Monday, July 20, 2015

Field Trip to the Maine Wildlife Park

Last month I coordinated a homeschool field trip to the Maine Wildlife Park located in Gray. They have educational classes in May, June, September and October for school groups including homeschoolers. I realized last year that we could fill a class (75 spots) and then some so I started coordinating a class time just for homeschoolers. This allows for a reduced entrance fee and then time to explore the park after the class. Last year we had just over 100 people attend (including younger siblings and parents), but the weather was iffy that day and it did start to rain part way through the morning. This year I had over 130 people attend and we had gorgeous weather.

Our time there started with a class on bears. The educator is wonderful. You can definitely tell she's done this a few times with all kinds of children. She does a great job relaying the information and keeping the children engaged.

This baby fawn died in utero when it's mom was hit by a vehicle and is now used in educational classes.

Pretty impressive paw print! The huge one on the left is from a grizzly bear. The one on the right is from a Maine black bear.

Once the class was over - they last about 45 minutes - we were able to go explore the park. I had a couple "bonus boys" with me today so I had a crew of five boys with me. 

We like to start with the deer and work our way around the whole park. I think we hit a lot of it since I had almost 15K steps this day according to my FitBit. This is one of our favorite places to visit and we often go every year either in the spring or the fall.

Of course, we did manage to stop for a fun photo op first....

Bonus Boy #1

Bonus Boy #2

My youngest

Mr. T - getting some help to get up there.

And yes, I'm missing a boy. I couldn't bribe or otherwise convince my 14-year-old to do the photo. 


They had just fed the mountain lion. We had a great time standing there watching him (her?) eat.

They hide the food so that the animals have to work (kind of) to eat.

I thought it hilarious that this poor moose was trying to get this one little green plant on the other side of the fence. The enclosure (which is pretty big for one moose) had some nice greener in it that was much easier to get at.

Checking out the bears.

We always take a photo on this metal turtle. I need to go find some older pictures so I can compare how much my boys have grown!

Almost all of them are looking at me....

This was a great end to our 2014-2015 school year. While coordinating these field trips is always a lot of work, it is a lot of fun too. Although, this one did start with a bit of extra stress!

I was less than 10 minutes away from the park. I had turned on to a side road and was following a fully loaded dump truck. I noticed that he was swerving some, crossing the yellow line, and just not driving well at all! I backed off a fair distance and just made sure to keep my eyes on what he was doing. 

Once again he crossed the yellow line, but didn't correct back. Unfortunately, he did this just as he was crossing over a highway overpass. A Subaru wagon was coming towards him and I laid on my horn as he was clearly in the other lane and the car coming had no place to go. I must have alerted him because just before it could have been really bad, he jerked the wheel to the right. However, it was too late. He crunched that car right into the guardrail. 

He also kept going! He crossed the entire overpass before stopping to back up. Meanwhile I pulled up to the car and checked on the driver. She was shaken but completely fine. Her door, however, was smashed in and she couldn't get out. I backed up and called 911. By this time the dump truck had backed up. 

Thankfully a First Responder arrived soon after I hung up from 911 and checked on the driver. I was, however, beginning to panic just a bit. I had 130 people waiting on me and all the admission money with me! I was already later than I told folks I would be there and now I was the witness to an accident! Thankfully, the First Responder cleared me to leave after I left my name and number. 

I'm so glad I did because the dump truck driver was telling the other driver and the First Responder that he had hit her because he swerved around a bicyclist that was ahead of him. Even the boys in the truck with me knew he was lying. I had followed him that entire road and there was no bicyclist. I'm not sure he was impaired by drugs or alcohol, but he was definitely distracted! I'm so thankful no one was hurt, that I was able to leave when I did before the road was clogged with safety vehicles, and I managed to get to the field trip on time. The check in process went very smoothly and we started out class on time! 

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