Dec 1, 2017

4th Grader FREE Annual NATIONAL PARKS PASS

I stumbled on this website in 2016. It was one of the best links I saved. When my son started 4th grade, we decided to let him make choices for our vacations or at least be part of where he wanted to go and take all of us on an excursion. On his list was camping, national parks and visiting some federal lands. Indirectly it gave him a chance to be part of the NPS Celebration of 100 years. President Barack Obama started this program in 2015 and it has been extended for the 2017-2018 school year. I am not sure how long this program will be around but I know its there till 2018!

He was so excited, intrigued at a Free pass and that exhilarating feeling that he would be instrumental in taking the entire family to one of his favorite parks for FREE !! So with a click of a button and an easy 3 questions on Every Kid in a Park, he got a print of his Free Pass that we recently utilized. Here are a few things to keep in mind for getting the pass.

  1. This pass is ONLY for 4th graders. Home schooler equivalent and 10 years old.
  2. You can visit National Parks, Federal Lands, Forests.
  3. The paper print needs to be given to the ranger who will then exchange it for a plastic card. This is a great keepsake once the card is expired. 
  4. The child needs to be with you in the car when exchanging. His/her signature or name will have to be written on the back of the card.
  5. The child needs to be with you every time the card is used.
  6. The child and the family is entitled to a FREE PASS for an ENTIRE YEAR!! 
  7. It starts on September 1st 2017 and runs till August 31st 2018 of the 4th grade school year.
  8. The Printed letter should be carried with you. If you lose it a fresh one will have to be printed. 
  9. No electronic copies are allowed.
  10. The card has a unique code so you cannot make copies and distribute it for others. 
  11. Each child is encouraged to make his/her own.
  12. Check the number of possibilites you can make use of with this card. 
  13. There may be other exclusions, please check Every Kid in a park for more details.
  14. Not all places on the list may accept the pass so you might want to call ahead just to make sure. Link HERE to check locations in your state.
Isn't this a great way to spend time with your kids and loved ones on an adventure? With so much going on in our lives, cell phone addiction, TV addiction and the social media that comes in between, this is a wonderful opportunity to get away for a few days and enjoy, learn about nature, breathe in some crisp fresh air, rejuvenate and come back whole hearted revived after a few days off from these worldly activities.

I believe, we would talk more with each other instead of being so engrossed with our heads lowered into our phones. A small life change in making sometime for ourselves with outdoor trips, make walking a necessity in life to be healthy and fit and to have a great relationship and rapport with people around us. Let us enjoy the natural surroundings that we so often tend to ignore.

If you like this post, please share it with your friends and family. It will surely make a difference in someones life and bring happiness and a Big Smile on your 4th Graders face. Please comment in the form below if you have utilized this Pass and do share your blog / or mention the place you visited with the Pass. I would love to read all about it.

BUT...

What if you don't have a 4th grader? There are fee free days allotted during the year. The only downside is the crowd that usually visit the park on that day/weekend. Free entrance days / week are available HERE.

So Long,

Savsmich

Oct 29, 2017

Very Large Array, New Mexico

Very Large Array is one of the worlds largest Astronomical Observatories and it has been featured in movies like Independence Day, Contact and Terminator Salvation. After our half day tour in Albuquerque, we headed towards VLA, a two hour drive into the most deserted part of New Mexico. It is about 50 miles west of Socorro. After the populated town of Socorro the only one lone town that you would pass by would be Magdalena. One important detail which I must mention is the lack of data reception within a couple miles of VLA.

Aug 9, 2017

Santa Fe, New Mexico

This charming city is located at 7,000 feet and is the capital city of New Mexico. It has the cleanest air in the country and has a vibrant culture, fascinating historical sites and multitude art galleries along the Historic Plaza/Downtown area.

Jul 1, 2017

Alaska Itinerary

This is an update to my Alaska post in 2012.

I was helping a friend with her itinerary and thanks to her, she noted that the old Alaska Post didn't have the detailed itinerary there. This one was written to assist her and any one planning on going there but not sure where to start. The parks/hotels, views mentioned here are our own and we are not being compensated for writing our reviews. So please feel free to check them out.

