The Arches National Park, Utah: Sparkle kitten

The Arches National Park is in the Southeastern part of Utah.  Many years ago this was covered by a large sea and became a dry seabed.  A very deep layer of salt and sediment was left behind, forming layers of sandstone 1,000’s of feet deep.  Some sediment was up to one mile deep at points.  The sandstone was pushed and folded like a carpet as the earth’s crust shifted.  It was then pushed up far above the original sea level.  It was then shaped by wind and water, and then eroded down.  There are many colors of rock in this park.  You can walk up into many areas and see different rock formations, including some boulders balanced on other rocks.  The day we went it was very hot, and the higher you drove into the park the hotter it got.  It is very pretty here, and there are four other National Parks across Southern Utah to visit (we also saw Zion but couldn’t get to the other 3 since it was so hot!) .  The Arches National Park was our 26th National Park within the past year!!!  (this doesn’t even count National Monuments or State Parks!)…  We missed an Island Park in Florida, an Island Park in California, Lassen Volcanic in CA because of snow, two in Washington, and three in Utah.  Otherwise, we hit everything else in all of our 36 states!  Hurray!

Epic Escape Room, Arizona: Einstein07

A place called Epic Escape is in Phoenix, AZ.  They have “Escape Room” games where you have a mission and have to solve clues, to unlock locks, to get more clues to help you solve a problem.  We played the Whimsical Library game.  We didn’t quite make it in the 60 minutes allowed, but we got close.  I think it would be fun to see how adults did against a team of kids.  Sparkle Kitten and I think the kids would win because we work together better than adults.  We are going to go to anther escape room in another city and try a new game.  They have some that are more physical and some that are more mental.  This one was more mental and we had to try to find all the clues we could, and then figure out what the meant.  It was fun!

Montezuma Castle, Arizona: Sparkle Kitten

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The picture above is Montezuma, who was the Emperor of the Aztecs in the early 1500’s  The Aztecs lived in the country that is now Mexico, but traveled to the Southern United States.  The other pictures are where they primarily lived, and what some of their dwellings looked like.  When the Spanish discovered North America, and traveled to the part that is now Mexico, they saw all the gold the Aztecs had; they decided they wanted it.  They defeated the Aztecs and Montezuma and claimed what is now Mexico as their own.  The reason this is important, is while they were traveling North into what is now Arizona, in search of the 7 Lost Cities of Gold, they came across huge cave dwellings 5 stories high

.  They were so impressive they thought they must be Aztec, and so they called them “Montezuma Castle”.  They were wrong; the cave dwellings here were built by Pueblo Indians.  We saw the dwellings near Phoenix, AZ.  They are impressive and near the Beaver Creek which provided water for the community.  It is very peaceful here with lots of native plants. Image result for montezuma castle

Book Review, Since You’ve Been Gone, by: Morgan Matson: Sparkle Kitten

Since You’ve Been Gone has 449 pages and I give it 5/5 Stars.  It was really good, and I read it VERY fast because I couldn’t put it down!  This book is about a girl named Emily.  She has an amazing summer planned with her best friend Sloane when suddenly she just goes missing!  All she leaves behind is a list of crazy things for Emily to do.  At the bottom of the list it says “when you’ve completed this list come and find me and tell me all about it.”  Emily’s summer goes from boring to exciting in just 24 hours.  I liked this book because I could really relate to the character Emily.  I could imagine how amazing my summer would get if that happened to me!

Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, AZ: Einstein07

The best preserved meteor impact site in the world is in Arizona.  It is about 1 mile across, and 2.5 miles around and 500 feet deep.  (the wind today was 40 MPH at the rim!) This meteor hit about 50,000 years ago.  The scientists that studied the rock here found black diamonds that were created through the heat on impact.  NASA sent astronauts here before they went to the moon to study craters so they would know what to look for on the moon.  This meteor exploded on impact sending lots of dirt and debris upward.  The meteor itself melted, and then turned into gas.  What is the difference between a comet, and an asteroid, and a meteor you may ask?  Here is the answer.  A comet is a chunk of ice and gas.  It is a small solar system body that orbits the sun. A comet has a fuzzy “coma” or outline and sometimes a tail.   An asteroid is a small solar system body that orbits the sun.  It is made of rock and metal mostly.  They do not have a fuzzy outline or tail like a comet.  A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system.  They can be as small as dust to  very large; a meteor is a meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.  If you see a shooting star, it IS a meteor.  A meteorite is a meteoroid that survives falling through the Earth’s atmosphere and crashes into Earth.  Image result for meteorMeteor!

