Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer School ~ Beazell Memorial Forest (Hike #10!)

Beazell Memorial Forest @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Hike #10! We had a frustrating morning with missing keys and whiny children—then a beautiful drive with hard rock music blasting through the speakers in the truck since Holly and Ivy weren’t with us.

The Kings Valley area is gorgeous. The Renaissance faire we attend each year is just past this trailhead.

Beazell Memorial Forest is easy to find and has a great parking lot, no parking fees, and nice bathrooms. Win! Plus we were only a few minutes late, even with the missing keys (thanks, Mom, for rescuing us).

The historical Plunkett House is near the entrance. It was built in 1875.

The Plunkett House @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I took this next picture to memorialize the 20 seconds that one son was being kind to another and helping him with his pack.

Beazell Brothers @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This was our hiking crew (Holly, Heather, Christina, and I with kids—obviously I’m behind the camera). You can see my son in front with the cheerful attitude. We were having shoe issues. And I think Lola is sticking out her tongue.

Beazell Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We had a bit of trouble figuring out where we were going because there are several loops in this area. We took the South Ridge Trail to the South Meadow Loop up to the summit. It was a rough uphill climb. We’ve completed several uphill climbs but not recently, and this one felt really tough. It wasn’t a long hike up and I’m not sure what the elevation gain was because the hiking sites don’t agree. It was warmer than usual (upper 70s), and I don’t think I had my normal energy levels to draw from.

I’m not sure which is the best site to use for information—AllTrails (Plunkett Creek Loop, South Ridge), The Right Trail (I like that this site shows a better map and allows the user to click on different loops), or Oregon Hikers.

Beazell Hike @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The views were nice at the top, though not particularly spectacular. We were supposed to have views of Marys Peak where we hiked a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure where it was. At least we had blue skies!

Beazell View @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The general atmosphere was gorgeous, though, and a little different from the other hikes we’ve been on.

Beazell Hiking @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The shady downhill hike (I think we returned to the South Ridge trail then met up with the Plunkett Creek Loop Trail) was fabulous. We took the inside half of the loop closest to the creek. I’d highly recommend just the Plunkeet Creek Loop Trail for a lighter hike, especially for those with young kids. Very beautiful.

Plunkett Creek @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This brought us to a bridge crossing the creek and depositing us back at the parking lot, but we stopped for quite some time at the bridge to picnic together and let the kids play in the water. It was a lovely and refreshing end to what started out as a difficult hike.

Beazell Bridge Picnic @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Christina and Heather had to leave and my boys were done, but Holly, Ivy, Lola, and I finished with the remaining short trail, The Bird Loop. The day was really heating up (go ahead and laugh at me, friends with 100 degree weather), and there was less shade on that trail, but I’m glad to say we did it.

Plunkett Creek Bridge @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Whew. We have one more hike planned for next week, and it’s going to be a doozy. I may have to leave Lola home for that one. After that, we have a busy July planned (July 4th, summer camp for Luke, CiRCE conference for me, and a week of camping with family and friends) and no official hiking days. We’ll see if we decide to add in more hikes over the summer!

Stay tuned for Oregon Coast pictures from Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lola’s New Favorite: Jenny and the Cat Club!

Jenny and the Cat Club @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’m thrilled to have a child in the Jenny and the Cat Club stage again! These were Luke’s favorites, and now Lola is devouring them.

Books that help transition kids from early readers to chapter books are hard to find—especially quality transition books—but these books by Esther Averill are the best of the best.

Meet Jenny and her Cat Club:

The Cat Club @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Jenny Linsky is a small black orphan cat. She lives with the kind Captain Tinker, who knitted her a red woolen scarf. When she is too shy to join the Cat Club, in which each cat has a clever skill, Captain Tinker makes her a pair of silver ice skates and gives them to her on Christmas Eve. When all the other cats see her skating, they are enchanted and invite her to be a member of the Cat Club.

