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SEA Discovery Center and Point No Point – Trip Report 3/9/18

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SEA Discovery Center

Yesterday I took Annika and two of her friends on a fun outing over to the Kitsap Peninsula. We took the ferry over from Edmonds to Kingston, and from there it was a quick 20-minute drive to Poulsbo. Our destination was a small aquarium, the SEA Discovery Center, right on the water of Liberty Bay. The girls enjoyed the large octopus sculpture in the entrance to the museum, which invites climbing and sand play. We tore ourselves away to get to the main attraction, the large touch tank.

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Touch Tank and Whale Skeleton

But first the docent on duty welcomed us and told us the rules for our visit. We needed to go wash our hands to get any harmful oils or lotions off them, and we couldn’t touch the crabs, fish, or insides of the anemones. Even with these restrictions, there were plenty of critters for the kids to touch and explore, including several types of sea stars.

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Touch Tank
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Sea Creatures

The girls found it interesting that the leather stars had different textures from the ochre stars. The anemones came in various colors and sizes, and looking closely at the environment of the touch tank helped us sharpen our observational skills. I recommend wearing short-sleeved shirts for this part, as some of the sections of the tank are deep enough to go over children’s elbows.

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Another Aquarium, Simulating Life Near a Piling
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Leather Star

When we were done with the touch tank, we wandered around to view the other tanks. The docents offered information about some of the creatures we were seeing, such as unique habits they had, or fun facts that the kids might not know. I find it interesting to take time to really look at a tank – it seems the more you look, the more you see, as your eyes become accustomed to new patterns and shapes. We were lucky to be there when one of the tanks was being fed, and watched as a funny flounder snapped up falling pieces of squid. We saw part of the moray eel, but it didn’t feel the need to come out of its lair to show us its full length.

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Display of Shells

We spent about a half an hour at the aquarium. It is much smaller than the Seattle aquarium, or even the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. But it is free (they gratefully accept donations) and they do lots of school programs and other public education events. It makes a worthwhile stop for younger children, or if you are doing other activities in the area.

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Coloring Area

The hours are limited, so check them on the website before you come. There is a small free parking lot at the building, and more free parking in the area and on the streets.

When we were done with the aquarium, we drove over to Hansville, where we visited Point No Point County Park.

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Beautiful View

From the parking lot, walk the sidewalk to the east, past the lighthouse keepers house, and admire the well-maintained historical lighthouse on the point.

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Lighthouse, Point No Point


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Lighthouse Detail
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Easy Gravel Trail

We walked the trail through the edge of the wetland, but didn’t continue up the stairs onto the bluff; instead, we walked a little ways up the beach and explored. The girls loved all the driftwood, and we looked at lots of shells and rocks.

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We found a giant boulder that had barnacles, mussels, tube worms, and seaweed on it.

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Looking South Toward Seattle

The girls decided they really just wanted to play, so we walked the beach back to the parking lot and set up on the beach for the next hour.

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Tide is Out
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Driftwood Walkers

They took their shoes off, ran in the sand, dipped their toes into the icy water, and pretended to be horses and other creatures. I tried to identify birds that were floating offshore; a spotting scope would have been handy. I did come out with a nice list of birds, including common loons, buffleheads, common mergansers, and pigeon guillemots. We saw a seal, and we saw at least 3 great blue herons in the wetlands. Red-winged blackbirds serenaded us from the bushes. We ended our stay with a quick treat of hot cocoa, before brushing off the sand and piling back in the car for the ferry.

If You Go: Point No Point is about a 20-minute drive from the Kingston ferry dock or from Poulsbo. It’s a small county park, and no parking permits are needed. If the parking lot is full, there is some overflow parking about 1/3 mile back on NE Point No Point Rd; you’ll need a state Discovery Pass to park there. There are pit toilets and garbage cans at the park, as well as picnic tables and benches, but no other amenities. It has one of the few sandy beaches in Puget Sound, and my kids found the sand soft and inviting. It is a popular birding spot, and on a clear day you can see Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, and Seattle’s skyscrapers. The trail is about 0.8 miles from end to end. We only walked about half of that. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

Book Review: Wild Love Story: Vignettes From Forest and Pond by Bob Jepperson

There is an excitement to exploring new places far away, but there is a different kind of joy that comes from getting to know a place in every season over many years. Bob Jepperson has done a lot of exploring, but he’s also spent over a decade wandering the trails of a wild area close…Continue Reading

Spring Break 2017 – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Our first full day in Tucson during our Spring Break trip brought us to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This was one of my top favorite spots on our journey. We got there fairly early, though I couldn’t convince everyone to get there at 7:30 am for a guided bird walk. (It’ll be just one more…Continue Reading

Spring Break 2017 – Montezuma’s Castle

On our fourth day in Arizona, we reluctantly said goodbye to our lovely cabin in the woods northwest of Flagstaff, and moved our families south to Tucson. Along the way, we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. This park is smaller than the others we’d visit on our trip, but it’s a unique treasure and…Continue Reading

Book Review: Treecology by Monica Russo

The latest book I’ve reviewed for you is Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests by Monica Russo. [Amazon link here.] This thin paperback is accessible for both parents and teachers. It is packed full of the science to understand all parts of trees and the environments they grow…Continue Reading

Book Review: Leaflets Three, Let it Be! by Anita Sanchez

I recently received a book for the purposes of review that I’d like to share with you today. Leaflets Three, Let it Be! is a picture book for children about identifying poison ivy. But it also shows the many uses of the plant through the seasons. It is written by Anita Sanchez and illustrated by…Continue Reading

National Parks Week 2016, and Review of National Geographic Guides

April 16-24, 2016 has been designated National Parks Week. This national event is a time to focus on and celebrate all that the National Parks have to offer us. During this week, admission is free to all parks, and special events are planned at many sites. The Park Service has created a special website for this…Continue Reading

New Tools Can Light a Spark

The summer is winding down, and the new school year is only a few weeks away. I find my thoughts turning more to planning and organizing, even as we try to soak in the last weeks of summer. Yesterday, Annika and I visited our local homeschooling curriculum store, Homeschool Potpourri. This place lacks glamor, but…Continue Reading

2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Romance! Flowers! Lush greenery! Excitement! My kids and I love the Flower and Garden Show. We look forward to it every year, and enjoy seeing the display gardens, shopping in the marketplace, learning from the seminars, and getting a jump-start on spring. This year Grandma got to spend the day with us, and it made…Continue Reading

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center – Spring Break 2014

This is the fifth post from our Spring Break Trip. We are almost done! The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. The fourth was about the Goldendale Observatory. We have one more destination to…Continue Reading