My children love adventure as much as their parents do. When the kids are squirrely and the weather is nice we often say "let's go exploring", and boy do they get excited! They know that such outings might include looking for cool rocks on the road that runs adjacent to U.S. Route 15 (we have a jar of rocks that we've collected and they can tell you about each and every one of them), fishing at Cowanesque Lake, investigating a local waterfall and practicing our stone skipping, playing at a playground we've never visited before, bug collecting along the dike, or metal detecting at the waters edge. No matter what the adventure, there's always something to see, something to study, something to touch, and it's always fun!
My family knows that I enjoy hiking. Watkins Glen is one of my favorite places to take the kids on a sunny day. There are stone stairs and walkways that are easy for them to climb, tunnels and bridges that are fun to explore, stone walls to prevent them from tumbling, waterfalls to touch and admire, puddles to splash in or step around, and paths through the woods with little creatures to watch.
Look at all of those stairs.....and it was so hot!
At one point my son told me that he thought hiking the glen must be like hiking the Appalachian Trail. No son, not quite...A little water break helped and we were back at it! I think I can, I think I can.....
Tired of walking? Need to catch your breath? No problem! Step aside so others can pass by and take in the view! It's such a beautiful place!
We always watch for heart-shaped rocks while exploring anywhere. This tradition started last summer while hiking with my dear friend Joan. While she took us on an adventure through old pastures, woods and streams, she shared that when her kids were little they would look for heart-shaped rocks while they were exploring to gift to her. My children now look for them too. If we can't carry the stone back to gift personally we take a picture of it to send to her just to make her feel special. She's one of the kindest, sweetest, most giving people on the planet and I love to make her smile. So do my kids! That makes me proud.
One of the best parts about exploring is that no one is in a hurry. If you want to check out the butterfly on the leaf, you can do that. If you want to follow the bug on the path to see where he lives, great! Let's go! On this particular adventure we decided to try a path we'd never hiked before. When the path forked we played rock-paper-scissors to decide which direction to go. It's fun to try new things. We walked through the woods, found a shelter similar to those on the Appalachian Trail (much to Matthew's delight), we watched chipmunks chase each other from one tree to another, and we met a nice family that was staying at a nearby campsite and shared ideas for things to do in town. At the end of the path the woods opened up to a swimming area, some beautiful old stone buildings, a picnic area, and a pond! Ponds are magical places to explore!
This pond was a pond that Claude Monet surely would have painted. Sunny spots reflecting the sky, darker areas shaded by trees, and loads of lily pads!
Kids need adventure and fresh air, and grown ups do too! Grab some bottles of water, a camera, put on your hiking shoes and go exploring! Your kids will love it, and you just might too!