Category Archives: Owen

Reflecting on the trip

This blog post is about me looking back on our trip and noticing what was good and not so good. We did amazing things and I also got to learn so much about US history and see some of the important and fascinating places in this country.

How did the trip compare with what you hoped it would be?

The trip was pretty much what I hoped for because we explored national parks,  we learned a lot about history, and we had lots of fun doing these things( except for the Ranger books). I also learned how to wood carve.

Give three words that best describes your trip? Explain why you picked them.

Close, because it was like being in a large box where everyone is almost always touching each other.

History, because we learned so much about people and places and we also went to places were they reenact what it was like to live in other times.

Fun, because we got to learn about different cultures and do fun activities.

What are some important things you learned about America? 

I learned that America is not perfect, because there were problems like racial inequality and women were not treated the same as men and these problems have not completely gone away. I also learned that America is humongous and has so many incredible national parks that are there for people to visit. And I learned that Americans think that freedom is very important and they are willing to fight for it.

In what ways do you think you grew this year?

I think that I grew by learning about carving and improving my knowledge of the history of America.

If you did the trip for another year, what would you do differently?

If I could do something differently another year I would like a bigger RV. I would like to know more about World War 1 and the Vietnam War. I would also like to see the national parks that we missed.

What did you miss the most this year?

What I missed most this year was not having my friends to talk with and play with. I also missed, Jenny Lou’s, cheap movies, and Lili our ayi.

What was the hardest part about living/schooling on the road?

The hardest part about living on the road was not having enough time to carve and not having my friends to play with.

Twenty years from now, what do you think you’ll remember about this year?

In the future I think I’ll remember the amazing national parks and the not so amazing Junior Ranger books. I’ll also remember the cool places like Dave and Busters, but also historical places like Plymouth and Sturbridge.

Would you ever do a trip like this with your kids? Why or why not?

I think I might because the history was really cool and the national parks are beautiful. Also because there are places to stop where we could bike or ski. But I would not want to drive a giant RV because it would be very tiring and stressful.

Pick three favorite photos from this trip. 


Wild horses in the Outer Banks

DSC_0728 (1)

A amazing valley at Yosemite


Yellowstone canyon in Yellowstone.

Four Foto Friday – Hot Springs, Ghost Towns, and More!


Hanging out at the hot springs.

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho: Last weekend, we met my parent’s friends (the Meier-McKenna family) at a KOA campground. We were in our RV and they were in a cabin. On Saturday we went to a amazing indoor and outdoor pool. When we drove up we saw the outdoor pool and it was huge. They had a water slide that went over the sign and a gigantic pool, but the outdoor part was closed because it was too cold. When we went inside they had a heated pool. The pool was big and it had a diving board and a climbing wall. I think that the climbing wall was the best because I could climb to the top and then fall and not get very hurt. After that we drove a few miles to the hot springs. They had different parts where the heat was hotter or cooler than the last one, but they were all hot. The hot springs were very relaxing but we needed to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. The food that we had at the campsite was really good. We had tacos and grilled steak that were great. We also built a fire that was really warm and it was just right to roast marshmallows. We had a great time hanging out with our friends.

DSC_0460 2

Old mining equipment.

Bannock State Park, Montana: Bannock was a old mining city in the 1860’s that got turned into a ghost town. The people who used to live here were mostly miners that mined gold. The gold there was 99.5% pure and that is more pure than most gold and that is why they settled so far away from other places. I think the ghost town feels and looks like a real town that was left after people moved. The state park wants it to feel like the people left and every thing hasn’t fallen down yet. The hotel is huge and the rooms look like they would’ve been big and nice. The state park did not put replicas of furniture and other stuff so I had to imagine how other people would’ve lived. The mining equipment was really cool because I got to pick them up and play around with the carts. There was an old truck that was really interesting because I could see the engine and the other gears.


Bison pooping.

Yellowstone National Park – wildlife: We spent the rest of our week at Yellowstone where we saw tons of wildlife like bison, bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, and mule deer. The bison were huge and there were tons of them. On the road we got stuck because a herd of bison was walking and there was no way to get past them but finally after about 30 minutes they gave us just enough room to pass them. We saw a bighorn sheep on the side of a hill and I thought that it would feel horrible to have those heavy horns on my head. The elk that we saw were very scruffy and they had weird looking butts. We saw birds too and the coolest birds were a bald eagle, ospreys, and ravens. The ravens might not seem cool but they are huge and they look really cool when they fly. One of the ospreys that we saw was in a nest with a baby tucked under its wing.


