Friday, December 30, 2016

Falling Waters State Park

A couple of days after Christmas we headed to the panhandle of Florida to get away, see some sights and attempt to find old man winter. I made reservations 2 months ago at the only state park I could find with a site available for multiple consecutive nights - Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, Florida a six hour drive away. We haven't camped in the panhandle area and figured this was as good a time as any for a longer excursion.
Falling Waters State Park is a compact gem of a park centered around the highest waterfall in the state. Florida is commonly considered an oddity among the 48 contiguous states - it quite literally sticks out. Consistent with this oddness, Florida'a highest waterfall doesn't drop into a river or stream but a sinkhole and not just any sinkhole but a 73 foot circular pit and then disappears underground.
While not large, Falling Waters State Park is a quality destination perfectly adequate for an enjoyable  family camping experience. The park is fire managed with a good portion restored to a longleaf pine savannah. The campground feels a bit small with only 24 sites, but it is well cared for and the bathhouse feels new. There is a small lake in the park that helps give a consistent water supply to the water fall while also providing a swimming and fishing area. There are a couple of trails and boardwalks near the main attraction and the requisite picnic shelters and playground makes this a superb day-use area as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Homemade Crystal Ornaments

We enjoy crafting and cooking during the holidays, but this is the first year that we have made these homemade crystal ornaments. The key ingredient is Borax which I found in the detergent area of my local grocery store. We already had a few shiny pipe cleaners in our craft bin. I used my electric tea kettle to heat the water and then poured the hot water into a large measuring cup. For each cup of boiling water add 3 tablespoons of Borax and stir until dissolved. Pour the mixture into whatever size glass containers you have that will allow your pipe cleaner creations to hang freely. I suspended our creations from craft sticks using gift ribbon. We let them set overnight, but the smaller containers showed crystals sooner after a couple of hours. (The glass containers allow you to watch the crystals form). Supposedly, adding food coloring makes for bright colored crystals, but I did not try that this time around.
As a homeschooling mother, I was hoping to turn this into some kind of science experiment or class on crystals. Time and energy constraints prevented that this Christmas. When we do get around to learning about crystals, we can site this experience and do it again. During busy seasons of life, building context for future learning is the best I can do. I'm okay with that, because the ability to connect the dots between knowledge and experiences is, I believe, the most efficient way to actually learn. We can add more knowledge in the New Year!