Keys Cable Park – Marathon, Florida

John- 15
Keys Cable Park is a place where you can learn how to wakeboard or learn more about wake boarding.  Keys Cable Park is located on the Northern part of Marathon Key.  The cable park is in a small mangrove area and is closed out from the ocean.  The park has two towing cables:  one for advanced and one for beginners.  The cables run diagonally across the lake area.  The cable park has a couple of options to choose from for wake boarding. One of the options is learning how to use and ride a wakeboard.  The rates for this is 39 dollars for a half hour, 49 dollars for one hour, and 69 dollars for two hours.  The best choice would be for a half hour.  In a half hour, I learned how to get up on the wakeboard, how to change directions on a wakeboard, and the basics of how to wakeboard.  The coaching staff was excellent in showing what to do and the best way to do it.  Another thing that is optional would be for the more advanced group of wake boarders.  The option is rental time for the obstacle course area.  With this choice, you ride the obstacle course and are not being coached in anything.
The Keys Cable Park is a great place to stop as you are heading down past Marathon Key or if you are staying on Marathon Key. It is a great place for most ages that want to learn or know how to wake board.  Both my dad and my little sister had a great time and learned a lot.  It is a great place to stop if heading down to Key West to stretch your legs and get out of the car for a while.  If you are just there to watch your kids, there is a small beach-like area where you can lay in the sun and rest while your kids are learning how to ride on a wakeboard.

Hadley- 12
Keys Cable Park is a lake/inlet where you can learn how to wakeboard.  If you have already wakeboarded before, then you can try tricks or can just have a good time practicing.  Keys Cable Park is located in the northern part of Marathon, Florida.  Here you do not get pulled by a boat like you might think – you get pulled by a cable.  The cable is operated by one of the employees.  If you go there to learn, they told us that it is much easier than by a boat. This is because the cable pulls not only forward but also upward. This keeps you from falling down into the water, like you might with a boat towing you. We had never been wakeboarding before, but now that we received a wakeboard for Christmas, we wanted to learn.  We didn’t want to wait for the summer to try it out.  Their instructions were not the best, but doing it on a cable was a lot easier than doing it on a boat.
First when you get there, you get fitted for a helmet and your wakeboard. Then, you will wait for your lesson to start.  You will get on the side of the edge of the dock, and they will pull you up.  There are two different spots that you can be towed from – you can have a lesson or just a ride.  One has a lot of obstacles and the other doesn’t.  Just be aware that the water is salt water.  While you watch your kids you can sit on a little beach, or if your kids are taking a break then they can get in the water.  Don’t worry about changing either; there is a changing room that you can use when you get there.  There is also a bathroom, so you can go the bathroom when you get there.  If you are ever in Marathon, Florida, then Keys Cable Park is definitely worth a stop.

The Turtle Hospital – Marathon, Florida

John – 15
Going down to Key West, or any of the Keys, is a long and trying drive. But, on the way down is a great place to stop and take a break and stretch your legs. The amazing place to stop is a turtle hospital. The Turtle Hospital is located in Marathon Key. It is a great place for every age and enjoyable for all. The Turtle Hospital has a tour that happens every hour starting at 9am and running to 4 pm. The cost for children ages 4-12 is 9 dollars and for adults is 18 dollars. Throughout the tour you will get to not only see turtles but learn more about them and how to save them. At the beginning of the tour you will view a slideshow that shows how turtles end up in the hospital. After the slide show, you head into one of the bigger tank areas; they have two tanks that are filled up with water and these hold some of the turtles they have. Once you are done there, the tour heads out to the other areas to visit the more tanks. In this area there are around 23 individual tanks and the largest sea tank – which holds 100,000 gallons of water. The tank (which used to be a pool) is filled and circulated by the sea water that flows in and out of the pool. At the hospital you will get to see turtles ranging from 12 permanent to 60 injured turtles that are there for rehabilitation. All in all the Turtle Hospital is a great place to stop and view turtles and learn more about them.

