Visiting Kim’s Classroom: Marshmallow Structures

For our second day helping Kim teach at her school, our lesson was all about structures. For anyone who missed the estimation activity last class, Mom and I reintroduced our selves. We explained how we are both engineers and a little bit about all the different types of engineering. Since we are engineers, we wanted to bring an engineering activity to do with them. Kim started the lesson with a few vocab words like structure, cube, tetrahedron (pyramid shape) and strength. The goal of the activity was to see which type of structure, the cube or tetrahedron, could hold the most weight.

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To start the activity we split the class into small groups and gave them their building materials we brought from the US: toothpicks and marshmallows! Each group was tasked with making one cube and one tetrahedron. We made some examples for them to use as a reference and walked around the room helping out the different groups. After a little help each group was able to make their own structures.

To test which shape is the strongest we combined four groups together and had them put all their tetrahedrons together on a desk. Next we used their “copybooks”, or notebooks, to see how many the small structures could hold. The students gingerly placed a copy book on the structures one at a time until the structures fell, then repeated the process for the cubes. The cubes fell with just one copy book placed on it while, the tetrahedron could hold more weight, falling on the second copy book. In later classes, we switched to seeing how many notecards the structures could carry instead of the copy books. This way instead of falling right away under the thick copy books the whole process was more suspenseful and fun having the students place notecards one by one.

 

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At the end of the lesson we revealed to the students that marshmallows are actually candy! They don’t have anything similar to them in Liberia so every student stared at us in disbelief. They wouldn’t eat their building materials until they saw Kim eat one to prove they were edible! Even then they were skeptical, but once they tried them they kept begging for more!

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After doing the activity for three different classes we invited any students who wanted to do more to stay after school for another activity. During class earlier, they learned that structures using triangles can hold more weight than one built with squares. With the the knowledge they’d learned in class, we challenged the students to build the tallest tower they could, with the same materials. We split them into teams then gave them twenty minutes to work before measuring to find out which group could build the tallest structure. The students seemed to really enjoy it and were proud to show off their final towers (even if a few of the groups had to hold theirs up). From all the classes the tallest free standing tower measured at 22 cm and the winners from each grade got a prize!

 

We adjusted a few things from class to class, learning along the way, but overall the activities were a hit! We were only slightly exhausted at the end of 5 sessions, but the students seemed to enjoy them and hopefully learned something too! Plus we got to share an American treat with them: My absolute favorite part was the reactions on the students faces when they saw us eating the marshmallows! Our activities with Kim’s students are something I’ll never forget.

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Visiting Kim in Liberia: A Morning in Kakata

Since Kim lives relatively close to the larger city of Kakata, we decided to take a morning to visit and see the Peace Corps training center and to meet her Liberian host family who she lived with during her initial training in Liberia. Instead of trying to hail a cab on the side of the main rode with three open seats in it, we called our cab driver from the other day to bring us there. While its much more expensive to do it this way it definitely made things easier plus we got a taste of the true Liberian way to travel on the way back from Kakata. We had breakfast on Kim’s front porch enjoying the cool morning air waiting for our cab driver to arrive.

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Once in Kakata, we headed straight to the Peace Corps training center. During our visit the newest Peace Corps volunteers had just arrived but were off one site visits (like Kim did) so we had the facility basically to ourselves. Instead of one building it is more of a compound with multiple buildings and plenty of green space in between. We walked around and explored the training center and dorms and then practiced using the pump to draw water.

Next we took a winding dirt path, through peoples yards, up and down a small hillside to reach the home of Kim’s Liberian family. We met her Ma, her sister, Blessing, and her little brothers Prince and Seth. We sat on her Ma’s porch and spent some time catching up with her family. They were very excited to meet us and Mom got a chance to thank them for all the help they gave Kim adjusting to life in Liberia.

Kim’s Ma walked us out to the main road to say goodbye, then we headed to a tea shop for lunch. Liberian tea shops are similar looking to a bar outside, where you sit at a counter to eat and drink. The difference is that, the main thing they serve is assorted teas and coffees and then “bread with egg” to eat. We ordered three bread with egg and a coffee to share. The food came one at a time, since she was only using one pan to make eggs mixed with onions more similar to an omelette than scrambled eggs (with more oil than we tend to use at home!). The eggs were served on a long bread hot dog style to eat. We sat in the covered open air shop enjoying the food and the coffee and watching the passersby.

