Surging cases of COVID notwithstanding, we went to check out a local open-space park (which is probably a pretty safe activity, honestly). I feel like we're behind in exploring our new home state, since we've been in "lockdown" mode for more than 50% of our time here. But we really were itching for an adventure and felt like urban hiking would be a rather safe way to do that. I guess urban hiking is technically not in the woods, but these are woods within our city. Like the Ramble in New York's Central Park, this park was donated to the city on the condition that it remain "forever wild," with minimal development (public washrooms, for example, were added).
The city has a dinosaur scavenger hunt going on; this is the first dinosaur we've found (we...haven't been exploring many new parks). The kids were quite excited to spot it!
Alexander was in the stroller and when we asked him if he wanted to hop out to visit the dinosaur he said, "No, thank you." Here's Benjamin bravely offering the dinosaur a handful of leaves while Zoë gives it some side-eye.
We were pleased to learn the correct pronunciation of pachycephalosaurus, which is (die-LOAF-o-SOR-us...just kidding...the sign is definitely wrong).
There's a lovely chapel that can be rented out for weddings. Zoë loved all the pretty garland on the gazebo (it's so strange to think that Christmas is coming...like...for real...but today we went hiking in t-shirts).
We wore our masks in the areas we were most likely to meet people (the paved areas). Here are Rachel and Alexander sporting a couple of masks Rachel tie-dyed at a YW activity last week (her leaders dropped off the supplies and the girls met on zoom to chat while tie-dying their masks at home).
The 200+ acre park is named after Ludie Simpson (a lot of things are named after him around here), who donated it to the Methodist church "with the understanding that it would not be subdivided or developed. The church operated a lodge/conference center on the property, but at a loss and decided to sell." So the city acquired the property in 2016. Anyway, they put on a "Night in Bethlehem" every Christmas and it looks like they're setting up for this year (which I don't think we'll be attending).
Beyond this open field we found a bridge leading into the woods and had a lot of fun exploring (and totally wished we'd left the stroller in the car):
The kids wanted to play on absolutely everything!
This log-walk was pretty funny. Benjamin walked across it with no problem, Zoë followed behind with no problem, and then teensy-tiny Alexander walks across and half the tree gives way! Luckily Daddy was holding his hand and was able to rescue him, but he wasn't very happy about falling inside a rotting tree and said he didn't want to walk on any, any more trees.
Here are the kids carefully making their way back down the tree, leaning very far to the less-rotten side:
And here's Andrew warning Miriam about where not to step:
Zoë wasn't sure about crossing "the danger zone" and eventually had to be rescued by Daddy.
Deeper in the woods there were several trees that had fallen over, bringing their whole root system with them and seeming to turn the whole world topsy-turvy.
Here's Miriam on the underside:
Here's Benjamin atop the roots of another sideways tree:
Here's Zoë making a triumphal leap between two logs:
Here's Alexander getting a piggyback ride from Mommy (while Daddy pushed the empty stroller across the rugged terrain):
The kids spent quite a lot of time on this tree:
Eventually I joined in with them, taking Alexander on my back (because he was still a little shaken up from his fall into the rotten log earlier and didn't want to walk across this log alone):
This log was more Alexander's speed (he was, I should note, the only one (besides Andrew) to leave his mask on the entire time; the rest of us decided that there probably weren't too many viruses floating around in the woods (had we seen anyone else around, though, we would have kept our masks on)):
Andrew picked Alexander up and set him on this log:
"Tan we doe home now?" he asked when he was back in my arms.
And lucky for him, that's just where we were heading. We followed the path out of the woods, said goodbye to the pachycephalosaurus, "Goodbye, die-LOAF-o-SOR-us!" and found our car.
Once we'd gotten back out of the woods and onto the paved trail we put Alexander back into his stroller, so when we got to the van, Andrew opened the trunk and lifted the stroller into it with Alexander strapped inside. Then he closed the trunk (as a joke—it's a minivan so it's an open trunk).
Alexander flipped right out.
Andrew opened the trunk again, of course, and got Alexander out and apologized for forgetting him, and buckled him into his carseat (which somehow is still rear-facing), but Alexander held a grudge about being put in the trunk all the way home. When we pulled into the garage he yelled at everybody who tried to get him out of his carseat because he just wanted Mommy to do it, poor thing.
Sometimes Daddy takes his teasing a smidge too far; I think this might go down in Alexander's memory the same way Dan and Housie (sp?) went down in Daddy's memory (Grandpa took Andrew's favourite blankets, Dan and Housie, and hung them over a door so that Andrew could see them but not reach them...I can't remember why...but sometimes dads just take teasing a little too far).
It was a good day in the woods, anyway, and at dinnertime that was everyone's favourite part of the day.