2018- Spring Roadschooling trip to Colorado & New Mexico

It was time to head back to the West and Southwest.  We packed up our suitcases, hopped on a plane to Denver and began an epic roadtrip full of adventure, learning and exploration.  In preparation for this trip, we studied the life and times of Buffalo Bill, goat breeds, Georgia O'Keeffe and ancient Pueblo peoples.

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Day One:
Travel Day
Buffalo Bill Museum & Gravesite (Golden, CO)
Salida Hot Springs (Salida, CO)

History: Buffalo Bill
Science (Geology): Layers of the Earth; Hydrosphere 

We flew out to Denver, picked up a rental van (which we affixed our school magnet to) and stopped at Whole Foods to load up with groceries for the week before heading off on our grand adventure.  Our first official stop was at the Buffalo Bill Museum & Gravesite in Golden, Colorado.  It was snowing when we arrived in the mountains (luckily we know how to drive in the stuff, being from Minnesota), which added quite a bit of drive time to our planned itinerary.  The kids had studied Buffalo Bill Cody's career before we left for the trip, so they had fun using a scavenger hunt sheet to find all kinds of memorabilia and exhibit artifacts.  The hit of the stop was definitely the 'dress up' area, though..... they could have roped calves all day long.

We made it to our first night's stop at a beautiful little cabin in Salida, Colorado and unpacked before heading to the Hot Springs!  The natural rock pools were super hot, but we braved them before swimming for a while in the lovely warm swimming pools-- what a contrast to feel snowflakes on your shoulders when soaking in hot mineral water. 
Day Two:
Exploring Tudor Rose Homestead (Salida, CO)
Mountain Goat Lodge (Salida, CO)
Great Sand Dunes National Park (Mosca, CO)

History: Westward Expansion
Science (Zoology): Goat Care Class
Science (Geology): Sand Dune Formation,  Desert Biome 

After doing some math and handwriting practice around the kitchen table of our rental chalet, we turned the kids loose to explore the grounds.  Within a few minutes, we heard excited yells and were soon all geared up to go an explore the "old cabin" the kids had discovered.  They played around the old homestead, observed and studied what they found and made hypotheses about all of the cool "old stuff".  They even tried to rebuild the fencing. 

We pried them away from their amazing morning of discovery and engineering to take a class at the Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida.  This adorable (and meticulously maintained) bed and breakfast is also a working goat farm.  Our teacher for the morning led us through the basics of goat care (it's our goal to have a small herd for the school someday).  We toured their chicken coop, greenhouse and hydroponic set-up as well.  We learned all about the 'tough' parts of farming, as well as got to pet some fluffy kids, and try some goat cheese products.

Our last stop for the day was in Mosca, CO.  It was quite a drive, but the kids did a great job in the car.  Once we arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, it was like we had stepped into another world.  They had so much fun exploring, climbing, rolling and jumping.  I can definitely say that this was the FAVORITE stop of our entire trip!  We played for so long that we ended up rolling into Albequerqe hotel a bit late, and didn't get to truly enjoy the scenery on the way into town-- which made for a much more dramatic experience the next morning!
Day Three:
Bandelier National Monument
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Archaeology (Ancient Peoples)
Art History (Georgia O'Keeffe Museum)

AS I mentioned before, we didn't have any idea what the landscape around Albequerque looked like because we arrived at night.  What an amazing gift to enjoy the next morning.  After an early morning dip in the hotel pool, we headed to Bandelier National Monument to enjoy a hike and scramble up some ladders into Ancient Pueblo dwellings.  We were lucky to arrive before a lot of other tourists, and the kids got to play in the dwellings, making up storylines and getting involved in imagining ancient life.

Our next stop was in Santa Fe.  The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum comped our tickets.  They had sketchbooks and pencils waiting for us to use in the exhibit halls.  We had studied Georgia O'Keeffe and her work back at home, and it was amazing to pick out some pieces that represented different phases of her life.  Each student ended up being drawn to a particular piece, and I was thrilled to find postcards of each one in the gift store to gift them as souvenirs.  The older girls enjoyed this stop more than the kindergarten and first grade boys..... I have to laugh at the photo of them chilling out on a bench in the exhibit hall.  I was so grateful to our chaperone for being there, as it allows us to divide and conquer and scaffold lessons a bit more!

We walked around Old Santa Fe-- had a lovely meal, stumbled across an Navajo Hoop Dancer, played in a green space and then headed to check in to our home for the next few days-- a lovely vacation rental in the hills of Santa Fe. 
Day Four:
Rancho de los Golondrinas
Meow Wolf

History: New Mexico in the 18th & 19th Centuries
Art: Modern Art and Installations

After playing in the desert outside of our VRBO for the morning (and getting our handwriting and math lessons done), we headed to our tour of Rancho de los Golondrinas-  a living history museum just southwest of Santa Fe.  Our guide was delightful, and the kids had the entire museum practically to themselves, as it was technically off-tourist season.  We learned all about what life was like in this area in the 1700-1800's.  We even got to have a lesson in the old schoolhouse!

Then it was time to experience the immersive art museum/exhibit at Meow Wolf.  It was completely absorbing- in every capacity of that word.  We were transported through time and space and had so much fun exploring portals that opened into completely different dimensions in color, space and sound.  Crazy cool.

Day Five:
River Rafting the New Mexico River

Science: The Hydrosphere

Our last full day in Santa Fe was spent rafting the New Mexico river!  Talk about science coming ALIVE for us after our hydrosphere studies this winter. 

Day 6
Garden of the Gods
Great Wolf Lodge

Paleontology- Geology

We were almost blown away at the Garden of the Gods!  The wind corridors were so strong that it felt like we could fly.  We were super impressed by the beautiful rock formations, and had a nice walk around the outer ring of the garden. 
As a treat for the last night of Roadschooling, we stayed at the Colorado Springs Great Wolf Lodge.  We swam, played magiquest, and had all sorts of fun-- no lessons involved.  The next morning it was up-and-at-em so we could fly home to our families.  What an amazing trip, packed FULL of adventure!