Exploring Route 395

route 395 cover

We recently went to Mammoth for a long weekend to see the snow. But some of the best parts of the trip were the places we stopped along the way. And the best part was that each of our stops was a mini science lesson.

Fossil Falls

Located on the east side of the 395 off of Cinder Road, Fossil Falls is the byproduct of volcanic activity and a rushing river. Thousands of years ago, the nearby cinder cone erupted, splattering the surrounding desert with lava and rock. As the lava poured into the Owens River, the rushing water sculpted and polished the rock. Today, with the flow of Owens River diverted and Owens lake now dry, all that remains is the fossil of what was once a majestic waterfall. Stone cliffs and ballasts and holes bored out of the center of giant rocks show years of erosion and is truly amazing to see in person. Photos do not capture the depth or the detail that you find at Fossil Falls.

fossil falls from above

There is a small parking lot with restrooms at the trail head. It is a short hike from the parking lot, maybe half a mile. It is rocky though, so wear appropriate shoes. Also, this is not the place to let your kids run free. Little ones should be kept close and supervised at all times. There are steep drop-offs, and it’s a long way down. Lots of holes in the rocks so watch your step!

fossil falls.jpg

Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns

You can read the history of the Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns here. It’s located off 395 just north of Cartago. There is a small Historical Landmark sign on the road. When you turn onto the road you will see the commemorative plaque, but you can not see the kilns from this location. You must continue down the road about one mile to see the kilns. They are surrounded by a fence now, but it is interesting to look at and think about the history and the changes that were made to the landscape because of the gold rush, the mines, and the kilns. An area that once featured a flowing river and plentiful trees is now barren and dry. Just past the kilns is a passageway through the hillside but we did not drive that direction to further explore the area, so I’m not sure what lies beyond the kilns. Although it was interesting to see, it felt a little creepy out there.

cottonwood charcoal kilns

Hot Creek Geological Site

This was my second favorite stop and I wish that we could have spent an entire day exploring this area. You can read all the details about Hot Creek here. We saw and explored the main stretch shown in the photo, but there are trails along the gorge that go much further than we were able to discover given our time-frame. The warm water and the blue-green algae and knowing the background of the ancient volcano piqued my interest and the scenery was stunning. I will go back here and spend time exploring. There are restrooms in the main parking lot, although they weren’t pretty when we visited and only two of six were open. The walk down was a bit steep so wear appropriate shoes for this one.

hot creek 2

hot creek 3

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Mt. Whitney Hatchery

My husband loves fishing and so we are often subjected to trips to area fish hatcheries. Not so bad when they have the quarter machines to get food to feed the fish, but sometimes a trip to the fish hatchery can be less than amusing. Our third and final fish hatchery for this trip was the Mt. Whitney Hatchery (yes, I did say third). Fortunately, this was the most exciting hatchery we’ve been to. The Mt. Whitney hatchery is no longer operational, but some areas are still open to visitors. The hatchery is located on an alluvial fan and receives a lot of natural mud flow from the nearby mountains. The hatchery and several of the buildings were destroyed years ago and the Rainbow Trout were killed, so the hatchery function was shut down. However, this is one of the most stunning hatcheries you’ll find complete with fish pond, castle, and fish food machines. I’m not lying when I say there were some seriously large trout in that pond. Check it out if you are ever out that way. Pack a lunch, it’s a great spot for a picnic. The visitors center slash museum is open from April through September. Unfortunately we were there in March so we didn’t get to go inside but it’s still worth the stop. Learn more about the Hatchery here.

mt. whitney hatchery.jpg

 

What’s your favorite side trip on your way to Mammoth? Share your hot-spots!

 

 

 

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Women’s History Month

womens history month

March is almost over and while I intended to post this information much earlier in the month, busy-work kept me from reaching my goals. I found out early in the month that March is Women’s History Month. It began in 1981 as a week-long celebration and has received month-long recognition since 1995. Oddly, I don’t ever remember there being special studies dedicated to Women’s History Month during my school years, although we did occasionally touch briefly on important women from history throughout the year.

I wanted to be sure to emphasize the important roles women have played throughout history, so I made a point to dedicate some time and energy this month to teaching about some strong, passionate women that created change in our world, or at least left a really big mark. These are our subjects:

Clara Barton – Founder of the Red Cross; Provided supplies to doctors on the battlefield during the Civil War; Helped find missing soldiers; Fought for women’s right to vote.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton – Women’s rights pioneer; Helped women win the right to own property; Wrote an amendment to the constitution with Susan B. Anthony that would give women the right to vote – the law was written in the 1870s but was not passed until 1920, 18 years after Elizabeth’s death.

Harriet Tubman – Conductor of the Underground Railroad; Occasionally spied for the Union; Worked as a nurse in Union hospitals; Raised money to fund two schools for freed slaves; Built a home for the disabled and elderly.

Sojourner Truth – Abolitionist; Women’s rights pioneer; Met Abraham Lincoln and helped run the Freedmen’s Hospital for former slaves.

Sally Ride – First American woman in space; youngest American astronaut (32-years old);Professor at Stanford and University of California San Diego; Part time director of the California Space Institute.

Amelia Earhart – Famous female record-breaking pilot.

Helen Keller – Became blind, deaf, and mute at 18 months due to an unknown illness. With help from Annie Sullivan she learned to communicate through finger-spelling, reading lips, and eventually she learned to speak. College graduate; Worked with the American Foundation for the Blind speaking about the needs and abilities of the blind; Visited other countries to address the needs of the blind.

Mother Jones – Labor leader; Worked for fair labor, minimum wages, shorter work days, and child-labor laws.

Jane Goodall – Animal scientist; Studied the Chimpanzees and published many findings from her research; Founded the Gombe Stream Research Center in Africa; Speaks to address the need for conservation and protection for chimpanzees.

Elizabeth Blackwell – America’s first woman doctor; Trained nurses to work in Union Army hospitals during the Civil War; Opened the New York Infirmary in 1857 and it is still in operation as the New York University Downtown Hospital; Secretly taught classes to children of slaves.

Annie Oakley – Famous female sharpshooter; performed all over the world; Friend of Chief Sitting Bull; Star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.


Who Was Clara BartonWho Was Clara Barton?

Annie oakleyWho Was Annie Oakley?

Amelia Earhart Who Was Amelia Earhart?

I made a few booklets for my son to use along with our reading. I call them “Fast Five Fact Books”. They are basically a grown-up version of the mini-books they made in kindergarten, but they require a bit more effort. He chose who to read about, then he wrote one fact per page about the subject of his reading. Also, on each page I gave him space to draw an illustration for the fact he chose to write about. Once he completed each book, we stapled it together with the cover page and he has his own books to come back and read later if he chooses. We are putting all of ours in a three-ring binder so they are easy to find. Here are the two booklets we’ve completed about famous women from history:

Clara Barton Fast Five Fact Book

Helen Keller Fast Five Fact Book

These include additional pages for writing and illustrating as well as a few notebooking pages with writing prompts. I also put together a set of notebooking pages about Knights and a Fast Five Fact Book for George Washington. You can download those here:

Fast Five Fact Book George Washington

Knights Notebooking Pages

 

Happy Spring!