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Archive for the ‘The Great Outdoors’ Category

Well, it’s time for a garden update and I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that the garden seems to be doing reasonably well – or at least, some of it does.  We’ve had a lot of rain recently and it’s making a big difference.

The bad news: to the extent the garden is thriving, it doesn’t seem to be to my credit, and if I decide to get involved with the care of a plant I seem to kill it.  Steve says that if I go against every single one of my natural instincts, I might still have a garden by the end of the season.  How’s that for a vote of confidence?

Flashback:

When I last left you, we’d gotten plants into three pots (which we moved from New York, much to Steve’s chagrin – they are heavy – because I love their colors).  Peanut and I planted lettuces in the big pot, beans in the medium pot and rosemary in the small pot.  We’d jumped the gun just a bit on buying our plants and hit the garden centers before many edibles were ready, with the result being that I had to buy something to avoid a preschooler meltdown.

Fast-forward a few weeks later.  Things were doing reasonably well, and the garden centers had more tomatoes and herbs, so I decided it was time to roll up my sleeves and really dig in.  (#gardenpun).  I visited Lowes and picked up a couple more pots, which I am hoping are big enough for tomatoes.  (Some quick internet research indicated that tomato plants need a fairly large pot for their root systems.)

And that’s when I made my first mess.  I decided to move some plants into pots that were more appropriately sized for them – planting things in the wrong-sized pots was a planning fail to begin with, but see above – I just had to go with it and buy the plants too early, to avoid a preschooler tantrum, and things ended up in poorly sized plants as a result.  Yeah, I suppose I could have put more thought into it in the first place and then I wouldn’t have had these problems.  Well – whatever.

It started out okay.  I moved the rosemary into the medium-sized pot and added some newly acquired parsley and thyme, and planted mint in the small pot (so it could be alone).  But in order to do so, I had to move the beans, and that’s where things started to fall apart.  I tried to untangle the bean plant from the trellis (which was too small) and I ended up killing the poor thing – look how sad it is after I replanted it in the barrel and tried transferring it to the Ultimate Tomato Cage.  Whoops.

Other failures of this iteration of the garden – the lettuce bolted, and someone ate all of the leaves off my purple Thai basil and tormented the poor thing until it gave up the ghost.  I was blaming squirrels (read on) but Steve mentioned he’s also seen some black birds lurking around my pots.  Sounds like I might need a scarecrow.

On to Act III of this little play.  I made yet another trip to the garden center after the weather had warmed up a bit, and picked up more tomatoes and herbs.  I grabbed some more mint to add to my mint pot (now I have a mix of chocolate mint and julep mint in there – yum) and another basil plant to plop in my tomato pots.  The herbs are looking decently well.  We’ve had a ton of rain recently and they’re loving it.

Also looking well – my original tomatoes!  The plants have shot up and I’ve even spotted a few yellow blossoms.  For awhile, the leaves were looking a little brown and sad, but all the recent rain has really helped.  And the beans that Peanut brought home from school, which Steve planted and then I moved.  Why am I so trigger-happy when it comes to moving plants around?  No wonder I have a black thumb.  I need to learn to leave well enough alone.  Thankfully, the beans seem to be happy enough in their new pot, which they’re sharing with some more tomatoes I picked up from the garden center last weekend.  I wanted lettuce, but the garden center was pretty much out, and the few plants they had left looked sort of sad to me.  So I decided – this is going to be a tomato and herb garden this year.  Farmers’ market lettuce for everyone!

A few more tomato plants – I spy lots more yellow blossoms and a few little green fruits!  I totally cheated and bought a couple of plants that already had fruits.  Hey, I’m trying to set myself up for success here.  I bought Rapunzel, Fantastico, and Green Zebra tomatoes in addition to the cherry variety I was already growing.  It’s going to be all tomatoes, all the time this year. 

Bringing me to my second “don’t be like me” tip.  So, remember how I said I thought I was having a squirrel problem?  We do have a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood, and they’re hardcore, bold urban squirrels with no respect for people’s property.  So I googled “how to repel squirrels from garden” and came up with a few tips, including – cayenne pepper.  Apparently, they don’t like the smell.  (Of course, the same website also said they don’t like the smell of mint, and something was digging up my mint plants.  In thinking about it – maybe Steve is right, and the problem is crows, not squirrels.)  Anyway, I decided to give cayenne a try, and on Tuesday morning before I left for a business trip, I traipsed out my back door in my slippers with a jar of cayenne in hand, which I proceeded to sprinkle all over the soil.  It definitely looked intimidating.  Then I thought to myself, “This cayenne is pretty old.  I wonder if it’s potent enough to repel the squirrels.”  I leaned down, took a whiff, and… HOLY $(@*$&%(#(#& IT IS POTENT ENOUGH TO REPEL SQUIRRELS OH GOD #@@)%*@#&$.

