Because what does a classy mom do? She asks if it's okay if her other kids come, too.
(I offered to pay their way.) (I wasn't raised in a barn.) (Although I can totally see why you would assume that I was, what with the stories I tell here.)
Since it was a party for one of Nick's 4th-grade friends, a couple of the parents were worried about whether or not Jake could keep up. I was not.
First Avenue Rocks basically reserved the first section of walls for the party, and the kids took FULL advantage of it. They scaled every inch of it, both belayed and via free-climbing.
When Nathaniel got to the top the first time, he was crowing, "There're couches up here! COUCHES!"
Nick went up and down, up and down, up and down like a monkey. That kid can CLIMB.
What Jake lacks in height, he makes up in spirit. He wouldn't be left behind, and he scooted right up the walls with the older kids.
Every time someone made it to the top of a wall ...
... Someone was waiting for him at the top.
The author of this blog has little to no upper-body strength. Like, I tried to do a pull-up a couple of months ago on the playground equipment and I think I got a hernia. So when I see Nick do stuff like this, it looks unreal to me.
If you're local and have never been down to First Avenue Rocks, it's great even for younger kids. We hope to go later this week if they're open (we haven't called to check yet), and we think Amelia will want to try climbing up this wall. Belayed, she shouldn't have any trouble. She's a monkey in her own right.
Have you ever taken your dog to a new park and it ran around like crazy, sniffing everything and wanting to literally try out every corner? That's what it was like with the boys at First Avenue Rocks.
After the first hour, I wandered around the corner to explore a little bit, and there were some experienced climbers working on the more advanced rocks.
So, you know, these are complete strangers, but I was so impressed by what they were doing with their bodies that I took pictures of them so I could show you.
Back around to the people I knew ... they were beginning to try out a little more complex set of rocks.
If you're not familiar with rock-climbing, each little hand- or foothold is called a "problem." I don't know much about it, but I think at First Avenue Rocks, they switch out the problems and add new ones periodically in order to challenge their regular climbers.
Looks plenty challenging to me as it is, but okay.
Dylan, the birthday boy,was having such a great time. He'd only been there once before, I think, but he set quite the example.
I couldn't have been more wrong. They kept climbing and climbing. And climbing.
It's one of those things that, if we'd been there as a family, I don't know for sure that they would've been going so strong for two solid hours. But among friends? NO PROBLEMO.
First Avenue Rocks is a really beautiful place. I mean, it's not beautiful in the same sense that being outside in a boulder field is beautiful, but it's full of bright colors and happy people.
And any time you're surrounded by people doing what they love, to me that makes a place pretty special.
For one of the kids, it was his first attempt at this kind of "high-adventure activity."
There were so many areas of the gym that we didn't even get to try ...
But I kept seeing more experienced climbers out of the corner of my eye, and I'd wander over to watch them in action.
Mind-boggling, really. These people can move like spiders across the walls. Amazing.
I get that this might look like recreation to many of you. To me this looks like work. HARD work.
How many of you are thinking right now, "Man, Grass looked like a total DORK sitting there with her DSLR out taking more than 150 pictures in that rock-climbing gym."
Well. Haters gon' hate.
Let me tell you what I was NOT going to be doing, and that is CLIMBING THOSE WALLS. I will hike in the woods. I will raft some rapids. I will bike on trails. But I will most assuredly NOT spend a couple of hours climbing indoor rock walls, giving everyone below that kind of view of my rear end.
Will -- the climbing newbie -- waited until near the end of the party to get up the nerve to climb the highest wall, but he did it!
The other boys cheered him on from the top, telling him he could do it. It was sweet.
Dylan's dad Ted made climbing back down look simple, but I know better.
As I mentioned, this was our first visit to First Avenue Rocks, but it certainly won't be our last.
It was far too much fun and a great way to burn up energy for us to ignore its presence in Birmingham ... and their prices are really reasonable.
I can't wait to take Grayson and Amelia down there to experience it for the first time, too.
Birmingham readers, have you ever been? And non-locals, have you ever "discovered" a great spot in your city that you wish you'd found years before? That's where I am on this.
I can certainly see us spending a lot of time here in the future!
** This post was not sponsored in any way. **