Jenny and the Cat Club is a selection of shorter stories: The Cat Club, Jenny’s First Party, When Jenny Lost Her Scarf, Jenny’s Adopted Brothers, and How the Brothers Joined the Cat Club. Each two-page spread has at least one small illustration, and the pictures are darling. Each cat has oodles of personality. The tender and quirky stories are accessible for young children, but they are beautifully written and full of wonderful vocabulary.

In the second story, Jenny’s First Party, readers meet Pickles, the Fire Cat. If younger readers have the good fortune to read The Fire Cat by Averill when they are in the early readers stage, they will be delighted to meet Pickles again in The Cat Club. Lola was so excited to see Pickles that she went back to The Fire Cat and discovered that Jenny appeared in a picture in that book as well!

Jenny and the Fire Cat @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The Cat Club was originally published in 1944, and it is still charming readers today! The New York Review Children’s Collection hardback books are lovely. Check out The Hotel Cat, The School for Cats, Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure, Jenny Goes to Sea, and Captains of the City Streets also in the collection.

We seemed to have missed adding Jenny’s Birthday Book to our collection, so I can’t wait to give it to Lola on her next birthday.

Jenny should be on every child’s bookshelf!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer School ~ Alsea and Green Peak Falls

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Hike @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Hike #9!

We hiked the Alsea Falls and Green Peak Falls Trail with a crew of 24. It was in the upper 50s and overcast, but that made for more lovely pictures. [grin]

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The above picture is Alsea Falls, which is close to the Alsea Falls Day-Use Area where we started. We then hiked to Green Peak Falls, which was more confusing that we expected. The trail was beautiful, though.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Hikers @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

In our confusion, we ended up at this steep mud hill (much steeper than it looks), which may be a highlight for the kids.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Mud Hill @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

So lush.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Ferns @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


Alsea and Green Peak Falls Tree @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

More climbing.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Tree Climbing @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

More beautiful trail.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Trail @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And (hallelujah, we were on the right trail) the beautiful Green Peak Falls. And Levi drama.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls GP @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This is the steep trail up to the top of the falls. [I noticed smudges on my camera lens at the end of the hike. My poor camera takes so much abuse. It was swinging around my neck as I hauled myself up this trail using the rope. But smudged pictures are better than no pictures.]

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Rope Climbing @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

A closer view of Levi.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Drama @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


Alsea and Green Peak Falls Wildlife @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

More climbing.

Alsea and Green Peak Climbing the Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

More climbing.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Hike Up @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The view from the top of the falls.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Top View @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I don’t know if these kids know how lucky they are.

Alsea and Green Peak Falls Luke @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Bucket List ~ Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest (1) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Adventures two days in a row!

We hadn’t been to Enchanted Forest for eight years! This little gem (you are either in the love it camp or the hate it camp) is just over 15 minutes from our house.

It was homeschool day, so we enjoyed half-price admission. We arrived early, were the first in the park, and practically had the place to ourselves for a while. It got busier in the afternoon, but was still fairly empty. The weather was in the 70s. Perfection again.

You can learn about the family that built this park by hand in the late 60s (it’s a fascinating story). It opened in 1971, a few years before I was born. I visited it several times as a kid and have fond memories. Visiting as an adult is incredibly nostalgic. Our kids (Holly and Ivy joined us) had an absolute blast. Only Luke was ready to leave after more than four hours of play.

The theme park is built into a forested hill, so many of the pathways are rather steep. My legs were tired at the end, even with all our previous hiking.

Even with all the real foliage, the park is kept neat and clean. There is great attention to detail (the notice boards and various signage are hilarious, the garbage cans are either themed or cleverly hidden). Yes, some of the displays are obviously vintage which means they are kitschy or aged (and fighting against moisture and other natural elements). Roll with it. [grin] In general, the park is well-maintained, however, and we were surprised at how perfectly aged some things appeared (moss and ivy on everything, but trimmed and structurally sound).

