I’m positive that I took American history during my school years.  But for some reason, nothing (or very little) seemed to stick.  I can remember my childhood friend Gordy Carlson’s phone number (598-2426…it was even before 10 digit dialing!) but can’t remember when the war of 1812 was!  Just kidding.  But its almost that bad.  I’m ashamed at how little I know.  But I think this old dog IS learning some new tricks about history and its filling me with lots of questions and desires to learn even more!  I hope this adventure is having the same effect on the kids.  Perhaps when they are learning American history in the classroom they will already have a solid foundation and they can capitalize on the opportunity to dig deeper to where their questions lead them.

All that to say, I had no clue that there was a group of English settlers who came to America well before the Pilgrims I learned about in school.  It was 1587 and they settled on Roanoke Island just a short drive from our campground.  So we packed a lunch and drove out to the Roanoke Island Festival Park.

During the morning and early afternoon we had the place to ourselves!  Later in the day a couple school groups showed up but we were able to steer clear of them for the most part.  The park is very hands-on.  We learned about the people nd the time period and toured the settlers’ ship, their village and the native American’s village.  These were all recreations of course but they were filled with great info and activities for young and old.  In the native American area there was a station where you could make cordage using some grassy fibers they had.  We all had fun twisting these into cords and then braiding several cords together.  It reminded me of a visit we took to Dancing Leaf Lodge in Wellfleet Nebraska where we took yucca leaves, pounded them with rocks to free the fibers, twisted them into cords and braided them into bracelets.  That trip was before Brielle was born, but she had so much fun with this project I told her I’d teach her how to do it with yucca leaves when we get back to our sticks and bricks house.  She’ll have an unlimited supply because we have a yucca plant I CANNOT get rid of!

On the ship were a couple of staff members dressed as seamen.  Brielle asked one of them where she could find treasure.  The guy says “I keep my treasure in heaven where no rust or moth can destroy”…I’m not sure if thats his standard line or if he got permission from my “Kingdom Warrior” shirt I had on.  Anyway, I thought it was a brilliant answer and glad that he spoke truth to Brielle.  He also added that “Randall down below might not be so Godly so he may have some treasure down there”.  Sure enough there was a treasure chest for the kids to dig in down below.  So many fun things for the kids to play with on the ship and we got a brief lesson on old school navigation.  Much different than Miss Google…”You are on the fastest route and your route is clear, you should reach your destination by 3:27 pm”.

The colonists’ village was also really fun with a blacksmith who had a great accent and loved to talk and a woodworker who was super cool to the kids.  They had an old school lathe set up and he taught each of the kids how to use it and then gave them great compliments, “oh my, lass/lad, a natural born turner ye are!”
Old school lathe

There was a 45 minute film we watched from the native American’s perspective and a really nice museum, again full of hands on stuff for the kids (and adults).  As usual, we had fun and closed the place down.

Perhaps my learning of this event back in school vanished from my noggin just like the colony did.  Due to some bad blood between the natives and previous English explorers the colonists feared for their lives and sent a dude back to England to get help.  He was unable to return for 3 years and upon his return all that remained was the work “Croatan” carved into some wood.  There is no definitive answer as to what happened to the “lost colony”.   Maybe they were the inspiration for the TV series Lost.


Native house


Making cordage

Niiiice hat

Braiding cord

Native dance

The Elizabeth II



Crank up the anchor

Mop the deck


Rope work






Even cute when mean



Old school lathe

Water boy





Land ho!!

Ava and the Beast


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