I was shocked that Cobey figured out from the clues right away that we were going to Morristown. The only winter encampment I knew about was Valley Forge so I thought that would be his guess. Cobey said I knew Morristown was the only winter encampment in New Jersey so it must be it. I should have known better.

We first stopped at Washington’s Headquarters. They were getting ready for a tour of the Ford Mansion when we got there so we did that first. The tour was very good and told of stories of Washington who stayed there and the Ford family. We then went back and watched the movie and walked thru the museum. The movie did a great job of telling the story of Morristown. The museum had some neat things but was a room off here and there and did not have a good flow.  I am not even sure we saw it all. The Junior Ranger program was okay. I liked the page where they answered why you would want to be a soldier, an officer or not be in the army at all.

We then went to Jockey Hollow where the kids got to hold a musket and dress in costume. Here we got to see the Wick Farm which would have been typical of the time period. There was a lady in period costume at the Wick home. She told a few things about the house but she seemed too involved in her book to answer questions. The ranger at the visitor center on the other hand was eager to answer any questions. There is a display in the visitor center of the wooden huts and then several you can go into down the road a mile. I enjoyed Washington’s Headquarters more but both were good to see.

We then headed to Thomas Edison National Historical Park. This was not on the plan but we decided we had some extra time. This national park was amazing. The Junior Ranger Program was well thought out and they let the kids work on one together which makes so much sense. We only had two hours and that was not enough time. This park cost $7 for adults and the kids were free. They give us each an audio tour that includes a kid’s version. I  learned so much about Edison that I had no idea about. The park is located in his Laboratory Complex. You can also tour his estate but we did not have time for that. Claire liked the freight elevator that the staff encouraged Edison to use when he got older. He never would and always took the stairs. We thought the doll with the phonograph in it was funny. We enjoyed the phonograph demonstration and finding out Edison was part of the early record industry. I knew he was an inventor but never knew what a businessman he was. I loved his three- story library. It was just beautiful. I would love to go back and spend more time here and then go visit the estate.

We had an awesome day in New Jersey. The only bad part was the drive to Connecticut which took twice as long as the GPS said. The kids were excited to see New York City even if it was just to drive thru. I could have done without that part.

The last two nights we stayed at the Doubletree in Princeton. I was a little nervous when I drove up because it looked old. The last Doubletree we stayed in was just okay. This one was much better than okay.  The lobby was well appointed  and the staff at check-in were friendly and helpful. Every staff I encountered during my staff was also smiling and friendly. Claire loved her lemonade and cookie at check-in. The room was nice and the beds were comfortable. We loved all the extras in the bathroom. The breakfast was a hot and cold buffet and made to order omelets. Everyone found something they wanted both mornings. The hotel pool was very great – bigger than your average hotel pool with very NICE seating for me. Claire wanted a hot tub but I think the seating and size of the pool more than made up for it. I enjoyed the hotel so much that I may have to come up with a reason to go back to the area just to stay there. It is definitely a barefoot hotel.

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Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Frederica

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday May 11, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, National Parks, Travel

We drove to Florida for the Disney Cruise (see May 8th post for review). On the way down we spent a day in St Augustine’s (see future post for the entire day). Part of the day included a visit to the Castillo de San Marcos. You never know how much imagination you are going to have to use when you visit a fort or battlefield. Will the battlefield be just a grassy area now? Will the only thing that remains of the fort be a few blocks if even that? You did not have to imagine much here. This fort was great and still intact. The kids got to hear information about the fort from a park ranger, watch a movie about weapons used in the fort, and see the barracks and the magazine. One of the highlights was seeing the cannon being fired. This fort was particularly interesting because it told about the Spanish history in the United States which we don’t hear a lot about. It was built by the Spaniards in 1672 and is the oldest masonry fort and only extant 17th century fort in North America. It was never defeated in battle and is quite impressive. The kids did the Junior Ranger program. The program was well put together and the kids enjoyed completing it. We let them dictate the longer writing assignments. Claire purchased Kids Passport to Your National Parks here. I highly recommend it. It gives space to keep record of which National Parks you have visited and Junior Ranger programs completed. It also has a place to make list of bird, plants and animals that they have seen.

On the way back home from the Disney cruise, we stopped in Georgia at Fort Frederica. At first look you think you will need a lot of imagination for this fort. The picture on the website is deceiving because what they show is the only part remaining of the entire town which is not much. Despite this, the site is very well laid out and it has placards at each site to tell the story. And it has the BEST Junior Ranger program we have done to date. The ranger tried to discourage us from doing it because she said it would take an hour and forty five minutes. We really did not want to have a long stop but decided to do it anyway. We are so glad that we did and it did not take us but about an hour. Again, we helped with the writing. She said the program was for eight to twelve but allowed Claire to do it. The kids each got to borrow a satchel and a period hat for the program. There was a entire town inside the fort and the program gave you the story of this community. The kids had to look through a spy glass, measure the distance of the cannon would fire on a map with a protractor and much more. It was very hands and on and we all loved it! This National Park is not too far off 95 and I highly recommend it if you are passing through. Don’t let them talk you out of the Junior Ranger Program!

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