After we filled our bellies, we headed to the local market area to walk around. Since Kakata is a much larger city compared to Kim’s community, they have a market every day rather than just one day a week like Kim’s site. The market was huge! We walked up and down streets lined with small open air shops selling anything you can think of. In addition to those shops, there was also a large covered area filled with tables where various food commodities were sold. Most of the food is sold by the pile, so tables are lined with piles of various foods. We saw everything from piles of beans to piles of raw chicken feet!

After we finished exploring the different sections we headed back to where we saw the bright colorful lappa fabrics so we could pick some patterns out to have made into dresses! The way it works is you buy the fabric in the market then take it to a tailor shop to be made into anything you want. We planned to get measured by the tailor at Kim’s site and show him pictures of the dress styles we like to have them made into fitted dresses! Since those wouldn’t be finished until after our visit, Mom and I each bought a premade dress at the market to wear during our trip!

After we finished exploring the different sections we headed back to where we saw the bright colorful lappa fabrics so we could pick some patterns out to have made into dresses! The way it works is you buy the fabric in the market then take it to a tailor shop to be made into anything you want. We planned to get measured by the tailor at Kim’s site and show him pictures of the dress styles we like to have them made into fitted dresses! Since those wouldn’t be finished until after our visit, Mom and I each bought a premade dress at the market to wear during our trip!

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Visiting Kakata was an amazing experience. We loved getting the chance to see the Peace Corps training area and meeting Kim’s Liberian family we’ve heard so much about! Once we made it back to Kim’s home it was time to start prepping for our second day of activities in Kim’s classes — post about that coming soon!

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Visiting Kim’s Classroom: Estimation Activity

At our first day in Kim’s school, we were surprised when we arrived to find that it was a “working day.” That means that instead of classes, the students work to clean up the school’s campus. They hadn’t started cleaning yet, so we decided to still do our prepared activity with the students who were there early before they started cleaning. Since my mom and I are both engineers, we wanted to bring some math and science activities to do with Kim’s students. After introducing ourselves and talking a little bit about all the different types of engineering, we jumped right into an activity all about estimating.

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We started the lesson with a few vocab words so the students would have some notes to write down in their copybooks (notebooks). We gave definitions for the words volume, guess and estimate. The idea of the lesson was to show the difference between a guess with very little information and using more information to make an estimate. We displayed a clear 5in x 3in x 1in container which was filled with beans we bought from the shop in front of Kim’s house. We asked each student to write down their guess for how many beans were in the container just by looking at it.

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Next we showed them an identical container filled with one inch cubes and had a volunteer from the class count and tell us that 15 one inch cubes fit into our container. After that, we showed them smaller containers that could each fit one cube inside. To help them make a better estimate we poured beans into these smaller cubes then gave groups of students their own set of beans to count.

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Knowing the number of beans that could fit in the one inch cubes, we asked the class how they could make a better educated guess or estimate of how many beans could fit in the larger container. Many students answered right away that they could do 15 times the number of beans! With their new number and the idea that the beans can vary in size, we asked each student to write down their new estimates to see who could get closest to the actual number.

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After everyone’s estimations were turned in we revealed that the grand total in the large container was 1358! The students who had the closest estimates received a few jolly ranchers we brought with us from the US as their prize. Overall the activity was a hit, the kids enjoyed doing the hands on activity (and getting out of a little cleaning)!

To round out our day we decided to visit a cook shop down the road from the school. Cook shops look a lot like any other house on the street. Locals can spot them because they have a clothe hanging in the doorway as a door but an easier way to spot them is some hang a sign out front that says “Food is Ready”. The way it works is the Ma cooks a bunch of soup and rice for the day then puts her sign out and sells a soup and rice mixed together until she runs out of food for the day. We asked for the soup and rice to be separate since Liberians really love their peppeh aka a hot pepper that they put in a lot of their foods. I don’t handle spicy foods well so I had bites of mostly rice with a small bit of soup. We sat on benches inside the small shop enjoying the traditional Liberian dish!

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​Life in Liberia: Market Day!

Here in Liberia, grocery shopping is not as easy as jumping in the car and heading to the Kroger around the corner! Unless you’re in a big city with a supermarket, buying food and other things takes a little more work!