Jun 19, 2017

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico



From Joshua Tree National Park we drove the 12 hours to Las Cruces where we stopped for the night. Early next morning we left for Carlsbad Caverns. We were very excited about visiting this place. Having read all about it, it was the ride down the elevator into the depths of the earth and walking about 800 ft below the earth that made this journey even more special. If your not able to make it all the way here, Kings Canyon National Park also has caverns where you will be able to stalagmites and stalactites and more. Read about all this and more on this link. 

Jun 17, 2017

Joshua Tree National Park, California

With this trip we complete 10 National park visit. See our visits from our other parks HERE. Standing here in the desert and the area is clam, quite deserted as we are a week early from Thanksgiving break.  Palm trees beacon the streets, desert type appearance, sand blowing across the main road with the light breeze and the famous Joshua trees that give the park its name.

Jun 15, 2017

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico


And the last leg of our long journey! Here we are in White Sands National Monument.. Having driven all the way to New Mexico, this should be on your list of activities on your itinerary.

White Sands comprises of a large area of gypsum crystals. As we approached White Sands all we could see was a sea shining in the midday sun. The area all around us was white as if it had freshly snowed. This was just at the visitor centre and we had not even entered the park yet. Read about more of Gypsum here and how it is formed. Very interesting details explained. I did learn something from this trip.. all about gypsum :) 

Feb 22, 2017

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

This Santa Fe landmark is one that has many people impressed and staggering for answers to this unsolved mystery at the Loretta Chapel: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.


When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.

Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and tools ( saw, carpenters squae, hammer and tubs in which to soak the wood )looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in to answer to the sisters' prayers.

The stairway's carpenter, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

Unique Sights/ Names New Mexico

New Mexico has some unique sights and names of small towns! If your an avid fan of roadside attractions, these are some that you can PIN to your bucket list. More links are here on my Pinterest Page

Socorro, New Mexico

Socorro is well known for its well known bird watching opportunities. We drove through this little town via Magdalena on our way from Albuquerque to Very Large Array. From Socorro it is about a 51 mile drive to VLA an acronym for Very Large Array. 

We missed out on this but have mentioned it here you include it on your trip itinerary. Ref pic from San Miguel Mission website.

Roswell, New Mexico

This small town is famous for something unusual that happened in 1947 during a severe thunderstorm. For a detailed look into the events that led to this world famous place click HERE. Was it a flying saucer, a baloon. Many still believe that they were UFO's and sightings have been recorded by many.

Passing through this town we made a brief stop at the museum to check it out. I was surprised to see almost everything from street lights to stores had flying saucers, aliens or UFO related memorabilia attached.

New Mexico

We took a break from long roadtrips and instead went to our hometown in Goa for a long two month relaxation visit with family. We have been taking short weekend drives here and there that kept us going for a while.

After our last long trip to Yellowstone ( 17 hour drive to Wyoming ) we planned a quick weeks getaway from California to New Mexico - The Land of Enchantment! We were on the road for 8 days driving through California - Arizona - New Mexico - teeny bit of Texas - New Mexico - Arizona - California. What an experience that was! From deserts to plain long stretches of nothing but vast untouched land, we saw it all.



May 4, 2014

Portland, Oregon

When I started writing this blog-post on Oregon, I came across the website Travel Oregon.It mentions the Seven must sees of Oregon, which are Mt. Hood, The Columbia River Gorge, The Oregon Coast, Crater Lake, The Painted Hills, Smith Rock and The Wallowas. To our delight we had already done some of them. Below is a glimpse of our trip.

After spending a few hours at Crater Lake National Park, we headed towards Portland. Below is a  glimpse of our trip route map.

Feb 15, 2014

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

There is nothing that can prepare you for this one. It is 277 river miles long ( 446 kms ), 18 miles ( 29 kms wide ) and one mile deep ( 1.6 kms ). Carved by the roaring and majestic Colorado River, it has for millions of years carved out one of the most spectacular sights. You can see the river but it is a mile down and continues to carve the Grand Canyon. This is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and is all about the marvellous and mysterious Grand Canyon.

