Growing up and living most of my life where I did, I learned early on that answering the question “Where do you live?” more than 30 minutes away from my home was difficult because I would always get blank stares at my answer. For those of us that grew up there, we would never say the town because no one had ever heard of it. We would rarely even say the county. Instead we would start off with which section of the state we were from or the distance we lived from the nearest large city. I remember what a big deal it was when we got a second Walmart in the county or how excited everyone was to get a Burger King. And when the only movie theatre in the county finally renovated, people were thrilled. It wasn’t unusual for me to drive 20 minutes to the grocery store, 20 minutes to a nice park, 20 minutes to a Starbucks. Want to go to the mall? 40 minutes. Target? 40 minutes. Also, there was only one ‘main’ road in and out of the county and if there was an accident on it, too bad..
It isn’t the same at our new house. I was online last night and I searched ‘parks near me’ and I looked at a radius of what I figured would be under the 25 minute mark to get to. I was shocked to find not just a few, but over a dozen. So, I decided we needed to start checking them out and crossing them off the list.
This morning we went to one that boasted a large playground in the shade and some walking trails. It was less than 10 minutes from the shop so I figured it would be perfect. We pulled into a nearly empty parking lot and unloaded. When the kids saw the park their eyes got big. Big E had been there once before with his grandma, but the rest of us had never been. There were a few moms there with their kids, but other than that, it seemed pretty serene. We put on our sunblock and bug spray, put down our waters, and that’s when we heard it- a large group of kids was coming our way. By the looks of it it was probably a summer camp group, but suddenly the quiet park was inundated with at least 30 more kids and a handful of chaperones. It probably would have been more enjoyable if we had had the park to ourselves, but the kids did great with interacting, and when we got overwhelmed we decided to take a walk. The trail led us to a well used biking trail that took us on a bridge over the road we had been driving on. C wanted to stop and journal in her notebook about the bridge. She drew a picture of us walking on it.
After the park we headed for the shop to have lunch. We stayed for a little while and then headed on our way. We would be passing pretty close to a park we had seen signs for so we decided to stop at that one and check it out. We pulled into a tiny, empty parking lot and made our way down to a creek. To be honest, we were not at all impressed. There was trash everywhere. We had to step around broken bottles and old clothing. The site looked better suited as a mobster dumping ground than a park, so we didn’t last long.
From there we went to Rita’s. The Rita’s near us has a small splash park outside. After they ate their Italian ice, they ran and played in the sprinklers for at least an hour. Baby E was definitely the most timid, but even he enjoyed getting splashed. They were drenched when we got them back to the car.
When we got home this evening they played some video games while we made supper. After dinner they were invited to our neighbor’s to play on the trampoline and while the big kids were jumping, Baby E took the Jeep out for a spin.
Needless to say, they all fell asleep pretty quickly this evening!
I don’t think we could have fit one more thing into our day. I’m not sure if it is because I am trying to make up for lost time or if I really am so excited about all this new time I have with the kids, but we have jam-packed every single day since getting out here. With that said, tomorrow is going to be much more sedate!