Here is a map for reference.

Let’s begin in Storybook Lane with Snow White’s Castle.

Enchanted Forest (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

It’s difficult to take pictures inside most of the structures because the lighting is low. Most contain window vignettes and animatronics. Music and voices come through speakers for ambiance. Many of the structures have narrow passages made of cement. In the castle, you can walk through a few narrow passages and walk down to the dungeon.

Along the lane are little storybook and nursery rhyme displays. Jack and Jill. Miss Muffet. Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater. The Gingerbread House (you can walk in that one and see the witch with Hansel and Gretel).

Crawl through the rabbit hole (it’s a rather long tunnel that goes under the pathway and comes out through a keyhole on the other side).

Enchanted Forest (3) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Then the cottage of the seven dwarves. Through the lower window you can see Snow White sweeping the floor.

Enchanted Forest (6) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Through the upper window you can see the beds of the seven dwarves.

Enchanted Forest (7) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The forest has grown around and in a canopy over the path.

Enchanted Forest (4) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The cabin of the three bears.

Enchanted Forest (8) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

If you climb the steps, you can see Goldilocks sleeping upstairs.

Enchanted Forest (9) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The dwarves’ mine is my favorite. Walk through narrow cement passages to view otherworldly “underground caves” with fountains of vividly blacklit colored water. The last scene shows the dwarves mining for gems.

Enchanted Forest (10) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Climb into the witch’s mouth, tunnel up through the passages and use the slide to exit from the side (the smallest of three fun slides in the park).

Enchanted Forest (11) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

It’s a strange sensation to walk through the Crooked Man’s House.

Enchanted Forest (12) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I missed getting a picture of the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe slide. It’s the best. I think Lola went down it about 20 times.

Enchanted Forest (13) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After Storybook Lane, head up to the Mining/Western Town.

Enchanted Forest (14) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The displays here are hilarious. Jail, Barber, Dentist… you have to read all the signs.

Enchanted Forest (15) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The Haunted House is nearby. [It costs extra and the kids enjoyed it without me.]

Enchanted Forest (24) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After the Mining Town is Fort Fearless. Climb up into the fort and exit by way of the curved slide. But, the best attraction in the park is the Indian Caves. You cannot tell from the pictures, but it is a network of cement passages and tunnels that provide hours of play (and, indeed, is where my kids spent a good portion of the day). Go high and peek out the skull’s eyes, or go low and tunnel across the main path, exiting from a hole in the middle of a teepee on the other side. The passages are either poorly lit or completely dark, so it’s quite the adventure. Lots of screaming.

Enchanted Forest (16) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Above the Mining Town is the Big Timber Log Ride [also costs extra and we didn’t ride because we didn’t want to get wet].

Enchanted Forest (20) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Higher still is the ampitheater with covered stage. Slapstick comedy storybook plays are featured here twice a day. We watched Snow White and the Seven Dorks. [Kiddie rides are at the end of the trail past the theater. We didn’t spend time there.]

Enchanted Forest (21) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Before entering the Old European Village, enter the challet to ride the Ice Mountain Bobsleds [costs extra, but we all rode (except Levi) because it’s a nostalgic imperative].

Enchanted Forest (23) @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesEnchanted Forest (22) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And, finally, the Old European Village.

Enchanted Forest (17) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Another ride is featured here (an inside, slow-moving interactive target-shooting ride called Challenge of Mondor), but we didn’t go on it. We wandered through Pinoccio’s Playhouse, watched the animatronic Blackbird Pie show, and enjoyed (as always) the Fantasy Fountains water and light show at the Jolly Roger Inn.

Enchanted Forest (18) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I think Enchanted Forest may be Levi’s new favorite place on earth. Yes, he is an overgrown kid.

Enchanted Forest (19) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I originally thought this was a good time to permanently mark Enchanted Forest off the bucket list since the kids are all at the perfect ages now, but I think we may have to go every year on homeschool day!