This is a prototypical, young adult, dystopian series that leaves teen girls swooning in a science fiction love triangle between Cassia and two super hunky, brooding boys. All is not as it seems in Cassia's world where young people are paired up with their spouses at age 17 at a special banquet. She's matched with her best friend, Xander, but when she views her Match video giving information about Xander, a picture of mysterious Ky flashes into view and makes her question whether the Match is destiny or not. The Society has close control over romantic partners, death, jobs, and food intake, and Cassia begins to wonder why everything is chosen for them. Matched is an interesting YA exploration of free will and how a tightly controlled environment always has dirty secrets lurking in the shadows. This was a very popular series when it first came out, and a classic constant in the dystopian genre.
We're on day five of the COVID-19 quarantine. Knowing that this may be a long, long time being stuck in the house, I was thrilled when my friend mentioned Uncharted Lancaster to me in a text. Uncharted Lancaster is a website that lays out clues to various adventure hikes all around Lancaster County. The hikes teach you some local history, introduce you to new places, and keep you on your toes trying to find treasure boxes. This sounded like the perfect way to adhere to the recommendations regarding social distancing but also allowing us to get some exercise and get out of our house. So far we've done three hikes, and they've captured the girls' attention in ways I'm truly thankful for. We've all been really tense, and the adventure of this special family time helped us take our minds off feeling scared and unsure about the current pandemic for at least a few hours during the day. We made sure to use gloves when opening or touching the boxes, and we wiped down the treasures with Clorox wipes before handling.
The girls read over the list of adventures on the Uncharted Adventures website.
Haunted Indian Gold Adventure
They were immediately drawn to the Haunted Indian Gold Adventure. After reading the background history about the buried gold and other treasures in the Safe Harbor area, the girls decided this would be the best adventure to start with. This has also been our favorite hike so far.
The website rates this hike a 4/5 on the difficulty scale, and I would agree that it's a challenge. It's a little over three miles and includes some steep climbs and declines. The website includes lots of helpful pictures to orient yourself as you continue on the trail.
Romancing the Stone Adventure
The start of this hike is only two minutes from the Pequea Trolley Trail which is why we did it the same day. It's also only a 2/5 on the difficulty scale and is similar in simplicity to the Pequea adventure. While only a mile long, the start of this adventure is a challenge. It's a steep uphill climb followed by a steep downhill trail on a skinny path. It evens out and crosses a rickety bridge following water and little waterfalls for another beautiful scene. This adventure ends up with a single box filled with glittering diamonds. The girls began bickering with each other at this point, and we had to hustle out to avoid the tired afternoon meltdowns. They stopped long enough to admire the waterfalls and climbing rocks, and we thoroughly enjoyed this adventure as well.
Of all the great books out there I've read about unlocking clues to find some kind of fortune or treasure, this one seems to best fit the current vibe with it's sci-fi, dystopian theme. We're all stuck inside our homes waiting out the pandemic while Wade Watts is stuck inside the virtual OASIS trying to unlock the gates that will lead him to Halliday's fortune. Luckily these Uncharted Lancaster experiences gave us the opportunity to treasure hunt outdoors. Check out this book to go down the 80s memory lane and immerse yourself in a virtual adventure.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How did I not read this when it first came out?! Oh that’s right- there are too many good books and not enough time. It’s beyond good and a truly unique dystopian experience. So this guy (Halliday) creates a virtual gaming world (the OASIS) and when he dies, it’s revealed that there are Easter eggs hidden throughout the virtual reality. Whoever finds these keys and unlocks the gates will inherit his vast fortune. This sets off years of people clambering to unlock the secrets of the OASIS. Halliday loved the 80s so the clues all revolve around 80s games, movies and music. A huge corporation wants to take over the OASIS and monetize it, so there is also the conflict of single players who are true lovers of the game vs this greed-filled entity trying to take over. I loved the subtle commentary on human immersion in the technology world, and the nostalgia of 80s references was incredibly entertaining. If you haven’t read this yet, I’d highly recommend it.
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Travel All the Pages is inspired by my two loves - travel and reading, a combo I can't resist. Enjoy these little pairings.