One of the geysers that we saw.

Yellowstone landscape: At Yellowstone the geysers were really cool. Two geysers that we saw erupt were really cool because they went really high and the went for a long amount of time. The big pools were amazing because of the colour. The colours were really bright and there were so many all in one pool. My favorite colour is the emerald green. Yellowstone also had a Grand Canyon that was really amazing and the waterfalls were over 300 feet high. I threw chunks of ice off of were we stood and they floated down (even the big heavy pieces). At the geysers, the smell from the steam was gross because it was warm and it smelled like rotten eggs. The way I blocked off the smell was by using pine needles to block the bad smell with a good one. The mud pots were places that hot water mixed with soil and made mud that bubbles and looks pretty weird. I think that Yellowstone is so far the best national park we have been to because of all the wildlife and the unique landscape.

Owen’s Geology Lesson

Until we got to Texas, I knew almost nothing about geology. Then the setting changed and there were different types of rocks than where I am from. I started collecting rocks and I got more and more interested. Besides that, there is a really cool place called Mama’s Minerals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This store is really big and they have tons of different rocks and fossils that were super amazing! This blog post is about the geology of some of the rocks and rock formations that I saw in the National Parks and were interesting because of the way they looked and felt.

Carlsbad Caverns (NM):

Types of Rock –  Calcite, gypsum, and limestone.

Appearance – The stalagmites and the stalactites  would look a lot alike if they both where on the ceiling or both on the ground because they are both made from the same thing. The water from rain seeps through the ground and when it reaches the cave the water has lots of minerals. It takes a long time to make stalactites because the time between the water drips varies.

Formation –  250 million years ago this area used to be under an inland sea. Then the ocean shrunk and the cave was carved out by sulfuric acid.


Petrified Forest (AZ):

Types of Rock – Petrified wood.

Appearance – They come in all colours like orange, pink, brown, purple, black  grey, and more. The texture can be very different, some are smooth and some are rough. The rock logs are very heavy.

Formation –  The petrified wood was made from a forest millions of years ago. The trees fell and were dammed up in water that had lots of  silica. The silica replaced the wood and iron, carbon, and manganese made most of the colourful patterns.


Grand Canyon (AZ):

Types of Rock – Sedimentary rock (made of loose rock, sand, and clay).

Appearance – The rocks faces in the Grand Canyon had stripes of colour. The different colours were made by different minerals, like the colour green was Trilobite poop.

Formation- The Colorado River carved out all of the weak rocks, so the strong rocks were left standing as cliffs and flat pillars. The Grand Canyon is a high desert, so it is easy to erode using wind and water.


Yosemite (CA):

Types of Rock – Mostly granite.

Appearance – Some of the cliffs had dark streaks because of the water from the rain. The rocks were spotted with black, white, grey, and shiny specks.

Formation – The granite was formed underground when molten minerals pushed up to the surface. Then, glaciers formed the valley because when the ice moved it grinded the rocks to the shape they are now.


Doing this was fun because I got to look back and see what I didn’t look at before.



Four Foto Friday – Southern California is Awesome!


Joshua tree, rocks, and rainbow.

Joshua Tree (near Palm Springs): At the Joshua Tree National Park we drove around until we found some huge boulders. We climbed them for a long time because it was fun to stand really high up. The piles were a bit hard to climb because some of the boulders were rounded and very rough. The shapes in the rocks were very interesting. The coolest one that I saw was a huge boulder that looked like a skull because it had two big carved out parts that were eyes and another that was the mouth. When we stopped climbing we drove on a road in the middle of nowhere where we saw lots of Joshua trees and other plants that grow in the desert.


Me and Miles at Tempest.

Tempest Freerunning Academy (in Los Angeles): I talked about Tempest in one of my first blog posts and I finally got to go there. It looks like a city that has construction because it has metal bars that you can swing on. It also has big metal pieces that people hang and jump on. At Tempest I took a beginners class and learned how to roll. This is really important because if you jump off a roof to another roof and don’t use a special roll then you are very likely to break something.  Another thing that I learned was how to vault. There are different types of vaults. The type of vault that we learned was a kong vault. It is where I put my hands out on something and jumped putting my knees right underneath my body. My favorite thing that I did was the kong vaults because I was pretty good at it and it was really fun. (Click here for a quick video of Owen doing rolls and Miles doing vaults)

Seals with their pups

Seal moms with their pups.

