Why not ride a bicycle to the beach during National Bike Month?
Bicycle riding is fun & healthy, and the parking is free!
Posted by Jody on May 17, 2013
Why not ride a bicycle to the beach during National Bike Month?
Bicycle riding is fun & healthy, and the parking is free!
Posted by E.G.D. on April 25, 2013
Today’s Featured Guest Post Writer is Erica Kritt from The Cruise Web:
I confess, I used to hate the beach. I hated the sand getting in everything, I thought it was boring, and on top of that I don’t like my beach bod. However, now I love the beach. Working at a travel agency, destinations that are rich in beaches come up a lot, so I have a lot of knowledge about what to do on a beach. I’d like to share how the beach can be a fun place for everyone from grandpa to baby with a few activities that will be fun for all. Believe me, if I could get over my dislike of the beach, then you or your family members can too.
Looking to Relax
If you can find a quiet beach, you are set, and even if you are at a popular spot, put on your shades and some soothing music and focus in on the waves coming in and out. Lounging on the beach is a great chance to get out in nature, but you can surround yourself with creature comforts, like a pillow, your e-reader and some tropical smoothies.
Most relaxing activity: Many cruise lines have private islands in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, where you can even experience a massage in a cabana right on the beach.
Looking to Explore
A beach has a lot to offer for both kids and adults looking to discover creatures they’ve never seen, or to find those special shell treasures. In fact, finding a good beach could be an expedition in itself.
Best Exploration: Snorkeling excursions are a chance to see the creatures that lurk just underneath the water. In the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, you’ll have a chance to see beautifully colored fish and interesting coral formations.
Looking to Play
Sand castles aren’t just for kids, on the shore you can try your hand at making sand sculptures. The beach is fun, but things can get really fun in the water. At many beaches you can rent wave runners, or fly high while parasailing over the ocean. Some cruise lines even offer passengers the chance to take a horse ride on the beach and even in the surf.
The Most Fun of All
Anytime you can learn a new skill, it makes your experience that much more rich. Beaches in Hawaii and other tropical destinations offer surf lessons where you can test your balance in the ocean.
As you can see, there really is an activity on the beach for everyone. All you have to do is make sure you visit a beach that offers what you are looking for, read reviews, speak with a travel agent, and get ready for some fun in the sun.
Posted by Jody on January 3, 2013
Even on a cold winter’s day in the American Southwest, there’s plenty to learn about our world’s rivers, lakes, oceans, rugged shorelines, and sandy beaches. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, we have a wonderful BioPark which includes the Albuquerque Aquarium. As you enter the aquarium building, the first exhibit relates to our own Rio Grande, the river that flows from southwestern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico.
As romantic as it might sound to say that a person could send a message in a bottle down a river in New Mexico to be found by someone on an ocean beach, that really is the case, and that is not actually a good thing if one stops to think of that bottle as a piece of trash. We desert dwellers might not think about the ocean on a daily basis (well, perhaps in our daydreams), but our behaviors upstream do have an impact on the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Taking the kiddos to this aquarium is a great way to teach them (and ourselves) about the importance of keeping our waters clean. As we say in The Land of Enchantment, “Toss no mas!”
You never know! Maybe that piece of beach glass you found on a beach in Alabama found its way there from farther inland than you imagined. In the end, there is no way to know, but it is interesting to think about, and the more people we can educate about keeping trash out of our waterways, the better, even if trash can be turned into a beachcomber’s treasure.
So, happy beach combing, everyone! Do you think that those of us who like to collect beach glass, driftwood, and beach pottery pieces are really clearing upstream litter off the beach? Wouldn’t that be a nice and unexpected perk!
Posted by Jody on December 9, 2012
It’s easy to turn this one into a family friendly beach scavenger hunt! Simply pick a geometric shape for the day and head out to the seashore with the whole clan. The kids won’t even suspect that they’re actually doing math! How cool is that?
Today’s beachy shape is the circle. On our past beach trips we’ve spotted circles on everything from safety signs to rescue vehicles and sand dollars to sea anemones. How about you?
This week’s Travel Theme is “Circles.”
Posted by Jody on November 5, 2012
“Play is the highest form of research.”
~ Albert Einstein
Here’s a bright and easy family fun beach idea. While you’re packing up the car with beach towels, sunblock and sand toys, toss in a couple of child-safe magnifying glasses. We found ours at the local Learning is Fun! Just think of all the possibilities!
Have a wonderful day at the beach!
This week’s Travel Theme is “Bright.”
Posted by Jody on June 8, 2012
Today is World Oceans Day! Unofficially celebrated every June 8th since it was proposed by the Canadian government in 1992, World Oceans Day was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. According to the World Oceans Day website, “On World Oceans Day people around the planet celebrate and honor the body of water which links us all, for what it provides humans and what it represents.”
This year’s theme is Youth: the Next Wave for Change.
Learning about the ocean is nothing but fun! It doesn’t have to be a preachy-teachy experience. Just have a good time while getting the kids pondering about what the world’s oceans mean to all of us.
Here are some simple ideas:
“This one has a little star. This one has a little car. Say! what a lot of fish there are!” ~Dr. Suess
Happy World Oceans Day!
Posted by Jody on May 16, 2012
When you walk out onto the sandy beach, happy and barefoot, what do look for? Do you gaze straight ahead, into the sea, at the rolling waves or do you peer even farther out to spot ocean going vessels on the distant horizon? Maybe you scan the sandy shoreline to see if there are any special beach treasures left behind by the recent high tide. Are the tanned and toned volleyball players among the first things you scope out?
It’s amazing what we could discover if we just looked down! Those seaweed piles (wrack lines) are brimming with miniature sized wildlife, and the sand beneath our feet is home to an abundance of coastal residents. Beach hoppers, beach pillbugs, sand crabs, and intertidal clams, just to name a few, have all made their home in the ever changing sand.
