I have been a busy beaver and I owe some photo uploads and some verbiage. However for tonight I’ll just show and tell a little about the trip Erin, Nels, Phoenix and I took to Northwest Trek yesterday. I didn’t take a bajillion photos or anything, because I wanted to enjoy myself fully (which I did). Here’s some of what I have, though.
The first animals we came upon were golden eagles, close as life. They were huge and beautiful and perfectly still. The kids ran up and looked and one of them said, “Those are REAL!” From that point on the kids were a thousand percent excited about every animal we saw including some we see at home pretty regularly. Why can’t we all be more like children? We’d live longer.
Mike, our tram tour guide. He knew a lot of facts and was quite personable. He also operated a tricky vehicle through terrain full of wildlife and at times up a steep grade, while dealing with people as well! The park was very pro-child, which worked for me.
Bison. Lotsa those being all awesome (also: mountain goats, bighorn sheep, blacktail deer, a moose cow, elk). A few minutes after this we saw a baby, about a month old, bright orange. I didn’t take a picture although we rode the tram right by her and she was only a few feet away. Instead I just absorbed how incredible she was and how much I liked being in real-life up close.
Phoenix, on the tram. A more helpful and lovely person to be with on the trip, I can’t imagine.
Nels and Erin on the tram, having a wonderful time. The three kids and I were seated next to a group of six very very rowdy, bored, fart-noise-making kids who didn’t seem to care much one way or the other and got increasingly agitated. I had such positive time with the three I was with and I felt so grateful I spend my time with children who are where they want to be.
Antlers – everywhere. I could have given a shit before this day, but I heard some amazing stuff about them, like how – unlike horns – they grow from the outside in! Kind of wonderful. I got to hold many in my hands later and admire their organic comeliness. The park leaves a lot of antlers out on the acerage for the herbivores to nibble on for nutrients. They are beautiful left out in the field like that.
As I mentioned, the kids were excited over every animal we came into contact with, even the deer (which we see more than once a week here in HQX) and the ballsy little squirrels who would CUT YOU for the leftovers in a Corn-Nut bag.
Pacific Giant Salamander, or as I like to call it, Pure Unadulterated Nightmare Fuel. This thing was like a foot long. *shudder*
A fisher. Or a marten. Something weaselly. I can’t remember. There was also a huge beaver, river otters, a badger, a wolverine, the latter two not doing anything particularly badass.
At this point the kids were running full-tilt through the paths near the wolf, fox, couger, lynx, bobcat, black bear, and grizzly habitats. No other humans were around much and it was eerie – and breathtaking and fun!
Sure, “statistics”. I see NWTrek is in the pocket of Big Grizzly Bear. I will, however, remain vigilant.
Phoenix, and a moose antler about as big as she.
A huge, torpid spider outside the cafe. She was beautiful but the kids were running off again and I didn’t have time to set up a good shot.
Hungover Owls: the meme is funny because it’s TRUE! This snowy owl blinded me with science, plus it had a half-empty fifth of Jack stuffed under a rock.
Phoenix giving me cuddles. I was pretty much in bliss the entire day, truth be told, until the last leg of the journey when we stopped to do some commerce in Oly and I was back amongst crowds of cranky people.
My favorite critter? Hands-down the lynx. It was a massive, prehistoric-looking cat, preternaturally calm and boasting the musculature of an ape. I didn’t even try a picture, I just watched him and felt kind of stunned about it all.
Happy National Coming Out Day! For those who can and choose to, today and any day, I wish you the best. Here’s a vlog entry I experienced as quite touching and real.
Looks like a really cool place to visit – I’m putting it on my list of things to do with the kids, though it may require Scott’s presence to keep the boy from disappearing (he’s so fast!) the moment I try to photograph something or just look at anything.
How big was that spider? It looks big but so do a lot of small things close-up.
It really was fun! My advice, take kids who want to be there, let others do something else. I was so glad to be able to enjoy it for myself.
The spider was about the size of a gumdrop. Pretty big. Maybe gravid? It was odd she was on the ground. I don’t know when spiders have their babies.
how does it work, growing from the outside in?
At first I thought that was some kind of … metaphysical or spiritual question. Then I realized you were talking about antlers. Here’s one link. There’s probably something way better out there. Mike our tram operator told us if you were to grasp an antler while it was in velvet (which he said not to try to do) you could feel a pulse. I was pretty intrigued by it all.
Ah, see, now I feel properly chastened. Because I thought Mikko (4 years old) would LOVE NW Trek (we had only gone before he was born) so we’d been planning to go for ages and finally did last month. His reaction: Meh. To everything. Except, for one brief and shining moment, a squirrel, which made me laugh that you mentioned that here, too. And to the *idea* of the tram, though he found it rather boring once we were on. But boring in a good, cuddly way that made him take a nap.
So, yes, I brought a child there who didn’t want to be there, but I didn’t know that in advance. It was one of those parenting moments where you realize: I can’t control what my children like. I can’t make them appreciate an opportunity I think is Neat! and Fun! and Educational! So it goes.
I think Mikko never grasped that these were real animals, as you said your children did. It was like he was seeing them on TV screens or something, or like they were just too exotic to be interesting, because he had no frame of reference for them. Except for that squirrel.
Oh dear, I wasn’t trying to “chasten” anyone – not even by inference. I will say since my kids live in so much freedom and autonomy in general, not always, whenever they’re doing something they’re pretty cheerful about it.
Of course there are exceptions! Just two hours ago I had my son at a meeting and my son got BORED AS FUCK about ten minutes before it ended. I only had him there because no one in the building would permit a child without a mom RIGHT NEXT TO HIM WITH HER EYEBALL ON HIM. So. But as I try to repeat to myself, “Acceptance is the key to all my problems.” Yes, we often don’t know what a child will or won’t enjoy and as long as we learn about our child – and learn about what comes of Expectations – we are doing great!
“It was one of those parenting moments where you realize: I canâ€™t control what my children like. I canâ€™t make them appreciate an opportunity I think is Neat! and Fun! and Educational! So it goes.”
See – that is a GREAT lesson to learn and I think some parents/carers/adults never ever learn it.
Oh, it’s ok. I just remember my own disappointment that he wasn’t excited. And despite my lesson that I tidily wrote out in my comment, it took most of my time there to tell myself to chill out and just let him be 4, and uninterested, instead of insisting that he have a good time or else. And I did get the point of what you were saying, and applaud it.
What I MOST was thinking when I read your post was, Dang, I wish I had known Kelly was going â€” then we could have met up! Because we were driving somewhere recently and passed a sign for Hoquiam, and I was seriously wondering if someday I would just drive out and surprise you.