Seals (in La Jolla): We went to a beach called La Jolla Cove. When we got there we saw Harbor Seals up close and in the wild. The seals all looked different. Some had spots on gray fur and some had just brown fur and some were super fat. My mom was surprised that we could go so close to the seals when the pups (seal babies) were there. Miles and I think that it is hilarious how the seals get around on land. They look like inchworms when they have to get around on their flippers. We also saw another closed off part of the beach that had even more seals and pups. These seals were really cute and they made funny faces when they were lying down.

No leopard photo, but the hippos were cool, too.

No leopard photo, but the pygmy hippo was cool, too.

San Diego Zoo: At the zoo they had many animals. They split the zoo up so that the animals were grouped with others from the same part of the world. The zoo had lots of different types of animals. They had polar bears, leopards, lions, elephants, otters, baboons, naked mole rats, red and giant pandas, etc. My favorite animal is a leopard because of their fur which has black rings that are not all the same and the rings are all crooked. I also like that leopards are very stealthy and fast. The San Diego Zoo was one of my favorite zoos and the day that we went the weather was nice and sunny.

In addition to all of this, we got to see some really good friends from ISB and AES and stay with my mom and dad’s friend from when they lived in Atlanta. It was neat to see their houses and be with them in San Diego. I would like to go back there some time.

J&R Note: Big thanks to Elise V for her great hospitality and to Karin L and Chris B for making the time for a visit. So sorry to have missed Linda B… but now we all have a reason to come back!

Poems from the Road

Here are two poems that I wrote. The first was made in Carlsbad Caverns and the second is about a tree at our campsite in Florida. The way I made these poems was: first, I wrote a story about each place. Next, I wrote some describing words and then picked some of those words to use in the poem. (my dad helped me a tiny bit). Then, I used those words and made the poem.

DSC_0581  DSC_0560

The cavern opens
and gets darker
down, down, down.
Humid air
water dripping
down, down, down.
Jet black shadows
Stalagmites like termite hills.
Rough, uneven ground.
Stalactites hanging
like thin, sharp icicles.
Through the tunnel
to the King’s Palace
dim light and mysterious shadows.
Draperies long
flat and thin.
The Stone King

IMG_6012  IMG_6035

Old trunk
rough and grey
like sandpaper.
Strong limbs
winding and turning
reaching for the sun.
leaves like polished
dark emeralds.
Moss swaying
like seaweed and
hanging like a chandelier.
Soft but dry.
Shading us from
the sun.

I really like making poems and it is fun for me. I didn’t like writing down the story at first, but I liked writing the poem. Writing poems calms me, especially the one about the tree. It also helps me notice small details about the places we see.

Four Foto Friday – Lone Star State

Note: For this month, we decided to share the writing of Four Foto Friday. Here are Owen’s comments and photos from this week’s travels in Texas. – Rob


Bull riding at the rodeo

Rodeo in Fort Worth: We went to a rodeo with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. They started of with the bulls and I can’t believe the riders would try and stay on for 8 seconds. Then the part that none of the family liked was when they tied a strong lasso and then yanked the calf’s neck. Then they would flip the calf over and tie its legs together while the horse was still pulling its neck. After that, they did barrel racing, bareback riding, steer roping and some other things. It was a fun first rodeo for us.


Opening a huge geode

Dallas Museums: In Dallas, we spent time in a museum called the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. There were lots of things to do there. My favorite was the sports exhibit. I got to race a cheetah, T-rex, football player, and other things. My fastest sprint was 11.35 mph, as fast as a pig. The sports exhibit also had an activity where I compared my throws and kicks to a professional athlete. I also stood on a board that made me feel like I was in an earthquake. They also had neat exhibits on energy, rocks and minerals, space, and dinosaurs. Two other museums that we saw in Dallas were the George W. Bush Presidential Libary and the Sixth Floor Museum about President Kennedy’s assassination.


