Today, I hiked 2.5 miles solo with my almost 2 year old and 4 year old without a stroller. We played “I Spy” with binoculars in hand and spotted turtles, frogs, owls, hawks, fish, cardinals, sparrows, squirrels, butterflies, and so many chipmunks that we dubbed the blue trail “Chipmunk Way”. I let my 4 year old choose the trails we blazed, taught my boys how to follow trail markers, walked the plank along wooden footbridges, hopped over tree roots, and stood still and named the sounds we heard in the moment – the harmonious tweets of birds, rustling leaves, and the scurrying feet of chipmunks racing along trees.
To our amazement, we observed a chipmunk eating a worm, two others eating leaves until their cheeks ballooned, and yet another burrowing deep into an underground tunnel. We pondered why some trees had been uprooted by recent storms while others stood firm. And when our legs were starting to get tired, we fueled up on snacks before taking one last peek at the owls. It was joyful. Exhilarating. Freeing. And a wonderful reminder of just how far we’ve come this summer.
2.5 months ago, we had barely left our couch fort in 12 weeks. I was at germaphobe level 10, had no idea where to enjoy the outdoors safely during a pandemic, and could think of a million things that could go wrong if I ventured out solo with the boys. If you told me then that I would later write a blog filled with places our family has enjoyed to help other mamas get a breath of fresh air, I would have told you that you’ve got the wrong person.
But you see, God does that. He redeems things. He turns fears into triumphs. He places people in your life to encourage you. To build you up. That’s what my Hoboken Grace dinner group did for me. They gave me our first park recommendation, motivated me with this awesome quote below, called me “The Park Mama” before I felt like it, encouraged me to write a blog, and edited all of my first drafts. If you don’t have a community like that, and want one, join us.
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”Winnie the Pooh
The Park Mama Tips:
- There are 7 trails to choose from, ranging from 0.3 mile to 1 mile in length, and easy to moderate difficulty. We found the white and purple trails easiest, and the blue and red trails more difficult with gradation, but still enjoyable.
- Ditch the stroller and baby wear. There’s really only one place that we visited – the Raptor Aviary – that you can feasibly bring a stroller, but it’s so short that you’ll be packing it back in the car in no time.
- Mosquitos live here. Wear bug spray.
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