Gardening pro tip!  Snorting cayenne pepper hurts like a mofo!  Don’t do it!

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Last thing – while I’m telling you about all this other garden equipment I’ve been acquiring – plants, pots, cayenne pepper… there was one item that has proven to be absolutely necessary.  If I didn’t want that happy little dude to dig up my plants, fling soil around the patio and dump handfuls of gravel over my most delicate herbs – all of which was happening – some sort of distraction was needed.  Enter the sandbox!  I’d been meaning to get one for awhile but was hung up on finding the best safe sand.  I finally found an acceptable option (Sandtastik, for my mom friends who might be in the market) and as for the box itself – well, clearly I had to go for the Fisher Price turtle.  Can’t beat a classic, amirite?  Both kids love it, and more importantly, so far, the sandbox seems to be fulfilling its purpose of distracting Nugget and keeping him out of the garden.  Of course, now every surface in the house and on the patio is covered with a layer of sand.  You can’t win them all.

Gardening friends: have you planted yet?  How’s it going?  Have you also snorted cayenne pepper in an effort to repel squirrels?

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When I think back on the fondest memories I have of my childhood, the vast majority of them took place outdoors.  I could almost convince myself that I lived outdoors as a kid.  Like any active, sporty family, we had our favorite fresh-air pursuits.  While we did our share of hiking, I wouldn’t say that we spent an inordinate amount of time on the trails.  Summer and warm fall days found us, instead, on the water – sailing, canoeing and kayaking, mostly, with occasional motorboat jaunts, and my dad was never far from another spin on his windsurfer.  In the winter, we skied.  Downhill, mainly, but also cross-country just to mix it up.  Hiking was lower on the list, although I think we all enjoyed it.

Now that we’re grown-ups (well…) my brother Dan and I have both become avid hikers – even more than we were.  He’s trekking the Colorado wilderness with his wife, while I’m traversing heritage Virginia rail trails with my family, but we’re both out there, and I am sure that the legacy my parents gave us – the love of nature and the outdoors, the satisfaction of pushing boundaries, and the thrill of adventuring in the wide world – has a lot to do with that.

Just as my brother has his adventure buddy – my dear sister-in-law Danielle – I have mine in Steve.  Some of our earliest dates involved exploring the footpaths and waterfalls around the Cornell campus.  On our third date, we drove out to Buttermilk Falls State Park, where we hiked to the namesake falls and I claimed an enormous pink boulder for France.  It was a fun date, and also an important one, because I don’t know what I would have done if it had turned out that he didn’t like to go outside and play.  As our relationship developed, so did our hiking haunts.  I showed him around my beloved North Campus – taught him to play shoe golf (best game ever) at the Cornell plantations, introduced him to the best bridge-jumping spot (he didn’t jump) and slid with him down miniature waterfalls just upstream.  Of course, you know how the story ends.  We got married, took our hiking farther afield (to England and Scotland!) and eventually, found ourselves with two little trail tots.

I hiked during both pregnancies.  With Peanut, at least until ish got real at the end, I was on the trails most weekends (and inevitably fell asleep in the car on the way home).  I pushed even harder while pregnant with Nugget – sometimes unwittingly.  The picture above?  Snapped by a summit steward atop Cascade Mountain, our first Adirondack high peak, two days into my second pregnancy (and totally oblivious to the stowaway).

^Another family-of-four picture, this one snapped at Letchworth State Park – photo credit to my dear friend Zan.  Nine weeks pregnant and feeling sorry that Nugget had such a boring view while the rest of us enjoyed gorges and waterfalls.

When I think about the childhood I want to give my kids, I think about a childhood like mine – one lived outdoors as much as (maybe more than) in.  I think about fostering a deep respect for the planet, a commitment to protect and preserve our wild spaces and the creatures who share the earth with us.  I think about their sense of wonder, their marveling at the miracle of nature.

And the way I am fostering that appreciation is to give them the gift of a childhood on the trails and on the water.