With Eva, Miles, Jacqueline (and a furry friend)

Food and Family: We went to a Tex-Mex restaurant with my grandfather’s sister and her husband. The chips and the salsa were so good that I was almost full by the time the food got to us. I ordered a super good chicken enchilada with beans and rice. At dinner time our aunt, uncle and cousins came with us to another Tex-Mex place. I had a giant burrito but I only ate about a third of it so I ate it the next day. It was great to see some of our relatives in Dallas.


Riding the bull at Jumpstreet

Jumpstreet in  Austin: On our first day in Austin, we went to theTexas State History Museum and a place called Jumpstreet, an indoor trampoline park. It had a mechanical bull that I rode on and I got thirty seconds. There was also a trampoline dodgeball pit. The dodgeball was especially fun because we could jump super high and dodge easily. They also had a maze of cut out pieces of fabric so we could not see if it was a passage way or a wall, so it is super hard to get out. They also had a foam pit, an arcade, and a place were you could just do tricks. I really like playing at Jumpstreet but it made me super sore.

We still have a few more days in Austin and then San Antonio. More about the Lone Star State next week!

Blabberize with Thomas Jefferson

This is a video called a Blabberize. It is a piece of writing that is spoken to make the mouth move. I made it after we went to Monticello in Virginia. My dad told me about this website and I started with writing the script about Thomas Jefferson. Then I got the photo and started to blabberize. Below is the script that I wrote and used.

DSC_0076“Good-day. My name is Thomas Jefferson, but you can call me TJ.

I was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia. It was a beautiful place to grow up. My father was a surveyor and he had lots of land and slaves. When I was older, I went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. It was there that I studied law and became a lawyer.

In 1776, I joined the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to represent my colony of Virginia. At this meeting, they asked me to write the Declaration of Independence because I had the best writing. In the Declaration of Independence, I wrote “All Men are Created Equal”. I was trying to abolish slavery but some of the parts got scratched out by others. We still got our independence from England.

After that, I got elected as the Governor of Virginia. I was also Secretary of State under George Washington, Vice President for John Adams, and then President of the United States.

As President, I bought the Louisiana Territory from France. It cost 15 million dollars for over 500 million acres; that means about 4 cents an acre. This doubled the size of America. I also sent out explorers, Lewis and Clark, to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean. It took them over two years before they returned. Along the way they made friends with Native American tribes and brought me back some artifacts like arrows and fur blankets. They couldn’t have done this expedition without the help of a Native American called Sacajawea.

My favorite place to be is my home in Monticello, which I designed myself. It is filled with books, collections of fossils, maps, and Native American artifacts. I like to drink wine and eat French food with my guests. I also have many pets including mockingbirds and bear cubs. I invented the polygraph, which makes 2 copies from 1 handwritten letter. This lets me keep one copy and send one so that if someone replied, I always know what I said before.

As I reach the end of my life, I feel the need to do something else so I’m creating the University of Virginia. I do not want to have hundreds of slaves, but who will take care of my house if I have no slaves? The slaves will get passed down to my family. I have lived a wealthy life but I have lots of debts to pay.

As I grow old, I’ve been thinking that on my grave stone I want it to say that I was the author of the Declaration of Independence and Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom and that I founded the University of Virginia. I believe in “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.”



Stealing Freedom

Ann disguised as a boy.

Ann disguised as a boy.

Last month I read a book called Stealing Freedom by Elisa Carbone and it was written in1998. This book is based on a true story about a girl named Ann Maria Weems and her family. Her family members are slaves except her dad because he bought his freedom. The book takes place in Virginia before the Civil War. Her dad doesn’t want his family to be owned so he saves up his money to buy his family’s freedom, but the prices keep going up because their master didn’t want them to get freed.Their master also became a slave trader to get some more money. So the father went to New York and found a vigilance committee where they raise money to free slaves. The committee got enough money to buy the whole family but the prices kept going up for Ann. So Ann had no family at the plantation. Then one night Ann got “kidnapped” and she was forced to go into a wagon. The kidnappers took the bag off her head and right in front of her was someone from the committee who tried to buy her. This was the start of stealing freedom.They were running away………………..

Slave Market Museum Nowadays

Slave Market Museum Nowadays

When I read about the master trading slaves I thought about when we went to see the slave market in Charleston. I think that it was horrible that they thought of the slaves as property and that they treated the slaves badly and they broke up families, just like Ann’s family. When I read about the cabin that they lived in it reminded me of the slave cabins that we saw at Magnolia Plantation. The cabin had a dirt floor and a fire pit like Ann’s cabin. That was pretty much all they had except for hay mattresses. The slaves also had to fit over 10 people in the small cabin.