Hadley – 12
The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida was a place where we stopped on our way down to Key West. This was a really good stop; it was fun and you got to learn a lot. The Turtle Hospital is a not-for-profit organization. You can take tours from 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. The tours cost adults $18.00 and children (4-12 years old) $9.00; children under 4 are free. When you go, you get to watch a slide show at the beginning telling you the types of turtles you will get to see. The instructor will also tell you about some of the diseases these turtles are facing. Then they will take you outside and you get to meet the turtles. During the whole tour you will get to see about 40-60 turtles depending on how many they have. Sometimes they won’t have as many because they have released them. We got to see a lot because this winter some of the turtles didn’t get to warm enough water quickly. They were stuck in New England and sent to the Turtle Hospital to save them. If you are ever near Marathon, Florida, it is definetly worth the money and time. And it is a great cause.

Barnett – 10
When our family was traveling, we stopped at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. If you go on a tour – which I suggest – the admission for four years and under are free, then four to twelve years old is nine dollars, then the cost for over twelve or adults is eighteen dollars. First they take your tour group into this room to see a slide show about why the hospital and turtles are there and the types of turtles that there are. Then they will take you to see some turtles and tell you their names. Plus they will explain why the turtles are there. For example, Bubble-Butt has bubble-butt syndrome. The Grinch got hit by a boat. After that there is Frumpy, which is sad, because he got hit by a boat and half his shell broke off. Two other turltes, Mickey and Tink, also have bubble-butt syndrome. If I ever got to drive thru Marathon, Florida again I would go to The Turtle Hospital again.

Alcatraz — San Fancisco

John–12

Alcatraz was one of my favorite things to do in California.  Alcatraz is one of the most freakish places in California, too.  You start out taking a boat trip to the island from Pier 33.  We used Alcatraz Cruises for our tickets and ferry ride.  It takes about 15 minutes, and they sell food and water on board the boat.  When you get off the boat you get an introduction about Alcatraz.  Then you can walk up to the top of Alcatraz – the prison section.  You can take the tour of the prison.  The tour is conducted by a headset with a recording that talks all about Alcatraz; the people who talk in it are real people who have worked there and were the prisoners there. The tour takes you through all of Alcatraz prison.  When you’re done on the island, you take one of boats back to San Francisco.  I learned about the prisoner’s daily life.  They had time each day for music, painting, and reading.  They had their own library.  Once you are done you can walk around most of the island.  You can see the ruins for the warden’s house, the housing for guards and their families, the island’s power plant, a water tower, the recreation yard, the lighthouse, and the parade yard.  The tour takes about and hour and is really fun to listen to.  It costs $28.00 for adults (12 and older), $17.00 for children, and is free for children 4 and under.  It does cost more to take a night tour to Alcatraz.  I think it would be fun but scary to take the night tour.  The history behind the prison would be creepy after dark.

Hadley–10

Alcartaz was one of the most secure places in the world when it was in business as a prison.  It is not in business now, but it is now a tourist place.  Alcatraz is a big jail that held some of the worst people like Al Capone.  First, when you get to the dock in San Francisco (Pier 33) to get on the boat, you can get your picture taken and buy it when you come back.  The boat ride is good.  You get to see part of the Golden Gate Bridge and have a great view of San Francisco and the Bay.  When you get to the island you will want to get the audio tour which is included in the price; it is a lot better than just walking through the jail.  I learned about their maximum security section, called D Block.  The prisoners there had no light, no sound, no room.  The prisoners there had to work each day.  Some of them gardened, a few did laundry, and some even cooked in the kitchen – with real knives.  I really liked learning about the people who tried to escape.  They still don’t know if a few of them were able to swim across the bay and escape.  Many people do not think anyone could have survived that.  When you are done with the tour then there are some other places you can go around the island.  If I were you I would just get back on the boat and head back to the dock.  I thought the prison was really the main thing that was interesting to see.  The rest of the island was OK to see.  The next time you’re in San Francisco you definitely need to go to Alcatraz.  I think the night tour would be fun but a little scary.  I want to read some books to learn more about Alcatraz.  It is interesting!

