Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Great Park Pursuit Park #1: Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, Connecticut

The kick-off of the Great Park Pursuit was May 6, 2006. This was a guided event which meant that we had to go on that certain day between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Rain was predicted but it was sunny while we were at the event.

Busyness and scheduling conflicts began on Day One. I had a conflict for that day, an important homeschool support group leader luncheon sponsored by our state’s inclusive homeschooling organization. The only way to fit both things in was to arrive at the Park at opening time, do what we had to do, then rush off to the luncheon (and I’d still arrive late). The plans were further complicated by the fact that I had just joined the Board of Directors and they called a meeting which was to begin at 9:30am. I just can’t do everything, can I? So I missed that morning meeting. The meeting continued after the luncheon, and I stayed for that.

So we were off to the event. We had to take two vehicles to the park (about 50 minutes from our home) since I was going to the luncheon afterwards and my sons had a birthday party to attend after this event. Just as planned, we arrived at opening time.

Lots of Fun (and Educational) Things to Do
There were many activities all over the grounds which we could partake in. I was unclear if we had to do everything. The answer was ‘no’, I later found out. (We did everything that was going on at the time we were there.)

First the children made imprints of animal tracks using air-drying clay. Then, my children used high quality three dimensional animal track rubber stamps to make a book for themselves showing the tracks of animals and some birds that live in our area.

A volunteer for a zoo told us about pollution and danger to the animals and birds. He was very depressing to speak to and didn’t know many details of the things he was speaking about, he spoke in generalities. I asked some questions about pollution and he was unable to reply other than to say that “basically anything we (people) do damages the environment and harms creatures”. We moved on after that.

There was an obstacle course for the children to do which was replicating how manmade structures are like obstacle courses for birds (and get in their way).

Birds of Prey
We spoke to representatives of an Audubon Center about owls and birds of prey. We saw a live barred owl which was raised by humans as a pet and is unable to live in the wild as the result of being tamed, not afraid of humans and unable to hunt for food. We saw a live Kestrel, which also was raised by humans as a pet and is unable to live in the wild. I loved seeing these birds of prey up close as did my sons. We also saw a stuffed owl which the children were able to touch and feel the feathers.

Lots of People of All Ages Are Participating in this Contest
(No one I know is in this photo in case you are wondering if this is me or if these are my children.)

Outdoor Games
My husband, my older son and I did a sack race against each other. I won. My older son and my husband ran the three-legged race. My sons sprinted and were timed and their times were compared to the speed that birds fly (they are much slower than the birds).

Heard the Kick-Off Speech
Then it was time for the kick-off speech. The families gathered around and listened to short speeches about the event and encouragement to get outside with our kids and to explore the wonderful Connecticut State Parks. A person was dressed up at Tilly, the Eubrontes dinosaur. My younger son was freaked out by this (as he is of all people dressed up in costumes).

We did a quick tour of the Dinosaur State Park’s museum, to see the tracks. These tracks were uncovered by a construction company who was digging up the ground in order to build a building on the site. Luckily, the site was preserved. The state owns the land and it has a state park designation. There is a domed roof over the tracks to protect them from weather. What you see in this picture are the actual tracks.

We have been to this museum/park a few times already and in the past have spent a lot more time reading all the exhibits, so on this day we did a quick run-through and we were happy with doing just that.

What the experts think this region looked like 'back then'.

Then the kids stopped in the gift shop. My older son has finally learned to stop asking us to buy him things as he knows after three years of unemployment that we don’t have money to spend on loads of gifts just on a whim. My older son had saved a small amount of money and he spent a less than $3 on a gift for himself. My younger son has not yet learned patience and still will beg for toys. I had no patience for this and it was time for me to go anyway, so off I went to the luncheon. I left my husband and kids in the gift shop while the younger son treid to find something acceptable to him to buy with the $5 that he had saved. (I found out later that he couldn’t find anything acceptable and really wanted an $8 toy and my older son offered to give him $3 so he could buy it, how nice is that?).

We had a fun time. We were very impressed with the event. It is obvious that a lot of time and energy has been put into this event.

We were given the clue to the next park. Upon the first reading I already knew the answer. I had done a little prep work and had begun reading a book about Connecticut’s State Parks. I was glad that I knew the location of Park #2 and also happy that it was about 20 minutes from our home. I also found out that several clues will be posted on the Internet and the answer will be revealed the day before the event, so they are making it really easy to find where to go!

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1 comment:

Annie said...

Hello from another Connecticutian. I loved the pictures as I haven't been to the park since my son was four - he is now fifteen. My God bless you and your family.