Friday, October 11, 2013

Finding the Path

key to relaxation
We went on our annual fall camping trip last week.  As always, we enjoyed our vacation. For some reason, we all agreed that this was the best one ever. Maybe it was the perfect weather. Maybe it was the cleanest cabin with the most comfortable mattresses we have encountered on any of our trips. Whatever it was, we were in no hurry to come home.

Let's go explore!
We stayed at Moraine State Park in Western PA. This was our fifth year camping and our second stay at this park. We were trying to visit a different park each year, but Moraine had been our favorite so far and we wanted to go to Pittsburgh during our vacation, so it seemed like a good fit. We booked a cabin for four nights. We had a tiny bit of rain as we traveled to camp. The majority of the week was beautiful weather in the 70s. Thursday had some storms, but part of the day was clear.

PPG Aquarium
JT has recently shown interest in zoo careers. So it was convenient that we were already planning to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium during the week. The Friday before our trip I suddenly had the idea to find out if someone at the zoo would be able to speak with him about career options in that field. As a homeschooling mom, I often find myself making phone calls that start like this, "I'm not sure who I should talk to, or if this is even possible, but here's what I'd like to do..." (insert crazy homeschooling mom idea here) This time I called the zoo and after going through my usual spiel, ended up connected with Margie Marks, education director at the zoo. She said she'd be happy to talk with JT during our visit.


I had him think of questions he'd like to ask before our meeting. Wednesday morning we sat down with Ms. Marks and she told us the path her career had taken to bring her to her current position. She also shared some tips for getting an internship at a zoo and things he should think about doing now to better his chances of success. After our meeting, we spent the rest of the day exploring the zoo and aquarium. If you are ever in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to take the opportunity to visit.

one of many bridges
The zoo closed at 5pm. We had plans to meet an old friend for dinner at 7pm, so we had some time to kill. We went into downtown Pittsburgh to visit the Point State Park because our friend had told us about an unusual visitor to the city. Parking was tight in the lot nearest the river. We had never heard about this particular state park before and found its location in the middle of a city interesting. Future trips will bring us back to see the Ft. Pitt Museum located inside the park.

you're the one
The reason we braved rush hour traffic in the city was floating in the river. A giant rubber ducky. Why we felt compelled to see this is unclear. I guess the novelty of a bathtub toy as big as my house played into the decision. But could you NOT go see it if you had the chance? When they are old men, my boys will probably tell stories about how their crazy mom made them walk even further when they were already exhausted from the zoo to see it.

view from our dock

Friday was bittersweet. We weren't ready to go home, but we were also going to spend the day visiting with a family of homeschoolers that we only see about once a year. We left the camp, had a great visit, and hit the long road home.

JT continued his exploration of zoo careers this week by reading, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives, by Thomas French. He also started thinking about other job possibilities - park naturalist, ecologist, etc.

deep in thought
Today we attended a homeschooling program called Predators and Prey at our local state park nature center. The bulk of the program focused on food chains, webs, and pyramids. When we came home JT was inspired to start designing a card game with a food web theme. He often has these ideas and will work for a bit on something, only to lay it aside after a few days. When I pointed out that he might need a few changes, I expected his usual, "It's fine the way it is!" Tonight he said, "Mom, I'm serious about this one, so this is only a rough draft."

It looks like he is really starting to find his path for the future. These are just the  first steps, but it's good to see the journey has begun.

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