Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum

What is it with 3 and 1/2 year-olds and treasures? Is this a thing? Maybe its just our little guy, but lately all he can talk about is treasures, from finding treasures to receiving them as a reward.  The good news? Anything can be a treasure.  So as long as we call it such, anything can have the potential of being special to him.  The bad news? Since everything has the potential to be a treasure, we can spend a lot of time waiting around for a lollygagging preschooler investigating every nook and cranny along our way.

Sometimes it all works out though, like during our visit to the arboretum this past weekend.  As soon as Bergen was “released” from the jogging stroller to walk on his own, he requested the use of one of the bags we’d brought along for the dog’s (ahem) deposits.  I credited him for his smart thinking! He declared that he was going to search for treasures, and then for the next mile or so, he picked up anything that happened to catch his eye.  Rocks, sticks, leaves, blades of grass…they all went in the bag.

If you’re looking for a way to focus walks and hikes with your young children, you might just think about bringing a bag along for collecting! It’s easy, doesn’t require a whole lot of pre-planning, and Bergen was more than willing to toss the treasures back when our walk was complete.

Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum | WildTalesof.com

Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum | WildTalesof.com

While Bergen was focused on finding treasures, I had the chance to admire early spring in the arboretum.  Yes, while the east coast is suffering through snow, ice, and bitter cold, we are experiencing abundant sunshine, flowers in bloom, warmer temperatures, and even (it seems to me) more active wildlife.

Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum | WildTalesof.com

Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum | WildTalesof.com

 

Have any more tips on holding kids’ interest while walking and hiking? We’d love more ideas!

You can also check out our other tips for hiking with a preschooler.

 

Come join the conversation! We’d love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! You can also keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email.

Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum | WildTalesof.com

Treasure Walks and Early Spring in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum | WildTalesof.com

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Wanna Be Birdwatchers on Skagit Valley, WA’s Padilla Bay Shore Trail

Do you consider yourself a bird expert? Maybe you’re a bird watcher? Interested in trying to spot different species of birds and keep track? Just enjoy looking at birds?

A couple of weeks ago during our quick weekend trip to Skagit Valley, Washington, we learned that in this season of life with our motley crew, we aren’t going to win any awards or even get past the point of just being lucky to encounter a bird.

Wanting to hike, but not wanting to travel far to a trailhead, we decided to take-on the Padilla Bay Shore Trail.  The trail runs along the bay (part of the larger Salish Sea) and is just a half mile or so south from  our rented cabin at Bayview State Park.

Padilla Bay Shore Trail: Skagit Valley, WA | WildTalesof.com

Quick Points about the Trail

  • Multi-use (pedestrians, bicyclists, even hunters) 2.25 mile dike-top trail equipped with frequent mile markers to track your progress
  • Combines views of the water and San Juan Islands juxtaposed with busy farms (we watched red potatoes being harvested) all the while being watched in the distance by Mount Baker and the Cascades
  • Easy, flat trail making it perfect for young hikers (and those carrying young hikers).

Padilla Bay Shore Trail: Skagit Valley, WA | WildTalesof.com

Just as we started our hike, we passed a fellow trailmate who asked us if we were out looking for birds.  Really that wasn’t our original intention, instead we were just out to enjoy the surroundings and get some exercise, but did we somehow look the part of a bird watcher?

Okay, maybe one of us did have binoculars around our neck, but we never really thought to put ourselves in the “bird watcher” category.  Even so, since she brought it up and we realized we were in one of the most popular spots for birding in the state, we thought we’d play the role and give our best effort to see as many winged friends as we could.

We figured we were doing pretty well when we encountered a great blue heron hanging out just on the edge of the adjacent farmland.

Great Blue Heron--Padilla Bay Shore Trail: Skagit Valley, Washington | WildTalesof.com

Turns out this area is said to have one of the largest groupings of great blue herons in the Western United States.

Later on about halfway down the trail where it skirts to the east, we watched several hawks fly over head, but not really sticking around long enough for us to get any good observations of color or markings.  Of course we also saw the usual suspects: tons of seagulls and plenty of ducks, and after that first heron sighting, we saw several more…or who knows maybe it was the same one!

Great Blue Heron: Padilla Bay Shore Trail--Skagit Valley, WA | WildTalesof.com

After a while though, I came to the conclusion that while we may be blessed with seeing some birds here and there, especially popular ones, we aren’t really in a place to be expert observers.

