Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adventure Day - Up a Notch!

Thanks to the handy website TwinCitiesMom.com, we discovered the perfect Adventure Day park today. For one thing, the North Mississippi Regional Park is easy to get to, which is critical for us.

Even on a good day, with a happy baby and an excited preschooler who can help pack her own stuff, it takes us about 45 minutes to get out the door for an adventure. After gathering all of the extra clothes, snacks, and miscellany, we have to track down the sunscreen, maneuver everyone into the car, put the cat back inside... Then find my cell phone, re-read the directions, check to make sure the front door is locked.... Phew. Maya needed a snack before we left the driveway!

Actually, I did too!

It was sooo worth it. Our morning started at the park's nature center. Sandy was working the front desk, and was more than happy to give Maya a personal tour of the Habitat Puzzle and other preschool games that filled the center. Sandy then showed Maya the special room full of animals... Grandma and Nana would have been shouting nearly as loud as Maya was, but maybe not with the same tone... It was full of snakes, giant African millipedes, salamanders, and turtles.

Maya kept running around saying, "Have you never seen one of THESE before!?"

Elliot loved the center mostly because it served as a useful runway for the stroller. She pushed it all over!

Then we were off on our hike. We have gotten much better at this part of Adventure Day. Here is what I've learned:

1. Don't bring the double stroller, or Maya will refuse to walk.

2. Prepare to ditch the stroller (don't leave the wallet or keys in there!), or wear the baby plus a backpack. I try to encourage Maya to take the rougher diversions (when it looks safe). She has gotten much more adventurous, and much more interested in inspecting the biggest trees, strangest mushrooms, and funny animal tracks.

3. Don't have an agenda. We only made it about half a mile, but we saw EVERYTHING along that half mile. She loved it... next time I might bring some reading material!

The best thing about this park is it's dual purpose. We fully explored and delighted in the natural world for more than an hour and a half. Then, when that lost her interest, we jagged a half mile in the other direction, donned our swimsuits, put Elliot in her stroller for a nap (perfect timing!), and played in the COOLEST wading pool ever.

Next time, we'll pack a lunch and bring some friends. What a great find!

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