In a very real sense, Peanut and Nugget are growing up in the woods.  They’ve been living on hiking trails since they were both tiny babies – starting in the Bjorn (Peanut) and the Ergo (Nugget) and eventually graduating to a Deuter KidComfort III and an Osprey Poco Plus, respectively.  Peanut spent her babyhood at Great Falls and Rock Creek Park; Nugget spent his at Knox Farm.  I want both of them to grow up with those same memories – of playing and exploring with their parents – that I did.

I’ll be the first to admit that my wanting to raise my kids outdoors is at least partially selfish.  I love the outdoors, and I dearly miss some of the active pursuits I used to enjoy before the kids came along.  I have been an avid kayaker since I was fifteen, and have had few opportunities to get out and paddle in recent years.  (The four hours I spent cruising around Lake George with my friend Seth last summer just served as a reminder of how much I miss paddling.)  And every winter I mourn all the skiing I’m not doing.  So, yeah, I hope they love this stuff because I love it and I miss it and I cherish the hope of one day paddling Blackwater or Smith Mountain Lake, sailing the Chesapeake, exploring the Blue Ridge, and sliding down the West Virginia ski slopes with them.  And more, and bigger – I want them to know my home mountain range as well as I do.  I want them by my side when I finally explore the national parks of the West.  I want to put my arm around Peanut as we watch the sun rise from a Hawaiian volcano, to high-five Nugget after a day of paddling kayaks and spotting marine life in the Pacific Northwest, to see the wonder on both of their faces during an African safari.  If I have it my way – and Steve has it his way – they’ll grow up as true adventure kids.

They’re little now, and we’re keeping our expectations down.  A short, flat trail sounds about right for our current stage of life.  Bonus points for spotting birdies.  (Relax, Nugget, Great Blue Herons don’t eat little boys.)  Next summer, we might be down to just Nugget in a backpack, while Peanut runs alongside us with her own little pack.  Before I know it, they’ll be paddling and sailing and skiing with us.

I’m doing my best to enjoy each moment as it comes.  To cherish the memories we make now, and not to get too hung up on the stuff that we used to do, that’s beyond our capabilities at the moment.  I’m taking grown-up adventures as they come, and not sweating it if the biggest adventure on a weekend hike is a diaper changed trailside.  Because I know that it’s just a few tomorrows until they can keep up with me and be true adventure buddies – if I haven’t ruined the whole experience by placing too many expectations on them too soon.  And I also know that the memories they are making on these trails – even now, at four and two – are setting them up for a lifetime of adventure in the great big world, and I hope that someday they look back on our family hikes as a cherished gift, and a gift that they’ll pass on to their own children.

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It’s only April, and already the garden has been a bit of a comedy of errors – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Peanut and I were both chomping at the bit to start our garden this year.  We planted a garden two springs ago, as a fun way to get in some one-on-one mother/daughter time with a new baby in the house.  It was fun, and we got a decent amount of food out of it – quite a few salads and lots of herbs, although the tomatoes struggled and then were all eaten by backyard pests once they’d finally sprouted.  Last spring, we were living in temporary housing while we planned our move back home, and planting a garden – even a container garden – just wasn’t in the cards.  Peanut didn’t say much about it, but I know she was disappointed.  So this year, she was doubly excited when I asked her if she wanted to garden with Mommy again.

As soon as the calendar turned to March, she started begging to get plants for the garden.  I wasn’t sure when would be the right time, so I did a little research and concluded that by mid-March, if the weather was looking good, we should be fine to get plants into pots.  Clearly, I was wrong, because we visited multiple nurseries in search of tomatoes, basil, etc. – and everyone looked at me as if I’d sprouted another head when I asked where the edible plants were.  We finally found a few things – some sugar snap peas, cold weather lettuce, and rosemary – at Holly, Woods & Vines down by our old house.  I snapped them up because if we left another greenhouse empty handed, Peanut was going to lose her mind.  We’ll supplement in a little bit, when the warmer weather plants are out.  (Please ignore the pink-haired mermaid photobomb above.)

We got home and got ready to plant.  Steve had nicely prepared the pots earlier in the week, setting them out in the sunniest spot on our back patio and filling them with mulch and then topsoil.  My little gardener and her mermaid were ready to get their hands dirty!

Since the plants we came home with weren’t the plants I was intending to come home with, I did some fast thinking about what should go where.  First thing into the soil was rosemary – the only herb available so early in the season – in the smallest pot.

