Friday, June 21, 2013

Kinzua Bridge Sky Walk

In years past we have found that our favorite way to celebrate Mother's and Father's Day is with some family time. We take the afternoon and head for a state park and just spend some time exploring. This Father's Day we chose Kinzua Bridge State Park. Dad checked this out back in February and was very excited to share it with us.
The information kiosk had a video playing! This park is way out in the middle of nowhere - so that was cool!

Here's a little background information: When it was built in 1882, Kinzua Bridge was the tallest and longest bridge in the world and 2053 feet long and 301 feet high. It was a attraction from day one - locals and tourists would visit and walk out on the bridge just for the thrill. We saw photos of men in suits and women in huge billowing skirts (it was the 1880's remember?) standing on the bridge peering over the side - before there were guardrails - ~shudder~ (Ok. I am scared of heights, so just the photo scared me! Voluminous skirts, brisk winds, 301 feet above the ground... whew! That's NOT for the faint of heart!)
The boys are looking out over the skywalk (upper right) and down on Maggie on the platform below (next photo)

The bridge was originally made of iron and used to transport iron, but in 1900 it underwent an overhaul and the iron trusses were replaced with steel trusses. Trains rumbled across the bridge until 1959, and later after it became a State Park, excursion trains took passengers out on the viaduct for amazing views.

Maggie on the lower deck. In the background, you can see the twisted remains of the 11 towers thrown to the ground by the tornado.
In July 2003 a tornado struck the bridge and tore down 11 of the 20 trusses, leaving 6 on the south side and 3 on the north. The south side has been reworked into a Skywalk, with the train tracks still in place and a glass floor added at the end. It opened in 2011 and is an amazing sight!

Heading out onto the Skywalk.

The gap between the rails was a little scary for me... I did my best not to look down! The green you see between her feet? That is the top of trees...

The kids loved walking on the glass observation area!

I did not! I had to sit down on the wood just to get the photo below. It is really, really far down!

The view from the end of the Skywalk.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Been Awhile...

Hello again! 

I really enjoy this blog and it seems I have just completely neglected it for more than a year now. I have decided I want to get back to blogging, partly for my joy, and partly to help me track what we are doing for school. 

Since my last post in January (and really since late August of 2012) we have had lots of craziness in our lives! First: we had our first graduate from this homeschool! Our oldest - Kirk - is done. He has been an amazing student, an amazing son, and just a good kid and I am so proud of him (and us!) for staying the course and completing this homeschool journey. We are part of a great homeschool group and had a 'senior class' within that group. It was a great year working together with the other senior parents to make a beautiful graduation ceremony and a fun senior year with wonderful friendships built!

Second, we found out that we would be moving to Pennsylvania. Just for the record, that is 1200 miles from our home in East Texas. That was some pretty big news since Texas has been home our whole lives, all our family is there, and Kirk had just started a new job and was preparing to get his own place. Yes, he is staying in Texas. That takes a toll on all of us, as you can imagine. But our reason for moving was to join Dad. He's been working in Western Pennsylvania since late August. We've been to Pennsylvania 4 times and Dad has been home several times too, but life just isn't the same when your family is divided across 1200 miles! So in March, when his temporary job assignment became a permanent one, we began planning to move. We had to get past graduation, and get our house ready to go on the market, and say goodbye to friends and family. 

Petting a leopard stingray at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

Exploring in McConnell's Mill State Park

McConnell's Mill

Spring Break in Moraine State Park

We arrived in Pennsylvania Friday, June 7th and have been exploring and getting our bearings here in our new home. 

One of the biggest changes for us will be the much stricter homeschool laws. And that is where this blog will help me! We are very excited about exploring Pennsylvania history (think Revolutionary War and Civil War from the Union point of view, Underground Railroad, the steel industry - wow! This is going to be so much fun!) and I prefer to study history in a very hands on way, so I will be recording our explorations here in blog form, with way too many photos - because I am camera happy! - so I will have documentation for our portfolios. We will also be keeping a scrapbook and timeline as we learn. 

So, here goes our first year of Pennsylvania living and homeschooling!