby by Dori Hillestad Butler
  59. Neonomicon by Alan Moore
  60. The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake
  61. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  62. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  63. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  64. Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle
  65. Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
  66. Fade by Lisa McMann
  67. The Family Book by Todd Parr
  68. Feed by M.T. Anderson
  69. Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
  70. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  71. House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  72. Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman
  73. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  74. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  75. Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter
  76. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
  77. Stuck in the Middle by Ariel Schrag
  78. The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal
  79. 1984 by George Orwell
  80. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  81. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
  82. Awakening by Kate Chopin
  83. Burned by Ellen Hopkins
  84. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  85. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  86. Glass by Ellen Hopkins
  87. Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesle´a Newman
  88. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  89. Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans
  90. My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
  91. Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack
  92. Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology by Amy Sonnie
  93. Skippyjon Jones (series) by Judith Schachner
  94. So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins
  95. The Color of Earth (series) by Tong-hwa Kim
  96. The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
  97. The Walking Dead (series) by Robert Kirkman
  98. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
  99. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
  100. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

To celebrate this week, add some of these books to reading your list! As the theme of this week says, “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read!”

National Public Lands Day

We celebrate National Public Lands Day today organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Established in 1994 and celebrated the fourth Saturday in September, this day is traditionally the largest volunteer day celebrating the connection between the environment and people.

To participate this year, visit a national park for free, share an outdoor activity online, donate to a national park or organization, or just get outdoors wherever you can!

Enjoy the benefits of being outdoors!

130th!

Happy 130th anniversary to Sequoia National Park! On this day, President Harrison signed legislation creating America’s second national park. It was the first national park created to protect the giant sequoia trees from logging. 

We visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park a few weeks ago and loved spending some quality time in both national parks. Enjoy a few photos from Sequoia National Park.

If you plan on visiting this national park soon, make sure to check it out online due to the neighboring wildfire and COVID-19. I highly recommend visiting this national park, but make sure to follow the guidelines and closures.

John Muir reflected that giant sequoia groves are “not like places, they are like haunts.”

Happy 130th, Sequoia National Park!

Victory Sign

With the ongoing stress of Covid, wildfires, the upcoming elections, and distance learning, I often catch myself dreaming about green sea turtles.

Green sea turtles are known for their grace in the water, their big beautiful shells, and those huge gentle eyes. Those eyes can definitely talk to you!

Green sea turtles can weigh over 700 pounds making them the largest of the hardshell sea turtles. They can swim up to 35 miles per hour. Green sea turtles can also hold their breathe for hours at time.

It’s like going on vacation picturing these animals swimming through some deep blue waters. I follow those large dark eyes. I can see their large flippers paddling with ease. The flippers tilt up like a victory sign in the deep waters.

I’ll take that victory sign and hang on to it. Find your animal and take that vision to somewhere peaceful and calm.

Wilderness Act

On this day 56 years ago, Congress established the Wilderness Act in 1964. Congress wanted to protect undeveloped and wild areas as an enduring resource for the American people. Today, this act protects 111 million acres of wilderness preserving more than 750 wilderness areas in states from Alaska to Florida.

This act created the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and immediately designated 54 areas into this system.  Some of the first wilderness areas created included Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming, Ansel Adams Wilderness in California, and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Today, the National Park Service makes up about 56% of the land under NWPS with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management areas making up the rest.

Many benefits exist today from this land conservation including providing habitats for wildlife; clean air; clean drinking water; boosting local economies with tourism and recreation; and providing some really amazing places to escape and appreciate this great land here!

Go enjoy this anniversary and get out in the wilderness today!