This summer I am road tripping it with my kid- you would think we would wait until she was in 4th grade and would get the free entry into the National Parks with their Every Kid in a Park Program, but no, we couldn't wait, so we set out on a 5 week, 17+ park adventure and thus far, it's been an absolute blast. We've stayed in everything from Historic Cabins in Santa Fe to Hiltons. We've had weather from rainy monsoons to 106 degrees, we've seen forests and deserts and wildlife ranging from Elk in Arizona and deer (who were far too domesticated in Mammoth Caves), to snakes and lizards. We've had the opportunity to kayak and hike and explore cliff dwellings. Needless to say 12 days into the adventure and we've seen a lot of stuff!
I see this trip a lot like a survey class. Like in college where you touch on a lot of topics and you use that knowledge to hone in on the things that really interest you. I've always loved Yellowstone and the Tetons (we'll be there soon!), but without a trip like this, we'd never know how awesome Tucson is, or that there are herds of wild burros outside Phoenix or Mountains that rival the ones back home in Arkansas. We wouldn't have had a chance to experience Meow Wolf in Santa Fe or see amazing street art in Fort Smith, AR.
The first leg of the trip took us from New York to Arizona and along the way we visited several National Parks and made stops at as many National Forests and National Monuments as we could find. Sometimes this meant we took accidental road trips out of our way and in one case made a 1 hour loop that swung us backwards 35 miles, but was worth it, because on that road we got to walk in a Volcano flow and visit an amazing Pueblo that would wouldn't have found if we hadn't hung a left into the park when we saw the National Monument sign from the road. www.nps.gov/wupa/index.htm
So where have we been so far? (In general order)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Mammoth Caves National Park
Hot Springs National Park
Ouachita National Forest
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Bandelier National Monument
Valles Caldera National Preserve
Grand Canyon National Park
Petrified Forest National Park
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Wupatki National Monument
Up next we are off to Utah and Colorado and then home to Yellowstone and the Tetons before making our way back across the country to New York. Until then, head to my instagram for regularly updated pictures of our adventure!
(eventually this page will be updated with picture galleries- but it's not working right now- So instagram is the place to go!)
Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.
And not a single word from Logan.
Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.
But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.
Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.
This was such a fun book, which is saying something considering it involved attempted kidnapping, betrayal, murder, international espionage and threats against the President and his family. It should be a serious mystery or adventure story, instead Carter has managed to find that perfect balance between serious topics and the reality a of teenagers ability to find levity and sarcasm in every situation. Maddie and Logan find themselves up against an enemy from their past, and have to work to save each other and figure out what the truth really is, all while trying not to let their own past with each other bring them down. My only complaint was Maddie's habit of bedazzling her weapons. I get that she wan't to maintain a tiny semblance of girlishness, but if you've ever actually thrown a knife or ax you know that those rhinestones are totally going to throw off your grip and the aerodynamics. Maddie doesn't strike me as a character who favors style over accuracy. That being said, this was a fast, fun read that's perfect for summer.
10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.
Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
12.5 minutes is the average length of a school shooting. Run if you can, hide if you need to, fight only if you must to save your life. Barricade doors to keep out the shooter. Every minute you distract the shooter allows other to get to safety. Close the door, stay silent. We will try to keep you safe.
I'm a middle school teacher. School shootings are a painful reality that we face every day. Even if it hasn't happened in our school or in our town yet our students see it on the news, they are afraid and they want to talk about it. As teachers we go through active shooter training, we plan out what we will do if it happens to us. We are painfully realistic about the fact that if it does happen, the likelihood that we all make it out alive is small. That some of us will die, that some of our students will die. We talk about what our job is as educators, that it's not just to impart knowledge, but also to protect the children that come through our doors. We know that if it came down to it we'd do what we had to to save as many of them as we can, because if it was our child in their school, we'd hope that their teachers would do the same to get our kids home safely. These are hard conversations, and they happen over and over again, and they will continue to happen so long as school shootings continue to happen.
Which brings me to this book. I was hesitant to read this book at first, I wasn't sure how this topic was going to be handled. Overall, Nijkamp did a really good job. Told over the course of almost an hour we get the perspectives of multiple players as they fill in the blanks as to who the shooter is and what his motivation is. People are scared and try to run and hide, and there are also those who step forward to try and end the shooting and save other people's lives. The strands of the story slowly come together as the main players react and make their decisions as they face the reality that their school is under attack. In the end no one is left unscathed, but there seems to be a sense that everyone left standing will eventually be okay. Because they'll have to be. In the aftermath of this sort of trauma you find a way to move forward, and Nijkamp has created a story where you know these characters will never be the same, but that they just might be okay someday.
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by: Chester Nez
The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.
In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.