It’s been rain, rain, rain here in the south, and while I
don’t mind the super-cucumbers the garden has been producing, the boys have not
been their usual selves. I imagine it is partly due to lingering jetlag, but probably
more to cabin-fever, as any opportunity to get muddy in the yard is quickly
taken. When sunshine appeared last Friday morning I knew it was an ideal chance to
get out, and we packed the baby carrier and headed to Paris Mountain State Park
for the Creek Ranger Hike for Families.
During the summer months (June through August) every Friday
morning at 10am a Ranger leads a group of up to 25 on a 2 hour nature hike looking
for animals and their habitats in or near water. We circled Lake Placid on the
lookout for beavers, and although we didn’t spot any (they are nocturnal) we
did see numerous ducks, turtles and frogs as well as the beaver lodge. Soon we
turned off onto the Mountain Creek trail for a short hike to a preselected spot
in the creek.
The kids were all given nets and shown how to dip them into
the water and disturb the rocks, using the current to wash any insects or
animals into their nets. Dragonfly and mayfly nymphs, crayfish, beetle larvae
and worms were among the creatures found and deposited into a bucket. My boys
were more concerned with enjoying the creek than catching anything, and soon
were soaked up to the waist despite the water being only ankle deep.
We took our finds back to the Park Center for an up-close
look under the park microscope, and again the very nice Ranger patiently
answered each and every question the kids (and adults) had about every insect,
animal and forest discovery. I would suggest this program to any parent of
curious children; Mikus (age 1.5) enjoyed it, Lauris (3) learned quite a bit,
and the older kids (teens) quickly became enthralled with the process of
fishing for and finding of aquatic life.
The program fee is $5.00 per person over 3 years old but park admission is waived. Registration is required, and this can be
done by calling the park office (864-244-5565), or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
While in the area, be sure to stop at Blueberry Hill. It’s
definitely blueberry season here in South Carolina, and although our bushes
were full on our return from Latvia, the demand has been outpacing the supply.
The blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins alone used up three cups, so we incorporated
a stop at the you-pick blueberry farm for supplies. Open Monday through Saturday
from 7:30am until around 7, the berries cost $18/gallon and $6/quart (or
$24/gallon, $7/quart pre-picked). No pesticides used, and we can vouch for
their taste - although the ones picked in the garden remain the favorites… Blueberry Hill, 222 Tanyard Rd. Greenville, SC