Feb 12, 2014

Twin Peaks, San Francisco

Viewing places from a height is always captivating whether it is from a flight, a blimp or a skyscraper. The place could be blanketed in fog for a few minutes and the next moment you see the city lights, vehicle tail lights and downtown right in front of you. What is it about viewing places from a height that brings people to photograph and visit these places? San Francisco, the city of lights, fog or love ( or any other name you want to call it ) has the most perfect place to sit and relax and marvel at how the city transforms hour by hour each day.

Nov 10, 2013

San Diego Attractions, California

Sunny San Diego.. One of our favorite places in Southern California. You can grab a beach towel and head for the beaches, laze around building sand castles or sit in the amphitheater and watch a whale, dolphin pet show or just gaze in wonder at underwater sea creatures. And if that is just not enough you can go from viewing underwater creatures to viewing pandas, exotic animals and birds from around the world at the San Diego Zoo. How about visiting The Old Town of San Diego which will take you back in time. Sharing these adventures with you in our fabulous San Diego road-trip.

Old Town, San Diego

Old Town is a state owned Historic Park and is considered the birthplace of California. Located just off highway I 5 ( exit Old Town ), sign boards guide you to the park. The address is 4010 Twiggs St and the intersection is San Diego Ave. We found free parking just opposite the Old Town sign board behind the Immaculate Conception Church. Parking is limited.

The Market place has tons of stuff to buy, restaurants, a leather Depot, Toby's candle soap shop. Visit the many museums and experience Old Town during yester years.

Tuna Harbor Park & Maritime Museum, San Diego

A quick stop on the last leg of our San Diego tour took us to The Maritime Museum and the Tuna Harbor Park. The Maritime Museum is located at 1492 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. 

Metered parking is available along the docks for 12 mins to 2 hours. Carry coins. Take pictures at the "Star of India " ship that was a three mastered bark and one of the oldest iron hulled merchant ship from Great Britain. This was used early as California's maritime commerce, circum navigating the earth 21 times stopping in San Francisco in 1873 and 1883 before being purchased by the Alaskan Packers Association. This is registered as one of California's registered landmark. Tickets can be purchased to go on board.  


star of india san diego
Star of India
HMS SURPRISE:

Take a picture of the HMS Surprise. It is a detailed re-creation of a 24-gun British frigate.


hms surprise san diego
HMS Surprise

TUNA HARBOR PARK:

Location: Tuna Ln, San Diego, CA 92132. It is located after the USS MIdway Museum on N. Harbor Dr.
Metered Parking is available here. Enjoy views of the USS Midway. Take pictures of the tall statue of the Sailor kissing the Nurse. The park gets its name due to the commercial fishing industry of San Diego. 


Unconditional Surrender San Diego
This above architecture is at the Tuna Harbor. Reviews about this classic piece of art history has been positive and negative on the internet. I do not know which story is true, however if you are in that area it is worth checking it out.


Sea World, San Diego

One Ocean Shamu Show
Get the family together and go and have fun at the fun, amusement theme park that features orcas, dolphins, pets, aquariums, dolphin viewing, rides, and much more. Located in beautiful sunny San Diego this is a very popular attraction which will require a day to see the shows and the exhibits. 


Blue Horizon

"SAVSMICH THOUGHTS
  • Get there early. 
  • The lines get long at the bag check. NO food is allowed except for water. 
  • Lines for popular shows open about 15-30 mins before the show starts. Get there early and grab your best spot. 
  • Some shows have the splash zone. If you intend to get wet, carry ponchos and an extra pair of clothing\ shoes and protect your Cameras and other electronic gadgets.
  • Various stalls are located within the park for a quick bite.
  • Don't miss Shamu the Orca show.   
  • Check the flamingo exhibit. Carry coins if you would like to purchase a tray to feed them.
  • Feed the sea lions. View them from a close distance and enjoy their company when feeding them. They are super cute and have an attitude when you have food in front of them. They are really cute to hear. Watch for the birds surrounding them who vie for the fish in your hand.
  • Catch the Blue Horizon show. Much more appealing and attractive with dolphins, birds, aerialists and dancers performing to music. 
  • Check the timing before you book your tickets. Some weekends ( specially in summer have extended hours and fireworks ).
  • Have toddlers and kids? I highly recommend strollers. It is a blessing to have it around as they may tire after walking the long distances within the park or if they fall asleep after a few hours. 
  • Click on THIS LINK for Know before you go details to Sea World.
  • Take pictures/video to capture the memories.
  • Enjoy and have fun !!
Soak Zone at Shamu Show
POPULAR SHOWS TO SEE:
  1. One Ocean
  2. Blue Horizon
  3. Sea Lion Live
  4. Pets Rule
  5. Shamu Rocks ( Night show viewing with lights and sound )
  6. Dolphin Point
  7. Penguins Encounter
  8. Turtle Reef
  9. Shark Encounter
  10. Sesame Street Bay of Play for Kids
MUST SEE ANIMAL EXHIBITS:
  • Shamu underwater viewing
  • Polar Bear
  • Sea Lions
  • Flamingos
  • Penguins
  • Overhead Shark walkway
  • Beluga whale
  • Walrus
  • Tidepool Area
Here are some of our pictures from our trip in August 2013. 