(Don’t mind the big red splotch on Peanut’s fleece.  That’s her school jacket and it has the school crest embroidered on it.  It was hard to see in pictures but still, I don’t plan to announce to the entire internet where my kid can be found during the day.  Since my photo-editing skills are basically limited to zoom, crop and Instagram, it’s totally obvious that I scribbled over it in red “paint” – but whatever, it does the trick, right?)

Rosemary planted, it was time for the lettuce to go into the big pot.  It’s already pretty much doubled in size since we planted – we’ve had so much rain!  Can’t wait to start eating some backyard salads again.

Last pot – sugar snap peas.  I had no plans to plant peas, but like I said, we had to get something or Peanut would have lost it.  Now that we have them, I’m enjoying watching them curl their little tendrils up the tomato cage, and I hope that we get to enjoy some fresh peas all season long!

And – that’s it for now!  We gave everything a quick “welcome home” water with our new orange watering can and have just been having fun watching things grow and change ever since.  We might need to add a planter once we’re ready for tomatoes, but all in good time.

Anyone else get a ridiculously early start on planting this year?

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Spring is widely regarded as the most spectacular season of the year in D.C.  I haven’t been able to really enjoy it in the past, because I always got hideous allergies – it’s no fun to spend a month with runny eyes, itchy throat, and a completely blocked nose.  For whatever reason – knock wood, and I’m almost afraid to write this for fear I might jinx it – allergies seem to have passed me by this year.  I think it may be because I spent three years out of the area, and it takes awhile for pollen to become familiar enough to my immune system to make it freak out.  I’ve also had another baby, and pregnancy does all kinds of weird things; I’ve got to say, if one of the side effects of Nugget was that he cured me of my allergies, even for a little while, well, I already love the little guy but – that’s awesome.

All that’s to say, since I haven’t been spending my days sneezing and popping Claritin – yet – I’ve finally gotten to go out and do All The Spring Things, and D.C. has totally earned its reputation for being a spring wonderland.  The weekend before last, we took advantage of a crisp but cloudless morning to drive down to Mount Vernon and check out all the glories of spring on the estate.

Rows and rows of tulips, daffodils, and more flowers in the upper garden – flowering trees all over the grounds – and baby animals in almost every enclosure!  Does it get better than that?

We started out with a walk around the upper garden and then down past the Mansion to go check out the animals – always the kids’ favorite part.  We actually went into the Mansion this time, because we found a slot between tour groups and it wasn’t too crowded.  Peanut loved it, as expected, and Nugget was a menace, also as expected.  I think in the future we’ll just send Peanut inside with one parent, and keep Nugget out with the other.  Fortunately, no property damage was done, and he didn’t even get yelled at for banging on doors like he did at the Lee-Fendall House.  So… a win?

Headed down to the animals and right away spotted lambs!  WAY too cute.  I apologize in advance for my terrible photos.  The sun was just too blinding.  I assure you, they were much cuter in person.

My lambkins were enthralled by the sweet little woolly babies

Next we continued down the hill toward the Heritage Farm, and on our way, we discovered – piglets!

Again, pictures do no justice to the cuteness of the real thing.  These little ones were only five days old!  And already scampering and playing in their little lean-to.  Poor Mom looked exhausted.

Made it down to the river!

It was such a gorgeous day.  I could have stayed outside all day long.  Sunshine, birdsong, flowers, and baby animals – what’s not to love?

A little too sunny for some people.  Look at these spoiled kids, being towed backwards so the sun doesn’t get in their faces.  It’s the life, right?

Eventually we had our fill of the (grown-up) sheep down at the Heritage Farm and headed back up the hill, stopping about halfway up to let the kids out of the stroller – they’d had enough riding.

Yes, they’re almost the same height.  And Nugget weighs as much as Peanut does now.  It’s frightening.

Found a little grove of Virginia dogwoods!  (It’s a tree and a flower. #andrewshepardismypresident.)  I pointed them out to Steve, who had been wondering about how to identify them just the week before.

Mount Vernon is really the perfect family outing for us.  There are flowers for Peanut (and me!), animals and plenty of lawn for both kids, and a delightful walk for all.  I’m so glad we’re living close to the estate again (although I miss being just a ten-minute bike ride away!).

Where do you like to go to soak up spring?

