“What should we do?”
“It says we will get a ticket and a fine.” These were the very questions we were asking ourselves after arriving to the trailhead, and noticing a parking fee of $5 cash. Neither of us carries cash, and it took so much work to get to this point that finding a solution to this problem felt insurmountable. Should we just turnaround, or go hiking, and hope that “they” won’t check that we paid? Can we write down a credit card number or pay online? So many questions, and we were just staring at each other with two antsy kids waiting for activity. Could something so small defeat our goal of getting into nature? It didn’t, thankfully. The solution, it turns out, was remarkably easy – get back in the car and drive to an ATM to withdraw money for the parking.
As a parent of little kids, the demands are endless; change my diapers, wash my clothes, make me food, and the all-encompassing “ENTERTAIN ME!” Sometimes, you want to hide from it, or at least take a 5 minutes to share a thought with yourself. Getting out on a hike is not easy, but neither is staying at home. You will be working just as hard in both situations, but the hike offers fresh air, exercise, and a good place for your kids to exert their energy. At home they are capable of destruction beyond comprehension. No joke, AJ soaked his bed with water, shattered a nice Christmas ornament, and nearly broke my drill all in the name of “helping”. Hiking allows our kids to share that helping spirit by learning how to navigate the outdoors. Kaitlin chose a hike that was basically a stair climber. The initial ½ mile was a steep incline that presented many opportunities for a short limbed toddler to slip, and fall, or for a mom carrying her 9 month old baby to miss a step, and tumble into disaster. These were my initial thoughts, along with the desire to just take off up the trail, and do my own hike. Thankfully, those worst case scenarios did not come true, and the hike was a great experience. AJ really took to the challenge of climbing the stairs. He tried every step on his own and said, “I do it myself”, or he would ask for assistance – “hold my hand” or ask for the escalator “carry me”. The “carry me(s)” were not often, and a lot of the time I talked him into the “hold my hand” form of help. MJ loved the comfort of being carried next to mom’s chest, the little nap it offered, and the smells, and sounds of nature. I would catch him watching AJ, and I climbing the stairs, and he would have a big smile on his face, and his eyes seemed to be saying “let me try”.
We made the ½ mile trek to the top stair climber before it was time to head back down. I think we could have gone farther, but we are still learning the limits of our family. It is hard to keep MJ cooped up in a carrier, and we are still learning how much hiking AJ can handle. That being said, I think this goal of 52 weeks of nature is going to be great for us. All our limits will be tested, and it offers an unknown adventure each week. Until then – “May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face. And may the wings of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars.”