Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Columbia River

Show Family 2 Reporting Live from Washington.  We are enjoying camping right on the Columbia River here.

The Columbia River begins in the country Canada. The Columbia River drains in seven states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah. It flows for more than 1,200 miles, from the base of the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon, and Ilwaco, Washington.

The explorers that we are learning about rowed down this river in dug out canoes. Their names were Lewis & Clark. Lewis & Clark explored places in the United States that were not known about yet. We think they might have been very impressed by this river when they saw it too. What do you think?

One of the reasons we like the Columbia River is because it is full of salmon. Remember how we like salmon and Austin tried to catch some? We drove to a dam in the river yesterday so we could see the fish ladder there that lets fish get through. It was interesting.

We learned some facts about the fish in the river. Did you know that when the river reaches 69 degrees, that is too warm for the fish? We love swimming in water that warm. We must be different than fish in that way. We learned about how trash and litter can hurt the fish and how we can help by cleaning litter away when we see it.

We also learned how native trees and dirt are important for the river to stay healthy. Remember how we said the water can't get too warm for the fish? Trees and plants help to keep the water cool so they can live. There is a club called Kids for the Columbia Club that kids can join to help keep this river big and strong.

One more fun thing to know about the Columbia River is that 2.100 ships have shipwrecked at the mouth. When we were in Long Beach, Washinton one of the people that lived there told us about special boat captains they have there to help the boats come in because of all of the shipwrecks. They are the only ones allowed to drive boats there because they know how to do it without wrecking. Isn't that cool?

More Columbia River Fun: Lower Columbia River Kids Website

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Olympic National Park-Hoh Rainforest

We went to the Olympic National Park again today. First, Austin made a new friend. Then we stopped and saw another huge tree. This one was 500 years old. Austin shared with us that they make guitars out of this kind of tree. How many guitars do you think could be made from this tree?
Then we went to the Hoh Rainforest. We stopped at the visitor center to learn some things and pick up a trail map.Our favorite thing by far was seeing elk, up close and personal, three different times!
More about the rainforests here:

Ocean-Born Forests
The lush forests in the Quinault, Queets, Hoh, and Bogachiel valleys are some of the most spectacular examples of primeval temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states. These rain forests once stretched from southern Oregon to southeast Alaska, but little remains outside of protected areas. Other temperate rain forests grow in a few isolated spots around the world including Chile, New Zealand and southern Australia.

Recipe for Olympic's Temperate Rain Forest

  • Rain—lots of it. Storms off the Pacific Ocean drop much of their moisture on these west-facing valleys. Precipitation in Olympic's rain forest ranges from 140 to 167 inches (12 to 14 feet) every year.
  • Moderate temperatures. In these low elevation valleys the temperature seldom drops below freezing and summertime highs rarely exceed 80°F.
  • Epiphytes, or plants growing on other plants. Mosses, spike mosses, ferns and lichens festoon tree trunks and branches, giving the forest a "jungle-like" feel.
  • Large, old trees. The dominant species are Sitka spruce and western hemlock, but other conifers and several deciduous species grow as well. Many are 100s of years old and can reach 250 feet in height and 30 to 60 feet in circumference.
  • Nurse logs. Because of the densely covered ground, many seedlings instead germinate on fallen, decaying trees. As they grow, their roots reach to the ground. When the log eventually rots away, a colonnade, or row of trees on stilt-like roots, remains.
  • Dead wood. When the massive trees die, they eventually fall, but can take centuries to slowly decay back to the soil. Throughout their long death, they provide important habitat for whole communities, including mosses, tree seedlings, fungi, small mammals, amphibians, and insects.
  • Roosevelt elk. The thick, layered canopy above moderates the temperature year-round for wildlife, including the largest wild populations of Roosevelt elk in the U.S. On the forest floor, elk browsing shapes the appearance of their forest home.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Olympic National Park

Today we visited Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. I won't share all of the things we did today, but I wanted to share a few that I thought you mind find interesting. The very first thing we did was to eat something. They had more than one place to eat, and since we were not hungry for a big meal, we picked this place. We each had something from the "Dog Pound". The next thing we did was to go and get a map, and talk to one of the people that worked there to ask some questions. Austin put a stamp in our passport book. Our passport book has all of the National Parks and Monuments listed in it, and places to put stamps for them. We have been doing this since we began our trip, so we have quite a few by now!This was what we did next:That's right-we got to see the World's Largest Spruce Tree! As you can see on the sign, it is almost 1,000 years old. It was so tall, I could not fit the whole tree in my picture. You can see how big it is with Papa standing up next to it!And here is Austin standing on the trunk of the tree. It was so huge!We had a lot of fun seeing this amazing tree! What do you think of it?

Fun Stuff

More information about the record trees here: Record Trees

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kite Making in Washington

Today we visited a kite museum and while there, we made our own kites. This can give you some idea of how to make your own too: