Field Trip – Dismals Canyon, AL

WARNING – This post was written a while ago (maybe a year or so?) and never published. The prices listed may have changed. [OK… I looked it up, and it’s now $12/adult, $8.75 for kids, with the $1 add on for picnicking on their back deck.]

A friend and I decided recently that we needed a road trip. The weather’s been beautiful and she needed a break, so we packed the kids up, loaded the car, and headed to Dismals Canyon.

Dismals Canyon is a privately owned property with camping, hiking, a grill, and a gift shop area. The admission rate was $10 for ages 12 and up, and $6.75 for ages 11 and under. Those are for self guided tours (hiking and a map).

Since we arrived in a day when the grill was opened, picnicking was “prohibited”. As a conservation minded person, I get the desire to limit trash and I agree that people can be slobs and disregard their personal clean up, but banning picnics and posting that all my bags could be searched was really off-putting to me.  If you arrive when the chill is closed you can picnic – for $1/person… to eat the food you brought…on their deck… Hmmm.  I wasn’t impressed.


Overall the site was really, really beautiful. The day we went the weather was (as you can see!) perfect. We did about a 1.5 mile hike which was perfect for us. It left us a lot of time for exploring, relaxing, and hanging out and talking.


I took a ton of pictures!!



It really was a great break from our normal homeschool routine. I think I would go back again, but I might consider a different location with a more liberal picnic policy if I had a large group.


Are there any good day trips near you that you’d recommend?


High School Electives – AeroScholars Course 1 – Fundamentals of Aviation Science

I know when I look to sign up one of my kids for a class online, I start looking around to see if anyone has reviewed it first. I like first hand experiences – some been there / done that in the trench details.


One class my daughter took last year that I’ve been anxious to review was the AeroScholars Course 1 – Fundamentals of Aviation Science online course. She took the class in the Spring of 2015.

Format: Online, self paced, video library streaming with an online text and online tests/quizzes. No part of the course is live.

Text: Online (or you can purchase a real book – I did – used on Amazon for about $13-18). It’s called Aerospace: The Journey of Flight.

Cost: $225 for a semester

Ages: Big took it in 8th grade (and aced it – but she’s a space and aviation NUT). It’s advertised as a High School class.

Perks: For an additional cost ($150?) you can transfer into college credit.


How’d it work?

Each student is assigned a kind of mentor online. If they have issues they call/email that person. We received good, clear information from our person. Once the class starts (it’s a semester system – so you start at a certain date and have to end by a certain date) the pace is up to the student. A suggested course schedule is available online. We pretty much followed the schedule, doubling up as needed for breaks and travel.


The pace was totally reasonable for a high school elective course.  For each chapter I had Big complete the assigned reading, then do the online portions (videos, etc) then complete any quizzes or tests. There were also a few extra credit assignments, and a couple of things she had to do on her own (airport tour, etc.). Overall the class took about 45 minutes a day 4-5 days a week for the semester.



Well, I’d say this was a totally reasonable Intro to Aero course. It covered a lot – basic of airplane designs, aerodynamics, weather, aviation careers, etc. It was a solid basic class. DH and I both have a bit of aviation experience and we thought it was a very good class with very good, age-appropriate amounts of information. The text is used by the Civil Air Patrol and is a fabulous book for anyone 13+ interested in aviation – even if they don’t take the class.



We really enjoyed the class and will enthusiastically sign Big up for Aero 2 in a year or so. If you have a kid interested in flying, this is a great intro class. If you’re looking for an interesting, well -designed, hands-off elective for a high schooler – this is a great pick.
Big’s Review?

“I loved it!”


If you have any questions – feel free to comment and I’ll answer what I can!

And, in case you’re wondering, this review is all my opinion. We weren’t compensated in any way, and we paid for the class and books ourselves.

Isn’t it Friday, yet?

Today I am cramming. Roundtable is tonight and Cub Scout Day Camp is in a month. I’m totally stressed out. I think it will be fine. Boys will shoot arrows, make crafts, run around. It will be fun. But I am a logistics person so I stress…

Our theme is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. My guest speaker draft list is this:

  • Monday – EcoCar team from the local university
  • Tuesday – Local police coming with a car, presentation, and child ID program
  • Wednesday -Wildlife guy from local university – Eagle scout – great guy and kids loved him last year
  • Thursday – Rocketry afternoon (2 hours)
  • Friday – HUGE campfire

I know, some of the speakers are totally unrelated to “theme”. I hate themes, but that’s irrelevant. The one (wildlife) is such an amazing mentor and encourager to the boys we’d be crazy not to invite him. This year we’ll be doing “scout skills” so by Friday the kids will be ready for songs, skits, flag ceremonies, etc. I’m really excited about going old school with some of our stations, and I think the campfire and kid’s participation will be a great addition to the camp.

Next week’s work list –

  • Get the shirts done and to the printer….
  • Order craft stuff…
  • Finalize speakers…
  • Get a training date set…
  • Recruit some Boy Scouts…
  • Reserve dunk tank…

So that’s it. The list for this week. I am WAY more relaxed as a Day Camp Director this year than last, but last year was so fabulous I don’t want to drop the ball!!

Keep it simple. Make it fun.