May 13, 2009

Any excursion is a 'success' if you leave with seaweed in your pants

Saturday was overcast with a pretty good chance of rain, but we started our day early, with an 8:00 soccer game, and we wanted to make the most of being out of the house with the whole day in front of us.

After soccer, we took the boys out for a Special Treat: breakfast at Waffle House. It was SO YUMMY. Then we decided to hike into the preserve that backs up to our neighborhood. If I had to make a list of the Top Five Things I Love About Our Neighborhood, its proximity to the nature preserve would be numero uno on that list.

It's called Moss Rock Preserve, with good reason. There's a lot of this:

It's an unspoiled landscape of the most beautiful trees, creeks, waterfalls and boulders ... and it has lots of trails, so it's a great family destination, even if you're carrying a 30-pound 1-year-old who can't walk yet. I mean, that takes a LITTLE of the shine off the experience, but it's still pretty stellar.

Right now there's a good bit of construction going on near the entrance, since a neighborhood is in the middle of completing a new phase. As an adult, I find it disconcerting and icky that all the red dirt now greets us as we walk the path into the woods. MY CHILDREN, on the other hand, consider it Added Value.

Here they are, "adding value" to their summer attire during their ascent to the summit of Mt. Dirty Muddy:

And thank goodness the baby didn't have to sit this one out! Daddy was kind enough to help him summit like a good little Sherpa (see his precious little head poking out from behind the RED CLAY?):

Thank God for Tide with Color-safe Bleach.

When I reached him, Jake turned around and asked me with his eyes: "Mommy, mommy, are you SURE it's OK for me to be up here? I mean, I'm LOVING it, but REALLY?"

And then he ate a rock:

Luckily his trusty Sherpa was able to wrangle the rock out of his mouth, and I decided this would be an EXCELLENT time to move on.

Here are Nathaniel and Nicholas running ahead of us. (I was carrying Jake, so I went around the long way. I was afraid I might bump his head on the side of the rock if I tried to squeeze the two of us through there together.)

This part of The Preserve is known as The Boulder Field, and experienced rock climbers come here from all over the state to climb. I only saw four or five climbers on Saturday, which might have been due to the forecasted rain.

These boulders are pretty big, although it's hard to give you a sense of the scale here. You can see Nathaniel to the left of this one, if that helps.

There are lots of nooks and crannies in the boulders, and we try to keep the boys out of the dark ones. If I can't see through to the other side, I don't want them wandering in there. WILDLIFE LIVES HERE, Y'ALL, as I will prove to you shortly.

Here's an example of a hole I don't mind them playing in. From the lower side of the boulder, it looks like this:

And from the upper, higher side, you can climb right in and see straight through. If you look closely, you can see Nick's red Croc over there on another boulder he was climbing on at the time.

My friends, I promised you a sign that wildlife lives here, and here it is:

We found a Very Long Snakeskin. Luckily we didn't find the snake from whence it came, but the big boys were pleased, nonetheless. Jake, not so much:

That is his "Get that thing away from my paci" face.

Once you hike through The Boulder Field, you come out at a lovely little creek. I cannot overstate how much the boys love the creek. Love, love, love it. There's Nathaniel way down there, hip-hopping in it like it's a bed of tulips.

And here's Nick, looking for rocks to throw in and disrupt its perfect flow. Is there a better morning activity than throwing rocks in a creek? They think not.

Onward and upward we climb to one of the waterfalls where Jake can play safely. At this point in the hike, he's desperate to get down and play. The boys like to play at the base of the falls ...

... as well as climb to the top and play there.

Jumping into the water, even if the water is only slightly above freezing at this time of the year, is a favorite pastime.

Sometimes we even stick our landings.

Oh, how we love to jump!

And as I said, sometimes we stick our landings ... and sometimes we don't.

At Grayson's urging, Nathaniel stuck his face in the torrent of rushing water. He rocked it.

And what was precious Jakey doing all this time? He was kickin' it next to me. When we first put him down in a small puddle, he was like, "It's OK that I'm sitting in this puddle? WOW. First I got to play in dirt, and now I'm in a puddle. I MUST BE LIVIN' RIGHT."

It took approximately .01 seconds for him to turn around and start exploring the faster-moving water. "This puddle stuff is for BABIES."

"I will be happy here briefly, and then I will be forced to move on to more dangerous surroundings."

"Ahhh, yes. THAT'S more like it."

"Hmmm. What do we have HERE?"

"I need to do an in-depth assessment. Let me sit here on my haunches, one knee bent, and inspect it in minute detail, channeling Sam Neill when he discovered current-day dinosaur poop in Jurassic Park, the first one."

"Aw, heck. I need more where that came from in order to make any sort of conclusion about the object. I'M GOIN' IN, PEOPLE!"

[Sift, sift, sift. Splash, splash, splash.]

"I AM HAVING THE FREAKING TIME OF MY LIFE HERE. WHY HAVE YOU KEPT ME FROM THIS PLACE FOR SO LONG?" Because you're 30 pounds of dead weight with very little trunk control.

Eventually he gave up all pretense of sitting quietly while his brothers jumped and frolicked, and he just dove in and stayed in. It was pretty nearly the cutest thing ever. BABY LOVES HIM SOME WATER.

Finally THE COLD got to him. Poor thing lasted as long as he could, and then he decided it was time to get out and warm up. (We'd brought a diaper and change of clothes in anticipation that he'd get totally drenched.)

But he had a great story to tell his teachers on Monday ... I tell you, I just don't know that there's any better souvenir to go home with than seaweed in your pants.


Rachel said...

That looked like so much fun! Thanks for posting all those great pictures.

Lisa said...

Great entry. great pictures.

Sarah T. said...

I wish we didn't lose our imaginations throughout our lives--I remember thinking that a big dirt hill was all the fun we needed (remember playing in the front yard in Raleigh when water lines were being fixed?)
Now when I see a dirt hill, I just think dirty. Sad.

Amy said...

I've never posted here, but follow your blog. This post was just lovely. What a wonderful outing for your boys. It looked like tons of fun!

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Thanks for all of the kind comments. We really ARE so lucky that this is almost in our backyard. I've been working hard over the past 6 years to relax more about dirt, the touching of nasty animal carcass-like things, and drowning hazards. Maybe, in year 6, it's finally happening.

AnnieBlogs said...

Oh my gosh your boys are DARLIN'. These pictures are awesome. I love the one of his face in the water- so hilarious. Makes me want to have a whole bunch of little dudes running around my house someday. :)

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Annie, Thanks for the compliments on my boys. I am so proud of them. :) Having a bunch of dudes running around IS a blessing!

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