Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.

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Fossil Pit Hunt At Montour Preserve–Experience Adventure 34 of 100


After a super fun morning enjoying all things maple-y sweet at the FREE maple sugaring family program at the beautiful Montour Preserve, my family and I headed over to the fossil pit.



Visitors must park their car and then walk down this beautiful path that leads to the fossil pit.


I decided to break our trip to the Montour Preserve into two different adventures because both could easily stand alone and fill a family day full of fun and excitement.

So, for our 34th experience, we spent several hours searching for fossils at the Montour Preserve Fossil Pit.



The Montour Preserve Fossil Pit


This hillside fossil “pit” found on the grounds of the Montour Preserve showcases exposed shale and siltstone of the Mahantango Formation.  The fossils found here lived in the Kaskaskia Sea, a warm, shallow body of water, during the Devonian Period, between 400 and 350 million years ago.



Most fossils found in the pit need to be unearthed by gentle taps with a geologist’s hammer.  **Bring safety goggles.  My daughters also enjoyed looking for treasures on the surface, which resulted in a few finds.


Brachiopods make up two-thirds of all fossils found at the pit.  The Montour Preserve provides a free fossil hunter’s field guide if you stop at the visitor’s and education center first.  **Use the bathroom there before you head to the pit.

Cehpalopods, corals, gastropods, pelecypods, brachiopods and trilobites are all found on the guide, which features detailed drawings to help with identification.  **The guide is very helpful, but we never found the elusive trilobite.  (BUMMER!)


We also read the very informative sign which marks the entrance to the pit.



**There is little to no shade at the pit (no trees and no man made structures.  There are also no restroom facilities at the pit–you must use the restroom found in the visitor’s center.

We recommend wearing closed-toe shoes, with a thick sole, preferably rubber boots.  The ground is made of shale, sharp edges and rocks.


Helpful items for your fossil hunt:

Sunscreen, lots of water, small hammer, goggles for eye protection, a small, soft brush, bucket, containers and baggies, newspaper or foil to wrap treasures, closed-toe shoes, long pants so you can sit down on the rocky shale semi-comfortably and the field guide–study it before you start hunting.  🙂


The fossil pit can be found on the grounds of the Montour Preserve located at 374 Preserve Road, Danville, Pennsylvania, 17821.  For more information, visit or call 507-336-2060.

To read about our morning adventures at the Montour Preserve maple program, read this!

Are you fossil fanatic like me?  Here is a post all about my favorite spot to find fossilized shark’s teeth!  Read it here!


Montour Preserve Maple Sugaring–Experience Adventure 33 of 100

As soon as I learned of our Pennsylvania-6-month-sabbatical opportunity, one of the first thoughts that popped into my hands-on-learning, homeschooling-momma brain was MAPLE SUGARING!


Obviously, I like maple syrup.

I find it so fascinating that sweet, edible magic comes from these trees that do not produce fruit.  As a vegetarian, eating an almost entirely plant-based diet, I use maple syrup A LOT for baking and to sweeten up my goodies.  Maple is good stuff. 🙂


So, it was a no-brainer that one of our awesome experience adventures would certainly occur during the small window of time that is the maple collection season in Pennsylvania.

For our 33rd of 100 experience adventures, we visited the Montour Preserve during a maple sugaring open house and program day!


Set among a beautiful and natural setting, the Montour Preserve offers visitors a host of family-friendly activities, more than 10 miles of trials, fishing, boating, an environmental study pond, fossil pit, children’s play areas and environmental education opportunities within a wonderful visitors’ center.


Open year- round to the public (and FREE), visitors experience all kinds of events and activities at the Montour Preserve–all centered around the beautiful 165 acre Lake Chillisquaque.


On-site historical buildings and a museum-like visitor center full of displays and informative presentations offer families a chance to learn about the area and the history of the preserved land.





The breathtaking environment is reason enough to spend the day exploring and enjoying the natural setting.






My family visited the Montour Preserve during one of the early March, weekend maple sugaring programs offered for free and open to the public.



The family day began with a very informative lecture and movie about the maple sugaring process.  Outdoor programs featured maple sap collection and hands-on activities, maple sugaring demonstrations and the opportunity to watch the process in action.






Of course, we taste-tested everything to make sure we properly understood the process.  LOL 🙂



A little village-like setting, with maple goodie selling vendors, rounded out the maple experience.  We bought super yummy maple sugar candy and fresh maple cream!  DELICIOUS!





We all learned a great deal about the process of collecting, processing and creating maple syrup and maple products.