I’m fortunate to live in a big enough community that I am able to buy most of my food and necessities throughout the week. My landlord, who lives in the house right in front of mine, has a pretty good-sized shop, mostly of dry goods like rice, beans, onions, spaghetti, tomato paste – enough that I knew from day one that I at least wouldn’t starve here! And in the first few months, I slowly figured out where to buy other foods – there’s a shop near the school that sells bread, a house on my walk home that sells “cold sausage” (frozen hotdogs bought from nearby towns earlier that day) and a house across from mine that often has eggs (though for a few months there was an egg shortage in the country and they were very hard to find!).

So if I plan my day right, I can pick up everything I need to make my dinner on my way home from school. I also keep an eye out as I walk around town for other things like plantains, cassava or African potatoes and whatever fruits are in season – these are most often found in small amounts outside anyone’s house; people will sell the small amount from their own gardens that’s left after feeding their own families.

And then on Tuesday, we have Market Day! Once a week, people come from miles around to buy and sell in our town’s market. So every week, I’ll keep a list of things I want to make sure to pick up on the next Tuesday. Throughout the rest of the week, the market sits almost completely empty, with the exception of a few local market women selling a few various foods. But on Tuesday the place is packed!

You can find the same foods that are there throughout the week, but also a lot more: there’s a whole aisle of “wheelbarrow shopping” – clothes in wheel barrows or piles, most of which was sent over from the states or Europe, that you can sort through to find what you need.  There’s another area with people selling produce – whatever seasonal fruits and vegetables they’ve grown (though you have to get there early for the good stuff – I often miss out because I teach in the morning and don’t get to the market until the afternoon).

You’ll find people selling lappa fabric or pre-made clothes, sandals and slippers (Liberian English for flipflops), packaged cookies and snacks, soap and hair products, small electronics and more. I’ve made friends with a man named Boikai (who’s name I can remember because it sounds to me like “Buckeye”) who comes to my town every week from Kakata to sell bags – backpacks and the colorful plastic “Ghana-must-go” bags.

In addition to the different stalls set up, there are plenty of people walking around selling food! I always look for plantain chips or popcorn, freshly made shortbread or donuts, and find the woman who sells fried plantains and sometimes fried chicken legs! You can also find people selling more traditional meals of soup and rice or Liberian spaghetti.

Even on weeks that I don’t really have a list of things to buy, I always try to go take a walk around the market, see if there are any surprises to be found and say hello to my friends who are selling!

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Update from Liberia: What I Did This Summer

The school year here in Liberia is similar to that of the US, it begins in September and goes through June, closing for July and August. There’s only two seasons in Liberia, rainy season and dry season, so they don’t call it summer break, but that’s what it felt like to me! So I wanted to write an update on what I did this summer….

Shortly after Mom & Kathryn’s visit, we had our semester exams and wrapped up the 2017-2018 school year the first week of July. After grading all of my students’ tests and calculating final grades, I turned in my grade sheets just in time to leave for a visit home!

I went home to the US for 3 weeks in July and it was great to be home and see so many friends and family! The big event was Kathryn and Nelson’s wedding in Indianapolis, which was beautiful and I was so thankful to be a part of it. I also spent a weekend in Columbus, celebrating my friend Christine at her bachelorette party. And I spent time at home in Cincinnati, visiting friends, hanging out with my family and eating all the foods that I’ve missed while being in Liberia!

I came back to Liberia at the beginning of August and had a few weeks before school started. After a couple of days of relaxing and settling back into life here, I was ready to find something to do! Though school was closed, the administration and some of the teachers were still at the school working every day, distributing report cards and preparing for the next school year’s registration. Each day there were also several students hanging around the school, so I decided to start a “summer reading” program for those couple of weeks.

Peace Corps gave each of us volunteers a Liberia Reads to Learn (LRL) kit, a reading program to help students build their vocabulary and comprehension skills and give them an opportunity to practice reading. The program allows students to read at their own ability level and at their own pace, and it gives them a chance to read about many different topics, including science, social studies and literature. The kit includes 6 different reading levels, each with 50 passages about different topics. After students read their own passage, they then answer 10 questions about what they’ve read, around both vocabulary and comprehension. Once they’ve read and passed enough LRLs from one level, they move to the next level, where the passages get more challenging.

I began bringing the LRLs to school in the mornings and inviting junior and senior high students to come read. I had done LRLs with my classes several times last year, so I also started telling my students when I saw them around town that they could come to school in the mornings to read. While a few of my previous students came, I was surprised to find that I had more new and younger students coming regularly! There were a couple groups of junior high boys, who would come and spend hours reading LRLs, often disappointed when I told them it was time to wrap up for the day! Overall I had 25 students participate in those two weeks, only 10 of them previous students of mine. Most days I only had about 5 or 6 students, less than I’d hoped for, but I was happy to see the students’ excitement about reading and see several new students progress to the 2nd level and even one to the 3rd in such a short time!

After doing LRLs for a couple of weeks, I shifted gears in the last week to start doing WASSCE math classes for the upcoming 12th graders. This coming year, I will be teaching the 12th grade (last year I only taught 10th and 11th) and all 12th graders take the WASSCE exam before graduating. It is a standardized test that is taken in many different countries across West Africa – and from previous versions I’ve seen, the math section looks tough! The list of topics that could come on the WASSCE is extensive and I know that it’ll be impossible to cover everything during class time before the students take the test in April. So I began extra sessions covering topics that I won’t have time for during the school year. Each day was a different topic, where I gave notes and example problems, let them practice and then ended with a real problem from a previous WASSCE from them to try. The students who came were eager to learn and to start preparing for the test, which was good to see and I hope to continue doing extra sessions throughout the school year.

Now I’m spending a week at mid-service training (MST) in Kakata, with the rest of LR-7, the cohort of education volunteers that I came with last year. And next week I start my 2nd school year teaching in Liberia!

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First Day in Liberia: Walk About Kim’s Community

After 27 hours of traveling we finally made it to Liberia! After finding Kim at the airport (!) we spent our first night at the luxurious Farmington Hotel right across the street. After a much needed night’s sleep, we met a taxi driver in the morning to take us on the bumpy hour long ride to Kim’s site in Montserrado County.

Once we reached Kim’s house we saw the wonderful welcome sign Kim’s neighbor made for us on her door. After dropping off our bags, we headed out on a “walk about” to explore Kim’s town. The people in her community are the friendliest people I’ve ever met! Since there isn’t air conditioning, everyone congregates on the porches as they are the coolest areas in the house. This makes it easy for everyone to say hello, throughout our entire trip we never passed a house in Kim’s community without greeting everyone along the way.

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We started off walking the dirt road to the market area, which was mostly empty since it wasn’t market day. As rainy season was just beginning, the path got fairly muddy at times and we had to wait out the rain a time or two. We stopped at a house by the market to buy some African corn on the cob. Different from the sweet corn in the US, it was slightly harder and tasted like popcorn!

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While walking the streets we were amazed by the number of houses that were actually shops. Any house you pass may be selling something! Kim filled us in on a way some shop keepers let you know what they are selling: they hang an empty package label of what they are selling on the side of the porch. For example the house we bought sausages (really just hot dogs) from had an empty packaged tacked outside.

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After a fifteen minute walk from her house, greeting everyone along the way, we arrived at Kim’s school. The buildings were empty but we got to see the rooms she teaches in and where we would be helping with activities the next few school days.

Once we were done exploring the school, we walked across the street to a house selling bags of cold water. In Liberia, it’s not safe for Westerners to drink the water (it’ll make us sick). Liberians are able to drink the water because their bodies have adapted to it. Bottled water is super expensive so instead they sell cold water in 0.5 liter plastic bags! You bite off the corner then suck on it and squeeze water out into your mouth.

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To end our walk about, we stopped at a few more shops to pick up some food for dinner. Kim doesn’t have electricity so that means no refrigeration, so each day dinner is decided by what foods people are selling when we walk through town. We were lucky our first night that we could get eggs and bread. Eggs are somewhat scarce and bread is made then sold until they run out but not necessarily baked each day. For dinner Kim made us scrambled eggs with onions that we ate on our bread. The rest of the evening we spent relaxing in the cool air on Kim’s back porch and getting ready for our first day at school!

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Mom & Kathryn Visit Liberia!

It’s been quite a busy summer and one of the many highlights was my mom and sister’s visit to Liberia!

It was awesome having them here! It was obviously great to see them after many months apart but even better was being able to share my life here in Liberia with them. Try as I might through phone calls, whatsapp messages, photos and blog posts, it’s impossible to explain it all! Things can be lost in translation because some things are so different that they’re hard to imagine without seeing it. Or after a year here, there are things I’ve gotten used to and don’t even think to share. So I loved that they were able to come and see Liberia for themselves!

