On the Lookout

I am always on the lookout for new places to go see and explore. I feel that there is so much out there in the world that it is not only important but fun to go and find out what’s out  there. I especially love being able to take my kids to these places to show and share with them the richness and variety of our world; that there is so much to see and do. So much to go and learn, experience and appreciate.

Our latest adventure took us to the Jurassic Forest, which is just north of Gibbons, Alberta. It is an animatronic dinosaur display where you walk along 2 different loops to experience and learn about dinosaurs. It is extremely well done.

I could have just stood there for hours watching just one, but the kids would look watch enjoy and then be saying, “Come on, come on Mum” to go and see what’s next.

There is lots of information around the trails, excellent interpretive signs as well as some of the staff wandering around with special items, like a T-Rex tooth or beaver pelt, to explore or to answer any questions. I am a sign reader 🙂 I want to read every sign and every bit of information that is on it. I am not sure if this is just me or if perhaps my parents taught me this (as my sisters seem to be sign readers too) but I like to read and learn all the information. I don’t want to miss a thing! I try to relay some of the information to the kids by sharing a fact or two but this does not always work.

Entrance to the park is reasonably priced, $40 for a family of 4 and $8 for an additional child. Our adventure there was quite interesting as we started out with warm sunny weather and clear blue skies, while part way through we ended up with a thunder shower and rain.

Still exploring after the rain

One of the rules we had when we went on any trip growing up was that we had to have 2 things – our bathing suit and our rain gear. If we had those two things then we were set no matter what. I have adopted this with my children as well and though the twins are too young yet to know it, Matthew always smiles when I bring it up and can answer very quickly what the 2 things are that he should have; and dutifully packs them without fuss or question.

My point is we were prepared, so that when it started to rain we just put on our raincoats and carried on, while others rushed through the rest of the path to find shelter. Ok well almost all of us had our raincoats. I have to admit that though we had brought them I only had mine in the park and had left all the kids raincoats in the car. Oops! That did not work out so well.  Regardless, we still did not rush for shelter and mosied along the path finishing our tour. As my aunt said (who joined us at the park that day), we’re here we might as well check it all out.

There are other things there to enjoy as well, they have an interactive display where you can actually ride a dinosaur, a paleontological site where you can discover and help identify dinosaur remains, an adventure play area and a flora and fauna walk. You can also find scavenger hunts for each of the loops on the Jurassic Forest website that you can print out and search for clues. They have even added two new loops The Evolution of Mammals and Taking Flight (about birds and their link to the dinosaurs).

Riding the dinosaur

They have a photo contest each month with a different theme where you can win a Jurassic Forest prize pack. And the gift shop is really good. I often find that the gift shops at these places have a bunch of junky trinkets that break easily and overly priced. This one is quite well done with lots of neat, quality items, such as dinosaur bone ice cube trays, dinosaur puppets and models.

All in all we had a fabulous time with Luke asking the next day if we could go back. We all really enjoyed the dinosaurs, especially my aunt who thanked us profusely for inviting her to come, with a a big smile and a gleam of excitement in her eye. So if you’re looking for an adventure this summer, have a some dinosaur lovers or just looking for somewhere to take the kids you have not been before, I would highly recommend you venture out to the Jurassic Forest.

 

Luke and Chloe’s First Hike

Giant Cedars Trail

One of the great things about children is that if you introduce things to them when they are little they usually just accept it. They approach everything with wonder and delight, curiousity and a willingness to try.

When you introduce it at a young age they do not have the fears or hang ups that we do as adults, the beliefs that we can’t or shouldn’t, or the stubborness to refuse what you are suggesting because they ‘don’t want to’. This is one of the beautys of being a child and spending time with a child. They remind us to try it all and to move forward fearlessly because you never know what joys you are going to experience.

We have introduced things early on with all of our children, in many things, but specifically in introducing camping and hiking to them; all at around the age of 2. Matthew’s first hike was the Fenland Trail in Banff, a 2 km loop through a lush forested area. He completed it easily and then we did another short hike after lunch that day. I think he did 5 km total that day and he was only 2 or 3.

Luke and Chloe’s first hike was a few weeks ago on our way to visit my parents in Oliver, BC. We had stopped for lunch at the Giant Cedars trail in Mt. Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia. There was a picnic area and washrooms to use and after our tummies were full, we went for a walk along the trail.

The Giant Cedars trail is an easy, self guided, 500 m loop with some of the oldest trees in the Columbia Mountains. Featuring the largest western red cedars and dark brown western hemlocks, this boardwalk trail is lush, green and alive. As soon as you enter the trail you can feel the warmth and comfort of a such an old forest.

Chloe taking the stairs at the beginning of the trail

It is a great trail for kids with lots to discover and explore. There are benches along the way so you can sit and relax, enjoying the serene atmosphere and the magic of an old growth forest. Both Chloe and Luke effortlessly went up the stairs that start the trail. Chloe was delighted by the little brook flowing by and would stop every time she saw water. She would scream in delight, “water!” and then bend over, hands on her thighs to take a closer look.

Devil's Club

We meandered along the trail checking things out, the Giant Devil’s Club, the nurse logs and fungi. We read the interpretive signs at different points along the trail describing the age of the trees (over 500 years old), the animals who live there, such as bats, bears and caribou; and how they all make up an important and healthy functioning ecosystem.

Luke was very excited about the fairies which he shared were in their houses; which he told me were the splits in the trees or under the lush underbrush. Both Luke and Chloe walked the whole way, with Chloe stopping to hug and kiss trees and Luke checking out the flowers. Matthew of course ran the trail, cause as usual he had energy to burn. It took us half an hour to do the trail, but is typically done in 15-20 minutes, depending on how fast you move along the trail and if you stop to linger.

Fairy Houses

It is a great place to relax and unplug for a while, to just sit and soak up the atmosphere. It is also a super easy hike for kids and will be a great first or early experience for them.

Hugging a tree

The key to hiking with kids to make their first experiences easy (short enough that they can walk it without feeling tired or have to be carried), achievable (something that they can do all by themselves without feeling discouraged at the end), interesting (lots of things to see, check out and explore) and in proper footwear. Now I would not run out and buy hiking boots for my 2 year old, but it is a good idea to ensure that they have sturdy, closed toed shoes, like runners. If you make their first experiences enjoyable and memorable than they will quickly and easily develop a love for hiking (and an appreciation for their natural environment) as they grow up.