Showcase of Citrus Album Six: Giant Monster Truck Super Swamp Safari! – Clermont, Florida – 05/06/2021

Climb aboard a behemoth open-air monster truck for a birds-eye view of orange groves, blueberry bushes, farms, fields, swamplands, and more! Take in the sights and sounds of wild animals, magnificent birds, exotic species, and domesticated farm animals. This approximately hour-long Monster Truck Super Swamp Safari is something EVERYONE in the family will love! Sure, rollercoasters are fun… But, include time in your Orlando-Area Theme Park Itinerary to travel the road less taken! In GIANT Monster Truck Style! Real Florida awaits your family at Showcase of Citrus in Clermont, Florida, just outside of Orlando! Read more about our full day…

Showcase of Citrus Album Five: Orange Picking in the Citrus Groves! – Clermont, Florida – 05/06/2021

High atop the list of our favorite things to do throughout the course of our homeschooling experience has always been agricultural experiences. Specifically, spending time on a farm, or in a field, picking fresh produce. We love going to the heart of the source of fruits, veggies, and other goodies! So, finding a U-Pick Orange Grove at Showcase of Citrus in Clermont, Florida, just outside of Orlando, was such a delight! Walking through the endless lines of orange trees, finding just the right shade of orange, and getting that satisfying pluck from the branch when you decide to make it…

Showcase of Citrus Album One: Fun Abounds All Around! – Clermont, Florida – 05/06/2021

When in Central Florida, we all think of the theme parks. But, honestly, I HIGHLY recommend getting off the beaten path for a day to experience something a little more, well, Florida! And The Showcase of Citrus, Florida’s Fresh Air Attraction® offers just that. And a WHOLE lot more! Start off with a property full of fun things to see and do, such as gem mining and watching the gators swim around the beautiful waterfront. Lots of photo opportunities abound with old tractors, a replica of the Southernmost Point Buoy in Key West, and even a giant shark. Inside the…

Hiking the Ivy Creek Greenway from The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center to the Woodward Mill Historic Site and Beyond – Buford, Georgia – 03/14/2021

Gwinnett County boasts an extensive park system with lots of hiking and trails. In the Buford area, The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center has several hiking options of its own, including the Ivy Creek Greenway. From the parking lot of The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, the Ivy Creek Greenway takes you out to the Woodward Mill Historic Site. All in all, this isn’t the most natural setting. You do border some residential and commercial properties, and come out under the vicinity of Interstate 85. But, if you are into a bit of urban exploring, it’s still a good hike….

A Joshua Tree Adventure Along the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park – Cantil, California – 12/07/2019

I guess I’m a bit of a U2 Fan Girl, and that tends to show itself when I’m in the Desert Habitats of the Western US and find myself with the opportunity to dance amongst the Joshua Trees! Yucca brevifolia are a unique, intriguing, and absolutely iconic plant to enjoy! And the Joshua Trees do grow in abundance in Red Rock Canyon State Park! And that just goes to show, Everything in life can be educational! Get out there and explore! And, you know, it never hurts to have a good soundtrack for the adventure!

Desert Vegetation at Hagen Canyon Nature Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park – Cantil, California – 12/07/2019

It’s amazing how much you can learn just by exploring one certain trail, or area, or habitat. Geology, Earth Science, Weather, Plants, Botany, Human History, Wildlife, Biology… And so much more! The Hagen Canyon Nature Trail in the Red Rock Canyon State Park has it all! We can (and often do) literally spend HOURS just examining plants, seeds, leaves, roots… Studying the parts of the flowers. Or maybe the insects that live in them. Or their place in the food chain of their surrounding habitat. If you want your kids to learn, just go for a walk! Get out into the world,…

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Flagstaff, Arizona – 12/03/2019

The next National Park Unit on our agenda for the day was Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument! Sunset Crater was a volcano that erupted almost 1,000 years ago! Today, you can check out Geology and Wildlife exhibits in the Visitors’ Center, and then hike some trails to see and experience actual lava formations! When we first visited here years ago, I was absolutely astounded knowing I was “walking through ancient lava.” Who says homeschooling is only fun for the kids? Adults can learn SO much, too! And speaking of kids learning, of course, don’t forget to complete your Junior Ranger…