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Asteroid.  Especially in the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  Sometimes pass through earth’s atmosphere.  They are tracked on a “Torino” scale to determine the probability of threat.

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This is a picture of a comet.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Sparkle Kitten

The Petrified Forest National Park contains part of America’s historic Route 66.  The petrified wood found here dates back 225 Million Years to the late Triasic period.  Arizona used to be covered in a marshy forest at that time, much like Louisiana is today.  There were many large animals including the “alligator like” animal that was the main predator called the “macaeroprosopus”

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The water receded into rivers.  Huge conifer trees 180 feet tall fell into the river and were carried down with a huge force.  Later the trees became waterlogged and sank to the bottom.  They were then covered with layers of volcanic ash and sediment that protected them from rotting.  They then soaked in silica from the volcanic ash which preserved them and then absorbed different minerals from the water over time, making them rocks.  The different colors in the petrified trees are from the different minerals they absorbed.  Petrified wood is found everywhere, but this is the largest collection.  It is also in an area known as the painted dessert where lots of different layers of earth show different colors.  Ravens live here (shown above).  They are black and aren’t well suited to the heat, so they pant to keep cool.  There are also pueblo ruins here, with structures that had over 100 rooms.  In addition, there are petroglyphs like the ones we saw in Albuquerque, NM.  One interesting thing about the petroglyphs is that they resemble each other even though these locations are over 200 miles apart.  The soil is very cracked here because of the arid climate.  It feels like clay if you wet it.  There are also little plants that come up through the cracks.  Petrified comes from the Latin word “petra” for stone or rock and -ficare, from facere “to make, do” or the more recent French word “petrafier”.  Image result for colorful petrified wood

New Mexico is Over and Out, We’re In Arizona!

We didn’t find Coronado’s Seven Cities of Gold (either), but we DID find crystal colored white sand, underground, glistening, gypsum caverns and our first circular Capitol building! New Mexico is beautiful and all the people were nice.  We’re coming back to catch Albuquerque’s  hot air balloon festival.

The Moors, The Spanish, and a Bell: Einstein07

The reason that you see these pictures above is because once upon a time, a new queen came into Spain. She wanted all the moors (Muslims) out if they were not Catholic. The priest tried to negotiate with the moors. He said,” If you are not Catholic, leave.” The moors had a clear and simple answer,” No,”; they stood their ground. This lead to a great war(but very bloody). This blocked up the Spanish’s routes to trade with India. That is why Christopher Columbus sailed west to find another way to India. That is how the Spanish found out about America. The bell above is from the time of that war. They thought God as angry with them so they all gathered up amulets and precious(and non precious) metals. So they rang that bell and (and probably a coincidence that) they beat the moors. They thought they showed God that they sacrificed something so he helped them.

Bell Recipe

  1. Dig hole in ground in shape of an inverted bell
  2. Line hole with tiles
  3. Melt precious metals and pour into hole
  4. Stick large oak tree center to hollow out bell
  5. Let cool
  6. Enjoy your bell

This how they actually made this bell.

Oldest Standing Church in the USA, Santa Fe: Sparkle Kitten

San Miguel Mission is a Spanish church in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It was built in around 1610 and is the oldest known church in the United States.  It was burned during the Pueblo Indian Revolt in 1680 but rebuilt when the Spanish reclaimed the area.  There is a wooden statue here of Saint Michael that dates to 1709.  There are also very old paintings, which were done on bison and deer skin, from the 1600’s.  The original adobe walls are still underneath and you can see them through windows into the floor next to the alter.  This church is located on the East side of the “Santa Fe Trail” in Santa Fe.  It is in the “Barrio De Analco District”.  This district is where some of the Warrior Indians, who were traveling with the Spanish soldiers later, lived.  They grouped together in houses that had been previously occupied by Pueblo Indians of the 1200’s.  Even though the Church is Spanish, you can also see houses from the Indian Barrio that are still standing and thought to be some of the oldest homes in America.  They are made of adobe. The new picture here is the “Oldest House” today.  The old picture shows it in the 1800’s (although it is much older than that and the foundation is from 1100) Image result for oldest house santa fe