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"Miguel, take off those wet boots!" mother yelled to me. "You too, Jose."

Goosebumps tickled my arm as my mother's voice stopped me just inside the kitchen door. My twin brother, Jose, and I had been out in the yard, making snow angels. Tiny drops of melted snowflakes dangled from the hair poking from under our woolen caps.

We live in Chicago. In the winter it snows a lot here. Jose and I love it. Whenever a fresh snowImage of two children standing next to the Sombrero Snowman. falls, our friends, Jamie and Clark, come by, and the four of us make a snowman. But ours isn't just any snowman. Sure, we pick up some rocks and pebbles from the driveway—they make good eyes and a mouth and buttons for his coat. And we find a short stick for his nose. But Jose, Jamie, Clark, and I do something that makes our snowman extra special.

Our snowman wears a sombrero!

This special hat usually hangs in our garage. Its black felt is now very faded, and its shiny decorations don't sparkle as bright as they once did. Still, it's our favorite hat because it's from New Mexico. Jamie and Clark like to wear it too. And you don't see many sombreros on snowmen in Chicago!

You see, Jose and I were born six years ago in New Mexico. We really don't remember it because we moved when we were only one.

But now that's about to change.

"Sorry, mama," I said as I kicked off my boots and dropped my coat to the floor. "Just think, two more days!"

That's when winter break starts at school. And that's when Jose, me, mother, and father are leaving for a trip. As a birthday treat for me and Jose, we're going back to New Mexico to see our grandparents!

"Tell us again what New Mexico will be like," Jose asked mother. She turned from the counter where she had been chopping onions for dinner. She wiped her hands on a towel.

"Well, boys, for one thing, we won't have to worry much about snow. You see New Mexico is a very dry place."

The frigid, wet winters on Lake Michigan were all Jose and I had ever known. This would be strange, playing outside in December without mittens to keep our hands warm against the snow.

We are going to Whites City, New Mexico, in the Guadalupe Mountains near the Carlsbad Caverns. It is very far away. We will travel for two full days through five states to get there. We've never gone that far before! It is so far away that even the weather is different.

"I can't wait to get there myself," mother continued. "Grandfather said the winter has been very dry there and warmer than usual. The temperatures have been in the 50s in the day and in the 30s at night. It will be so nice to leave all of this snow!"

Father had told me and Jose about the clear night sky we would see. A thousand stars will parade by us, he said. Jose could hardly imagine a sky so clear. He even wondered if the moon would be there too.

Image of a man standing with two boys who are each holding a sombrero.After dinner Jose and I were playing in our room when we had an idea. We were so excited we ran downstairs to mother and father, who were watching television. We told them about it.

"That's a wonderful thought, boys," father said. "I think we can do that."

Two days later we left for our trip. We had a great time and loved the cool, dry weather in New Mexico. When we got back, we still had a day off before school started. It was snowing so Jamie and Clark came over to build a snowman. When it was time to get the sombrero from the garage, I told Jamie and Clark to wait. Jose and I had a surprise.

We came out of the garage, and Jose was wearing the old sombrero. I was carrying a box with a bow on top. On the side was written, "Property of Jamie and Clark."

As they opened the box, they shrieked with joy. Quickly, they put their new gift atop the snowman's head. Our snowman now had the brightest red sombrero in Chicago!

Remote Sensing Earth Action Problem 1: The Exchange Student (3-4)
Juan is a high school exchange student from Brazil. He is coming to America to study for a year. He will share your older brother's room. Juan wants to know what he should pack for his stay. Is there anything he'll have to buy here?

Remote Sensing Earth Action Problem 2: Winter Break (3-4)
On winter break you and your family are going to visit a relative who lives far away. How can you plan the trip? How can you use maps and satellite images?

Remote Sensing Earth Action Problem 3: How Near? How Far? (K-4)
A classmate would like to go to your house to play after school. But the classmate doesn't know how to get there. Can you draw a map from school to your house? Also, how close is your house to the school? How can you find out?

Earth action story written by Regina Wolterman. Artwork by Anne Foreman.

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Last updated November 10, 2004

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