Waterfall Scrambling at Cane Creek Falls – Fall Creek Falls State Park – Spencer, Tennessee – 11/06/2019

It’s been a while since we’ve been rock or waterfall scrambling. I’ve been trying to plan a few waterfall destinations lately, but usually the weather isn’t completely cooperative. But, today was a gorgeous day to catch three different sets of falls at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee. This is Tennessee’s most visited State Park, and I can see why. We’ve actually been here before several times, but Cane Creek Falls is the only hike we’ve been on as a family. Otherwise, we used to just hang out and take it easy while Trillian went horseback riding. But,…

Autumn Fog – Osage Mountain – Nantahala National Forest – Highlands, North Carolina – 10/30/2019

When you set out for a lovely trip with the family, you think blue skies and picturesque weather…. Not too many people are really going to hope for cool, dreary rain and overcast skies with a lingering fog… But, you know what? Along these winding mountain roads, in the midst of the gorgeous fall colors…. All that blustery blah, Was actually pretty stunning!

A Little Fall Color on Highway 111! – Sparta, Spencer, and Dunlap, Tennessee – 10/28/2019

Turquoise blue skies and Autumn leaves! My favorite combination! Such a lovely day to be driving through gorgeous Tennessee!

The Tree That Owns Itself – Athens, Georgia – 05/01/2019

At the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Georgia, The Tree That Owns Itself, according to legend, has legal ownership of itself and all land within eight feet of its base. The original White Oak Tree, also called the Jackson Oak, is thought to have started life in the 1500’s. In the 1830’s, Colonel William H. Jackson loved the tree so much, and wanted to ensure its perpetuity; so he deeded the tree unto itself. In 1942, the original was downed by a storm, but a new tree was grown from one of its acorns, and planted…

Hiking the Chimney Tops – Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Gatlinburg, Tennessee – 03/20/2019

In November 2016, something horrific happened that changed our lives forever here in Tennessee. Fire. Now, our Tennessee House is about 3 hours from Gatlinburg, so we were NOT directly affected in any way by the fires themselves. However, in Tennessee, we are ALL family. It IS the Volunteer State. And we readily answered the call to help our friends and neighbors in their time of need. Fresh from the reality of our own loss of Ribby, and raw in our own devastating grief, we knew what we had to do… And we spent the next 4 months helping to…

Enjoying the Journey – Silverthorne, Colorado – 09/17/2018

Sometimes, a trip is about the destination. Sometimes, you can find even greater beauty just relaxing and enjoying the journey. These shots were taken from Interstate 70 in Silverthorne, Colorado on our slow, slow, meandering descent from Alaska back to Georgia. But, how amazing is it to see, the brightest blue end-of-summer skies, just starting to give way to the brilliant fall Alpine foliage. When we left for Our Big 2018 Trip, it was still Spring. But now, the golden colors of fall beckon us to reflect upon all the time that has passed, and all the adventures we have…

Grizzly Creek Trail at the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon – White River National Forest – Glenwood Springs, Colorado – 09/17/2018

What a stunning way to start the day with a sunrise over the Colorado River in the White River National Forest. Grizzly Creek meanders its way down until it meets up with the Colorado River at Glenwood Canyon. Such a gorgeous backdrop of cliff walls against blue skies, with the spirited creek bubbling over the rocks beneath your feet, just before its waters intertwine with those of the Colorado… Hiking in Colorado is other-worldly beautiful!

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – Orick, California – 09/13/2018

Oh, the Redwoods are INCREDIBLE! This entire trip was about making Bucket List Items HAPPEN. From driving to the Arctic Ocean (twice), to dancing on glaciers, to panning for gold with real miners, to actually seeing the Aurora Borealis with our very own eyes…. We got quite a few items scratched off in excellent fashion. Frolicking through ancient forests of giant Redwood trees was DEFINITELY just as high on the list! I have tons more photos, but I’ll just leave this one here for now! Check out the scale of that tree compared to our Honda Odyssey Mini-Van! WOW! The…

Mentasta Lake – Mentasta Lake, Alaska – 07/03/2018

No words needed. Just gorgeous. Mentasta Lake

Random Rural Shots In and Around Zimmerman, Minnesota – 05/31/2018

Zimmerman, Minnesota Just a few random rural Minnesota shots as we spend our last day meandering through Zimmerman. From a sunrise hike, to the fog rolling in… To ponds, rivers, lakes, barns, and more… The simple life is a good life. Check Out Our SPGFAN Zimmerman, Minnesota QUIKLIST! For ALL the Things to Do in Minnesota, CLICK HERE! See Everything Our Family Has Done in Minnesota! Click HERE or on Any Photo Below toLearn More About Rural Minnesota Life!

