Saturday 5 July 2014

Adventures at the Children’s Forest

Last night, I was able to check something off my summer bucket list! Last fall, the Irving Nature Park opened its newest expansion, the Children’s Forest.  I haven't managed to get myself there.  Last night, we had an extra "little" hanging out with us, so we decided to give it a go. 

I feel like I’ve been waiting for it to open my entire life.  Well, maybe not that long, but it's been a LONG time! The Irving Nature Park has been around for many years, as has the Sheldon Point Trail, which is located on the way to the Nature Park.  It seems that this section of land (found on the way to the Nature Park) has been “in the works” for as long as the Nature Park has been around.  Maybe it has.  I'm not really sure when it started to be developed, but my husband thinks they were started around the same time.  Whenever I went to the park, I always wondered what would become of the space.  There were roads and bridges built, a pond, and tightly planted sections of trees.  I had heard rumours of a natural maze, which explained the tightly planted groups of trees that grew bigger and bigger each year.  I eagerly awaited its opening. It took YEARS (which only makes sense, because trees don’t grow over night!)

Last August, it finally opened. After years of waiting... I didn’t even go! Unbelievable. Well,  not really, because at that point, I didn't have a child, and it was called the "Children's Forest."  I was also very pregnant and it was a HOT summer. It doesn't matter now though, because my waiting ended last night.  

We drove in, and discovered there was a nice little driving path. We drove over the little bridge, around a few turns, past a picnic area, until we reached a parking/playground area.  I was immediately impressed with the playground, but we decided to head to the maze.  

The Rules
We started at the beginning (which is a good place to start.) That's where it got serious. Which enterance would we take? Left or Right? After much thought, and a round of "eanie, meanie, miney, moe) we chose the right.  It was an extremely tough decision. (Haha!)

Of course, each fork in the path required another decision. We would take turns making the choice, even looking for clues from Little C on which turn to take. (“I think his right finger moved! That means he wants to go right!” or “His left toe wiggled.  Let’s go!”

Surprisingly, we managed to make it through the maze rather quickly.  Although we were excited, the middle of the maze was a bit of a letdown. I thought there would be some sort of flag or statue, something to help celebrate our victory. 
We made it to the middle!
Of course, the letdown was shortlived, because we had to keep going until we found the exit. Then, because according to the map, we had only explored half of the maze, we went in the exit, and weaved our way through the maze again.  There seemed to be more dead ends and circles through this half.  It made me realize how fun (or maybe frustrating, for some?) it would be if you had made some wrong choices the first time through.  You could be in there for quite a while. It also proved that we must be champion maze explorers. After all, we had skilfully manoeuvred our way through the maze, without getting lost and had quickly found our way to the middle! J
From a baby stroller point of view, I was equally impressed with the maze.  I had been a bit worried that the pathways wouldn’t be wide enough for the stroller.  I was happy to discover that they were very easy to manuever with our rather large stroller.  I assume that it would also be wheelchair accessible.  The paths were fairly flat and made of packed dirt, not gravel, which makes it easier to roll on.
After the maze, we headed for the playground, which I was thought was great!  It's small, but since it wasn't busy, we got to enjoy it. The swings had “big kid” and “little kid” swings - perfect, because I was with one of each!  There were slides, a climbing wall, little animals to sit and teeter on, and other jungle gym type structures.  Little C loved the swings.  He’s been on swings before, but these seemed special.  He was kicking his feet and squeeling the whole time.  The higher the better!  I also took him down a couple of slides, but the swing was the winner!
I love the swings!

climbing wall
I thought the climbing wall was great! It was a wave-like shape, and had gravel-sized pieces of rubber under it. I guess I’m still new to playgrounds, since my son is only 8 months old, and I hadn’t spent much time at a playground in the past 15-plus years.  They’re different now! Anyway, I had always thought that the recycled tires used at playgrounds were fused together to form something resembling a mat. Apparently it’s actually like gravel! Who knew? (Probably everyone but me!) Are they all like that? I’ll have to do some more exploring.

fancy rubber gravel

After a good play, and before we were eaten by the mosquitos, we decided to head to the Pumpkin Patch for a celebratory ice cream. Afterall, we were maze champions! (Could you say that we were "a-MAZE-ing"??) Much to our surprise, when we were driving out, we realized that we had missed a maze! Of course there was another maze!  How could we have missed it!?!? I guess that means that we’ll be going back soon.  Maybe next time, we’ll bring a picnic.  It really was fun for everyone - big and small.  Definitely an added gem for the city.

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