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Confession: I’m a total sucker for Facebook clickbait about fun things to do in northern Virginia.  I follow a bunch of NoVA tourism accounts and I can reliably be counted on to click every link that begins with a sentence like “7 THINGS EVERY VIRGINIAN MUST DO AT LEAST ONCE” or “TOP 10 BEST VIRGINIA TOWNS FOR SUMMER ADVENTURE.”  You get the picture.  Well, I guess it’s not clickbait if it actually leads to an amazing hike, right?  Because when the headline “VIRGINIA’S SECRET GARDEN TRAIL” popped up at me over the winter, obviously I clicked on it – and discovered a hidden gem.

Tucked away in Centreville, Virginia is Bull Run Regional Park.  And tucked away in Bull Run Regional Park is the Bluebell Loop Trail, which most of the year is just a nice pleasant meander through the woods, but which becomes a riot of color and glory for a couple of weeks in early to mid-April, when the bluebells are blooming.  Which they are.  Right now.  So – here’s your PSA: if you are local to D.C., drop everything and go do this hike right now.  I’ll wait.

I did extensive research to determine which weekend would be the best for viewing the bluebells at their most glorious, and determined that last weekend seemed like the choice.  A quick call over to the park confirmed the decision – a ranger informed me that the bluebells were blooming by Wednesday and would be at peak over the weekend.  Thanks – we’ll see you then!

Peanut wanted to walk, and she actually did most of the trail on foot – good girl!  And even better, she was very well-behaved and did not pick a single flower, which I know was just killing her.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The trail picks up with a little jaunt over a boardwalk – no bluebells in sight just yet.  We were pretty sure that we were going the right way, though, thanks to the excellent signage.  We enjoyed listening to frogsong in the wetlands, and Nugget pointed out several logs that he was convinced were alligators.

And then – all of a sudden, out of nowhere – bluebells!

They were literally everywhere you looked.  The entire forest floor was carpeted in bluebells, bluebells as far as the eye could see.  We all stopped in our tracks and just gaped.

I assure you, these pictures do absolutely no justice to the pure, unadulterated glory of this trail.  I’ve never seen anything like it – even the hill by my parents’ camp, which is carpeted in periwinkles in the summer, couldn’t compete.  I’m convinced there is a corner of Heaven that looks just. like. this.

Peanut was in her element.  She absolutely loves flowers.  She pranced down the trail shouting “FLOWER PETALS, this is beautiful!” while Nugget repeated “FLOWER PETALS!” from the backpack like a little echo.

I was very proud that she didn’t pick a single one, though.  We practice “leave no trace” on our hikes – leave nothing but footprints; take nothing but photographs – and I knew that was going to be a challenge this time.  Peanut has a case of sticky fingers when it comes to flowers.  It’s sweet, because she wants to pick them for me, but we can’t encourage it.  After she came home with a big bouquet of stolen daffodils from the school garden (but really, who let her in there unsupervised?) we had to talk to her about making sure she asks permission before picking a bouquet for Mommy, as much as Mommy loves flowers too.

But she was a good girl, and she had an absolute ball.

So did someone else.  Little dude was pretty good about not clamoring to be let out of the backpack – I think it helped that we kept up a pretty good clip, and that there was so much to see – lots of birds, dogs, and of course all the flowers.

I couldn’t stop snapping pictures.  I knew that my photos were a very poor shadow of what was actually all around me, but I couldn’t help myself.

Seriously – what a gorgeous hike.  As we walked along, eyes popping out of our heads at the beauty all around us, I told Steve that I thought this was the best hike we’ve done all year.  He replied, “It’s one of the best hikes we’ve done ever.”  I agreed – some hikes, you just know when your boots hit the trail, are hikes for the ages. Hall Ranch  in Lyons; Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park; the Adirondack high peaks; pretty much every Great Falls hike ever – and the Bluebell Trail.

We made it back to the car drunk on spring beauty.  Some of us were so overcome that we had to eat our zippers.  (Not naming names, but…)

Bull Run, thank you for a perfect morning.  We’ll be back before long, because this is certainly a park to experience in all seasons.  But next spring – and every spring, as long as we live here – will find us on the Bluebell Loop Trail, because glory like this must be savored and savored again.

What’s your quintessential spring hike?

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A March hike that is really more of a walk is apparently a tradition with this project.  When we did it last in 2015, Nugget had just joined us on the outside and our “hike” was pushing a stroller around paved roads.  This time, we just struck out on finding anything more challenging than mulch – but we had fun and we moved our legs in nature, so I’m saying it counts!