Weather Permitting – A Permanent Gallery at the Minnesota History Center – Saint Paul, Minnesota – 05/29/2018

Minnesota History Center – Saint Paul, Minnesota The Minnesota History Center, located in the Capital City of Saint Paul, Minnesota, offers exhibit after exhibit of hands on activities for kids to learn about the history, culture, weather, and people of this fabulous state! We’ve broken down our albums to focus on each exhibit! Click on any of the following links to explore our albums for each exhibit! Click on any other links you see to learn more about each item! Main Album Page: A SPGFAN Guide to Exhibits at the Minnesota History Center Minnesota’s Greatest Generation Weather Permitting Then Now…

NPS: Great River Road Visitor Center at Freedom Park – Two National Park Units in One! Mississippi National River and Recreation Area / St. Croix National Scenic Riverway – Prescott, Wisconsin – 05/29/2018

Great River Road Visitor Center at Freedom Park – Prescott, Wisconsin Located at the confluence of the St. Croix River with the Mississippi River in Prescott, Wisconsin, this The Great River Road Visitor Center will tick, not one, but TWO National Parks off your list! Learn about the geography and human history of each river, as well as the wildlife that call this lush area home! Lots of Junior Ranger fun can be found here as well! Ask about (OR download via these handy links!) St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Junior Ranger ProgramLet’s Go Fishing! Junior Ranger Angler ProgramMississippi National…

Stopping to Smell ALL the Pretty Flowers – Clemens Gardens – St. Cloud, Minnesota – 05/27/2018

Clemens Gardens – St. Cloud, Minnesota Stopping to Smell ALL the Pretty Flowers – Clemens Gardens Check Out Our SPGFAN St. Cloud, Minnesota QUIKLIST! For ALL the Things to Do in Minnesota, CLICK HERE! See Everything Our Family Has Done in Minnesota! Do You Love Flower Gardening?Click HERE or on Any Photo Below for Great Book Ideas! Butterfly Memorial Gifts Butterfly Memorial Gifts Butterfly Memorial Gifts Butterfly Ornaments Butterfly Ornaments Butterfly Ornaments Butterfly Ornaments

Mississippi River Rock Star – Munsinger Gardens on the River – St. Cloud, Minnesota – 05/27/2018

Mississippi River at St. Cloud, Minnesota From the Gardens of Munsinger, meander the paths until you find yourself face to face with the Mighty Mississippi! Ducks and Geese float lazily past… Butterflies flutter by, and bumble bees buzz busily… Become one with all that surrounds you… Be a Mississippi River Rock Star! Check Out Our SPGFAN St. Cloud, Minnesota QUIKLIST! For ALL the Things to Do in Minnesota, CLICK HERE! See Everything Our Family Has Done in Minnesota!

Telling the Tales of Fairies – Fairy Gardens at Munsinger Gardens – St. Cloud, Minnesota – 05/27/2018

Magical Fairy Gardens of Munsinger – St. Cloud, Minnesota Magic is all around you! Don’t forget to take the time to find it! As you stroll through the Munsinger Gardens of St. Cloud, look up, look down, and look all around! If you do, you, too, will find the Magic of the Fairies! Pull up an acorn, and take a sip of raindrop… Oh, the tales the fairies will tell! But, only if you believe! Check Out Our SPGFAN St. Cloud, Minnesota QUIKLIST! For ALL the Things to Do in Minnesota, CLICK HERE! See Everything Our Family Has Done in…

What’s in Bloom at Munsinger Gardens – St. Cloud, Minnesota – 05/27/2018

Munsinger Gardens – St. Cloud, Minnesota As the Mississippi River flows through St. Cloud, Minnesota, you can find fields of flowers lovingly embracing its picturesque shoreline. Munsinger Gardens is the more naturally occurring, lower Riverside collection of botanical beauties. And then, one block over, you can find the manicured gardens and ornamental fountains of Clemens Gardens. Be prepared to be mesmerized by ALL of nature’s creations! Check Out Our SPGFAN St. Cloud, Minnesota QUIKLIST! For ALL the Things to Do in Minnesota, CLICK HERE! See Everything Our Family Has Done in Minnesota! Do You Love Flower Gardening?Click HERE or on…