Why not? Well, for starters our pooch, Norman isn’t exactly welcoming the flyers to flock toward us.  I’m thinking he’s more of deterrent and scaring the birds away even if we do come in contact with them.  And then there’s this toddler we’ve got hanging by our side.  He’s noisy and makes sudden movements.  Probably not behavior tips you’d find in the bird watcher’s handbook.

Padilla Bay Shore Trail: Skagit Valley, WA | WildTalesof.com

We’re not going to give up though.  For now, we’ll stick with being “wanna-be bird watchers” and just be happy with what comes our way.  Maybe when Bergen (now 2 years old) is a little older and better able to stay quiet for a period of time and have more controlled movements we’ll step up our game and become a little more serious.  Does this actually happen?

More Info to Know:

  • The Padilla Bay Shore Trail is located in Bayview, Washington.  Parking is available at the North (lot on 2nd Street) and South end of the trail with porta-potties at each location. Directions here.
  • Very stroller friendly
  • Access is FREE.
  • Trail is multi-use: bicyclists, pedestrians, and even hunters (October-January).

Padilla Bay Shore Trail: Skagit Valley, WA | WildTalesof.com

Padilla Bay Shore Trail: Skagit Valley, WA | WildTalesof.com

What’s your level of bird watching expertise & interest? We’d love to know!

Come join the conversation! You can keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email. We’d also love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitterIf you enjoyed this post, please “like it”, “tweet it” or “pin it”! 

Kowalli Baby Carrier Cover Giveaway!

I recently posted about the Kowalli Carrier Cover that we just added to our Adventure Gear Arsenal.  I’m so happy with this handy tool that keeps both me and Bergen (2 years old) warm while I’m lugging him around in the ergo carrier.

Adventure Gear: Staying Warm and Dry with Kowalli's Carrier Cover | WildTalesof.com

I’m thrilled to announce that the folks at Kowalli would like to giveaway a carrier cover to one our readers! Remember, you can read all about the details of the carrier cover, how it works, and what I love about it in my previous review.

Kowallis can be used with all soft carriers (ergo, moby, beco, etc), and is made for children 0-3 years old.  Even if you don’t have a little one at home, what a great gift for your babywearing family and friends!

To Enter the Giveaway

  • Easy: “Like” Kowalli on facebook, and leave a comment here on the blog letting me know you’ve done so. 
  • Bonus Entries-Your name will be entered again depending on how many bonus entries you submit thus increasing your chances of winning (make sure to tell us in your comment which of these you did or already do!):

Winner, Winner…

1 Kowalli Carrier Cover (valued at $69) will be given away to one lucky reader! Winner gets to choose from several great color combinations that Kowalli offers. Contest ends and all entries must be received by Friday, October 18, 2013 at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time.  Winners will be chosen at random and notified on Monday, October 21, 2013.  Giveaway open to U.S. and Canadian residents 18 years or older.  After notification, winners have 3 days to connect.  Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me!

*Kowalli Carrier Cover Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner!*

Many thanks to Kowalli for providing one of the carrier covers for the giveaway.  All opinions about the Kowalli Carrier Cover are my own.  

Adventure Gear: Staying Warm and Dry with Kowalli's Carrier Cover | WildTalesof.com

 

Little Free Library: Sharing the Gift of Literacy One Neighborhood at a Time

Bergen loves books.  He can’t get enough of them.  It’s the one thing that will always amuse him.  Everyday, at least 3 times a day, he sits down in front of his bookshelf and goes to town:  Laughing, pointing, babbling to himself.  The books are not always facing the right way, and sometimes he throws one aside after just a quick glance, but the wheels are turning and he’s figuring things out.  We also have the routine of reading to him before bed each night, and it’s the one and only time where he’ll actually sit on our laps for an extended period of time.

We visit the public library once a week to pick out new books.  Our visits are always a whirlwind.  In and out, and unfortunately not a lot of time to explore because if we spend anymore than 5 minutes, every book on every shelf would be on the floor strewn about every which way.

We’ve discovered a new way for Bergen to get his little hands on even more books and he never has to step food into a building: “Little Free Library“.  And it just so happens, an adorable one lives just a few blocks from our house.  I decided we should pay the library a visit on our walk today, so in preparation we picked out 2 books to donate.

Little Free Library Madison Valley Seattle

Little Free Library Madison Valley Seattle

After browsing through the selection, we in turn chose 2 books to take away to enjoy at our house: Jingle Babies (Bergen loves “reading” books that feature real people, especially babies) and a non-fiction book all about baby animals.