Our main purpose in picking the National Arboretum was to hit up Saturday’s native plants sale.  I had the idea that I might be able to pick something up for my garden.  What I learned was – and all you master gardeners, don’t laugh at me – native plants does not mean edible plants.  Other than a blueberry bush (that I wanted, but Steve reasonably pointed out would probably outgrow our patio space) there was nothing.  Oh, well.

They were still pretty!

After the plant sale, we hit the National Herb Garden for some inspiration, and then made our way around the rose garden as well.  Nothing in bloom, really, other than a few early season flowers (the blizzard two weeks ago really messed up our spring).

Peanut insisted on being let down to smell everything in the perfume garden.  This point is pretty much when Nugget started clamoring to be released from the backpack, too.

After a slight detour to check out the daffodils and a flowering tree, we headed for the original Capitol columns.  Hands down the coolest sight in the Arboretum.

Bad back-lighting alert!

All the world’s a stage for Peanut, but certain places and spaces give more scope for her full range of dramatic expression.  Dramatic dancing and belting out pop songs commenced.

I attempted some artistic photography and failed miserably.

And all the while, the little dude was whining and complaining in my ear, kicking me and pulling my hair.  He thought it a spectacular injustice that his sister was running around treating the columns as her own personal Broadway stage, while he was still trapped in a backpack.

So this had to happen.  I didn’t mind, really – he weighs almost as much as Peanut, so I was starting to think it a bit unfair that Steve was getting in a nice easy walk with an empty backpack while I was hauling about thirty pounds.

Plus – they were ADORABLE.  I did have to pick Nugget up when a Meetup group for greyhounds and their parents came down the path.  Peanut had a ball greeting all the dogs (some of whom were taller than she is!) and charming the folks while Nugget was whimpering in my arms.  (He loves the idea of dogs but takes awhile to warm up to the reality, especially when it’s greyhound-sized.)

All in all – a lovely walk in the sunshine!  Not exactly the most challenging hike we’ve ever done, but there’s something to be said for a nice easy day on a paved trail, enjoying blossoming trees and blue skies.

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With the gorgeous blue skies and warm weather last weekend, and our packed schedule the rest of the month, there was no question that we would be getting out on the hiking trails at least once.  Since the entire weekend looked to be equally beautiful, we targeted Sunday for our hike.  I initially floated Fraser Preserve as a possible destination, but Sunday morning found us moving very slowly, so we scrapped that idea in favor of Lake Accotink, a new-to-us park in Springfield, Virginia.

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Strapped into the hiking backpack and ready to go!  Dad and I were in short sleeves, but we zipped the kiddos into their fleeces – although Peanut insisted on wearing a sundress with shoes and socks – no tights – which we let her get away with, since it was really quite warm already.

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First order of business was a snack.  Both kids gobbled up cheese sticks and pouches while enjoying the view of the lake.  I’d love to see the place in summer, when the park is bustling with people!  As it was, there were quite a few hikers, runners, mountain bikers and strollers out enjoying the lovely lake breeze and blue skies.

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Canoes!  I can’t wait until the kids are old enough – read: obedient enough – to get out on the water as a family.  Paddling is something I love; it’s been a passion of mine since I got my first kayak at age 15, and I wish I got to do more of it.

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Suited up and ready to hit the trails!

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Not far into our hike, what little cloud cover there had been burnt off and the glorious blue sky came out!  Not pictured: the little Pisces who was hovering around my right ear, keeping up a constant refrain of “Wanna go by water!  Wanna go by water!”

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^ The goal.  Always the goal.

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Attempted some selfies, but they turned out very squinty.  Note to self: do not forget sunglasses, even if the sky is a little overcast.

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When we had only a little hiking left to do, we let Peanut out of the backpack to run along the trail next to us.  She’d been sulking and complaining the entire time (four going on fourteen?) but perked up considerably once she got to walk.  We discussed the possibility that she is growing out of the backpack – up until recently, she never wanted to walk if there was a possibility of being carried or pushed.  I’d love to see her in little hiking boots, scampering along with her own mini backpack, so I’m encouraging her.

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Stopped to examine some quartz in the trail!  If it’s pink or sparkly, Peanut is here for it.

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Well, Accotink, thanks for a delightful, sunny, breezy hike!  This park was truly a gem, only twenty minutes from us, and we had no idea it was out there. I can already see that renewing the hiking project is a good idea – it’ll get us out of the habit of going to Great Falls every weekend, and force us to try out some new hiking spots.

Did you hit the trails this month?

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