I LOVE adventure! The feeling of going off into the unknown and exploring a new place is exhilarating to me. I can’t wait to discover something unique and interesting! Now to some people this may be very frightening and more of a nightmare than fun. But for me, I’m a very curious person and welcome opportunities to learn about things I didn’t know.
So as a homeschool mom, I have incorporated as much adventure into our journey as I can. And you know, kids love that! When you are having fun, it rubs off on them. They “sponge up” all the curiosities they can find.
I have two kids and have homeschooled for about eleven years, not consecutively. We have tried private school, public school, and homeschool and by far homeschooling is the right fit. My son is now twenty and off on his own adventure, but I still have my daughter in high school. Yes, high schoolers can have adventures like a little kid with you and actually enjoy it too. The key is doing something they like; getting into their worlds. Some random interests that I have learned about over the years through my kids are, building lego kits, Star Wars light saber fights, demolition derbies, monster trucks, every firework imaginable, RC cars, archeology, anime (not my fav), different music artists, adventure book series, baking (definitely not my expertise), how to really make believe and be creative. Now to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have picked any of those except maybe different music artists. I don’t like Star Wars, I do like seeing fireworks, but setting them off makes me very nervous, I really don’t get anime, I’m not a fiction reader at all, I’m more of a type A person that can’t be bothered with keeping my head in the clouds, and I’m like the worst baker. However, when I try to make every opportunity for my kids to have the tools they need, or bring them to places to make their interest “come alive”, it brings me great joy. To see their eyes light up and run with their passions is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things to see. Homeschooling has afforded us with that lifelong enrichment.
I also really love to travel. I love to travel so much that I created a “field trip guide” about forty four pages long on a variety of places to go in the four state region within a three hour radius of Martinsburg. Many of these places I have visited, but there are also quite a few that I haven’t. Some are free and others require paid admission. There is so much to do and little time to accomplish it all, but one by one, I try to cross off a new place as visited. One of these places recently that I discovered while doing my research for the field trip guide and was able to cross off the list was Doylestown, Pennsylvania (about one hour north of Philadelphia).
In Doylestown, there are two places called Fonthill Castle & Mercer Museum created by the same guy around the turn of the 20th century. I chose this place because I really love architecture and my daughter really likes history and archeology. We had a little two night trip just me and her. I rented an airbnb close by and it was located by a beautiful park and an adorable covered bridge. It is such a quaint little town in Buck’s county on the outskirts of Doylestown. In the park there was a lovely walking trail and we were able to explore where it led to. In the evening I headed out to get dinner to bring back to where we were staying so I drove into Doylestown and I fell in love with the place. It has old fashioned street lights, many shops and restaurants with people bustling about without it feeling too crowded. The architecture of the buildings are admirable and picture-worthy. There is a great selection of restaurants and several organic, health conscience, vegan, gluten-free options to consider. There were pubs, old inns, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese food, an old Art Deco style theater, alleyways with historical buildings, outdoor patios, ice cream and candy shops, bookstores and much more. I couldn’t wait to get back and tell my daughter what I discovered!
The next day we set off to see the Mercer Museum. This is a concrete constructed castle-like building. A well-to-do man named Henry Mercer grew up on farms around Doylestown. He was very fascinated by castles as a young boy and pursued unique endeavors as he grew into a man. He was able to travel overseas and become an accomplished Renaissance man. His resume includes “a noted tile-maker”, archeologist, antiquarian, artist, writer, and “leader in the turn-of-the-20th century Arts & Crafts movement”. He created the Mercer Museum specifically to house his vast collection of early American everyday objects. There are more than thirty thousand items that he numbered and cataloged himself, representing over sixty crafts and trades like woodworking, metalworking, agricultural, textiles and transportation tools. His museum (and house and tileworks building) he built from scratch and by hand with no plan and only a small crew. The museum has six to seven floors with very small items to very large. He specifically built into the concrete on the walls and ceiling metal hooks to hold things. Suspended from the hooks are large items like a whaling boat, horse-drawn carriage, antique fire engine, and old fashioned farming machines. We were mesmerized and amazed at the things and details that he included.
After visiting the museum, we were able to walk around town. We found this “hole-in-the-wall” (literally) place to eat called Empanada Mama. You walk up to the half door in the alleyway and order and receive your food. They make only empanadas and use fresh ingredients locally sourced. There was quite the selection to choose from and when we received ours, it was piping hot. Some of the flavors we picked were spinach & feta, Korean beef, chicken pot pie, loaded baked potato, and a sweet pumpkin pie one. We found a little bench and enjoyed our lunch. After lunch, the first place my daughter wanted to go into was an old record store. Next she saw an old used bookstore. We found an awesome buy, a beautiful leather bound complete collection of Jane Austin novels for only ten dollars!
After exploring the shops throughout the town, we headed over to Fonthill Castle. This was Henry Mercer’s estate. It was very unique to say the least. It was built from 1908 to 1912. There were so many nooks and crannies and hidden places. There are forty four rooms, eighteen fireplaces, thirty two staircases, and more than 200 windows in various shapes and sizes. Every room, hallway, staircase and wherever is decorated with Moravian tiles that he hand crafted himself. He also made a lot of the furniture built-in to the walls out of concrete. Now, can you believe that he had just a rough sketch and no formal plans or blueprints? I wish they would let us explore around ourselves, but it is only shown by a tour guide for an hour in certain rooms which were under lock and key. I understand though as you sure can get lost in there! The grounds of the estate were beautiful as well. He had extensive trails through his arboretum, a cute little pond, and a wellhouse.
We had so much fun in this little town and greatly enjoyed ourselves. We definitely want to come back because there was so much more to explore. We didn’t make it to the art museum that is housed out of an old prison compound. We would like to visit Mr. Mercer’s Moravian Pottery & Tile Works to see how all his creative tiles were made in which he loved to decorate. There is a Historical Society and Train station, and several libraries (my daughter’s favorite) to check out too. I want to try out all the restaurants, because the food we had was delicious. Doylestown hosts a lot of events and has a vibrant town council that keeps the place looking beautiful. I also found out that the museum has internships and camps. That will be worth following up on. It is a good town for business. My daughter is thinking about having her own tea shop and bookstore. We imagined together how she could carve out a living there. With her love for libraries and history, she could be a tour guide and librarian part-time while writing (another passion of hers) and starting a tea shop bookstore. She loved it! I loved it! We bonded more, we dreamt together about her future and opportunities, we laughed, we people-watched, we learned, and we satisfied our need for adventure. If it wasn’t for homeschooling, we would have never had a chance to do this leisurely in the middle of the week. I’m very thankful!
Overall, hope you liked having a peek into our recent adventure. My intention is to keep everyone updated on more travels, our homeschooling journey, and the noteworthy ins and outs of life that I have learned.
If you are an adventure lover and like to travel like me, feel free to contact me and share about yours. Also please contact me if you would like more information about the field trip guide that I created.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy is a homeschooling mom of two for 10 years in West Virginia. She has been a part of various co-ops, has designed class content, and taught for three years. She is an enthusiastic advocate and supporter of homeschooling, offering consultations and resource recommendations to homeschool families. The most loved aspect of homeschooling is the flexibility and freedom it provides. She thoroughly enjoys the homeschool journey and all the creative ways to learn.