We had a fantastic 10 days together. We spent a week at my site, where Mom and Kathryn met my friends, neighbors and students and lived the Liberian life with me. They survived no electricity, bucket baths, washing clothes on the washboard and meals of soup and rice with plenty of peppeh! They came to school with me in the mornings and did some fun hands-on engineering activities with my students. And they experienced the porch life in the afternoon, sitting with friends and reading to my porch kids (neighborhood kids who visit me often). We also took a day trip to Kakata where Mom and Kathryn got to meet my host family!

And then we spent a couple of days in the capital city, Monrovia, seeing the Peace Corps office and some other sites there. And we wrapped up the trip with a night at the Libassa resort, relaxing by the beach, swimming in the pool and floating in the lazy river!

Kathryn’s working on more posts about their trip from her perspective and will share more details but here are some of my favorite pictures from their visit!

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San Antonio’s Fiesta Week: Taste of New Orleans, El Mercado and the Texas Cavaliers River Parade

During my short time in San Antonio visiting family, I was excited to participate in a few Fiesta Week activities!  The tradition began in 1891 as a one day event as a salute to those in the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. The celebration has evolved into 10 day festival held each spring in San Antonio featuring three different parades throughout the week.

The first event we attended was the Taste of New Orleans event at Brackenridge Park at the Sunken Gardens Theater. The park was filled with Cajun style food stalls ranging from savory crawfish to sweet beignets. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking and dancing to the music. Admission was $15 plus you will need to purchase food/drink tickets once you get inside but all of the money raised at the event goes towards scholarships offered by the San Antonio Zulu Association.

After getting our New Orleans fix, we headed next door to walk around the Sunken Gardens. This Japanese tea garden was completed in 1919 and was created to beautify an abandoned quarry at this location. Walking the stunning winding paths and seeing the vibrant koi fish was a great ending to our day!

Our next Fiesta week activity was a visit to the Mercado in downtown San Antonio. The Mercado is open all year long full of stores selling primarily Mexican wares but during Fiesta Week there is an entire festival lining the streets. We shopped and explored before eating a delicious lunch at La Margarita. The Mercado was a great place to get our festive flower crowns and clothes for the River Parade that evening!

Finally it was time for the main event of our visit, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade! Rows of chairs line the San Antonio Riverwalk going right up to the edge of the water. Sitting in the front row I was worried I was going to fall in! The parade began around dusk and the trail of 55 decorated barges glowed brighter as the evening went on. One of the best parts of the River Parade is that all the money raised from the event goes to various children’s charities in the community.

Our seats were along the newer addition to the canal so, since there was no exit for the floats at the other end, we got to see each float twice! Every float had their own theme about their “mission”, a play on words referring to the Missions located in San Antonio (The Alamo is the most well known). Each float also had their own source of music and I was pleasantly surprised that about half the floats had live music! The floats were gorgeous but the best part of the evening had to be the looks on my young cousin’s face at every new float she saw!

While there are two other parades and many other activities during the rest of Fiesta week, sadly our trip had to come to an end. But here are some tips if you are trying to participate in these Fiesta activities:

  1. Utilize the event Park & Rides. For every Fiesta activity we rode the Park & Ride buses for a small fee so we didn’t have to try to find parking spaces downtown.
  2. Buy your tickets in advance for the parades. For the Texas Cavaliers River Parade, no one was allowed down by the Riverwalk unless they had a ticket.
  3. For the River Parade you are allowed to bring food and drinks (alcoholic or not) as long as they aren’t in glass containers.

Hopefully these tips are helpful, we can’t wait to go back and experience more of Fiesta Week!

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Biking on A Mission: Visiting Four Missions in San Antonio Texas

While visiting family in San Antonio, Texas, we decided to rent bikes and ride the trails to visit four different Missions along the San Antonio River. When missionaries came over to the Americas they attempted to convert the indigenous people to Catholicism. The Missions are the communities and churches built surrounding the missionaries efforts and there are five still standing today in San Antonio. The most notable would be the Alamo, famous for the Battle of the Alamo in the early fight for Texas’s independence from Mexico. We visited the Alamo the day before (read about it here) so we started our bike ride from Mission Concepcion. All the missions we visited on our bike ride are active churches today.

We parked our cars at Mission Concepcion then went to look around. A volunteer named David was super helpful explaining some of the historical aspects of the mission. Mission Concepcion is the most well preserved mission of those in San Antonio. While many other missions have been rebuilt how they were before, Mission Concepcion is the least altered with most of what you see today being original. Visitors can explore the courtyard, church and attached buildings learning the histories of what stood there.

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When we were done exploring it was time to figure out how to rent bikes. At each of the missions is a rack of bicycles available for rent from a company called SWell Cycle. The cost for the day is $12 and you have to dock the bikes once every hour along the way. We were able to dock the bikes at each mission so we didn’t have to push them around with us inside. The first leg of our ride was the longest at 3.3 miles from Mission Concepcion to Mission San Jose.

Mission San Jose is probably the best mission to visit if you are only visiting one as it has an (air conditioned) interactive center with a 20 informative minute video on about the origin of the missions and the affect they had on the area. The church is surrounded by a wall of jacales, or small houses, where the Indians the missionaries were able to convert lived. We spent a least hour at San Jose watching the movie and walking around. Behind the church you’ll find the first mill ever built in Texas in about 1794.

After another hot 3 mile long ride we arrived at Mission San Juan. This mission was much smaller than the previous two and we were not able to see the inside of the church. We learned from David at Mission Concepcion that the churches at these missions used to be colorfully painted, a large contrast to the all white facade here at Mission San Juan.

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After a quick break we made our way to the the last 1.9 miles to Mission Espada, the final stop on our trip. This mission was not as large as the others on our ride but the church, built in 1756, was quaint and there was a small store connected. Missionaries worked to make life in the missions resemble that of Spanish villages and Spanish culture.

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If you are planning to make this bike ride through the missions there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  1. It’s hot! – We visited in April and it still got to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so I’d hate to feel it in the dead of summer. If you’re there in the summer consider going early in the morning
  2. Bring water, drink often!- there are places to fill water bottles at each of the missions but by the end of the trip I was very dehydrated.
  3. Wear suncreen! – Don’t be like me and realize you didn’t put it on before the first leg and end up very burnt.
  4. No admission fees!- The only cost we had for the trip was the bike rentals, the missions are free to enter.
  5. Bring your own helmet! – Helmets aren’t provided so if you’re doing the biking make sure to bring your own.

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Even though I ended up as a lobster after our bike ride, I’m very glad we did it. It was a great way to get active and see some history. Plus, the trail follows the San Antonio river walk so the scenery was beautiful.

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5 Things to Know about Visiting the Grand Canyon in the Winter

The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking natural wonder any time of year, but visiting in the winter months can be very different from the peak summer season. When we visited last winter here are the five things we wish we would have known before visiting the Grand Canyon in December:

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  1. The North Rim is closed

The Grand Canyon’s North Rim has view and trails to trek similar to the South Rim however it is more difficult to visit as it is far from the freeway and doesn’t have close airport options. Generally the North Rim is less crowded but it is not open to visitors in the winter months. If you are planning to visit, the North Rim is open from May 15th to October 15th each year.

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  1. Its gets cold!

The Grand Canyon is at an elevation of 7,000 ft above sea level so although it is a desert it is still pretty cold in the winter time during the day. For us it got up to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the height of the day but if you are hoping to see the sunrise bundle up! When we watched the sunrise it was around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit. We also saw some ice on the trails so be careful when hiking and be sure to wear plenty of light layers!

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  1. Daylight hours are short

While it makes it easier to view the sunrise (~7:30am) and the sunset (~5:15pm), there are a lot less hours in the day to enjoy the canyon. The main way this affected us was when we hiked part of the Bright Angel Trail down into the Grand Canyon. We were wary about leaving plenty of time to make it back up the canyon so we wouldn’t be on the trail in the dark.

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  1. Not all the buses are running

We never ended up using the shuttles since it was more convenient to have a car in the winter. Only two of the shuttle bus routes are running and this did not include the one that could bring us to the park from our hotel or the route along Hermit Road stopping at many beautiful overlooks including Hermit’s Rest. If you are there in the winter it will be helpful to have a car to drive to the different areas you want rather than relying on the shuttle bus services.

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  1. During holiday weeks it is extremely crowded but other times it is not crowded at all

If you are traveling to the Grand Canyon in the winter be sure to avoid Thanksgiving week and the week between Christmas and New Years if at all possible. During the holiday weeks the Grand Canyon National park is jam packed. However, when we were there in mid December there were many times we had places to ourselves.

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Visiting during the winter months definitely has it’s advantages, the main one being very few fellow tourists, but we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Hopefully these tips will help you plan you winter vacation!

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