Downtown Elk River – Elk River, Minnesota – 05/20/2018

We spent a lovely afternoon, just strolling through Downtown Elk River, Minnesota. The Elk River Lutheran Church was hosting a community festival. The air was filled with sounds of German music, and our taste buds satisfied with a host of German foods and flavored pastries, such as Berliner Doughnuts and Apple Fritters. We also got some cool hands-on animal experiences, as hosted by another community group. We explored Rivers Edge Commons Park, and walked the shops and restaurants throughout the downtown area. A beautiful day in a fun, community-oriented city, on the banks where the Elk River and Mississippi River…

A Little Interstate Sunset – Memphis, Indiana – 05/11/2018

Sometimes the most stunning sunsets are just beyond the treeline! Heading Northbound through Indiana, as the sun sinks into cozy hues just behind the silhouetted forests… Song fills the evening air, as anticipation fills our awaiting hearts! These are the finest moments of a road trip!

Lora Blevins Farmstead – Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area – Oneida, Tennessee – 04/04/2016

A lovely day on the Lora Blevins Farmstead in the Bandy Creek region of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Click on any photo below to learn more about planning a trip to the Big South Fork Region! Located in Upper Middle Tennessee, the Big South Fork NRRA, a unit of the National Park Service, is one of the most beautiful mountain regions in all of the United States! Some of the most breath-taking scenery along hiking trails can be found here. Prettier than the Great Smoky Mountains, in my humble opinion, with none of the traffic!

River Styx Spring Trail – Mammoth Cave National Park – Mammoth Cave, Kentucky – 4/03/2016

Hiking down the River Styx Spring Trail in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park makes for a lovely afternoon! Hiking back up, notsomuch! Ha! It was a little rough in spots on the up hill for our gang, but it was definitely worth it! Are you planning a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park? Click on any image for Resources to Help Maximize YOUR Family’s Fun Efficiency!

Babies in National Parks – Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area – Oneida, Tennessee – 03/19/2015

While Trillian was working with Ranger Mary on her Scavenger Hunt Activity, Ribby decided to do a little Deep Woods Taste Testing of the Big South Fork! Yummm! Definitely Ribby approved! See? Babies LOVE National Parks, too! My Littlest Junior Ranger, forever! So beautiful, so happy… Ribby loved her NPS….

Autumn in Cades Cove – Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Townsend, Tennessee – 10/26/2012

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an intriguing human history that has left its mark on the beautiful land. In addition to being preserved as a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the area of Cades Cove is also designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site, and an International Biosphere Reserve. There is no better place to immerse yourself into this significantly historic scenery than by driving the 11 mile one-way auto loop through Cades Cove, on the western side of the park, just outside of Townsend, Tennessee. Here, amongst the stunning natural features of the…

Little River Trail at Elkmont – Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Gatlinburg, Tennessee – 10/26/2012

Such a lovely Fall Day for a hike along the Little River at Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Entering Rocky Mountain National Park from the Western Side of Trail Ridge Road – Rocky Mountain National Park – Grand Lake, Colorado – 06/30/2012

Coming through Grand Lake, and into the Rocky Mountain National Park, your first Visitor Center is at Kawuneeche. Continuing along Trail Ridge Road, there are a variety of lower altitude trails through gorgeous lakes and rivers. In the summer season, you can see thick carpets of lush grass; endless forests of tall, stately trees; stunning bursts of colorful wildflowers; and, hopefully, you’ll luck out with the occasional wildlife encounter! As you begin your ascent in altitude, you’ll negotiate some crazy curves and hairpin turns; and the ecosystems will shift before your very eyes! The lower lying valleys are vastly different…

Continental Divide Trail at Berthoud Pass – Arapaho National Forest – Berthoud Pass, Colorado – 06/30/2012

It is glorious up here, at 11,300 feet of elevation! The trees, the wildlife, the rocks, the plants… The hiking is well worth the effort! But, hiking in such thin air is most definitely harder to do! We were quite winded, quite frequently. If you’re hiking with littles, my recommendation is definitely to take it slow. Hike a bit, but then take a rest. Explore the details. The bark of a tree… The leaf on a flower… But, most importantly, stay hydrated, rest frequently, and be aware that the return trip IS a challenge! Enjoy! But, be safe!