Boudin’s Bakery — San Francisco, California

John–12

Boudin’s Bakery is known for their making of sourdough bread.  They’re near dock 39 of San Fransisco. It is a two-story building with the restaurant on top and an “On The Go” restaurant on the bottom.  They also have a coffee shop on the first floor area.  They’re known for making sourdough bread.  If you’re waiting for your reservation you can go through their museum and see how the restaurant was started.  As you go through the museum, you can see the factory they have right next door to the restaurant.  The factory is connected to the bottom resturant and the coffee shop.   An other thing they’re known for is their clam chowder bowls  made of sourdough.  They cut the top off of the original sourdough ball.  Then they fill it up with fresh clam chowder that they make there. Their food there is great and it is at a reasonably good price.  I recommend that if you’re in San Fransisco that you should try to make it to the restaurant.

Barnett — 7

Boudin’s is a bakery, a museum, and a restaurant.  The bakery is where they make their bread for all of the food in the restaurant.  They can even bake the bread into animal shapes — turtles, bears, and even an alligator.  Some of the animal shapes are very big.  On the second floor is a museum.  You can look from the museum into them making the bread.  You can try a free slice of bread in the museum, and you will love it!  I learned that sourdough bread has a momma dough.  It is the secret ingredient to their bread.  The restaurant has many things to order but we got we got a clam chowder bread bowl.  It is a loaf of bread shaped like a bowl with soup in it.  It was good, and I ate all of mine.  I like it and you would too.

Famous bread bowl with clam chowder

Looking down into the bakery

Restaurant reception desk

Mist Trail / Vernal Falls / Curry Village

John–12

Have you ever seen a waterfall, and do you like hiking?  Then the mist trail is the thing to do.  It is in Yosemite National Park. It is a really steep hike up.  The hike up is about a mile, and you come to a bridge with a really good view of white water rapids and of the wildlife of Yosemite.  There is also a drinking fountain to refill your water bottles. Then, it is another hard walk up to Vernal Falls.  When you are close to the top, there are steep and tricky stairs that are really slick too. It looked easy at first but then when you look over the edge you see straight down to the bottom to the white water rapids. When we made it to the top of the Vernal Falls it was so beautiful that the mist even made a rainbow.  The mist also gave off cool water that made us feel so much better. On the way down my sister slipped and almost fell off the side but luckily where she slipped there was a railing which stopped her.

When we finished we were all tired and hungry so we took a bus to Curry Village. There was a buffet and a pizzeria. The buffet is one of the worst places to eat at Yosemite National Park. The pizzeria had really good pizza but their salads were frozen and tasted really bad. As they thawed, the lettuce became slimy like cooked spinach.  So, I recommend not getting the salad but getting the pizza instead. My mom took the salads back to let them know to turn the refrigerator temperature down and to quit selling the frozen lettuce, but they acted like she was crazy and didn’t care.  They have a bunch of different toppings you can choose from and eat.  I recommend going if you like hiking and are in good physical condition.  But, I also recommend you packing your own food, because there are not a lot of good inexpensive choices there.

Hadley — 10

The hike to Vernal Falls was hard, but when saw the view it was definitely worth it. Vernal Falls is located in Yosemite National Park; it is near the famous Ahwahnee Hotel. When you get to the parking lot, you need to get there in the morning so that you can get a good parking spot.  Once you get there, you can either walk to the starting point which is .5 miles away. But if you just want to hike from the starting trail, then you can take a shuttle which is free – but you might have to wait in a line. From the starting point, it is about a 1 and a half mile hike that is really steep. Once you go about a mile, there is a bridge that you can see the waterfall from.  It is a good veiw, but if you want the best view, then you have to hike the extra half mile. At the bridge there is a drinking fountain that you can drink from.  If I were you – I would hike the whole trail. (When you get to the top don’t try to touch the water you can drown.)

After the hike your going to be hungry.  (I do recommend taking the bus this time because your going to be tired.)  You’re going to want to get off at Cury Village to eat. You will want to eat at the pizza place.  They have good food there, but you do not want to get the saled.  It is frozen and gross. That is the reason I think you should hike Vernal Falls and see Yosemite National Park.

