The kids and I were on the road again last weekend. This time we drove down Hwy 101 to visit their grandparents (my side). It’s not a very long drive, door-to-door, but we took our time stopping along the way to explore, have fun, and learn.

Our longtime favorite stop on 101 is the Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA. There is so much to see and do there, for kids and for grown-up kids.

Brother climbing the ladder inside the tiny homeHave you noticed the Tiny Home trend? They had one open to go inside this time and it’s like a doll house for life sized people. This one was built onto a trailer. It’s footprint is only about 8 feet by 12 feet. The boys had fun peeking in the cabinets and climbing up the ladder to see the loft bed area on top.

Brother next to the sundialThis is a simple sundial made from a long PVC pipe and hour markers in a half circle around it. There was a chart to adjust for the specific day of the year. Brother and I calculated that it was about 11:40 am according to the sun clock.

Young Son watching as Brother measures the depth of the pond with a long bamboo poleThe boys could tell that the pond was deep, but they wanted to know exactly how deep. Without any prompting from me, they found a long bamboo pole and managed to measure the depth and compare it to their own height. The pond was about as deep as two times Brother’s height.

a millipede climbing over the children's handsThey discovered this millipede when we stopped at a rest stop along the way. Good gracious, they let it crawl right over their hands – ticklish!

When we stopped for the upteen millionth and last potty break of our trip, we randomly ended up at the Humboldt Redwoods Visitor’s Center in Weott, CA. What a gem! They had an amazing wealth of interactive child-friendly educational displays about the wildlife and natural history of the Humboldt redwoods region. There were taxidermied animals, real pelts that you could feel, a microscope to look at fur and bone, and much more. At a feeling box exhibit to reach in and guess what was inside by touch, one contained an actual mountain lion paw. The boys shook hands with a mountain lion!

We learned that the Eel River was so named because the original settlers saw lampreys in the river and mistook them for eel. Lamprey are not a fish or an eel; they have no scales and no bones.

Young Son and Brother standing in front of redwoods wildlife displaySome really cool creatures in there, including coyote, grey fox, black bear, mountain lion, raccoon, porcupine, river otter, spotted owl, and more. I’m not sure if those weird furless beasts in front are actually native to this area.

Brother and Young Son making faces in front of history logThis amazing section of old growth redwood had its growth rings labeled with several significant historical dates going all the way back to 1000 AD when Vikings first explored North America. In keeping with the timeline theme, Young Son is making a ‘young’ face and Brother is making an ‘old’ face – Brother’s idea.

apple orchardWe brought back several big boxes full of apples and pears from my Dad’s. So, I’ll be peeling, cutting, and canning for the next few days (or weeks). Good stuff!