Berthoud Pass Along the Continental Divide – Arapaho National Forest – Berthoud Pass, Colorado – 06/30/2012

Deep in the Rocky Mountains, the Continental Divide passes through, effectively separating which rivers ultimately drain to the Atlantic in the East, or the Pacific in the West. Along this Divide, at 11,314 in elevation, the Berthoud Pass was the travelway of Pioneers from the early 1860’s onward. Today, an easily accessible parking area leads you to a sign marking the historical, geological, and hydrological significance of the area. If you are feeling adventurous, take a hike along the Berthoud Pass Trail! But, let me be the first to warn you, hiking at 11,300 feet in elevation is no simple…

Berthoud Falls Hike – Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests – Berthoud Falls, Colorado 06/30/2012

Hopefully you saw the post on Berthoud Falls itself! It truly is stunning! If and when you check out the Falls, be sure to enjoy some of the trails in that area! Here we are, just wandering through the forest, right around Sub-Alpine Level altitude! Rich in flora and fauna, the Rocky Mountains are just incredible!

Manatees in Flamingo – Everglades National Park – Flamingo, Florida – 09/03/2011

Flamingo is the Southern Terminus for the Everglades National Park. In the bays surrounding the Southernmost tip of the Florida Mainland Peninsula, you can find tons of playful Manatees! It is also one of the only places you can find American Crocodiles. If you are lucky! We were not so fortunate to see any… But, manatees are AWESOME. And so was all the other wildlife and vegetation we encountered along the way. So, taking the road all the way down to Flamingo is HIGHLY recommended!

Earning The South Florida Junior Ranger Trifecta – Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center at Everglades National Park – Homestead, Florida – 09/03/2011

If you complete Junior Ranger Badge Programs at Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, and Everglades National Park, you get full access to bragging rights that you have earned the South Florida Junior Ranger Trifecta! And we definitely worked hard to earn ours!

Just a Lil Snow – Jamestown, Tennessee – 01/05/2011

The good thing about only getting a little bit of snow, is that it is still very pretty, but it doesn’t last long enough to be dangerous! So, it’s fun to get out and take a few pictures, but you don’t have to worry about being snowed in for long periods of time! Tennessee is usually pretty good about that… We get just enough winter weather to get out and play in the snow… But, we rarely get stuck!

East Entrance of Grand Canyon National Park – Grand Canyon Village, Arizona – 06/02/2010

Climbing and Swinging on Avery Island – Avery Island, Louisiana – 02/15/2010

Obviously, the big attraction on Avery Island is the TABASCO® Factory Tour, but there is a GREAT family-sized swing, and loads of awesome trees to climb! Grab some goodies out of TABASCO® Restaurant 1868 and make a picnic out of it! Relax and stay a while! Seriously! Look at how much fun they are having!

Lake Martin Swamp Tour with Bryan Champagne – Breaux Bridge, Louisiana – 02/15/2010

We’ve taken a lot of Swamp Tours in our time. Among the swamp tours more readily available, Bryan Champagne of Champagne’s Swamp Tours would definitely be ranked the highest. Bryan was fantastic with the kids. He engaged them with a lot of wonderful, wise, and witty dialogue, and then allowed them a lot of hands-on interaction with different plants, grasses, trees, reeds, seeds, and even a baby alligator! There are multiple tour companies and guides from which to choose in this area. And there are lots of locations in the Southern Louisiana region that offer commercial tour packages. But, we…

On the Shores of Lake Martin – Breaux Bridge, Louisiana – 02/15/2010

Lake Martin is such a gorgeous area. Teeming with spirited animals, gorgeous birds, and a plethora of plant life! It was a cool day, but we let the kiddos enjoy the fresh air before boarding the boat for our Swamp Tour with Bryan Champagne!

Haven Lake – Oviedo, Florida – 01/19/2010

Haven Lake in Oviedo, Florida is a private community lake, but we got to experience tons of Florida wildlife just the same! And the kids had a lot of fun playing, marching, and climbing trees!