Barnett – 7

We went to Yosemite.  There are a lot of waterfalls there.  My family hiked one of the waterfalls named Vernal  Falls.  It is nicknamed The Misty Trail.  Part of the way up the hike there is a bridge with a drinking fountain.  You can stop there to get a drink and take pictures.  Then you have to hike up very small steps to get to the top of the waterfall.  The steps are slippery.  I slipped and fell, but I caught myself on a small piece of railing.  If I fell I would have gone over the edge.  Many people have died on this trail.  They try to touch the waterfall and get sucked into the undertoe.  The view at the top is very pretty.

After you are done hiking, you are hungry.  We were.  We went to Curry Village to get pizza.  The pizza is OK.  The salads are not.  Ours was frozen.  When my mom took it back, the workers still sold them to other people.  We also got a pitcher of Mountain Dew and Pepsi.  My brothers like to mix the two drinks together.  Finally, we went to the gift shop and bought magnets to remember our hike.  I would like to do it again.  The end.

View of Yosemite

Vernal Falls

Big Tree Tram Tour / Mariposa Grove — Yosemite National Park

John–12

We had the opportunity to take the Big Tree Tram Tour through Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.  The Giant Sequoia trees are some of the largest trees I have ever laid eyes on. They are in with the rest of the many tall trees at Yosemite. They are the tallest and the widest at Yosemite National Park.  The tram ride taakes you through most of the Sequoia trees they have at Yosemite. The tram ride talks all about the history behind the trees and the ones who saved the trees from getting chopped down. It also shows you all the unique trees they had there. Some of the trees that are unique are like the clothespin tree; it looks like a clothespin from the many wild fires they have had there. My favorite tree is the Giant Grizzly.  It is one of the largest Sequoia trees, with one limb or branch that is seven feet wide. The other one that is my favorite is one with a hole so big that a pickup truck can drive through it.  It cost $26.50 for an adult, $25.00 for seniors, Child $19.00, and children under five are free.  I recommend  going on the ride instead of walking the few miles to see the entire grove.

Hadley–10

In Yosemite there are big trees called sequoias. They are so big one is 31 feet wide. The tour we did is the only one you can do in that area.  It is called the big tree tram tour. On the tour there is a free audio tour that you can listen to. There are 2 stops they make one is near the end and the other is closer to the back of the trail.  The first stop is at a small museum.  The museum has samples of the pine cones and seeds.  You cannot take any of them with you from the park.  The second stop is to see the Great Grizzly tree and one of the trees that you can walk completely through.  All of the trees they have there are unique — one has been growing for over 4,000 years. One of the other trees is able to have a bug car that can go threw it, but they won’t let you try.  That is one of the reason we went to see Yosemite to see these amazing trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Levi Coffin House — Fountain City, Indiana

John -12

Levi Coffin’s house is an awesome place to visit. It was part of the underground railroad. My favorite part of the house was the kitchen. The kitchen was in the basement. They had and indoor well. Levi built his house over a spring, and when he found out – he made a well there. The well would fill up after someone got a drink or took water out of it. The well would also move with drout and floods. The well is still crystal clear, so clear that it looks like there is no water in it. The kitchen was built right underneath the deck. Then, my second favorite thing was the upstairs bedroom. They hid the slaves there in a little door area that led into an attic crawl space. They also hid the slaves in their main attic. They had to hide 17 slaves in one night. The Levi Coffin house also has a shed outside in the back. It shows what the slaves would ride in and what the family would ride in.

I think that it is a good idea to go to the Levi Coffin House.  It is worth the money.  It cost $1.00 for kids, $2.00 for adults, and if you reserve it is $1.00 for every one. The hours are from 1pm-4pm from Tuesday to Saturday.  It is only open to the public from June 1-August 31.  From September 1-October 31 it is only open on Saturdays.  It is closed during the winter.

Hadley–10

Have you ever heard of the Underground Railroad? Well, the Levi Coffin house was a part of it. The Underground Railroad is where the slaves try to get away from their owners. The slaves tried to get away because their owners would beat them and yell at them. So growing up in South Carolina, Levi Coffin saw a bunch of slaves tied together to be sold.  When he grew up he decided to do somthing about it.  Levi Coffin has helped over 2,000 slaves ecscape to freedom.  The next time your in Foutain City you should go to the Levi Coffin house; it is definitly worth your money.

Basement Well

Wagon with Hidden Compartment

Front Parlor