Seaside and Fake Moon National Park Activities Suggestions

I was supposed to be on vacation this month but I'm working on a big project and probably won't be able to start until next month. But I will still bring you the activities I promised last week. FYI, military members and their dependents can get free passes to the parks. Senior citizens lifetime passes are ten dollars if purchased on site and twenty if done via the mail. This is a shockingly good price. You can get free access if you are permanently disabled and apply on site or ten dollars if done through the mail. Volunteers also get a free pass after fulfilling a minimum block of volunteer time. Everyone else can get an annual pass for eighty dollars. More info here: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (http://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm) is an odd and interesting place. It's not actually on the moon, but if you squint and pretend the gravity is one sixth as strong, you could maybe think you were on the moon. The lava tubes are especially interesting. Cave Walks take place daily, at a couple of different start times. The walk is about a mile long and explores a lava tube cave culminating in a a visit to one of the actual lava tubes. You do need to get a cave permit beforehand, and in fact need a cave permit for any caving activities you have planned. http://www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/events.htm

A Full Moon Hike takes place on the twentieth of July, giving you the opportunity to look at the moon, while walking on an ersatz moon. http://www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=441131-3...

Summer Walks and Talks take place until August tenth. There are a variety of offerings including cave walks, Junior Ranger programs, evening strolls and a hike of Broken Top, which has both caves AND a volcano. Bring good shoes and a stout heart. http://www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=438625-3...

Does anything sound more summery than mosquitoes? If you want to get the most from your summer you'll want to head to Canaveral National Seashore http://www.nps.gov/cana/index.htm in Florida for the Canoe Mosquito Lagoon event on July 24th. This free event lasts for two hours and is also open to those who want to bring their own canoes or kayaks. Reservations should be in the week preceding the event. They don't say it on the official page but I strongly suggest bringing sun block and protection from insects. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=12700

The same venue, which is home to sea turtles, has something called Animal Victories on July 29th. It is about animals that have been on the endangered list but are now recovering. http://www.nps.gov/cana/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=527205-2...

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore http://www.nps.gov/caha/index.htm in North Carolina also has a lot going on in the next few weeks. For sure you don't want to miss Ocracoke Island: Banker Ponies which runs every weekend until September first. One of several groups of feral horses living in North America, these ponies subsist on whatever they can scrape up (including fresh water, which is only found in puddles and under the sand)). Many of the origin stories of feral island ponies involve the animals having to swim to shore when the ship they were on sank, but are these stories true? Find out the answer to this question and others at this free event. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=366964-2...

Climbing Lighthouses There are three lighthouses in the park, two of which are open for climbing. I thought at first they meant climb up the outside, as people dressed as Spider-man love to do with skyscrapers, but apparently in this context climb means walk up the stairs. Now there are a lot of stairs, in a hot, cramped space, so it's not like climbing the steps of a sunken bathtub, but the lighthouses aren't exactly the Defence Towers in Paris. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/visitinglighthouses.htm

Everyone knows sea turtles are awesome, but kids are especially aware. So they should definitely head to Hatteras Island: Sea Turtles for Kids and get the skinny on the animals. Of course knowing kids that like zoology, they may already know more than whoever is in charge of this free program. It runs Mondays and Fridays through September second. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=424315-2...

For those who find bloodshed, gore and thievery more interesting than turtles the Ocracoke Island: Pirates program is just the thing. There were plenty of pirates visiting the islands, with Blackbeard being the most famous (infamous?). Blackbeard's death was gruesome, so make sure your kids are at that age where they love all things horrifying. The free program runs Mondays and Fridays through September second. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=424778-2...

Hatteras Island: Morning Bird Walk takes place Tuesdays through August 27th. The walk is free and binoculars are available as needed. The one and a half hour walks starts at eight am, which is one reason so many of us aren't birdwatchers. In my personal experience you can still find birds once you get up at a noon, a much more reasonable hour. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=424129-2...

Tuesdays and Thursdays through August 29th you can go to a more immersive experience; the Hatteras Island: Soundside Snorkel. The free swims require pre-registration and most likely your own snorkel. The lagoon is calm and shallow with plenty of little creatures to see. I don't know if there are sunken ships, pirate chests or aliens like there are in my fish tank. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=424324-2...

If you want to catch some of those critters you could go to Ocracoke Island: Crabbing with a Ranger and try to catch a blue crab. As someone who has lived in Maryland for a couple of decades I can confidently say you don't need to be a chicken-necker. You can also use salted eel. It's not as gross or as likely to give you a food-borne illness. The program requires preregistration and runs Mondays and Thursdays through September second. http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=357178-2...

The Cape Cod National Seashore http://www.nps.gov/caco/index.htm in Massachusetts is another park with a lot to offer. There are various canoeing events, which all cost dollars, dune walks, which I don't want to talk about since I still have PTSD from the little boy falling into the dune sinkhole last week, and some other events that cost money. I've been trying to stick to things that are free, since money is tight for so many. Walk: Seals of Cape Cod is a free beach walk that is about a mile long. The schedule is confusing but if I translated it correctly they take place on Sundays through August 28th. One of the things you'll learn on this excursion is how to observe them safely, which is good for both people and the animals. I grew up not too far from elephant seals and they can be pretty scary. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=4438

Tour: Three Sisters Lighthouses Sundays and Tuesdays through August 27th you can take advantage of this half mile tour of three lighthouses with a long and interesting history. Two of them were sold for three dollars and fifty cents at one time. If you'd like your own lighthouse in the United States the government occasionally sells them, with caveats. You can find currently available properties here: http://realestatesales.gov/gsaauctions/aucpbsindx/ The Three Sisters tour is free. http://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=318514-2...

I still have a million tabs open so there will probably be more on the same subject next week.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat ran in a few places but I am linking to its incarnation on Lightspeed Magazine. Called Mulberry Boys and written by Margo Lanagan, it's a deeply disturbing story about an empathetic boy who evaluates his village's brutal culture while engaging in activities that confuse and upset him. It's a dark story that explores complicated issues while hurting your heart. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/mulberry-boys/