Flamingo Exhibit

Dolphin Encounter

Sea Lions

Pet Show
Exhibits
Exhibits

















Before you exit, remember to take a pic near the entrance with "Sea World" to add to your list of places visited \ diary.

San Diego Zoo, California

Enjoy viewing animals, birds, reptiles from the Amazon forest to the Australian outback koalas. See elephants, giraffes, pandas, meerkats, sun bears, experencce elephants, polar bears, apes, cats hippos and exotic birds, tapirs, jaguars, pronghorn, hornbills, porcupines and much much more. All at the San Diego Zoo located in Southern California.
Pandas

Aug 8, 2013

Mark's Steel Art Exhibit, San Francisco

A leisurely walk on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California got us wondering about the array of what looked like miniature structures against the city's skyline. Since we had ample time, we decided to take a closer look.

art sculpture
Mark di Suvero, Figolu, 2005-11;
art sculpture
Another amazing scupture
art sculpture
Mark Di Suveero's steel sculpture


crissy field exhibit
Mark di Suvero, Will, 1994
art sculpture
Mark Di Suveero's sculpture
Located in Crissy Field, San Francisco. This is Mark Di Suveero's Art Exhibit. He is an American abstract expressionist sculptor. Not that much int art, they looked just like some steel logs attached together. Only when I viewed them closer did I appreciate the intricate work involved in putting them together. 

It will be on exhibit for a year till May 26th, 2014. For more information about this internationally renowned sculptor click here. The steel structures are unique and are his collection from 1967 -2012. 

If you are going .. 

- Crissy Field is located are 1199 East Beach , San Francisco
- Admission is free.
- Metered parking is available just across the field.
- For more information on transportation and other details.. click HERE

Other places to see around: 

Golden Gate Park ( includes North Dutch Windmill, South Murphy Windmill, Japanese Tea Garden and Conservatory of flowers ) : 
http://www.savsmich.com/2013/03/golden-gate-park-san-francisco.html

San Francisco ( includes Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Crooked Street, Conservatory of flowers: 
 http://www.savsmich.com/2012/08/san-francisco.html 

Polynesian Festival, Santa Cruz, California

UPDATE: 23RD AUGUST 2015 


23rd Annual Aloha Races & Polynesian Festival

Sunday, August 23, 2015 | 11:00 am - 5:00 pm


MORE INFO : Click HERE


Celebrate summer at the pier and escape to The Polynesian Islands for a couple of hours in Santa Cruz, California.

Head over to the Santa Cruz Pier, Santa Cruz, California this August and enjoy Hawaiian music, food, performances and even Aloha canoe races. You can also buy Aloha outfits. A number of artisans display their crafts. You can buy some Hawaiian dresses, art or craft, earrings and much more. Enjoy an afternoon of music and dance and seeing the young and young at heart swaying to the rhythmic Hawaiian music. Below are some pictures taken in 2009.

If your going.. the festival is on August 18th, 2013. Here is the link for the schedule.

dancer
Dancing to the hawaiian rhythm

kids perfornance
Cute and adorable kids

dancer
Splendid performance

alohan dancer
Kids displaying their talent

polynesian festival
Dancers

dancers polynesian festival
Dancers
** Carry a jacket. Cool temperatures towards evening is typical.**
Click here for parking locations: Santa Cruz Parking
**Coin operated parking is available on the streets, all day parking is available near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.