My daughter found a wonderful on-line article that she shared with me. “Sandy Beach Life,” from Marine Science by Genny Anderson, explores common organisms and coastal wildlife found on a typical sandy California beach. Full of terrific photos and information on coastal critters that I didn’t even know existed, it’s a very interesting read! It might be great fun to print up the article and pictures for a scavenger hunt or check list for your family’s next trip to any beach. Enjoy!
Bladder kelp √
Sand crab √
Beach hopper □
Western Gull √
Wedge Clams √
Beach pillbug □
Kelp fly √
A great day at the beach! √
Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: beach activities for children, beach fun for children, family beach activities, seaweed, seaweed on the beach, wrack line | 2 Comments »
Posted by Jody on March 21, 2012
It’s true, anyone who has spent time during the summer months around inland lakes and beaches has enjoyed the company of dragonflies and damselflies. These beautiful insects are colorful, agile and downright fun to watch. Growing up in the Midwest, whiling away those hot, humid days at the lake shore, dragonflies exemplified summer as much as sunburns and the sounds of the ice cream truck!
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “No other group of animals – even birds – is as aerially adept as a dragonfly. They can travel forward, backward, and any other direction. Shifts in direction take place at lightning speed, and this agility makes dragonflies awesomely efficient aerial predators. And that’s what they’re doing on the wing – hunting a variety of other flying insects. Prey can range from small flies and mosquitoes, clear up to other dragonflies. Large species have even been observed capturing swallowtail butterflies!”
Ohio State Parks manages 59 beaches on 47 inland lakes across the Buckeye State. These inland bodies of water, along with the beaches of Lake Erie, streams, rivers, ponds, marshes and other wetlands, offer a multitude of exceptional places to spot dragonflies and damselflies. The ODNR states, “Lake Erie beaches seem to act as swarming areas for migratory dragonflies, which often gather along them in late summer and fall.”
There is an absolutely wonderful, free 76 page field guide entitled “The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ohio” made available online by the Department of Natural Resources. It’s packed with useful information and beautiful images. This booklet has everything you and your family need to help identify whether you’ve spotted a dragonfly or a damselfly, descriptions, habitats specific to each species, flight periods and area(s) of Ohio where you may find each one. It also includes a checklist of the 164 species of dragonflies and damselflies recorded to date in Ohio.
Now, there’s some summertime “homework” that I would have loved! How about you?
Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Great Lakes Beaches | Tagged: Beach Insects, Damselflies, Dragonflies, family beach activities, Lake Erie beaches, Ohio beach wildlife, Ohio beaches | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jody on March 8, 2012
Today’s Featured Writer: Dr. Kristie McLin, Geologist and Smarty Pants
Beach sand: start your own collection!
Did you ever wonder what makes some sands so white, while others are tan, black, or even green, red, or pink? Next time you are at a beach, take a closer look at the sand, and you will be amazed at what you see! Tiny mineral grains, shell and rock fragments, and even glass and gems! Sand is so amazingly different at beaches worldwide that many people make a hobby of collecting the sand at the beaches (and other non-beach locations) that they visit. There is even a website for The International Sand Collectors Society (SandCollectors.org) that can tell you everything that you need to know to get started!
All you need is a waterproof container to keep your sand sample in and a permanent marker to write the location where the sample was collected, but a spoon for digging and a magnifying glass or hand-lens to see the sand grains up close are nice accessories. For the serious collector, there are instructions for sifting, tracking, and cataloging your samples.
Be sure to check out the ISCS Photo Gallery for an amazing look at different sands from around the world! The star sands of Tonga are quite amazing!
What will your sand collection look like?
Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: beach activities for children, beach collections, beach fun for children, beachcombing, family beach activities, Featured Writer, sand collecting, The International Sand Collectors Society | 2 Comments »
Posted by Jody on September 22, 2011
Minnesota’s State Gem is the Lake Superior agate. These beautiful red, orange, yellow, white and grey gemstones are generously spread throughout northeastern and north-central Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:“The agate reflects many aspects of Minnesota. It was formed during lava eruptions that occurred in our state about a billion years ago. The stone’s predominant red color comes from iron, the major industrial mineral in our state. Finally, the widely distributed agate reveals the impact of glacial movement across Minnesota a mere 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.” The Lake Superior agate can be found in virtually any exposed gravel or pebbly area throughout the state. Minnesota’s rocky North Shore beaches of Lake Superior are especially good hunting grounds for agate hounds.
What a perfect beachcombing find! It’s a lake shore discovery you can display, or with some polishing, wear as unique jewelry. These richly colored Lake Superior agates can be found on the shoreline as far north as Lake Superior’s Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada. They can also be found on the pebbly South Shore beaches of extreme northwestern Wisconsin and on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
It can be a bit tricky to spot the Lake Superior agates in their natural setting. The State of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources offers many tips and clues for finding and identifying the official state gem. “Agate Hounds”, a very good full-color brochure on the joys of Lake Superior agate hunting, is available for “young naturalists,” though it has helpful information for agate hounds of all ages. Be sure to check it out on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
Additionally, “Digging into Minnesota Minerals“ includes sections on the geologic history of the Lake Superior agate, distribution and clues to finding the state gemstone.
Happy beachcombing! Have a gem of a day! -J-
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Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Great Lakes Beaches | Tagged: beach activities for children, beach agate collecting, beach fun for children, beachcombing, collecting beach stones, family beach activities, finding agates in Minnesota, Lake Superior Agate, Lake Superior beach, Lake Superior beachcombing, Minnesota beachcombing, Minnesota's State Gemstone, Northwest Wisconsin beachcombing, Upper Peninsula Michigan beachcombing | Leave a Comment »