Visit the Montour Preserve during one of their maple weekends to learn all about (and taste!) the delicious syrup we all take for granted… AND visit to enjoy the beautiful, natural setting any day of the year!  It is a delightful Pennsylvania treasure!


OH!  One last exciting find:  The Montour Preserve offers a wonderfully inclusive Braille Trail, with a rope lead and stations featuring Braille and three-dimensional shapes to feel and trace.  Excellent job, Montour!




The Montour Preserve is open and free to the public.  It is open from sunrise to sunset and the visitor’s center is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and closed on Saturday and Sunday during the winter months.

For more information, visit or call 570-336-2060.

Montour Preserve, 700 Preserve Road, Danville, Pennsylvania, 17821

Get out there and explore!


For another fun, outdoor adventure in Pennsylvania, read my post about day hiking the Appalachian Trail here.

Are you a museum lover like us?

Visit these awesome museums in Pennsylvania:

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The State Museum of Pennsylvania

If you like cheese, you gotta read all about our super cool, cheese experience #32!  Click here!



4.2 Mile Hike On The Appalachian Trail–Experience Adventure 23 of 100



Discovering the Appalachian Trail meandered right through the “home base” of our 6 month sabbatical immediately drove me into an obsessive search to learn as much as I could about the famous hiking path.  Several months before we moved to Carlisle, I joined a few Facebook hiking and/or trail groups, read several books on the subject and like always, conducted hours and hours worth of online research.


I don’t know what it is, but the trail calls to me.


When the first day with temps in the 60’s finally arrived, my family and I experienced our 23rd of 100 adventures–a 4.2 mile hike on the magnificent Appalachian Trail, the longest, hiking-only trail in the world. (It will not be our last!)



The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) welcomes an astonishing 2-3 million visitors a year.  First proposed in 1921 by a regional planner named Benton MacKaye, the famous route began with volunteers linking existing trails to create one, long continuous footpath.


In 1925, a group of 24 supporters created the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to protect and maintain the path. 


Completed in August of 1937, the 2,190 mile long Appalachian Trail winds through 14 states, 8 national forests and 6 national parks.  The trail begins in Springer Mountain, Georgia and concludes in Mount Katahdin, Maine.  It is marvelously beautiful, even on a rare warm day in the middle of winter.

**Fun Fact:  Earl Shaffer, a WWII veteran from Pennsylvania, was the first reported person to hike the entire trail in a single journey.  He completed his first hike in 1948, as a way to cope with returning home from the war.  Mr. Shaffer also finished continuous hikes in 1965 and in 1998, at the age of 79.


Hiking experiences are divided into three main descriptive categories:

  1. Day hikes
  2. Multi-day hikes
  3. Thru-hiking (walking the entire trail within one calendar year)

Our quick 4.2 mile hike obviously represents a very small “day hike”.   🙂






**Fun Fact:  Thru-hikers make up nicknames called “trail names” and rarely use their real names when meeting other hikers on the trail.

2″ x 6″ white rectangles called “blazes” found on trees, posts and rocks mark the sometimes treacherous path of the Appalachian Trail.




Blue rectangles mark trails to shelters built and maintained by volunteers to give multi-day and thru-hikers respite from extreme weather and exhaustion.

**Fun Fact:  In 1968, the National Trails System Act became law, making the Appalachian Trail the first national scenic trail in the United States.





Most thru-hikers finish the A.T. in 6 to 9 month, but the quickest was completed in just 46 days.  Anyone who completes the trail, in any combination or manner, earns the title of “2,000 miler”.   The oldest 2,000 miler was 82 years old–the youngest, just 5 years.


Between the years 1936 and 1969, 59 recorded completions were documented and only ten people finished the trail in 1970.  7,418 hikers reported completions between 2010 and 2017.

**Fun Fact:  About 29% of A.T. hikers are women.








Access to the trail varies, but we drove to an area that provides parking.  We left our car behind, wore comfortable shoes, carried lightweight jackets and water and began our first exploration of the peaceful, mostly undisturbed, natural and historical Appalachian Trail.





Hiking the Appalachian Trail fueled my spirit with a complete and calming submersion in the wonder of raw nature, a tranquil experience that planted an essential seed of eager desire to return for more.


I am currently researching the 14 state challenge and thinking about adding it to my bucket list.  🙂

For more information, visit The Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Recommended books:

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods on DVD


Why are we attempting 100 adventures?  Read this!

Looking for fun things to do in Virginia?

Check out:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum