Sunday, September 3, 2017

How We've Gotten Our Nature Fix This Summer

Well, I suppose it's time that I succumb to the seasonal pressure and officially recognize that summer is just about over.  It's been an amazing summer, I must say. I realized the other day that's it's actually the longest summer vacation I have had since I started teaching, thanks to a mid May release of school last spring and a late start due to school construction this fall. We have had 3 extra weeks of summer which has made a huge difference.

I'll be honest. We are not hot weather people, so I always look forward to cooler weather. Even though we love, love, love being outdoors, we prefer some comfortable air conditioning on hot summer days. During summer, we hike less, avoid being outdoors during mid day, and try to avoid mosquitoes as much as possible.

That all being said, however, we definitely find a way to get our nature fix throughout the hot weather months. Here's a look back at some of our favorite outdoor activities this summer.

1.) Nature Centers

I've written several times before about our love for our local Runge Nature Center.  We are so close that it's easy for us to just stop in for a little while if we have some time to kill. And it's nice to make return trips because they are always featuring something different.

We've had plenty of trips to our local nature center, so it was great to see a new one (J. Bayard Clark Park) when we visited North Carolina in July. Different animals, different habitats, and different things to climb and play on. 

2.) Back Yard

We are so fortunate to have a shaded back yard so that even on the hottest days, I can send the boys out and not worry about sun exposure. We have spent countless hours on the swings, the trampoline, playing in the hose, the sprinkler, laying around reading books under trees, and playing with Kylo. 

 This tire swing has been the best addition to our back yard.

3.) The River

All through the summer, we love taking the boys down to the river. The sunsets over the river are amazing. 

Seriously, I could stay there all day. 

4.) The Ocean

And speaking of waterfronts, we soaked in every drop of sunshine we could on the North Carolina coast. There's something about that ocean breeze that makes you forget it's in the 90's. I just love, love, love the feeling of being by the ocean. 

5.) Swimming
Oceans, and rivers, and streams...We've done them all this summer, but the boys also love swimming pools so we have lots of those days too. 

6.) Parks

We are so lucky to live in an area that values its parks. As a matter of fact, just this morning, the parks and recreation director was on the news emphasizing the importance of having a community with parks. Parks promote exercise and creativity. We have a very nice park in our little town which we frequent regularly, but we also have dozens of other parks within a 30 minute radius of us. So this summer, we explored several new playgrounds.

5.) Mini Hikes

We don't love summer hiking. The views in the summer are blocked by leaves, the trails are sometimes overgrown, and then there's the bugs. But sometimes, we are so craving nature that we venture out anyway. 

Such was the case the day we headed out on a summer day that happened to get into the mid 70's, sending us running for the woods. As you can see from the picture, the trail was more like a jungle, and we didn't make it even a quarter mile before turning back. Hiking fail. 

We had better luck on another day when I took the boys to Noren River Access, a part of Missouri Department of Conservation, which is actually an area we've visited before. We weren't there long, but long enough to get in a short hike. 

 Oh, and long enough for the boys to almost convince me to walk across the footbridge that crosses the Missouri River ("We'll protect you, mommy!" they said)

I made it approximately 40 feet and then convinced them that daddy would be a much better fit for that adventure (It's scary up there!).

We also went for a small hike at a local campgrounds.

And had an amazing hike on a cloudy August morning at Karst Trail at Rockbridge State Park.

All that being said, we are definitely looking forward to some long, fall hikes. 

6.) Bike Riding

Both boys learned how to ride bikes this summer, so that has drawn us outdoors quite a bit. I was so excited on our first ride on Katy Trail  In addition to riding up and down our road probably hundreds of times, I've also started letting them ride on the road when I take Kylo for walks around town. Eli especially, just loves to ride. 

7. The Eclipse!
I couldn't write a post about getting our nature fix without writing about the eclipse! We, like millions of other Americans, spent the day outdoors so we could witness the phenomenon first hand. What a memory for the boys and for us! In the minutes right before the eclipse (and during the full eclipse), the sky was absolutely breathtaking. I've never experienced anything like that for sure. I am so glad that we spent this day as a family so we could all experience it together. 

This extra long summer vacation has given us loads of time for t.v. watching, house projects, and being lazy in general, but when I look back, I am really grateful for all the time we spent outdoors too. It has been one (long) fantastic summer! 

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