Slave Cabin at Magnolia Plantation.

Slave Cabin at Magnolia Plantation.

I think this book is great because I felt like I got to know a real person from history. People who like history and people who don’t think they like history should read it because it tells people about how bad slavery was and in an interesting way.

Visiting the White House


Outside of the White House (no photos allowed inside)

In DC we did many things like Mount Vernon, Newseum, Ford’s Theatre, the Capitol, the National Archives, and the Supreme Court. But my favorite place we went to was the tour of the White House.

On October 22, we went to the White House and the White House visitor center. We went in the visitor center and learned a lot about the history of the White House. One of the things we saw was what the presidents favorite foods were. Then we went to the real White House. We looked in the whole east wing and we went in all the rooms of first floor. They had some weird named rooms like the red room the blue room and the green room. They are called that because of the color of everything. We saw and talked to the Secret Service. Some wore black and white and some wore just white. My favorite room in the White House was the red room because I like the color red and because it looks very cozy but it is a small room. The best thing we saw was one of the President’s dogs, Sunny, and we saw all the presidents portraits.


Sunny Obama

Miles and I did a ranger book again and we learned a lot and we got a badge that says The White House. Here are some fun facts that we learned about the White House:

  • Abraham Lincoln was the first president to have a beard.
  • Thomas Jefferson had three pets: a mocking bird and two bear cubs.
  • Caroline Kennedy had a pony called Macaroni
  • Ronald Reagan’s favorite food was jelly beans.
  • Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electric lights, but he was so afraid that he had an electrician turn them on and off.
  • Franklin Pierce was the first president to get hot and cold running water.
  • Jimmy Carter built a treehouse at the White House for his daughter, Amy.
  • The first telephone number for the White House was 1.
  • William Howard Taft was the first president to throw the first pitch of the baseball season.
  • Dolly Madison saved the famous portrait of George Washington when the first White House was burned down by the British.

Favorites in Philadelphia

Philadelphia was a fun place and I think that we learned in exciting ways. These are some of my favorite things that we did there.


Lancaster County: Amish country is a cool place were we saw what the Amish people dress like and what they do for work. They dress in old fashion suits and dresses, they are farmers, they ride in horse drawn buggies, and speak English, German and Pennsylvania Dutch. The Amish people do not have electricity. That means no computers, air conditioners, heaters, or TVs. Think about it, would you like to live their life style? I don’t think it would be that bad and the Amish that we saw looked happy.

Edgar Allan Poe House: I had never heard of Edgar Allan Poe until we went. We got a Junior Ranger book and we had to fill it out and we did. We went around his house and the first thing that we saw was his basement. It was dark and spooky and damp. The tour guide told us that they found dead bodies in the walls of some houses back then and Edgar Allan Poe used this in his stories. The house was very creepy. When we got home my mom read us The Tell Tale Heart.

Franklin Institute: We went to a really fun and interesting science museum called the Franklin Institute. This museum taught me about the brain and sports and flight. There was also a cool show. The show was about liquid nitrogen and the scientest took a balloon and soaked it in liquid nitrogen. He said that when things get colder the space in the balloon was decreasing and when it got warmer then it was the same size as before. I love science museums because they are usually fun and I learn from them.


Dave and Busters: I went to this place for the first time and it was awesome. Dave and Busters is a huge arcade and they have a restaurant and a bar. There are so many types of games like racing, shooting, spin the wheel, and many more. We went during Power Hour so we paid ten dollars for an hour of games but we did not get any tickets. We had a great dinner there and we got two free power cards with more money on them to play any games. So I played a spin the wheel game and got over 500 tickets. Then I returned some tickets for a couple of fling-shot animals and I saved the rest of my tickets for the next time we go.


Eragon: This was a good book that I read in Philadelphia. It is about a boy named Eragon. He finds a dragon egg in the mountains when he goes hunting. At first he thinks  it’s a rock so he tries to sell it to get food. But no one wants to buy it so he keeps it in his room. Then one morning it hatches and Eragon thinks the dragon is a he so he asks what the dragon wants to be called and he finally figures out the dragon is a she so he names her Saphira. If  you want to figure out more of their adventures together you should read Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.