Little Free Library Madison Valley Seattle

Little Free Library Madison Valley Seattle

These little libraries house 20-30 books.  The books are “free” and people are encouraged to give and take from the collection.  Most of the libraries I’ve seen are in front of a home, but apparently they can also be found by coffee shops, parks, and other public places.

Little Free Library Madison Valley Seattle

We hope to make regular visits and exchanges to our neighborhood Little Free Library, and might even seek out more libraries to visit around Seattle.  Who knows?  Maybe one will even pop-up in our travels near and far from our home city!

Have you visited a Little Free Library? Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? Tell us about your experience!

Don’t miss a thing from Wild Tales of…in 2013: Follow us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! Also if you have a quick second, please take it to vote for us in the Circle of Moms: Top 25 Outdoorsy Moms contest.  It’s easy and you can vote once a day. Voting ends 3/27/13. BIG THANKS!

Quick Travel Tip from a Dad (#5): Shoulder Riders Beware!

My husband Slaed, a seasoned traveler, has no shortage of advice when it comes to hitting the roads, rails, skies, and even waterways.  Fatherhood did throw him for a loop, but with almost a year and a half of travel with a little one under his belt, he’s got some creative ideas and some gems of advice he wants to pass along to you fellow travelers out there.

Shoulder Ride Orcas Island Ferry

Show of hands.  Do you throw your kids onto your shoulders when out and about? It’s a great option for so many reasons: kid gets to be taller, kid gets a fun ride, kid is with you and thus not running amok or getting lost in a crowd, tired kid legs get a break.  I could go on and on!

Accidents happen though, and while I’m certainly not going to tell you to stop putting your kids on your shoulders, I do want you to be careful.  While at the beautiful Desert Botanical Gardens on our recent trip to Phoenix, Slaed learned his lesson the hard way.  After 2 1/2 hours of happy roaming, we had one more loop to complete.

To speed Bergen along, Slaed put him atop his shoulders and continued on the path to enjoy the wildflowers.  It wasn’t a minute later before he felt a tug followed a cry from not only Bergen, but the other concerned garden patrons nearby.  He walked Bergen right into a prickly tree. It was a bit of a frenzy wiping up blood and pulling thorns out of his head, but we did get the poor guy to the first aid station where he was cleaned up by a kind park ranger  (who is a dad himself).

First Aid Station Desert Botanical Gardens

A bit of warning before your next shoulder ride: 

  • Think about your trip (from point a to point b) before you start walking.  Entering any buildings?  Have your wits about you and anticipate what’s coming ahead (and above).  
  • Remember how much taller you actually are with a kid on your shoulders.  Your clearance levels will be different now that you have a tot along for the ride.
  • Be careful everywhere, but be especially vigilant if you choose to give a ride while walking up or down stairs.

Have you had any accidents or close calls with a tot on your shoulders? What happened?

Need more? Go visit Travel Tips Tuesday on WalkingOn Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.  For tons of great travel tips, check out their sites!

Don’t miss a thing from Wild Tales of…in 2013: Follow us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter!

Seattle Area Adventure: Cedar River Watershed

Do you know where your water comes from? After this weekend not only do I know exactly where that stuff coming out of the shower head, faucet, and garden hose originated, but I feel pretty good about it too! I’ve always been proud to drink my Seattle water right out of the tap, and now I know I can continue to feel confident about our drinking water.  Our watershed is one of only 6 (and possibly soon only 5) major water systems in the country that does not have a special filtration system.  It’s that clean.  The water is also pure.  I learned that the water cascading down the Cedar River Falls is so blue because the only thing coming down is water.  100% H2O.

Seattle is serious when it comes to water.

Why the sudden interest in water facts and cleanliness? Last weekend, we got to tour the Cedar River Watershed located about 30 miles east of the city near North Bend, Washington.  Due to extreme safety measures all in name of good, clean, healthy water, the only way to get a glimpse of this beautiful 90,638 acre area is through a formal tour.

Via the family tour, we traveled by bus past the secure gates, and into the old town of Cedar Falls.  The town of Cedar Falls is no longer a town, but a place for watershed employees.  Many of the original homes now house offices for the protectors of our watershed.  It was spooky {in a good way} to visit, like stepping back in time.  The mystery of it all was intriguing.  We saw where the tennis courts used to be, where the coveted heated swimming pool was located, noticed fixtures still intact.  The street lights, for example, are still there, and look similar to those you’d see in Pioneer Square (just South of downtown Seattle).  Unfortunately, since we didn’t get off the bus at this point, I couldn’t snap any photos.

