Sunday, April 29, 2018

Hobbies that Begin with "Z" - Blogging from A to Z Challenge

During the 2018 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on hobbies that I have introduced to my daughters to through their childhood and teen years. Some were done as part of homeschooling, while others were areas that we explored because we were interested in the subject or activity. These are hobbies that anyone of any age could try as well.


Here we are on the final letter of the A to Z Challenge. Throughout the years, Sophia and Olivia have tried two hobbies that begin with the letter "Z": ziplining and zoology.


On July 10, 2014, Sophia and I went ziplining at Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais, Minnesota. We had to get into the gear before we went to the first stop.

Before we went ziplining, there was a practice session that was low to the ground. It was to show us what it felt like on the wire; and gave us an opportunity to practice moving ourselves from platform to platform in the event that we didn't make it to next platform when we were up higher.

After that, we went on an ATV ride to the first platform.

We climbed the steps and then we were ready to do the first section of the course.

Sophia went first and took that leap of faith that the equipment was safe and sturdy.

The reward in moving along the course was seeing incredible views of Gunflint Lake and the forest.

It was such a beautiful view and one that you wouldn't normally see with hiking or trail riding.

Some of the sections between the platforms were longer which was fun.

Each one provided a slightly different view and level of excitement.

We were sometimes high above the treetops, and other times it felt like we were right among the trees.

It was nice when there were longer descents and we could spend time coasting above the trees.

Ziplining was a memorable experience; and we were both so happy that we had an opportunity to do this together.


Some of our first visits to the zoo were to Como Zoo which was the closest zoo to our home. There were classes for youth who were homeschooled, so the girls took some classes there about various topics. Below, they are learning about eggs.

October 17, 2007

After the classes, we would walk around and look at the animals; and the girls would sit on the statues.

October 17, 2007

When they were a little older (7 and 5 years old), we started visiting the Minnesota Zoo which was about an hour away from our home. There was a special room that had hands-on activities for the children to play with and touch. The girls enjoyed pretending to be veterinarians for stuffed zoo animals.

January 31, 2008

We still would visit Como Zoo to learn about the animals there - like the primates.

November 20, 2008

Visits to the Minnesota Zoo gave us new perspective about things we had learned as part of homeschooling. For example, we had studied the extinct elephant bird that once lived on the island of Madagascar. We were surprised to see a replica of an elephant bird egg and a statue to show its size.

February 12, 2009

We were able to see what bears look like when they hibernate.

February 12, 2009

I started taking photos of the girls by the bear statues at the Minnesota Zoo knowing that each time we returned, I would take another photo to show how the girls were growing.

February 12, 2009

As they got older, we were able to spend more time at the zoo and observe our favorite animals - like the sea otter.

February 12, 2009

We visited new spots and returned to places we always wanted to see - like the aquarium. Sometimes we were able to watch the diving and feeding time.

February 12, 2009

For one visit to the Minnesota Zoo, there was a special exhibit of African animals. There was an opportunity to feed the giraffes which was exciting.

June 3, 2009

The platform that people stood on was high enough so that a giraffe and person would be at head-to-head level.

June 3, 2009 

We always learn something new about the animals when we visit a zoo. Below, Olivia is comparing her hand to a print of a tiger.

June 3, 2009

When we visited the Roger William Zoo on our trip to the New England states, we saw a great anteater. None of us had ever seen an anteater before...except on cartoons. It was interesting to watch the anteater move and eat.

September 6, 2011

In March 2016, we attended a session at the Minnesota Zoo about exploring careers in zoology. After the sessions, we spent time looking at our favorite animals - including the bears. These are the same ones we observed hibernating.

March 15, 2016

Another place that the girls learned about zoology was at Fawn Doe Rosa in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. They were able to feed deer that came right up to them. 

June  16, 2016

We went back to the Minnesota Zoo with some of the families from our 4-H club. The girls sat on the turtle sculpture that is in the Tropics area.

March 16, 2017

We visited the aquarium again.

March 16, 2017

One final stop at the end of the day was at the bear sculpture. Compared to 2009, Sophia's shoulders are now higher than the bear's arm and Olivia has far surpassed the bear cub in height.

March 16, 2017

When Olivia and I were in Tucson, we went to the International Wildlife Museum. It has a variety of examples of taxidermy there, with animals being from almost every part of the world. 

July 2, 2017

There were sculptures of animals that no longer exist - like the dodo bird.

July 2, 2017

There were entire rooms of the variety of types of big horn sheep, for example. It was an eye-opener as to the number of types deer, for example.

July 2, 2017

We saw a musk ox.

July 2, 2017

The following day we went to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. Below, Olivia is looking at a bark scorpion.

July 3, 2017

She also got to look eye-to-eye at a brown vine snake.

July 3, 2017

At the Kartchner Cave, there was an exhibit about bats. We learned that if bats were the size of humans, that their ears would be significantly out of proportion with their heads. The photo below shows how big a bat's ears would be if they had a head that was Olivia's size.

July 3, 2017

One of the most amazing things we saw were elk in the wild. There was a small group of elk near the entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. The bus stopped so we could watch the elk and see how they ate. 

July 5, 2017

Another fun memory is when we were at the Grand Canyon and noticed a squirrel hanging around us. Knowing that the squirrels at home ate pinecones, we picked one from a tree and Olivia fed it. At first, the squirrel was a little nervous. However, it quickly warmed up to Olivia and would take the pinecone and eat it. She would pick another one, and it would come back for it. 

July 6, 2017

About a month later, RAD Zoo came to the local library. The speaker brought a variety of reptiles - some of which we could touch.

August 12, 2017

There were some reptiles that we could stand by and look at up close, but not touch - like this alligator.

August 12, 2017

We have had a great time learning about animals and reptiles throughout the years; and are fortunate to be relatively close to many different organizations that focus on education as well as taking care of animals.


That wraps up the A to Z Challenge. I was surprised at the number of hobbies that the girls have done through their childhood and teen years. I would like to continue to add photos to these posts as the girls explore these and other hobbies.

There are many photos from their early childhood that weren't included in these posts because they haven't been scanned yet or uploaded to my account on 

It would be nice to be able to look back on these early photos as well as ones that we will take until they graduate from high school. 

Thank you to all of you who have commented and left encouraging words. I appreciate the time you took to read the posts and share your thoughts with me. 


Hester Ley Nel said...

You and your daughters have great memories, well documented, to look back on. Incidentally, we also visited the ziplines in the Oribi Gorge (South Africa) yesterday, but this time we only watched the participants. The lines span the gorge and the nature reserve, and end by gliding in over the lake; it is great fun. Congratulations on the successful completion of the AtoZ 2018.

Melanie Crouse said...

I have really enjoyed seeing your beautiful family go on all their adventures. This was a huge undertaking for you, and I think it's great you've got this organized in this unique way. Good luck to you! Melanie's Stories

JEN Garrett said...

I've always been scared to try ziplining, but after reading your blog it actually looks pretty fun! Congrats on finishing the challenge!