Homeschool Field Trip Adventures at Deer View
I parked the van out of the mud, and everyone watched as the side door opened and ramp unfolded automatically. I transferred from the driver's seat onto the TracAbout, then drove it out onto the ramp, which lowered me to the ground.
Ashley couldn't wait to start picking those yummy sweet blackberries!
My first challenge was going down the bank, over rocks and roots, into the creekbed. The kids watched in awe and envy at my tank-like contraption.
Spencer, MacKenzie, Cody and Alyssa went rock-hopping along the creekbed, trying to keep their shoes dry.
Water, mud and sand is no problem for the TracAbout - and I splashed through it easily.
But going up the opposite bank was another story! Folks pulled the rope, my dad held down the front to keep it from flipping backward, and Diana stood in back (after taking this picture) to make sure everything was O.K.
In no time they had me up at the top. Some people wonder why the tracks don't have cleats like a tractor. The TracAbout motors are so powerful, they would get me up a bank so steep I could flip over backwards. So the smooth surface tracks are a safety feature, and have surprisingly good traction.
Through a smaller creek crossing, around some curves, and up several steep hills - evenutally we came out in a clearing. All around us we saw blackberry vines loaded with sweet, juicy berries.
A pear orchard planted close to 90 years ago still has many live trees, though this year's crop was light. I showed our group several photos of what this place looked like in the 1920's.
The picture below shows what we would have seen from this location 80 years ago. Now the entire area where Hotel Bret Harte once stood is a forest of tall evergreens and madrones.
Hotel Bret Harte, Deer View Lodge, and a small guest cabin are visible in this old photo. The cabin chimny still stands, though barely visible among the tall trees.
Kids and grownups began picking berries in earnest. Most of the berries picked by the kids went into their mouths - their containers stayed nearly empty all morning!
Ethan gets to be close to his
Hey, Ashley - save some of
Here's Alyssa pointing out a slug on a pear under one of the ancient trees in the orchard.
The slug was slowly gnawing away at the sweet, ripe fruit. It didn't even contract into a small lump when Alyssa stroked it!
In one area, we saw clouds of ladybugs flying all around through the blackberry vines and pear trees. Naturalist Jim found horsetail stalks near the creek so loaded with ladybugs, that their weight actually bent the stalks over.
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