Moving on from town, we were taken to the plant where some of Seattle gets it’s electricity (just 1%) through a hydroelectric power facility.  Meandering along through the trees we arrived at the highlight of the tour, the Cedar River Falls.  The flow varies depending on how much water is being released.  Within the watershed, 17% of the trees are old growth; mostly reserved to steep hillsides, and the tops of mountains where loggers couldn’t get easily.

After viewing the falls for a few minutes, it was back on the bus, and back to the Education Center.  A quick one hour tour perfect for little legs (and little attention spans).  There were several other families on the tour with us, and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves, kids and grown-ups alike.  The Education Center features several hands-on exhibits helping children (and adults) learn all about:  where their water comes from, the water cycle, and the plants and animals of the watershed (among other things).  Bergen is of course too young to really appreciate and learn from these great exhibits, but I look forward to bringing him her when he is a bit older.  The 5 year-olds checking out the exhibits with us had a blast; completely engaged.

My favorite part of the education center though is the sound garden.  Water trickles through tiny pipes and tubes that are hidden in the trees, and then drops like rain on various types of drums providing you with an amazing musical experience!  Have a look and a listen:

Info to Know:

  • Cedar River Watershed Information and Tours
    • The “Tap Water Tour” is for adults and kids 10 years old+
    • The “Family Waterfall Tour” is all ages. Kids 5 & under are free.
  • The Rattlesnake Ledge Recreation Area has a relatively “easy” 4 mile round trip hike.  The views provided once you get to the top make it to the ledge are worth the hard work of the hike. You can also walk around the lake, fish, swim, and picnic.

Come along with us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter!

Need some travel inspiration? Go check out what’s happening over at RWeThereYetMom?

It’s also Photo Friday at Delicious Baby!

 

Walk Portland

Walking continues to be a favorite pastime for our family, and is (obviously) one of the best ways to explore a place, new or old. While this was months ago, we had quite an adventurous walk in Portland, Oregon after getting off the train from Seattle.

First, we ditched the stroller for the ergo.  This was an easy choice after initially trying to navigate the crowded outdoor market.  The stroller can be great.  It gives you a place for your little one, and a place for all your stuff too.  However, it’s not so great when it actually slows you down waiting for gaps to appear in the mass of people.  It also makes it difficult to get in and out of places.  Opening doors while attempting to push the stroller inside…I just can’t make it look graceful.

To fuel our journey, we braved the line (not too bad, just a block long) to visit the world famous Voo Doo Doughnut shop.

Slaed went with the classic Voo Doo Doll Doughnut (filled with raspberry jelly), while I stuck to my favorite flavor combination (chocolate and peanut butter), and chose the Old Dirty Bastard.  The Old Dirty Bastard features chocolate frosting piled with oreos, then drizzled with peanut butter sauce.

Filled with Voo Doo goodness, it was on to the waterfront to take in the views of the Willamette River. As I learned the following day, walkers, joggers, runners (me), cyclists, etc. can enjoy the trails that run along the river on either side.

After exploring Old Town/Chinatown just for a bit, we were ready for lunch.  Sticking with our love of breweries (see another Oregon favorite), we wandered into Deschutes and found ourselves yet another kid & adult-friendly establishment.

In addition to making everyone happy with the atmosphere, we landed two delicious beers, and another perfect food combination.

Grilled Pear and Goat Cheese

Elk Burger with Guyere

Continuing to enjoy this amazingly beautiful and warm day, we crossed over the freeway, we made our way to the Northwest District (or Alphabet District or Nob Hill, also home to “trendy third”).

A view from Wallace Park

So many folks out and about enjoy the warm sunshine

Cherry Blossoms along 23rd.

Back at Wallace Park, we met up with friends (Portland residents), and decided to let them take over our walking tour. They led us to the not far, Washington Park where we explored the Rose Garden, Amphitheater area, and of course indulged Bergen in his favorite past time these days: swinging.

Working hard to climb the slide

Bergen’s buddies

No blooms in April, but come summer, I’m sure it’s glorious.

Having worked up an appetite for yet another meal.  The 7 of us headed to McMenamin’s Tavern & Pool.  Another great family choice.  Food was good.  Beer was better. The best though was capping the night off with a delicious truffle at Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe.

Finally…a quiet walk back “home” to our hotel with Bergen nodding off in the ergo.  Portland.  Our lovely neighbor to the South.

Info to Know: